9 Ways Europeans Have Nailed the Work/Life Balance

The health and wellness industry is experiencing a surge in growth, but the American work/life balance seems to be more strained than ever. Young Americans are working hard to “pay their dues” at entry-level positions, but it seems those hours often increase as you move up the ladder at work. In an attempt to prevent burnout and boost happiness, we think it’s time to start looking elsewhere for work/life inspiration.

Europeans understand the meaning of work/life balance differently than most Americans. For starters, they don’t talk about the balance nearly as much as we do. Rather, there is a collective understanding that certain elements of life are never to be sacrificed for more time at the office.

French author Pamela Druckerman summarizes the European ethos perfectly in her book Bebe Day by Day: “The French ideal is that no one part of your life—not being a wife, a worker or a mom—should eclipse the other parts.” We think that's a perfect mindset.

So when you’re preparing for your next job interview, you might want to consider asking the hiring manager about the company’s work/life policies. Is working from home some days an option? What is the maternity/paternity policy? Is the office closed for winter holidays?

Work/life balance is often as much about peer pressure as it is about policy. Sure, you could have a very generous vacation package, but if no one at the office has taken time off in the last two years, chances are you won’t either. Inquire about how many people actually took the vacation time they were allotted in the last year. It’s important to gauge how the people you might be working with side by side every day value their life outside of the office.

Scroll through our top reasons Europeans are the experts on work/life balance.