Canadians’ work-life balancing act may be on shaky ground, study suggests

TORONTO – Canadian workers are working more and less satisfied with their jobs than they were two decades ago, a new national study suggests. 

The study surveyed 25,000 full-time workers in Canada between June 2011 and June 2012. Many of those who responded worked within the knowledge sector – meaning they held managerial, professional or administrative positions. Two thirds made over $60,000 dollars a year and two-thirds were also parents.

This is the third study over 20 years on work-life balance coming from Carleton University’s Linda Duxbury and Christopher Higgins. Their previous studies were conducted in 1991 and 2001.

Read the full report here

Canadians’ working attitudes

Among the key findings of the study was that over half (54 per cent) of respondents took their work home, meaning they completed it outside of regular work hours. One-third of their work time was spent on reading or sending emails.

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Most Canadians endured the conventional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. grind, with a typical employee devoting extra hours to work. The average work week was 50. 2 hours in total.

Work and family roles collide

Many respondents said that they were “overloaded by the dual demands” of work and family responsibilities. One in three Canadians surveyed said that high levels of work interfered with family time – meaning they “put work first.”

“Another one in three 30 per cent report moderate levels of this form of work-life conflict and 41 per cent report low levels of work interferes with family,” said the report.

Twenty-five per cent of workers also reported that in the last 12 months, work-life challenges caused them to miss work days and reduced their productivity.

Many women were still on the “double shift” – spending spend more energy at home than their male counterparts and almost the same amount of energy at work, the study found. However, employees without children were doing better overall than working parents, in all respects.


Among some of the study’s main recommendations, the need for more flexible work arrangements was highlighted.

The study also says that companies need to examine their organizational culture more closely if they want their employees to perform better at work.

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As an example, many of the employees agreed that they felt that an employer’s ideal candidate was someone who was available for work 24-7. They also felt that employers were more likely to reward those who managed to keep their work and family lives separate.

Managers and supervisory staff were also shown to be key in helping organizations make progress with respect to employee well-being.

The report was released ahead of the sixth annual Building Healthier Workplaces Conference that takes place on Friday at Carleton University in Ottawa. The conference is meant to offer guidance for better promoting healthier workplaces.


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