One of the interesting things that happens is after we start talking about something for a while, especially when the media pays attention too, we start to believe that the problem must be resolved. One example of this is the whole question of work-life balance and this is an issue that I have been talking and writing about for at least fifteen years. I keep reporting that it is an important issue and I keep trying to find positive signs that the issue is being taken seriously by those who can actually make positive change happen.
But while some progress have definitely been made and some employers have taken up the challenge to improve the work-life balance of their employees we may have not have come as far as we thought. That’s because the latest study by Canada’s premier expert on this issue, Linda Duxbury and her colleague Christopher Higgins shows that work demands have risen, flexible work arrangement are rare and career mobility is an issue.
The study notes that work demands, particularly around e-mail, have gone up and that there are more employees balancing work, elder care and that despite the talk, many companies have not made progress in the area of work-life balance and employee well-being.
Here are some of the highlights of the survey:
- ·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.
Clearly we have more work to do on this file.
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace consultant and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
He is also the author of The Walker on the Cape, a Sgt. Windflower mystery.