Tuesday 10th December 2019

…and how do we define workplace happiness?

It’s different for everyone – maybe a clutter free desk or an empty calendar put a smile on your face, perhaps friendly and helpful co-workers help keep your spirits up, or maybe it’s the overall culture of your business that fills you with positivity. Many of us will feel the need to be appreciated and respected at work, but maybe the easiest route to being a happy worker is being handsomely paid for the work you do?

The importance of happiness and fulfilment at work cannot be overstated. It likely won’t come as a surprise that happier workers generate more productivity, but the concept of perceiving productivity might do.

According to the Center for Generational Kinetics,

“..when workers are happy, they’re more likely to perceive their co-workers as more productive.”

So, not only can contentment at work help us perform better, we’ll think everyone else is performing better too. Win, win!

We took a closer look at the topic of happiness at work around the globe, who’s the happiest; and how are they achieving peak levels of optimism at work?

According to the Global Workforce Happiness Index, Denmark have the happiest workers globally. There is actually a Danish word to describe it: arbejdsglæde.

Arbejde means work and glæde means happy, so it quite literally means happiness at work.

So, why are the workers of Denmark so much happier than the rest of us? The first thing to note is that just 10 percent of Danish workers are actively disengaged at work. Then, there are the specifics Danish workers get five to six weeks of annual leave days per year, 25 public holidays and up to a year of paid maternity/paternity leave.

Clearly, managing the work/life balance is extremely important to the Danish, which goes some way to explaining their superior levels of enjoyment.

Danish working hours are usually 8am to 5pm, and it’s common practice for workplaces to be flexible.

Danish workers also live reasonably close to their place of work, which means the dreaded commuting time is cut down (enough to put a smile on even the most cynical worker’s face!). Denmark also places a high importance on gender equality within the workplace. Overall, it’s clear to see why Denmark have some of the happiest workers in the world.

Coming hot on the tails of our Danish pals on the Workplace Happiness Index are:

  • Norway
  • Costa Rica
  • Sweden
  • Austria
  • Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • Czech Republic


In eleventh place is Germany, followed by Switzerland, Mexico, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Singapore, Spain, and Colombia</em>; and in twentieth place is Brazil.

Research from The Modern Workplace Report 2019 outlined how adapting to the needs of an increasingly mobile or contingent workforce and globally creating more wellness facilities for employees are in the top five priorities for businesses in the coming years. It’s imperative that we take inspiration from Denmark’s working culture, which allows employees to prioritise their personal lives when needed, and places importance on the physical and mental health of the workforce. With cases of work-related burnout and stress on the rise, bringing flexibility and better balance into our workspaces is certainly not a bad idea.

2020 will be an interesting one as we see more and more flexible working becoming the norm; so will this list remain as is? Or will we see regions like the UK and the USA joining in with improved happiness levels in the workplace remains to be seen.

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