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Many Canadians working overtime, study finds

By Mario Cywinski |

We are all guilty of slacking a little at work, putting things off, relaxing, checking email and surfing the internet, when we are supposed to be getting work done. However, when it comes to clocking hours it seems most Canadians are working in overdrive, according to a recent survey.

The nine to five workday is becoming more and more obsolete as employees are working an average 145 extra hours a year, roughly three hours a week in overtime (time they are not required to work), revealed the Workopolis Hardest Working Canadians Study.

Many skeptics will point out that just because someone stays at the office for a longer period does not mean they are being productive.

"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." said Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis.

Consequently, 32 per cent of Canadian employees said they are working too hard, with only nine per cent admitting that they dont work enough. Interestingly, the majority of respondents said they are working at an ideal level (59 per cent).

Only 20 per cent of 16-24 year olds admitted to working too hard, reinforcing the old adage that younger employees are more likely to take it easy at work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 40 per cent of those over 50 years old said the same.

Therefore, what determines if you are working too hard? According to the survey, key factors include: a high degree of responsibility, a high level of mental effort and a larger than average work load.

As a result of responsibility being a key element of working hard, 61 per cent of manager think they work harder than their employees. However, 75 per cent of employees believe they work equally hard or harder than their boss.

So why are Canadian employees working so much? Here are the most common responses:

  • It is expected (51 per cent);
  • It is simply the way the job is (48 per cent);
  • The company does not have enough employees (41 per cent);
  • Unable to leave work behind at the office (25 per cent);
  • Need the money (22 per cent).

In turn, the top hardest working professions are: mom, nurse, air traffic controller, surgeon and firefighter.

Many in other professions also work too hard and as a result use different mechanisms to cope. These include:

  • taking a sick day (15 per cent),
  • talking to their boss (22 per cent),
  • taking a vacation,
  • delegating more of their work (which is more common for managers), and
  • going out for drinks.

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

Finally, how do you know if you are being over worked? Exhaustion was the number one answer with 72 per cent of Canadian employees being that is a clear sign. Other factors are: stress, lack of balance in life, and no time with family.

To find out if you are working to hard, take the Hardest Working Canadian survey at:

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