Time to Think Outside the Box
Balancing our work and personal lives has never been more difficult. There may have been generations and ages where more time was spent hunting and gathering food, but before electricity it was hard to work overtime. People worked harder at different times of the year but there were also slow periods that gave bodies and minds a chance to rejuvenate.
In 1999 the Conference Board of Canada found that twice as many Canadians reported moderate to high levels of stress as a result of trying to balance their work and home lives, a sharp increase compared to 1989 (46.2 percent in 1999; 26.7 percent in 1989).
These stress levels are reflected in health problems and absences. Respondents reporting a high degree of stress in balancing work and family life also report missing an average of 7.2 days of work while those reporting very little stress in balancing work and family have missed, on average, 3.6 days.
Some people, notably unions and government, point to the need for intervention as a solution to this situation. Out of this concept has grown the ideas of workplace childcare; flextime, family leave, or fitness facilities. The latest idea is elder care for employees caring for elderly parents.
But it seems to me that all these well-intentioned ideas have done is to create a greater imbalance within the workplace. And that is what is happening in many workplaces as employers try to ensure a healthy balance between work and personal lives.
Researchers in this area like Linda Duxbury of Carleton University have published studies that show that over the last ten years the balance between the work and personal lives of Canadians has undergone considerable strain.