Pat Katz Pat Katz




PAUSE – 13.03 – Are We Progressing or Regressing?

Reflection: What do you think? When it comes to work-life conflict and balance, are we making progress or sliding deeper into the morass? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

To help us determine the results, Ontario researchers, Duxbury and Higgins, have just released their 2012 survey of Canadian employees. It’s the third time in two decades (1991 and 2001) that they have gone to the proverbial well to set benchmarks for how we are doing on the work life frontier.

I can tell you now, if you placed your bet on ‘backsliding’, you are a clear winner. But, of course that means, that Canadian workplaces and employees are the losers. Here are a few highlights from the survey info provided by 25,000 Canadian employees.

  • Work demands continue to increase dramatically. The typical employee now spends 50.2 hours in work related activities each week. By gender, 68% of men and 54% of women now work more than 45 hours per week compared to 55% of men and 39% of women in the 2001 survey.
  • Work spills into ‘off-hours’. 54% of employees take work home on evenings and weekends where they spend another 7 hours/week on work (much of it email).
  • Role overload is common. 40% report high levels of total role overload. The source? 32% report high work role overload and 26% report high family role overload.
  • The impact of work life conflict on the workplace includes absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased draws on employee benefits. The personal impact includes loss of sleep, low energy, and less time for selves – notably fewer social and recreation activities.

As you might guess, stress levels are up. 57% report high levels of stress, and 40% report moderate levels of stress. Only a lucky 3% report low levels of stress.


Action: D & H offer these recommendations for organizations.

  • Shift the culture so that life roles of all types are recognized as legitimate priorities.
  • Focus more on practices than policies.
  • Strengthen the skills of managers to actively support employees as they move between life roles and demands.
  • Encourage those in charge to extend as much flexibility as possible.

What’s my take on the situation? Well, clearly, our workplace cultures are slow to change – at least for the better. I’m all for supporting the actions noted above, and if there is some way for you to influence the choices in your organization, go for it. In addition, I would suggest that organizations monitor workload and its impact, actively negotiate reasonable expectations, and help employees jettison low value tasks from endless lists.

And, since we need to work – and many of us love to work – while we await that elusive collective change for the better, it continues for each of us to do what we can to take care of ourselves and to care for our colleagues in the midst of it all.

Don’t be a stranger to your self. Track your own stats – hours spent at work and beyond, so you know your own reality. Tune in to your own moods and mindset, so you are familiar with the impact of choices you are making now. Monitor what’s working and what’s not.

Create practical ways to care for yourself in the face of the load you carry. Small steps – small actions – small pauses for renewal and self-care are of tremendous value in maintaining energy and reducing stress.

Watch out for those around you, and use the power of your own example to encourage them in self care, too.


Quotes Of The Week: You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. – Stephen Covey

What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now. – Buddha


Resource Of The Week: Here’s your link to the Revisiting Work-Life Issues in Canada: 2012 National Study.


Readers Write: In response to the most recent message, ‘What Are YOU Waiting For?’, Pause reader JH writes: Thanks, as always for the uplifting message! This one in particular resonated with me. I have spent the last three years dealing with infertility. It has been a roller coaster of emotion – hope and anticipation alternating with disappointment and despair. I found that I was putting my life on hold waiting to become pregnant. I stopped doing things for myself, or making plans too far into the future that would have to change if I became pregnant. I was in major self-imposed limbo! I was spending more time being upset about not having what I wanted, and wasting precious moments of appreciation for all the abundance that is in my life today.

I recently allowed myself to acknowledge that the sum of the past three years has been incredibly difficult…and that this is a big deal and it was okay that I was struggling with it. I decided to take a look at what I could do to make some positive changes to keep on moving forward, and enjoy life right now.  It has been powerful to shift my focus from being a baby-crazy-mom-wannabe to just being ME. I am grateful for all the richness and fullness I have in my life today. Because, after all, who knows what tomorrow will hold?


Upcoming Life Balance Leadership Seminar:  Ever wonder whether taking part in a one day program can make a difference in the workplace? Read this Cameco Today article to see how four colleagues who attended last year’s Life Balance Leadership program put their insights to work.

If you and some of your colleagues are interested in making changes in your workplace, join me at this year’s Life Balance Leadership Seminar being held April 9, 2013 here in Saskatoon. This link will take you to the University of Saskatchewan Business & Leadership Program site for details.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

Leave a Reply