Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Work-Life Conflicts Getting Worse

It's hard for leader-managers to model great leadership and to inspire employees when they themselves are tuckered out. I've interviewed scores of overloaded and stressed out managers in the last few years who have legitimate complaints about the workplace. They work longer hours, regularly taking work home. Downsizing has squeezed their numbers causing them to have their heads buried in tasks at the expense of overseeing, coaching and mentoring. Child care and elder care just add to the stress. The research bears out their experiences. Work-life balance is more talk than action among large Canadian organizations.

Professors Linda Duxbury and Chris Higgins from Carleton and Western Universities respectively have raised many red flags with their research. Managers, in particular, are on treadmills, not of the healthy exercise kind. The greatest surprise is that men, managers and professionals and employees in the not-for-profit sector have the heaviest work demands. Furthermore managers and professionals regardless of gender in all regions across the country work are less likely to be paid for their considerable overtime hours. See Duxbury and Higgins report at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pphb-dgspsp/publicat/work-travail/index.html

This is a complex issue that requires leadership from the very top and an awakening by managers to get better control of this runaway problem. Smart strategy and strong organizational cultures are not easily created and sustained when workload drives the agenda.

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