Countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden and France are proving that you don’t have to work eight hour days or more to be productive.
Businesses in these countries offer alternative working options that aim to limit interactions with employees after hours, shorten the work week and encourage leave to be taken, and workers generally report higher levels of overall happiness and engagement.
To find out more, Instant Offices looked at different work cultures around the world and how factors like working closer to home, a decrease in hours and extended parental leave are challenging ideas of the traditional work environment.
Countries that work the most hours:
|Region||Average hours worked weekly||National Holidays in 2017 (days)||Annual leave in 2017 (days)|
|2. Costa Rica||42.88||11||12|
|3. South Korea||40.63||20||15|
|6. Russian Federation||38.04||16||22|
And the least hours:
|Region||Average hours worked weekly||National Holidays in 2017||Annual leave in 2017|
Increased Employee Happiness
With UK workers believing that over 36% of their time spent at work is unproductive, we look at what countries around the world are doing to encourage employee engagement and overall happiness.
Research points to the fact that employers reportedly find it easier to attract top talent with flexible working options and a better work life balance. UK employees voted flexible working a favoured benefit, with 35% listing it as their top one.
Data shows that Mexicans work the longest hours, 64% more than the country that works the least hours, Germany. Costa Rica and South Korea work the second and third longest hours, working 63% and 54% more than Germany respectively. What’s more, Germans, can request a reduction in their hours if they work for a company with fewer than 15 employees.
In Sweden, the introduction of six-hour work days was established to motivate employees to work smarter at work while having more time to spend at home. Sweden and Germany are not the only countries that believe the 8-hour work day isn’t as effective as some think.
Interestingly, the USA is the only country on our list that doesn’t guarantee workers any paid annual leave, and nearly one in four Americans has no paid time off. In Mexico, it’s not much better – after completing a year of employment, employees are entitled to only six days of paid holiday per year (increasing two days thereafter for each year worked). In some cases, employees in Mexico will receive ‘personal days’ in addition to annual leave.
As we already know, Germans have the highest amount of annual leave with a whopping 30 days off annually. In Norway, it’s 21 days each year and in Denmark, the average paid vacation allowance is five weeks. The Danish consider family highly important, so finding a balance for work and home is easy – they have the right to five weeks of holiday a year, of which three weeks can be taken consecutively during the school vacation periods to encourage time with children.
The UK is committed to transforming the modern workplace, and through several benefits and options for employees, the UK labour market has introduced some of the most diverse working patterns in Europe. After 26 weeks of continual employment with a company, workers in the UK can request agile working options, including anything from job sharing and shift work to part-time work or even working from home. In Germany, flexitime is a popular working arrangement in larger organisations, and is agreed between the company and the employee at their discretion.
Maternal and paternal leave
On top of no paid leave obligations for US employers, they also aren’t obliged to give paid maternity leave to their employees. According to a study done by the US Department of labour, the majority of paternity leave taken in the US is an average of ten days or less. To increase happiness and encourage productivity, many businesses offer initiatives like flexitime.
In Chile, Portugal and Italy, paternity leave is compulsory — men have to take time off work when their babies are born. German employees with new born children are able to take a break from work for up to 12 months, with an additional 24 months able to be taken unpaid. In the UK, mothers can take up to nine months paid maternity leave.
Norwegians enjoy a generous 12 months of combined paid parental leave. In the UK, parents also enjoy shared parental leave, allowing the parent to split leave to take at different times. A father is also entitled to two weeks paid leave when the baby is born.
A French employee’s time spent working can be broken up with a generous lunch break that can last 2 hours, and some smaller businesses tend to close for lunch so employees can spend time with their families. Germans follow similar suit, often having full, sit-down lunches with colleagues, with a lunch beer not something that’s frowned upon. In the US, a lunch break is almost a forgotten concept, with most workers eating lunch at their desk, similarly to the UK, where a lunch break usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.
The Spanish, like the Germans, tend to eat their largest meal at lunch time, but the siesta isn’t as common any more. Office/lunch time napping is growing in popularity in countries like Japan – a trend that would seem to contribute to burnout rather than prevent it.
Labour ministries in Germany have banned managers from calling or emailing staff after work hours, except in an emergency, enforcing the idea that employees leave work at work when they go home. France followed similar suit when the country passed a law which requires companies with 50 or more employees to establish hours when staff will not send or respond to emails. In France, overtime is not generally part of the working culture – taking work home to do in the evenings or over the weekend is not common practice for regular employees, however senior staff are more likely to put in overtime. Regulations like these ensure that employees are fairly paid for work, and prevent burnout by protecting private time.
Through strict paid leave programs, like compulsory vacation time, maternal and paternal paid leave, countries like Norway, Sweden, France, and Germany take a strong stand when it comes to preventing worker burnout. With the rise of family-friendly workplaces, the reduction of hours spent at the office and different ways of working being encouraged, a new culture is emerging that challenges the traditional 9 – 5.
Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers
- Modelling shows increasing the proportion of online sales by 5 percentage points would have significantly boosted retailers’ revenues during the first lockdown
- 72% of Brits want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it full time
New data released today by global payments platform Adyen, outlines the economic gains that could be accessed by getting more UK retailers online.
Economic modelling conducted by Cebr for Adyen indicates that if the retail sector increased the proportion of turnover stemming from online channels by 5 percentage points, £68.8 billion would have been added to the economy during the first lockdown.
While retail turnover stemming from online sales has grown significantly during 2020 – from 19% to 28%, there is still considerable room for growth.
Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director of Adyen comments: “The UK retail sector is facing an incredibly tough quarter, so creating the link between physical stores and online channels is more important than ever. With the festive period approaching and many shoppers unable, or uncomfortable leaving their homes, establishing and maintaining a positive online experience is a billion-pound opportunity for retailers.”
The research of 2,000 UK consumers found that 31% are less likely to shop in physical stores now because of positive experiences shopping online during the pandemic. Furthermore, 72% of these consumers want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it in the long term.
However, making the process of shopping online as frictionless as possible will be key to unlocking the opportunity presented by online channels. 70% of Brits say that when shopping online, the ease of use is as important as the quality of the product, and 72% won’t shop with a retailer whose website or app is difficult to navigate.
Myles Dawson concludes: “Many retailers did amazing things during the pandemic in terms of adapting and creating new experiences – it’s a testimony to their agility that 57% of Brits said their expectations of the retail sector has improved during the pandemic. The challenge now is to consistently meet these expectations going forward. With local lockdowns in place, online channels will be key to serving many consumers in the short term. However, retailers need to see the shift to unified commerce as a long-term trend. The sooner they can demonstrate agility and jump on board, the longer they’ll reap the rewards.”
2 Research conducted by Opinium Research LLP
Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need
By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention
A strong online presence matters.
Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.
When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.
Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.
Gaining a deep understanding of your market
One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.
This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.
UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.
Which platform suits your offering the best?
There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.
You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.
Handling a crisis
Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.
That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.
Power of influencers
For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.
Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.
The online review conundrum
94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.
Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.
And ignore trolls.
Learn from the competition
Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against
Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.
Setting the trend
From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.
Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)
By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group
Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?
The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.
Resilience and Growth
Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.
But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.
Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.
Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.
The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.
We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.
Providing a Solution
As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.
Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.
Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.
The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.
Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.
The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.
A Different Animal
Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.
For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.
Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.
Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers
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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need
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