People in general do work more than 40 hours a week.  Sometimes they need to. Sometimes they want to.  Although their personal life does get affected by their work schedule, let’s see how we can suggest for them to still thrive for overall happiness.

Find your happy place at work

The American culture can certainly benefit from learning about how other countries manage their work life vs personal life.  In fact, according to recent studies, in Denmark, employees are extremely happy and satisfied in their work environment.  Let’s find out why.

First, let’s point out how the American average worker operates.  To feel efficient and self-accomplished at work, Americans generally work overtime, and engage in their career more than their family life.  They often think that rescheduling their vacations, and being available for work 24/7 is the way to go and show their employer their commitment.  Unfortunately it leads to health issues and burnout at times, and certainly not to overall happiness.

At times, workers have a love/hate philosophy with work engraved in their brain. They think they need to overdo constantly and that work should not be enjoyable. Citizens of Denmark could not disagree more with that philosophy.

Here is what the Danish worker’s schedule looks like yearly.  They work in average only 46 weeks out of 52 weeks.  New mothers are allowed to take 18 weeks of paid maternity leave while new fathers can take 2 fully paid weeks after the baby is born.

Comparatively, the American worker will put in usually 50 working weeks during the year, and possibly be entitled to about 5 or 6 paid Holidays.  New mothers will be allowed to take a maximum of 6 weeks paid after delivery, while fathers can use their family medical leave of absence in some cases.

In Denmark, managers or supervisors are motivated to communicate well and treat their employees with respect because employees can quit on their own and still benefit from unemployment.  That’s right, when unemployed, workers can actually collect about 90% of their regular income for a period as long as two years.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules in Denmark and in the United States.  So, not every Danish company is offering fair work conditions and not every US Company is overworking their staff.

In perspective, however you might understand easily why Danish are in general happier at work and are able to maintain a very satisfying family life at the same time.  They do not fear unemployment and they are offered way more time to spend with their loved ones.  This reduces greatly anxiety and financial stress.

So perhaps, there is room for negotiation with your future employer.  Keep in mind that your schedule flexibility can greatly affect your happiness, so demand it.

 David Klein is a leading Executive IT Recruiter & Headhunter with over 15 years industry experience.  As Manager of Recruitment Strategy for KDS Staffing, Inc., he has achieved industry-leading success. David has successfully led, trained and introduced many in the art of Executive Recruitment and Headhunting. If you or your organization would like to discuss hiring needs, contact David at 646-650-2833 or