Job Quality Indicators » Work Environment

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Stress and Hours of Work

Heavy work demands, poor relations with co-workers, lack of job security, fear of injury and constant technological change in the workplace can be a major source of stress for many employees. Other indicators on the Jobquality site have documented that almost one in five Canadian employees say they are overworked, the number of Canadians putting in long hours has steadily increased over the past quarter century, close to one in three say that their job is not secure, and an increasing number of Canadian workers must cope with rapid, and seemingly unending, technological change in their workplace.


Workload and Hours: The Most Common Source of Workplace Stress

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

As the chart clearly illustrates, the most commonly cited source of workplace stress or worry was working too many hours or having to deal with too many demands at work. In fact, none of the other issues examined came close. Indeed, more than one in every three Canadian workers reported that heavy work demands or long hours of work had caused them excess worry or stress at some point in 2000. The other sources of workplace stress identified in the chart are discussed in detail as their own separate indicators elsewhere on the Jobquality site.


By Weekly Hours

Those Who Work More Are Also More Likely to Cite Demands as Source of Stress

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

The chart illustrates the relationship between the number of hours worked per week and the likelihood of reporting that hours or work demands had resulted in excess worry or stress in 2000. While a third of Canadian workers employed between 30 and 49 hours per week say that work demands or hours of work have caused them stress or worry, the incidence of stress jumps to more than one in two for those who work excessive hours. Conversely, those who work fewer than 30 hours a week are significantly less likely to say work demands or hours of work had been a source of stress at some point during the year.


By Employment Type

Self-Employed Men Most Likely to Cite Demands/Hours as Source of Stress

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

The chart shows that self-employed men are more likely than employed males to say that work demands or long hours had resulted in feeling stressed or worried during the year. Indeed, our indicator on long hours of work found that roughly 40 percent of all self-employed men worked in excess of 50 hours per week. 

Interestingly, for women the reverse seems to be true - employed women are somewhat more likely than self-employed women to cite hours of work or job demands as a source of stress or worry. It may be that self-employment more easily provides flexibility in terms of when one works than does paid employment, thereby making it somewhat easier to balance work and family responsibilities. In fact, a recent CPRN study by Linda Duxbury and Chris Higgins documented a significant decline throughout the 1990s in employees’ ability to balance their work and family life. 


By Occupation

Half of Professionals And Managers Feel Stressed Because of Hours or Work Demands

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

The incidence of job stress resulting from excessive work demands or hours varies considerably by occupation. As the chart highlights, half of all those in professional and managerial occupations said that work demands or hours had been a source of stress or worry in 2000, and both occupations were well above the national average of 35 percent. For instance, as our indicator on long hours of work reported, managers are among the most likely occupational group to work long hours. While the incidence of stress induced by excessive hours or demands is significantly lower for those employed in sales/service and in blue collar occupations, one in four attribute feeling stressed to work demands or hours worked. 


By Industry

Stress Levels Vary By Industry

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

There are also considerable differences across industries. For instance, two in five of all employed Canadians in transport and utilities, finance and real estate, professional services and health and social assistance, say that long work demands or hours had resulted in stress or excess worry. The incidence is slightly higher for those employed in education services, a finding that is consistent with the fact the teachers are also among the most likely to report that they work 50 or more hour a week.

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