Job Quality Indicators » Work-Life Balance

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Overall Work-Life Balance

Increasing work-life conflict during the 1990s shows up in two areas: role overload and work to family conflict. Role overload (RO) occurs when people have too much to do, and too little time to do it; work to family conflict (WTF) occurs when the demands of work make it difficult for employees to meet their family responsibilities. The fact that both intensified during the 1990s may not be surprising, given the trends in the world of work in that decade. During the 1990s, many employers downsized, leaving those who remained to ‘do more with less.’ Earnings declined in most of the decade, so, many families needed more paid work hours to pay the bills. The ‘digital revolution’ introduced technologies that blurred the lines between work time and personal time - laptops and cell phones made work possible anywhere, anytime.

 

Canadians Increasingly Stressed From Work 

Source: Duxbury and Higgins (2001). Work Life Balance in the New Millennium:
Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?
 

As the chart shows, while work-family conflict increased somewhat between 1991and 2001, role overload rose sharply during that period. While high levels of role overload affected 47 percent of employees in 1991, 10 years later the rate had increased to 59 percent. Moreover, only one in ten respondents in 2001 characterized their level of role overload as ‘low,’ a slight drop from 13 percent in 1991 (data not shown). At the same time, the proportion of employees surveyed who reported high levels of job stress jumped from 13 to 27 percent. The 1990s also saw a drop in the number of employees who say they are highly satisfied with their jobs, from 62 to 45 percent.

 

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