Canadian Employees Overworked and Exhausted… but Surprisingly Happy

Nearly half of employees report feeling overworked (43 per cent) and burnt out (49 per cent), but the overwhelming majority (89 per cent) are still happy at work and motivated to rise in their organization.

These results are from the inaugural Workplace Index conducted by Staples Advantage. The index is a look at trends in the rapidly evolving workplace in Canada.

“With the rise of the mobile workforce and the resulting ‘always on’ work culture, it’s not a surprise that employees are feeling overworked and burnt out,” said Schawbel. “While many are still happy at work, we have to ask whether it’s because they’re truly inspired and motivated, or simply conditioned to the new reality?”

Employees are working longer days, and a quarter of them regularly work after the standard workday is done. Furthermore, about four out of ten work on weekends at least once a month. Breaks are becoming rare as well; half of employees feel like they cannot get up for a break at all and four out of 10 eat lunch at their desk.

According to the Staples Advantage Workplace Index, the driving force behind the “always on” work culture is the need for employees to complete work they don’t have time to do during the day, followed by a desire to get ahead for the following day. A drive to advance in the organization plays a role as well, with more than two-thirds of respondents seeing themselves as managers in the next five years.

Additional research reveals almost four out of ten employees acknowledge that burnout is a motivator for a new job search. Burnout is also eroding productivity, according to 63 per cent of Canadian employees. The biggest culprits in burnout include workload (64 per cent), personal pressures employees put on themselves to perform (37 per cent) and time pressures (44 per cent).

Half of employees surveyed acknowledge they receive too much email, with nearly four out of 10 of those saying that email overload hurts productivity. Inefficient meetings also appear to be a major productivity drain, with some employees spending more than two hours a day in meetings. About a quarter of employees say meetings are inefficient. The majority of employees also say a distraction-free environment would increase productivity by at least 20 per cent, citing loud coworkers as the top distraction.

Though employees are happy, about one in five employees still expect to change jobs in the next 12 months. This flight risk is slightly higher for millennials. 

“The perception is that salary is the most meaningful workplace motivator. However, our research shows that work-life balance and flexibility have emerged as the most important drivers of loyalty among Canadian employees,” said Michael Zahra, President, Staples Advantage Canada. “This is a game changer for the Canadian workforce, especially when you consider that almost one-third of Canadian employers do not offer telecommuting or flex-time programs and have yet to acknowledge the strategic importance of workplace flexibility to their bottom line.”