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Are We Working Too Hard?

August 28 2017 - A survey of 1,057 working Canadians conducted by Leger for Monster Canada in June of this year found that a quarter of respondents had left a job due to stress and a further 17% had considered it. 58% said they were overworked.

According to Angela Payne, General Manager for Monster Canada:

"Working Canadians are under a lot of pressure on the job - this, coupled with personal commitments and a desire to advance professionally, may be creating a heightened sense of stress at work. For employers, this can lead to a worrying combination of decreased productivity and reduced staff retention."

"For those starting out in their careers, saying yes to opportunities can be second nature. But the work can add up fast, which may impact stress levels. These findings suggest that employers should consider focusing more retention efforts on employees making under $40K since they may be prone to excessive job stress."

The survey found that Canadians earning less than $40K were most likely to say they had left a job due to stress (38%). 27% in the next earning bracket, $40K-$59K, also departed a job for the same reason.

Regionally, respondents in Quebec were most likely to say they were overworked (64%), Ontarians (61%) - compared with 41% on the west coast. But another Monster Canada survey found that British Columbia employees were more likely to be unmotivated (27%) than Canadians generally (22%). Similarly, British Columbians were a little more likely (27%) to say that they had left a job because of work stress than the verage Canadian (25%).

Did respondents feel that their employer supported work-life balance? Despite the high level of employees who felt overworked, 65% said yes, but those who had left jobs because of stress were more likely to disagree..

Angela Payne added:

"While employers support and offer work-life balance initiatives to their staff, employees may not feel encouraged to take advantage of them. Establishing and growing relationships between managers and workers can help ensure that the most suitable programs are being offered and used."

When asked what the most stressful part of their job is, nearly one-third of Canadians indicated workload/being overworked. This compares to a recent Monster poll in the U.S., which found navigating office politics to be the top source of stress (25 per cent). In Canada, only 20 per cent of working Canadians found navigating office politics most stressful.

Quebec workers were the most likely to report their workload as being the main source of stress (36 per cent), followed by Ontarians (34 per cent). While those working on the west coast were least likely to report stress because of workload, they were most likely to find navigating office politics stressful (28 per cent).

Angela Payne concluded:

"As we know, stress comes in all shapes and sizes at work. To avoid the possibility of employees seeking greener pastures elsewhere, when possible, employers should consider taking steps to establish more sustainable workloads for employees, and consider employee engagement programs that keep motivation high during busy times."

Monster offers tips and advice on how to stay stress-free at work at

Previous article

We all seem to be working longer hours but does that mean we are working hard? The 'Hardest Working Canadians Study' conducted for Workopolis in 2008 identified the top three factors that determine hard work:

  • a high degree of responsibility
  • a high level of concentration or mental effort, and
  • a heavier than average work load

About a third (32%) of 4,107 Canadians surveyed by Environics Research Group btween June 12 and July 23, 2008 said they were working 'too hard'. But 59% thought their work levels were 'just right' and a further 9% said they were not working 'hard enough'.

While 40% of respondents aged 50+ said they worked too hard only 20% of 16-24 year olds sais the same.

Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis said:

"As Canadians continue to work harder and harder, are we in fact working any better or smarter? Longer hours don't necessarily mean increased productivity.

"The bottom line: assess the reasons why you're working hard. Do you have an intrinsic drive or are there external factors being placed on you?"

Reasons for working hard

Respondents to the survey said they worked hard because:

  • It's expected of them (51%)
  • It's just the nature of the job (48%)
  • Their work environment is understaffed (41%)

25% said they could not leave work behind, with another 22% saying they worked hard for the money. Respondents in the Western Provinces were most likely to cite understaffing as the reason for working hard. Intriguingly, women were more likely than men to say they worked hard to prove themselves (38% versus 31%). Conversely, men were more likely to do so in order to advance their careers (37% versus 31%).

Who works hardest?

While 61% of managers in the survey thought they worked harder than their employees - because of increased responsibility - only a quarter of staff agreed with them. Most employees thought they worked just as hard (45%) or even harder (30%).

In occupational terms, the following five profesions were rated as the hardest workers:

  • Mothers - because of the high amount of responsibility, and non-standard work hours
  • Nurses
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Surgeons
  • Fire-fighters

Stress, mental concentration, physical effort and even danger were cited as essential factors for the final four professions.

How do we cope?

While 72% of respondents said that exhaustion this was the most significant indicator of too much work, stress, lack of work/life balance , time away from the family and working too many hours were also mentioned. The following coping mechanisms were cited:

  • Taking some 'me' time was most popular, followed by exercising, taking acation days, drinks out and delegating more.
  • 15% admitted to taking a sick day when they were working too hard
  • 20% said they would approach their bosses about overwork
  • .
  • Non-managers were most likely to approach colleagues for help, while managers tended to delegate more.

Patrick Sullivan said:

"While it's important to find coping mechanisms to relieve stress and remove yourself from a difficult situation, the next step is to resolve the problem is through communication

"Employees who find that they are unable to cope with the pressure need to speak up and look to your manager for advice on how to improve the situation. It may mean that additional support needs to be hired or that some of your work is delegated to others, but it is critical to find a solution rather than simply relying on a temporary escape."

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