Workplace Wellbeing Lessons From The French

On July 14, we’ll say bonjour to Bastille Day once again! Sure, the French gave us important inventions like pasteurisation, the Braille system and refrigeration – but here at WorkScore, we want to commemorate this celebration with the valuable lessons they’ve taught us about work and wellbeing.

Here are our four favourite lessons from the French:

They have a 35-hour working week

According to studies by the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development, France is below average when it comes to hours worked and also have above average leisure time. They dedicate approximately 15 hours per day to personal care and leisure. Since the changes, French employees are more positive, both at work and at home.

The lesson: Life shouldn’t just be all about work, so it’s essential to give your employees room for family, leisure and their wellbeing. Consider offering your employees flexible working hours, shorter weeks or job sharing.

They enjoy generous parental leave

French mums are allowed 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Fathers also have paternity leave for 11 consecutive days, in addition to three working days for the birth. If one of the parents decide to stop work or work part-time, they are still entitled to parental leave. There’s also a ‘birth benefit’ - an allowance is given to the parents from the baby’s birth to the age of three if their income is below a certain threshold.

The lesson: Back your employees with robust parental leave allowances. Remember too, that parenting doesn’t end after the child is born. So, be sensitive to their priorities and allow them flexibility by working around school pick-up times or offer part-time options.

They have the legal ‘right to disconnect’

Employees in France have a legal right to avoid work emails outside of working hours. Companies must set out hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer work emails. So, French employees can reduce their risks of stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties.

The lesson: Don’t wait for the government to set up a law that enforces what should be a fundamental principle: switch off. By encouraging employees to avoid sending emails late at night or doing extra work outside of regular, scheduled work hours, employees can relax and focus on their other priorities. Lead by example too.

They have a balanced view of diet

Remember that book, French Women Don’t Get Fat? That might be because the French don’t snack in between meals, as food has a defined place and time. Their food portions are also much smaller.

The lesson: To help you implement a balanced diet, RASA founder and French holistic nutritionist, Mia Rigden, recommends that 70 per cent of your plate should be vegetables. By adding more variety of plant-based foods in your diet, the more nutrition you’ll get from your food. Add more vegetables in the break room, or bring healthy snacks to the office.

And voila, the work practices of the French teach us all how businesses can prioritise their employees’ wellbeing.