Are you satisfied with your work schedule? Most Canadians aren’t

Telus Mobility employee Ana Aresta works from her home in Delta, B.C. on Thursday, June 20, 2013. .
Telus Mobility employee Ana Aresta works from her home in Delta, B.C. on Thursday, June 20, 2013. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canadians want more workplace flexibility, a new survey stresses. Our schedule satisfaction lags behind seven countries in Europe, as well as India and the U.S.

Of the more than 7,000 Canadians polled by recruiting firm Randstad, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) said they’d like to work remotely at least occasionally.

And contrary to what we often hear, it’s not just millennials who crave the freedom.

Over one-fifth (21 per cent) of employees aged 45 to 65 would love to work outside the office every day. That’s actually more than their younger counterparts.

What can employers do?

It’s time managers get with the changing times, said Randstad Canada’s human resources senior vice-president Faith Tull.

“I don’t think anybody can be stuck in their ways nowadays. It won’t bode well for attracting the talent you need.”

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Companies that want to retain their employees and keep them motivated, she added, should survey staff to find out what’s important to them. Then make sure to actually listen and find ways to accommodate those desires.

“There’s nothing like asking for feedback and then not implementing anything.”

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READ MORE: Secret to successful telecommuting? Moderation, research shows

“You certainly can’t give them the world,” Tull acknowledged. But she believes managers can introduce work-life balance policies without decreasing productivity.

In fact, “in comparison with employees who came into the office, at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive,” Harvard Business Review reported in 2014.

If working remotely isn’t an option due to the nature of the job, Tull said employers can offer alternatives like:

  • A compressed schedule (a 10-hour workday that allows for a four-day work week)
  • Summer hours (that let employees leave early on Fridays)
  • Flexible hours (that don’t involve a set start time)

There’s a “high positive correlation between flexible working hours and employees’ motivation,” according to a 2013 study published by the Canadian Centre of Science and Education.

READ MORE: 6-hour workday catching on in Sweden; could it work in Canada?

“Organizations just need to not be stuck in one way of doing things,” she said.

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Tips for employees

Tull encourages workers to:

  1.  Bring up the subject during performance reviews. She suggests saying: “If I can’t get a [raise], what I would really value is some flexibility.”
  2. Look at their upcoming projects and see what can be done remotely. Come up with a plan that’s broken up into set deadlines and see if their boss is willing to work with them on it, given regular check-ins and progress updates.

People searching for jobs are urged to research companies’ work-life balance policies online. The annual rankings of Canada’s top 100 employers is a good place to start.

A closer look at schedule satisfaction

Out of 15 industries Randstad polled, economists and consultants said they were most satisfied (77.7 per cent) with their current schedules. Those working in education were the country’s least satisfied (45 per cent).

“People would think teachers have it good,” Tull said. But they often have to work after-hours and it can be tricky to find a replacement.

The field also includes people (like administrative staff and day-care workers) who don’t get the luxury of time off during the summer and holidays.

Here’s the full list of how Canada ranks globally when it comes to schedule satisfaction:

  1.  Luxumberg
  2.  Poland
  3.  Netherlands
  4.  Belgium
  5.  France
  6.  Sweden
  7.  India
  8.  Switzerland
  9.  USA
  10.  Canada