A major Canadian study by Carleton University’s Linda Duxbury and Christopher Higgins at Western University, their third on work-life balance in two decades, has found that work demands have risen, flexible work arrangement are rare and career mobility is an issue.

“Stress levels have gone up and life satisfaction has gone down,’’ said Duxbury.  “Email use has gone up, as have work demands. There are more employees balancing work, elder care and childcare. But despite the talk, many companies have not made progress in the area of work-life balance and employee well-being.

“The bottom line is that many of the employees in our sample were having real difficulties balancing competing work and family demands.’’

The study examined work-life experiences of 25,000 Canadians who were employed full time in 71 public, private and not-for-profit organizations across all provinces and territories between June 2011 and June 2012. Two-thirds of survey respondents had incomes of $60,000 or more a year and two-thirds were parents.

Previous studies were conducted in 1991 and 2001.

“It is fascinating to see what has changed over time and what hasn’t,’’ said Duxbury.

Among the findings:

  • Most Canadian employees still work a fixed nine-to-five schedule – about two-thirds.
  • Overall, the typical employee spends 50.2 hours in work-related activities a week. Just over half of employees take work home to complete outside regular hours.
  • The use of flexible work arrangements such as a compressed work week (15 per cent) and flexible schedules (14 per cent) is much less common.
  • Fifty-seven per cent of those surveyed reported high levels of stress.
  • One-third of working hours are spent using email.
  • Employees in the survey were twice as likely to let work interfere with family as the reverse.
  • Work-life conflict was associated with higher absenteeism and lower productivity.
  • Succession planning, knowledge transfer and change management are likely to be a problem for many Canadian organizations.
  • There has been little career mobility within Canadian firms over the past several years.

There are a lot of things that employers can do to help minimize the stress of workers, said Duxbury, including  offering more flexibility in terms of  when or where people do their work.

“The use of alternative work arrangements such as flex-time has actually declined since 2001,’’ she said, “while hours of work has increased. Absenteeism is up and employee mental health has declined.’’

Women are also still working a “double shift,’’ expending more energy at home than male counterparts and almost the same amount of energy at work. They are also more likely than men to devote a lot of energy to the parent and home maintenance roles.

Building a healthier workplace is a challenge for many organizations across all sectors and industries. The sixth annual Building Healthier Workplaces Conference takes place at Carleton today from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Prof. Duxbury will present at 2:15 p.m. The conference will address challenges while offering tools and knowledge that are necessary in promoting healthier workplaces.

Media are invited to attend.

Linda Duxbury is available prior to her presentation and after 4:15 p.m. To arrange an interview, please contact Steve Reid at steve_reid3@carleton.ca.

When: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

Where: Residence Commons, Carleton University

Parking: Available in Lot P6. Media are invited to leave their credentials on their dashboards.

A complete conference schedule can be found online at: www.buildinghealthierworkplaces.ca.

A full copy of the 2012 work-life report and summaries can be found here:





For more information
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
(613) 520-2600, ext. 8718
(613) 240-3305

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Thursday, October 25, 2012 in
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