Workopolis: News Releases

Who Is Working Hard and Who Is Hardly Working?

Workopolis Poll reveals Canadians clock an extra 145 work hours each year

"When I started the business, I hardly went home.  I became very driven about work and about my career."  -- Calvin Klein

August 28, 2008 – Not many of us are working nine to five anymore, and in fact, Canadians are working almost three hours more each week than our employers expect.  Add that up and we're working an average of 145 extra hours each year.  But do logging long hours qualify as 'hard working'?  According to the Workopolis Hardest Working Canadians Study, the top three factors that determine hard work are: a high degree of responsibility, a high level of concentration or mental effort and a heavier than average work load. 

Overall, one third (32 per cent) of Canadians surveyed indicated they're working 'too hard', while six in ten (59 per cent) thought that work levels were 'just right'.  Another nine per cent confessed they're not working 'hard enough'.  Age plays a factor and forty per cent of those aged 50+ say they work too hard, compared to only 20 per cent of those 16-24. One-quarter (25 per cent) of Albertans surveyed report working hard all of the time.

"As Canadians continue to work harder and harder, are we in fact working any better or smarter?  Longer hours don't necessarily mean increased productivity." said Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis.  "The bottom line: assess the reasons why you're working hard.  Do you have an intrinsic drive or are there external factors being placed on you?"

Reasons We're Working Hard

  • According to the survey, Canadians report they're working hard because:
    • It's expected of them (51 per cent)
    • It's just the nature of the job (48 per cent)
    • Their work environment is understaffed (41 per cent).
  • One-quarter (25 per cent) of respondents said they can't leave work behind, and another quarter (22 per cent) indicated they work hard for financial compensation.
  • Not surprisingly, Western Canada's labour shortage continues to impact the workforce.  They were most likely to report working hard due to understaffing.
  • Women are more likely than their male counterparts to work hard to prove themselves (38 versus 31 per cent), while men are more likely to be doing so in order to get ahead (37 versus 31 per cent) in their careers.

Who Works Harder – You or the Boss?
Six in ten (61 per cent) managers surveyed believe they work harder than their employees. The reason why?  Managers indicated that increased responsibility is a sign of hard work.   

But when employees were asked if their managers work harder, only one-quarter agreed with the statement.  Most Canadian workers think they either work equally hard (45 per cent) or harder (30 per cent) because they're able to get more done.  

Top Five Hardest Working Professions
According to the Workopolis Hardest Working Canadians Study, Canadians weighed in and here are the top five hardest working professions:
  • Moms
  • Nurses
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Surgeons
  • Fire-fighters

But their reasons for landing on this hard working list vary.  The survey revealed that for moms, it's because of their high amount of responsibility, and non-standard work hours that put them on top.  But, stress, mental concentration, physical effort and even danger were essential factors for the remaining four professions that rounded out the list. 

The Hard Work Effect
As Canadians continue to put in the extra time, according to the survey, working Canadians are turning to a variety of coping mechanisms to compensate for hard work:

  • Taking a little 'me' time was the most popular, followed by exercise, vacation days, drinks out and delegating more.
  • Fifteen per cent resort to taking a sick day when they're working too hard, while only slightly more (twenty two per cent) would approach their boss about it.
  • Non-managers were more likely to turn to colleagues for help, while managers were more inclined to delegate more.

"While it's important to find coping mechanisms to relieve stress and remove yourself from a difficult situation, the next step is to resolve the problem is through communication," added Sullivan.  "Employees who find that they are unable to cope with the pressure need to speak up and look to your manager for advice on how to improve the situation.  It may mean that additional support needs to be hired or that some of your work is delegated to others, but it is critical to find a solution rather than simply relying on a temporary escape."

Evaluating Your Hard Work

  • How much of your day is 'real' work versus 'busy' work?  Be careful not to let meaningless emails or playing phone tag with someone fill up your day.   Put technology to good use to help you to work smarter – not harder. 
  • An understaffed environment isn't a good reason to be overworked, unless it's just for the short term.  Speak with your manager and let them know how you're feeling.
  • You may want to consider meeting with a time management consultant for tips if you're feeling overwhelmed at work. 

Signs You're Working Too Hard
Exhaustion topped the list with three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents indicating this was the key indicator of being over-worked.  Stress, lack of balance in life, time away from family and working too many hours are among the many other symptoms being felt by Canadians. 

With Labour Day right around the corner, now is an ideal time to take stock of your workplace behaviours and reassess your career path.  Canadians can go to to find additional information and take a quiz to see if they are working too hard.
About Workopolis:
Workopolis is Canada's leading online career-solutions provider with over 3.3 million unique visitors monthly in Canada, the most posted resumes and twice as many job postings as the nearest competitor. 

Workopolis provides a fully bilingual suite of industry-leading products and services including:

  • Powerful Resume Database search functions and intuitive screening tools to help connect employers with the "best fit" candidates – contributing to a 71 per cent hiring success rate for customers.
  • An inside look at niche industries with access to over 100 professional and trade associations. 
  • Career alerts, resume rescue and an online salary calculator to help job seekers find the right job.

Headquartered in Toronto, Workopolis has offices in eight Canadian cities.  Workopolis is a partnership of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and Gesca Ltd., the newspaper publishing subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada.

Workopolis is the exclusive Official Supplier of Online Recruitment Services for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The Workopolis Hardest Working Canadians Study was undertaken by Environics Research Group and involved 4,107 Canadians from June 12 to July 23, 2008.  As in many surveys conducted, a probability sample was not interviewed, but rather visitors to the Workopolis site were able to "opt in" to the sample.  As such, the statistical theories used to calculate margin of sampling error do not apply and a margin should not be quoted.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Meredith Adolph or Sheryl So
Environics Communications
416-969-2667 or 416-969-2725