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Work-Life Balance Study: Who Works the Hardest?
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Work-Life Balance Study: Who Works the Hardest?

August 20, 2019
man working at computer

Smart managers and employees are keen to optimize results inside and outside the workplace. They're also aware that focusing too much on one aspect of life to the detriment of other vital areas diminishes the overall quality of one's life. You can get a sense of how conducive a city is to work-life balance by considering factors such as the highest working hours, lowest working hours, the support given by the employer, the laws surrounding employment and the living conditions in the city.

Ranking 40 Cities Based on Work-Life Balance

Kisi, a provider of cloud-based access control, conducted a study in which it used these base factors to compare and rank the hardest working countries 2019 based on how much they promote work-life balance. The study resulted in a list of 20 factors that define the level of work-life balance in 40 cities across the world. Top cities in the results have policies and infrastructure that directly and indirectly support a healthy balance between work and life for professionals.

According to the study, the top cities for work-life balance are:

  1. Helsinki
  2. Munich
  3. Oslo
  4. Hamburg
  5. Stockholm

And the most overworked cities are:

  1. Tokyo
  2. Singapore
  3. Washington
  4. Kuala Lumpur
  5. Houston

Measuring Work-Life Balance

To determine how much a city promotes work-life balance, you have to look at more than just the living conditions of the city or how conducive it is for career growth. Instead, you need to gauge how much the city supports the fulfillment of the lives of its residents.

For residents to have a meaningful life in a city, it must be conducive to the aspects of life that let people unburden themselves from work-related stress. Professionals move with their families to such a city to take advantage of career opportunities while immersing themselves into rich cultures and new lifestyles.


The amount of time someone spends on their job can be a basic indicator of work-life balance. For a deeper insight, the Kisi ranking also considered societal and institutional factors as well as the living conditions in the city. Societal and institutional indicators included the city’s level of egalitarianism and its institutional stance on issues of gender and sexuality. The study assessed the city's living standards by considering the residents' overall happiness and access to lifestyle amenities.

Promoting Work-Life Balance at Your Workplace

A large portion of employees in the US suffer burnout due to feeling undervalued, low job satisfaction, workplace stress, being overworked and so on. Such conditions hurt both the employees and the company because they harm employees’ mental health and diminish their performance.

Here are a few ways you can promote work-life balance at your organization.

1. Flexible Working Arrangements

Improved connectivity has opened up opportunities for flexible working arrangements at most businesses. Modern technology can provide your employees with unlimited space to grow and develop their career outside the traditional workplace. Assure them that they no longer have to worry about hurting their career when they seek flexible working arrangements that let you manage your team remotely.

2. Affirming Language

Encourage your employees to adopt habits and make lifestyle changes that promote a healthy work-life balance. One way to do this is by using affirming language concerning working arrangements. For instance, if your organization offers paternity leave, ask a male employee when they plan to take paternity rather than whether they want to take it. It’s a subtle but important difference.

3. Supportive Company Policies

Implementing company policies that promote work-life balance is an even more concrete way to achieve this balance. For example, in the current always-on world where many employees receive work emails on their mobile devices, an increasing number of organizations are endorsing "right to disconnect" laws to create a much-needed work-home boundary.

You can even go as far as designating "white space" on your employees' calendars. These are periods that employees can use to brainstorm with a colleague, meditate, or even go on a walk. Such a measure will promote your employees’ wellness.

Everyone Wins with Work-Life Balance

An increasing number of employees consider work-life balance one of the most important aspects of a successful career. A healthy balance of life and work prevents burnout by helping to alleviate work-related stress and the associated physical and mental health issues such as heart disease, chronic pain, hypertension, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Prioritizing work-life balance helps to maintain a healthy, productive workforce and saves the employer money.

Written by:

Kait Hobson
Workplace Innovation