Yes, we work very hard in Ireland!

Feb 10, 2023

Do we? Let’s look at this claim. Let’s discuss three things that are worth noting about the Irish workforce.

  1. We work more days per year than most countries in Europe.
  2. We have one of the highest productivity rates in the World.
  3. The workforce largely works Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with Wednesday being the busiest day of the week.

Many people welcomed the additional bank holiday, St. Brigid’s day, which came into existence on Monday of this week. I’m sure a very large proportion of the workforce, as well as appreciating the extra day off, also had a slight uneasiness about ‘getting something for free’. If you are one of those people that experienced this sensation, I have good news for you. You have a good and strong work ethic.

Don’t feel guilty about being ‘gifted’ another day off, Ireland has one of the lowest numbers of bank and public holidays of any country in Europe. When you add bank, public and the average number of paid holidays, we come out in the bottom 20%. We are four days below the average, this might not sound a lot but it is just a day short of an extra week on holidays. We have two weeks less holidays than our lucky friends in Malta and Austria.

Malta 38, Austria 38, Spain 36, France 36, Slovakia 35, Cyprus 35, Lithuania 35, Portugal 35, Luxembourg 35, Sweden 35, Latvia 35, Denmark 34, Average 33, Romania 33, Slovenia 33, Bulgaria 33, Croatia 33, Poland 33, Czech Republic 32, Italy   32, Finland 31, Estonia 31, Hungary 31, Belgium 30, Germany 29, Netherlands 29, Ireland 29, Switzerland 29, UK 28, Greece 26.

Not only do we work more days than most other countries for the days that we do work, we are the most productive in the world. In a recent article last year by Business Expert, quoting OECD statistics, Ireland was top of the list of countries for productivity per worker. This has been a constant trend in recent years. Apart from our strong work ethic and highly educated and motivated workforce, the reason that we topped the list consistency is the number of multinationals based in Ireland. Admittedly, we know that these multinationals cause distortion in the optics of the national finances and this has been dubbed in the past as ‘Leprechaun Economics’. This is true to an extent but I would argue that Luxembourg’s productivity is distorted by its high level of finance companies and perhaps Norway’s are distorted by its high levels of oil and gas exports

Ireland is the most productive country Vista Search

After hundreds of years of the nine to five, Monday to Friday working week, an infamous day back in March 2020 changed everything. With the arrival of the Pandemic, it heralded a very quick transformation to the new hybrid working model. The vast majority of workers outside of manufacturing, farming and hospitality work two or three day a week in the office. A recent study has found that office occupancy rates in Ireland show that Wednesday is the busiest day of the week now with about 60% occupancy followed by Tuesday and Thursday with around 55% occupancy. Incredibly in one regard, but not surprising in another, our towns and cities have become largely empty on Monday and Fridays as office occupancy rates plummets to 10%. The ripple effect on this will impact on every aspect of life from transport planning to shopping, restaurants, night life etc.

In summary, as a nation we should celebrate our success in the last couple of decades because as people over forty will remember, we had many decades of economic stagnation in the past. We work hard and we play hard and we have built a fantastic country which companies and individuals from all over the world want to come and partake in our way of life and economic success. So, when St. Brigid’s day comes around next year, put your feet up, pour a glass of wine and relax, you have deserved it.

Bob Hoffman

February 2023


Hard working hands graphic Vista Feb Blog

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