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Breaking Down the World’s Top 30 Hardest Working Countries

hardest working countries in the world

Let’s dive right in and discover the top 25 hardest working countries in the world. We won’t just be ranking countries with the longest working hours.

We’ll also touch on some of the newest trends concerning how we work today. If you’re eager to jump ahead, feel free to go straight to the list of the Top 25 hardest working countries in the world.

We live in a dynamic world where technological advances and economic power are the names of the game. At the heart of it are all hardworking individuals who form the backbone of their countries’ prosperity. Whether they are located in thriving urban jungles or far-flung rural settings, the diligence and commitment of a nation’s workforce lay the bedrock for its economic growth. Let’s embark on this journey of appreciation for the most industrious nations worldwide.

Which Country Boasts the Longest Work Hours?

In 2022, Colombia stood out as the country with the longest annual work hours, averaging 2405.4 hours. Not far behind, Mexico reported 2,226 hours per year, and Costa Rica secured the third spot with 2,149 hours of work annually.

According to the OECD, the Netherlands boasts the shortest working week, with an average of 29.5 weekly hours. Consequently, the Netherlands is often regarded as one of the least hard-working countries in the world.

In Asia, Singapore is the most hardworking country, with Singaporeans putting in an average of 45 hours per week. China closely follows, with its citizens working an average of 42 hours per week. However, this excessive workload has also led to high employee dissatisfaction and burnout in both countries.

Does Hard Work have any Connection to Economic Growth?

Recently, many countries have come to acknowledge the vital connection between hard work and economic growth. This realization has sparked a global trend toward promoting a culture that values hard work and determination. Gone are the days when a college degree was the sole gateway to the job market, as recent trends show a decline in the perceived importance of such degrees, with fewer jobs requiring them.

Noteworthy companies like Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc, and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc no longer make degrees mandatory for job interviews, recognizing the significance of life experiences and skills. Some organizations, like Alphabet Inc, offer career certificates, and innovative universities like Minerva University prioritize experiential learning. You can also read our article on 30 high-paying remote jobs that don’t require a college degree or experience.

To illustrate this relationship, let’s consider Apple Inc as an example. Apple’s products have redefined consumer electronics and set the standard for user experience, which is a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of its workforce. Employees at Apple go through rigorous hiring processes to select top talent and are willing to put in extra effort to meet deadlines, ensuring that their products remain innovative and unparalleled. Although the work environment may be intense, the sense of camaraderie, pride, and the joy of being at the forefront of innovation make it a fulfilling experience for many.

On the other hand, Alphabet Inc is known for conducting one of the toughest interview processes to challenge candidates mentally. Nevertheless, their “20% time” rule empowers employees to spend a fifth of their work hours on projects they believe will benefit the company. This initiative, introduced when Alphabet Inc went public in 2004, fosters employee creativity and innovation, ultimately benefiting the company.

Moreover, the rapid growth of the digital age has opened up new avenues for productivity. Automation, artificial intelligence, and remote work solutions have revolutionized industries, leading to greater efficiency and productivity in the workplace. However, the actual impact varies across industries. While tech giants heavily invest in AI-powered tools to streamline work processes, certain sectors face unintended consequences.

For instance, Clarkesworld, a science fiction and fantasy magazine, faced a deluge of subpar AI-generated submissions, which doubled their workload. AI implementation has increased work intensity for employees in certain industries, creating more residual tasks for humans. Even media outlets like CNET and Gizmodo encountered challenges when using AI for writing stories. Despite these setbacks, businesses continue to explore AI’s potential to enhance their operations. You can also read our article on Jobs That Will Disappear in the Future Due to AI.

Here’s an Overview of Our Approach

We employed a specific methodology to identify the Top 25 hardest-working countries in the world. First, we considered two key metrics: GDP per Hour Worked in Current USD and Average Annual Hours Worked. From a pool of 32 countries, we shortlisted those that ranked high in both these metrics. To determine their final rankings, we calculated the average of their rankings in each metric and then adjusted the scores accordingly.

Ultimately, we included only the top 25 countries with the highest scores. In cases where the average rankings for certain countries were similar, we prioritized those with higher average annual hours worked, giving them a higher position. The resulting list is arranged in ascending order, showcasing the 25 countries known for their dedicated and industrious work ethic.

Hardest Working Countries in the World

Here we delve into the world’s top 25 hardest working countries. Our exploration doesn’t stop there; we’ll also look at the countries with the longest working hours and discuss some of the latest trends in today’s work landscape. 

Related Read: Highest Tobacco Consumption Countries in the World

1. United States

  • Productivity Rank: 7
  • Working Hours Rank: 13
  • Average Rank: 10

Americans are renowned for their ambition and unwavering commitment to personal success. With a robust work ethic ingrained in their culture, they prioritize productivity and innovation to achieve the American dream. As a result of this dedication and determination, the United States is recognized as the hardest working country in the world.

2. Ireland

  • Productivity Rank: 1
  • Working Hours Rank: 24
  • Average Rank: 12.5

The Irish people are widely admired for their strong dedication and work ethic. They take immense pride in their work and approach their jobs with a genuine sense of responsibility and unwavering commitment. Such values are deeply ingrained in their culture, making them renowned for their hardworking nature and steadfast dedication to their professional pursuits.

3. Israel

  • Productivity Rank: 23
  • Working Hours Rank: 6
  • Average Rank: 14.5

At the heart of Israel’s work culture lies a spirit of innovation and resilience, driving its people to excel and contribute significantly to the growth of their nation and its vibrant economy. Surrounded by a culture that values innovation and embraces challenges, Israelis are motivated to work diligently, aiming to build a prosperous and thriving society. As a testament to their unwavering dedication, Israel stands proudly among the world’s hardest working countries.

4. Australia

  • Productivity Rank: 15
  • Working Hours Rank: 20
  • Average Rank: 17.5

In Australia, the values of hard work and self-reliance hold significant importance. The people of this nation exhibit a persistent desire for a high standard of living while also striving to maintain a healthy work-life balance. With a deep appreciation for the rewards of diligent efforts, Australians emphasize the importance of personal growth and enjoying life to the fullest. Such a mindset fosters a strong work ethic and a commitment to achieving a fulfilling and prosperous life.

5. South Korea

  • Productivity Rank: 31
  • Working Hours Rank: 5
  • Average Rank: 18

A competitive environment drives south Koreans and places a strong emphasis on education. Their dedication to hard work stems from a desire to attain success and actively contribute to the rapid growth of their nation’s economy. With a firm belief in the value of diligence and perseverance, South Koreans channel their efforts into realizing their ambitions and propelling their country forward globally.

6. Czech Republic

  • Productivity Rank: 22
  • Working Hours Rank: 16
  • Average Rank: 19

The country’s work ethic is deeply ingrained in its culture, serving as a driving force behind the hardworking nature of its people. Additionally, the nation’s economic landscape and its citizens’ personal aspirations for individual success also play pivotal roles in fostering their dedication and commitment to their endeavors. These factors combine to create a society where hard work and determination are highly valued, propelling the nation’s progress and prosperity.

7. Colombia

  • Productivity Rank: 38
  • Working Hours Rank: 1
  • Average Rank: 19.5

n Colombia, the standard working hours are set at 48 hours per week, allowing employees to work up to eight hours per day for a maximum of six days. However, in cases where the Ministry of Labour grants special authorization, employees can extend their work hours and engage in up to 12 hours of overtime per week. This arrangement, though subject to approval, requires that they are granted a day of rest on Saturday to maintain a balance between work and personal time.

8. Mexico

  • Productivity Rank: 37
  • Working Hours Rank: 2
  • Average Rank: 19.5

Mexican workers are known for their strong work ethic, evident from their annual average of 2,128 hours worked, which ranks among the highest globally. A significant proportion of Mexicans, over 40%, work six days a week. This industrious nature and commitment to hard work have earned Mexico its reputation as one of the hardest working countries in the world. The dedication and perseverance of its workforce contribute to the country’s productivity and economic growth.

9. Chile

  • Productivity Rank: 35
  • Working Hours Rank: 4
  • Average Rank: 19.5

Chile is known for its long working hours, influenced by cultural factors, economic conditions, and a historically ingrained work ethic. The people of Chile place great importance on dedication and hard work, which reflects in their commitment to longer hours on the job. Moreover, the country’s economic situation also shapes the work culture, with many individuals striving to secure a better standard of living through their relentless efforts. This collective mindset has contributed to Chile’s reputation for having a workforce that values industry and productivity, making it a country with extensive working hours.

10. Italy

  • Productivity Rank: 17
  • Working Hours Rank: 22
  • Average Rank: 19.5

Italians are renowned for their strong work ethic and deep pride in their craftsmanship and dedication to their work. Their hardworking nature is evident in the passion they invest in their professions. However, alongside their commitment to work, Italians also highly value the importance of work-life balance and maintain a relaxed approach to time, which is an integral part of their cultural identity. This balance between diligence and cherishing leisure moments reflects the rich tapestry of the Italian lifestyle, emphasizing both productivity and the enjoyment of life’s pleasures.

11. Belgium

  • Productivity Rank: 4
  • Working Hours Rank: 36
  • Average Rank: 20

Belgium’s work culture displays diverse values, with an overarching emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The people of Belgium exhibit diligence and productivity in their professional pursuits, yet they equally cherish leisure time and prioritize family commitments.

This balance between work and personal life is a significant aspect of their cultural fabric, contributing to their overall contentment and well-being. Additionally, Belgium’s commitment to providing quality education has earned the country a reputation as one of the nations with the best educational systems, further enriching the lives and opportunities of its citizens.

12. Greece

  • Productivity Rank: 34
  • Working Hours Rank: 7
  • Average Rank: 20.5

Greece is home to hardworking individuals, evident from their significantly high annual work hours, totaling 2,109 hours, surpassing the OECD average of 1,749. While the dedication to full-time work remains strong, part-time work is rising, and certain companies have opted to reduce working hours. This shift in work patterns showcases the evolving nature of the Greek work culture. Despite these changes, Greece continues to be recognized as one of the hardest working countries globally, with its people valuing industry and productivity in their professional endeavors.

13. Poland

  • Productivity Rank: 30
  • Working Hours Rank: 11
  • Average Rank: 20.5

Poland boasts a work culture with a robust work ethic and unwavering dedication. The people of Poland are known for their hardworking nature and disciplined approach to their jobs. While certain workplaces may adhere to a hierarchical structure, Polish work culture places significant importance on teamwork and mutual respect. These core values foster a collaborative and supportive environment, contributing to the overall productivity and success of the workforce in Poland.

14. Canada

  • Productivity Rank: 18
  • Working Hours Rank: 23
  • Average Rank: 20.5

Canadians are known for their ambition and a strong drive for personal growth. The competitive job market and abundant opportunities for success are powerful motivators, inspiring them to work diligently and strive for excellence in their careers. As a result of their unwavering dedication, Canada stands proudly among the hardest working countries in the world. The nation’s commitment to industry and productivity reflects the determination and spirit of its workforce, contributing to its overall economic prosperity and success.

15. Luxembourg

  • Productivity Rank: 3
  • Working Hours Rank: 39
  • Average Rank: 21

Luxembourg residents are renowned for their remarkable dedication to their careers and unwavering commitment to productivity. Fueled by the pursuit of success and financial security, they wholeheartedly strive to accomplish their ambitions and play an essential role in fostering the country’s thriving economy. This unwavering determination and passion for excellence underscore their work ethic, making Luxembourg a nation known for its industrious and enterprising workforce.

16. Switzerland

  • Productivity Rank: 8
  • Working Hours Rank: 35
  • Average Rank: 21.5

Swiss individuals are widely recognized for their exceptional efficiency and punctuality in the workplace. Their strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a testament to their well-rounded approach to life. Within their work culture, teamwork and professionalism hold paramount importance, reflecting their collaborative and dedicated spirit. These values form the foundation of Switzerland’s renowned work ethic, contributing to the nation’s prosperity and success in various industries.

17. Turkey

  • Productivity Rank: 24
  • Working Hours Rank: 19
  • Average Rank: 21.5

Turkey’s work culture exhibits a unique blend of traditional and modern elements. The people are known for their diligent and industrious nature, often dedicating long hours to their work. However, alongside their commitment to professional pursuits, Turkey significantly emphasizes family and social life.

It is common for individuals to take breaks during the day for meals, highlighting the importance of balance and cherishing moments with loved ones. This harmonious integration of work and personal life shapes Turkey’s distinctive work culture, where productivity and meaningful connections coexist harmoniously.

18. New Zealand

  • Productivity Rank: 25
  • Working Hours Rank: 18
  • Average Rank: 21.5

New Zealanders are renowned for their driven and hardworking nature, underpinned by their distinctive “can do” attitude, rooted in their resourceful background. In a culture that cherishes independence and collaboration, individuals in smaller businesses actively engage with decision-makers, assuming diverse roles and exemplifying “Kiwi ingenuity” to tackle challenges.

The country’s excellent work-life balance further fosters motivated and dedicated employees, creating a harmonious environment where productivity and personal well-being go hand in hand. This unique work culture in New Zealand reflects the nation’s spirit of perseverance and adaptability, contributing to its success and prosperity on both local and global stages.

19. Spain

  • Productivity Rank: 19
  • Working Hours Rank: 25
  • Average Rank: 22

The Spanish people draw inspiration from their culturally rich heritage, which places great value on passion, determination, and strong family bonds. This profound sense of identity and connection to their country’s history fuels their motivation. Pursuing personal aspirations and taking pride in their cultural roots drive them to work diligently and excel in their endeavors.

As a result of this unwavering dedication, Spain stands proudly as one of the hardest-working countries in the world. The blending of historical pride and contemporary ambitions forms the backbone of Spain’s industrious work culture, contributing to its continued growth and success.

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20. Norway

  • Productivity Rank: 2
  • Working Hours Rank: 45
  • Average Rank: 23.5

Norway’s work-driven society is deeply rooted in a strong and unwavering work ethic ingrained in its cultural fabric. The country’s robust social welfare system significantly encourages labor force participation, as individuals are motivated to contribute to the nation’s economic productivity. This collective commitment to maintaining a high standard of living is a driving force behind Norway’s industrious work culture.

As a result of these values and policies, Norway has earned a reputation as one of the countries with the highest standards of living, reflecting the prosperity and contentment of its people. The fusion of a strong work ethic, a supportive social welfare system, and a focus on economic productivity form the cornerstones of Norway’s thriving society.

21. France

  • Productivity Rank: 11
  • Working Hours Rank: 37
  • Average Rank: 24

In France, the path to success is paved with hard work and an unwavering commitment to pursuing excellence. The French place great emphasis on maintaining quality and productivity in all aspects of life, which, coupled with their strong work ethic, drives their accomplishments in diverse fields.

This dedication to diligence and the pursuit of greatness underpins their achievements, making them a force to be reckoned with on the global stage. Through their continuous efforts and dedication to excellence, the French have carved a remarkable path to success, leaving a lasting impact in various spheres of influence.

22. Austria

  • Productivity Rank: 9
  • Working Hours Rank:41
  • Average Rank: 24

Austria has earned a reputation for its robust work ethic and a significant focus on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The country’s average income is relatively high, reflecting the value placed on productivity and dedication in the workplace. Quality and punctuality are highly esteemed attributes, contributing to the overall efficiency and success of the Austrian workforce.

The harmonious integration of hard work and personal well-being underscores the nation’s commitment to creating a thriving work culture, making Austria a prominent player in the global economic landscape. With a strong emphasis on professional excellence and individual fulfillment, Austria is a shining example of a nation that values the synergy between productivity and a fulfilling lifestyle.

23. Sweden

  • Productivity Rank: 6
  • Working Hours Rank:42
  • Average Rank: 24

Swedes are widely recognized for their strong work ethic, harmoniously integrating a commitment to work-life balance and access to generous benefits. The country’s emphasis on fostering a well-educated workforce, with trust in employees and a progressive, innovative culture, fuels the motivation of its people to work diligently. Sweden’s supportive work environment, characterized by a strong belief in personal growth and professional development, contributes to the nation’s reputation for hardworking and dedicated individuals.

With a focus on nurturing a harmonious blend of productivity and personal well-being, Sweden stands as a shining example of a nation that places its people’s happiness and fulfillment at the core of its work culture.

24. Denmark

  • Productivity Rank: 5
  • Working Hours Rank: 43
  • Average Rank: 24

Denmark has a distinct focus on a progressive approach to work, with collaboration and trust at the core of their operations. It’s not just about punching in and out; employees are encouraged to enjoy a healthy work-life balance, a factor highly influenced by their comprehensive benefits and the strong welfare system in place.

Unsurprisingly, Denmark is regarded as one of the world’s hardest-working nations, yet its citizens boast high-income levels. This harmonious blend of hard work and leisure is a testament to the uniquely Danish way of working.

25. United Kingdom

  • Productivity Rank: 16
  • Working Hours Rank: 34
  • Average Rank: 25

The United Kingdom is known for its vibrant work environment, where innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged and celebrated. The income landscape is quite varied, reflecting the prevalent diverse industries – with finance, technology, and creative fields taking the lead.

One noteworthy aspect of the UK is its education system, which consistently ranks among the best worldwide. So, if you’re seeking a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial spirit while having strong educational institutions, the UK may be the place for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Check some commonly asked questions on the hardest working countries in the world.

1. What Defines a ‘Hard-working’ Country?

A hard-working country is often defined by the average number of work hours per week, the percentage of employees working more than 50 hours per week, and the amount of annual leave taken.

2. Are Hard-working Countries More Productive?

Not necessarily. Productivity does not always correlate with the number of hours worked. Efficiency, technological advancement, and work culture can significantly impact a country’s productivity.

3. Does Working Longer Hours Mean Higher Income?

Again, not always. While some countries with long work hours have high-income levels, others may not. Factors such as the country’s economy, wage laws, and industry types can influence income levels.

4. How is Work-life Balance in these Hard-working Countries?

Work-life balance can vary widely among these countries. While some maintain a decent balance, others struggle due to long work hours and societal pressures.

5. Are These Hard-working Countries also the Happiest?

Happiness is influenced by a wide array of factors, not just work. While some hard-working countries do rank high in happiness indexes, others may not.

6. Which Industries Contribute most to the long work hours in these Countries?

This largely depends on the specific country in question. However, common industries known for long work hours include technology, finance, healthcare, and manufacturing.

7. Do these Countries have Strong Workers’ Rights?

Worker’s rights vary significantly among these countries. While some have robust labor laws protecting workers, others might have areas that require improvement.

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