This article was updated on Aug. 22, 2018.

Vacation policies can vary drastically across different regions of the world, as evident by a recent study conducted by Statista.

Research by employer branding consultant Universum found that Scandinavian, European and South American employers populated most of the top global spots for job satisfaction factors and employer loyalty. As HCM leaders look to continuously improve employee retention and happiness, vacation and flex time policies could be an important element of the overall employee experience. To meet the needs of a global workforce, understanding variance in laws and cultural norms is critical.

1. Scandinavia

Four to five weeks of annual vacation in Sweden and Norway each year is the norm for Scandinavian workers. In addition to generous vacation, Norwegian employees enjoy flexible hours, work-from-home freedom, a bring-your-children to work policy and leave to care for aging parents.

2. The European Union

As noted by CNBC, European Union law dictates that workers are given at least 20 paid vacation time each year, which is often in addition to paid holidays. Time away from work isn't Europe's only investment in worker happiness: EU legislation and employee federations are increasingly encouraging workers to avoid working during evenings and weekends.

3. Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, a combined total of over 30 days paid leave each year is average, according to Fair Work Ombudsman. Business Insider writes that worker happiness index studies of Australia and New Zealand put those countries in the 11th and 8th spots, respectively, in global happiness.

The same study discovered that national wealth had minimal impact on worker happiness and engagement. Instead, a comprehensive culture of encouraging work-life balance — including generous vacation policies — pushed the region near the top.

In fact, some of the best-regarded employers in Oceania choose to exceed requirements for vacation leave significantly. Warehouse Stationary, for example, is a New Zealand-based enterprise that offers five additional forms of leave, including time for birthdays, sports and "long service," which is additional time off that is redeemable after long tenure with an employer.

4. Asia

While Asian countries tend to surpass the U.S. in terms of paid vacation, they're still ranked toward the bottom of the global list, as Statista found. According to Expedia, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India and Singapore are among the most vacation-deprived countries in the world.

5. South America

South American vacation laws can vary, but include some of the most generous options worldwide. According to Deloitte, Brazilian employees are guaranteed 30 days every 12 months, as well as an additional salary bonus for their vacation period. Peru is also similarly generous, with 30 days vacation accrued per year of service, per Biz Latin Hub.

There's a wealth of different approaches to vacation policies worldwide, and employee expectations vary accordingly. Global organizations should account for these differences when designing worldwide policies for vacation since cultural norms appear to have a strong influence on employee expectations. By concentrating on shaping policies that address those regional expectations, leaders can improve engagement and happiness across their global workforce.

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