Mercer: The most popular holiday days of the globe

29 December 2014

Staying on top of public holiday types and meanings, as well as their statutory requirements can be, in an international businesses setting, complex and vexing. To make things easier, Mercer releases guidelines that covers a broad range of issues in mandatory and private benefit practices, statutory regulations, and employment conditions worldwide, including a review of the national holidays celebrated in 63 countries.

Mercer, a global HR and related financial services consulting firm, each year releases its ‘Mercer's Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines’ (WBEG). One of the many key insights that the report discloses is the legal status of the different public holidays that exist in 63 different countries. According to the research, the most common holiday is New Year, with 60 countries celebrating it as a holiday, yet the statutory requirement can quite different between countries. In Russia there is, since 2012, a mandatory 10 day break from December 30 until January 8, while in Korea the holiday lasts three days and is traditionally used to return home to see family. Behind New Year celebrations come Independence Day/National Constitution Days which are celebrated by 59 countries, Christmas is a holiday in 53 of the countries covered, while Good Friday only makes a holiday appearance in 32.

Countries Celebrating Holiday Days

Military related holidays, in which the passed away are remembered in their service to the nation are held as holidays in 33 of the 63 countries covered, with 59 of the countries having at least one religious holiday.

Religion Based Holiday vs Military Related Holiday

Some holidays are only found in select countries that share cultural or historic ties, for instance Lunar New Year is celebrated by 8 of the 63 countries considered and Carnival is an event in only four.

Chinese New Year vs Carnival

Some holidays only have a place in individual nations, for example, Japan’s “Coming of Age” festival which celebrates those becoming 20 in the previous year, and Malta’s Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck, which celebrates the patron saint’s arrival on their shore.

Shipwrecks and More

“As our research shows, there are many different types of holidays celebrated around the world,” says Samantha Polovina, the Principal at Mercer and responsible for the report. “Companies conducting business across borders should have a solid understanding of each market’s statutory requirements and observance dates regarding holidays, as well as the significance and customs surrounding each holiday.”


More news on


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.