Tilting Precariously Out Of Balance: Increasing Tension Between Work And Family Time

    OTTAWA, Jan. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The Vanier Institute of the Family today
released two reports that paint a troubling picture of the difficulties
Canadians are having in striking a good and healthy balance between work and
family responsibilities.
    "This is not the first time we have focussed on this issue" says Clarence
Lochhead, the Institute's Executive Director. "The problems of unhealthy work
family balance have been on the radar screen for some time. We know that
trying to succeed in the workplace while at the same time meeting family
obligations leads to stress. We know it affects our ability to provide
essential care to family members at both ends of the age spectrum, and we know
the strategies needed to make it better."
    The report, Work/Family Balance: What do we Really Know?, is from Jacques
Barrette, Professor at the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management.
He has extensively reviewed Canadian and international research documenting
the fundamental causes of work family conflict and their impact on families
and organizations. Prof. Barrette concludes that "despite the discussions and
publicity on the practices put forward by numerous organizations, the
work/family conflict has progressively worsened in the last 10 years." Among
his findings:

    - 44% of Canadians feel that their work has a negative impact on their
      family as economic, technological, and social changes have profoundly
      altered the workplace and created conditions that heighten pressure on
      parents and their families
    - Management practices designed to increase productivity and
      competitiveness can lead to work overload. The internet, cell phones
      and Blackberries keep people more connected but at the same time
      allowing work to encroach further into family life
    - The percentage of parents who have a hard time juggling work and family
      has steadily risen since 1996 and now sits at between 46% and 61%,
      according to studies

    Dr. Barrette's work is complemented by a report from well-respected
Vanier Institute contributor Roger Sauvé. His research into Family Life and
Work Life: An Uneasy Balance tracks key employment indicators which underline
that family time has suffered at the expense of work time. Sauvé estimates
that over the past two decades Canadians are spending about five weeks less
each year with their families, due to work-related issues. More people are
working overtime, commutes are longer and businesses are constantly
reorganizing and restructuring to increase efficiency. Sauvé points out that
these and other changes are leading to more employee dissatisfaction, and more
days absent due to illness and family reasons; absenteeism which is costing
the Canadian economy between $3 to $5 billion dollars a year.
    Vanier Institute of the Family Executive Director Clarence Lochhead
points out that in addition to highlighting the problems, each of these
research reports also puts forward solid recommendations for governments,
employers and individual Canadians; actions that can be positive steps to
restore this necessary balance between work and family life.
    Says Lochhead: "Within the context of the current recession, with much
focus understandably on the loss of jobs, work-life balance can easily take a
back seat to other issues around the corporate board table. However, that
would be a mistake." He added: "The success of our businesses and security of
our jobs ultimately depends on a healthy and sustainable relationship between
work life and family life. That's as true in tough economic times as it is in
good times."

For further information:

For further information: on these reports which are freely available for
downloading at www.vifamily.ca and for interviews: Clarence Lochhead,
Executive Director, Vanier Institute of the Family, (613) 228-8500 x214,
clochhead@vifamily.ca; Jacques Barrette, Ph.D., Telfer School of Management,
University of Ottawa, (613) 260-1351, (613) 562-5800 ext. 4782; Roger Sauvé,
President, People Patterns Consulting, (613) 931-2476,

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