There are a wide variety of reasons for someone to take a global assignment. While every assignment will have its set of unforeseen challenges, some may also have some hidden benefits too...maybe like working less!
While most expats tend to be high performers, some destination location work environments offer a very different employee experience (EX) from a work-life balance perspective because of a very different approach related to when to work and when not to work. Most assignment agreements say something along the lines of: "Your vacation plan will continue to be administered by the Company’s home country location. It is expected that you will coordinate planned time off in advance with both your home and host country managers. Your holiday entitlement will be based on your host country location. You are expected to adopt the local working hours and employment practices in accordance with the laws and customs of the host country."
If that is true, then expats going to Germany, Netherlands and Norway, for example are likely to discover that a lesser number of hours are required to be spent working. According to this article, The top 10 countries that defy the 9 to 5, Germans work the least amount of hours per week at 26.37. In addition to that, they are provided with 11 National holidays, and 30 days off work annually for leave/vacation (41 days in total). Expats would get those National holidays off but would keep their home country vacation days generally. Wow!
How can Germany get away with having workers work less? Extremely high productivity levels! While enjoying the shortest working hours among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD member countries, the average German worker is reported to be "27% more productive than his or her British counterpart."
Want more information on how other countries compare to Germany, check out the data from the World Economic Forum - This is where people work the longest hours.
There are lots of other great hidden benefits to taking an assignment that you might not have thought of too! Try this article for additional surprises - 10 hidden benefits of an overseas work assignment.
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 Germany works the shortest hours with weekly average of 26.37 hours. Netherlands and Norway work the second and third shortest hours, working just 1% less 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.