“Workaholic” label losing its luster as Canadians seek more time with family

Gap emerging between Canadians’ personal values and workplace values: Desjardins Study

  • Nearly 80% of Canadians do not consider themselves “workaholics”
  • Family (54%), honesty (25%) and good health (23%) are the values most important to Canadians while work (10%) and money (5%) are among the least important.
  • For 74% of Canadians, families are where they derive their values from.
  • Almost two-thirds of Canadian workers (65%) believe there is a gap between workplace and personal values.
  • Only 27% of Canadians are convinced that work-life balance is possible.

TORONTO (Tuesday, April 24, 2007) – Bragging rights about being a workaholic may be coming to an end and being replaced by a focus on the family according to a study published today by Desjardins Financial Security. The study found that only 22% of Canadians now consider themselves to be a workaholic. When asked about the values most important to Canadians, 54% of Canadians listed family while work was only listed by 10% of Canadians.

Despite hectic work schedules, Canadians are working hard to put these family values into practice. Approximately 72% of Canadians plan vacations and 72% are having regular meals with their families and friends.

Canadians are not convinced that the priority they are placing on family is being fully supported by their workplaces. While many companies are implementing programs to promote work/life balance for their employees, the study results show that 65% of Canadians feel that the values at their workplace are not in tune with their personal values.

According to the survey one-quarter (25%) of Canadians are assured that their organization “walks the talk” when it comes to work-life balance and only 29% feel their employer truly cares about their work-life balance.

“Despite the general perception that work is increasingly defining us, this study shows that Canadians’ priority is still their family,” says Dr. David Goldbloom, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

“This gap between employees’ values and their workplace values is a warning sign to employers. If employees do not feel that they can balance their work and their personal priorities such as their families, not only are we going to see the number of Canadians struggling with mental health issues increase, but we are also going to face an employee base who are resentful, disengaged and stressed,” says Dr. Irvin Wolkoff, a psychiatrist in private practice in Toronto, and a commentator on mental health in the psychiatric and international community.

Released in anticipation of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) National Mental Health Week (May 7-13th), the study sponsored by Desjardins Financial Security explores Canadians’ perceptions of and experiences with mental health both at home and at work.

“With the war for talent in Canada escalating, employers cannot afford to ignore the needs of their employees. What we are seeing is that there is no longer a right employee for the job, but rather a right workplace and job for an employee, “says Alain Thauvette, Senior Vice President of Group and Business Insurance at Desjardins Financial Security. “Employers who tune their workplace policies and culture to compliment and support employee values will attract the best and brightest talent.”

Despite the fact that Canadians want to put family first, many are beginning to question whether balance is possible. Although 81% of Canadians want to achieve work-life equilibrium, only 27% of respondents are convinced that work-life balance is attainable in our society and only 17% strongly believe our society supports its workers having good work-life balance.

This scepticism is leading Canadians to cope with stress instead of deal with the sources of stress head-on. Canadians report that when they are stressed, 43% do physical activities, 16% talk to someone they trust, 13% read a book and 11% engage in a relaxing activity such as yoga. Only two percent reduce their working hours and only 14% talk to their supervisors about their concerns regarding work / life balance.

“I’m not surprised to see that Canadians are frustrated in their attempts to create a balance between their work and the rest of their lives – they don’t feel it’s possible because of their workplaces,” says Glenn Thompson, CEO of CMHA, National. “But our experience is showing us that more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of supporting work-life balance. Ultimately, a mentally healthy employee is more productive and has fewer absences, making mental health a wise investment for employers.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s 56th annual National Mental Health Week (May 7-13) is presented this year by Desjardins Financial Security. Desjardins Financial Security will also be sponsoring the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Conference being held at the Rotman School of Management on May 3rd and 4th, 2007.

For more information please visit: www.desjardinsfinancialsecurity.com/cool

About the Survey

SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted the survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between February 12th and March 14th, 2007. In total, 1,508 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian adults. The sampling plan provides proportional estimates with a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 2.6% at a 95% confidence level (19 times out of 20). The data was statistically weighted to accurately reflect the composition of Canadians by region, gender and age based on Statistics Canada’s 2001 Census information.

About Desjardins Financial Security

Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in group and individual life and health insurance, and savings products and services. Every day, over 5 million Canadians rely on Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. With a staff of over 3,700 employees, Desjardins Financial Security manages and administers close to $20 billion in assets from offices in major cities across the country, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Levis, Halifax and St. John’s.