Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance

Almost every other person in Denmark is “very satisfied” with their work-life balance, according to a European Commission survey.

Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance
File photo: Kim Haugaard/Ritzau Scanpix

The feeling of obtaining the right balance between time spent working or studying and time at home with family is a common one amongst Danes, according to the results of a new survey carried out on behalf of the European Commission.

47 percent of people in Denmark said they were “very satisfied” with their work-life balance, more than in any of the other 27 EU countries also included in the survey, in which adults under the age of 65 were asked to respond.

As many as 89 percent said they were at least “fairly satisfied” on the parameter, putting Denmark just behind Austria (90 percent), and ahead of every other country.

The survey results reflect a wide range of choice in public systems in Denmark, according to work-life balance researcher Anders Raastrup Kristensen, an external lecturer at Copenhagen Business School.

“Denmark has a public system which, in many ways, makes it easier to have a good balance between work and family life. Childcare is available and the cost is relatively low for childcare,” he said.

Kristensen also noted that Danish companies were flexible with regard to allowing employees to adapt their working hours to family life.

“There are simply some everyday things that are easier for Danes than for other Europeans,” he said.

Southern and Eastern European countries fared relatively badly in the survey.

Spain and Romania were the least satisfied countries in terms of work-life balance, with 66 percent in each country declaring themselves at least “fairly satisfied” and 25 and 16 percent respectively “very satisfied”.

One in four Romanians was “not very satisfied”, while 13 percent in Spain said they were “not at all satisfied” – an answer given by only two percent in Denmark.

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Danish municipality gives its staff three-day weekends

For just over a year, Odsherred Municipality has operated under a trial programme which gives 300 civil servants employed by the authority Fridays off work.

Danish municipality gives its staff three-day weekends
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

In return for the three-day weekend, staff at the northwest Zealand municipality must work the standard 37-hour week through Monday-Thursday.

The trial has worked so well that Odsherred is considering expanding it to municipal-run childcare facilities, DR Sjælland reports.

“We work very much based on when our residents need us,” Eva Haupt-Jørgensen, a union representative for public servants in Odsherred, said to DR.

The municipality has used a model which offers residents greater flexibility over when they can book appointments with staff, with more evening availability.

Evening working can be made to fit with employees’ home lives, Haupt-Jørgensen said.

“We can still go to gymnastics on a Thursday afternoon if that’s what we do. We just regulate and are here (at work) at other times,” she said.

The system makes it easier for residents to get in touch with the authorities outside of their own working hours, she noted.

“Now, residents can call and speak to a member of staff from 7:30am until 6pm,” mayor Thomas Adelskov told DR.

Although rolling out the concept to childcare facilities would mean a slightly different form, the idea could also be beneficial in that sector, he said.

“It’s clear that we can’t close childcare one day a week. But good models could be found whereby some people have Friday off, some have Monday off, and there are three continuous (working) days,” he said.

The trial is in place for three years for municipal administrative staff.

READ ALSO: Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance