If you’re one of the millions of Americans hoping your employer will switch to a shorter workweek, you’ll just have to keep on hoping a while longer.
A new study from international payroll expert FMP Global shows that workers in the U.S. still put in the most hours per week when compared to their counterparts across Europe.
The study looked at the likelihood of a four-day workweek being introduced in economically developed nations.
The data shows the typical American workers puts in 40.5 hours a week, the most of any country in the study, making it the least likely to take the shorter working week from idea to reality.
Many workplace experts now recommend the ideal workweek should total 32 hours. It is typically structured as four eight-hour days, but could also be five roughly six-and-a-half hours days.
The country closest to hitting the 32-hour target is Denmark, where a typical worker puts in 37.6 hours a week. It’s probably no coincidence that Denmark ranks third highest for happiness in the 2020 Gallup World Poll and World Happiness Report. The United States ranks 14th.
American workers also get the fewest days off for vacations and holidays per year, with a total of 10 on average, by far the lowest number in the study. It is half as many as Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands which have a minimum of 20 days. France leads the pack with 30 days off.
Average work week in hours:
Denmark – 37.60
Norway – 38.40
Germany – 38.80
Italy – 38.80
Netherlands – 38.90
France – 39.10
Ireland – 39.10
Finland – 39.20
Spain – 39.30
Sweden – 39.80
USA – 40.50
“The data provides a necessary insight into American work culture, and how their approach compares to those of European countries,” said Caine Bird, of FMP Global. “The four-day work week has steadily gained attention. However putting this into practice can result in a shock to the system if people are too used to working longer hours.
Bird said reducing working hours and offering more holiday may sound counter-intuitive to being productive, but the data shows that by doing exactly this, staff feel more energized and ready to work effectively as a result of having more opportunity to relax and invest in their personal time.
It’s not all bad news for American workers though, as all that work they put in is not for naught.
The United States ranked in the middle of productivity per country, at $65.51 an hour. The figure represents the economic result of one hour of work. In other words, for every hour an employee works, $65.51 is generated in the economy. Ireland leads, at $99.13 generated an hour –$18.30 an hour more than second place Norway at $80.83.