Arbejdsglaede ( pronounced’ Ah – bides- glull”), noun, a word that encapsulates the Danish attitude to work. From Arbejde, the Danish for ‘work’ , and ‘glaede’, the word for ‘happiness’, it literally means ‘ Happiness at Work’ – something that is essential to living the good life for Scandinavians. The work exists exclusively in Nordic languages and the concept doesn’t appear to be in force anywhere else in the world.
Arbejdsglaede means you have the freedom to make your job work around your private life, which takes a lot of stress away and definitely make Danish people more happier. For anyone who is still in the office at noon, lunch is non negotiable, heavily subsidised, communal affair eaten in a work canteen. For afters it is highly likely that there will be a cake knocking around. In Denmark, birthday girls or boys bring in their own to share and co-workers repay the favor by festooning their desk with Danish flags. Once you have got over the initial alarm that your desk has been colonised ( it is always the Danish flag, regardless of your nationality), there is usually a group sings song followed by a chit chat. And by then it is probably nearing home time. There is not the same culture of presenteeism in Danish work places as you find elsewhere, and working until 7 PM is more likely to earn you a lecture on efficiency or time management than a pat on the back. So, come 4 pm everyone turns off their computers and goes home.
By having that flexibility one is more motivated and focussed at work. So working in Denmark one gets more done and probably put in 20% extra. So Danes are’t working harder; they are working smarter. There is still work place stress – but this is generally because Danes have been so thoroughly conditioned to expect Arbejdsglaede; they expect work to be flexible and rewarding and to feel good about it. So if they are not it is a red flag and action must be taken. immediately. There isn’t the same culture of soldiering on. If you are struggling for fear that being honest about mental health problems will impact negatively on your career. In Denmark you get help: you take six months of, after which you are welcome back into the fold.