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Business truly is a global affair, and it’s fair to say that certain countries are leading the way in terms of efficiency and productivity. Longer working hours doesn’t always equal greater productivity, it’s often about working smarter, not harder. Now that most multinational corporations now have bases all over the world, it’s becoming increasingly important to be aware of cultural business trends and increasing productivity across the workforce. 

Expert Market conducts an annual analysis of 35 of the world’s most productive countries, to ascertain which country has the highest financial return from the least number of hours worked. Productivity levels in this report ‘are determined as GDP per capita data divided by the average number of hours worked in the nation, with data used from the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.’ So, what are the top 5 most productive countries and how do they achieve this status?


Luxembourg has led the way for two years in a row and has increased their productivity by 4% from last year’s rankings, so how is this tiny European nation topping the charts? The average worker in Luxembourg works 29 hours a week and earns double than that of a UK worker and works 3 hours less. Known for their success in investment management, the work/life balance in Luxembourg is desirable with a minimum of five weeks annual leave every year.


It’s no surprise that a Scandinavian country is in the top 10 for productivity and general wellbeing rankings, but in this case, Norway has come out on top. With an average 27-hour working week, and productivity sum of $52.50 per hour worked, Norwegians are almost twice as productive as their colleagues in the UK and Israel. Perhaps the fact that they also topped the world happiness report last year also has something to do with it?


Known globally for their high-end exports and punctual transport system, Switzerland has an impressive productivity sum of $50.08 per hour worked. A typical working week for the average Swiss worker stands at 30 hours – Switzerland is also topping the world happiness report.


Working overtime in Denmark is something that isn’t widely practised. Known for having one of the best work/life balances in the world, the average Dane works 33 hours a week and ends their working day at 4 pm. Slightly behind their Norwegian neighbours, but still Scandinavian leaders for productivity.


Iceland consistently tops the charts for the quality of life and happiness, which no doubt has a knock-on effect on the levels of productivity. Jumping ten spots from the previous productivity report, Iceland is also making waves in the gender equality stakes, topping the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.

Although Australia dropped from an impressive number 3 in 2016’s report, they are still well within the top 10. Largely due to having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, Australia enjoys a healthy work/life balance and experiences some of the highest remunerations for hours worked in the world.

How can a business improve productivity?

Review– Often the best place to start is a review or audit of existing business processes. Ensuring that these processes are in line with overall business goals and objectives, will allow you to eliminate wasteful procedures and highlight successful ones.

Adapt– Multinational corporations are powerful global forces and staying ahead of emerging trends and technologies is integral to success. Adapting current processes in line with global trends will make sure you remain competitive.

Continuous Improvement – Once you have reviewed and adapted your business processes, be sure not to rest on your laurels. Consistent innovation is necessary for consistent growth. Undertaking postgraduate study such as an online Global MBA can put you and your business ahead of the curve and equip you with the business skills to thrive in a global marketplace.

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