Labour Day Brings Back-to-Work Butterflies - Workopolis Poll Finds Working Canadians Wish Laid Back Summer Atmosphere Could Continue All Year Long
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Toronto, Ontario (August 30, 2006) – The Labour Day holiday, an international tradition with roots in Canada, marks the unofficial end of summer and is a significant transition point for many employed Canadians. According to Workopolis' annual Labour Day poll, almost half (41 per cent) of working Canadians say they feel a marked difference in the atmosphere at work before and after the Labour Day long weekend. Many would like to continue the more casual, relaxed feel of summer all year long.
According to the poll of employed Canadian adults, one quarter (26 per cent) feel more refreshed and ready to be productive after summer, while 15 per cent experience feelings of either dread or anxiety. These feelings of dread or anxiety are particularly strong among the youngest workers (18-24 year olds).
"School kids aren't the only ones with butterflies in their stomachs at the end of summer," said Patrick Sullivan, president of Workopolis. "Employers need to be aware that periods of transition, like Labour Day and the end of summer holidays, can have a powerful impact on the attitudes of working Canadians -- both positive and negative. This is a good time of year to regroup with employees to refocus them on their goals and take a temperature read on their motivation."
Employees in Quebec are most likely (51 per cent) to feel refreshed after summer, while B.C. residents are least refreshed (13 per cent.) Feelings of dread and anxiety are highest among younger workers (16 per cent of 18-24 year olds) and workers in Atlantic Canada (19 per cent). Older workers seem to savor the summer routine differences most and are more likely to feel refreshed afterwards (30 per cent of 45-54 year olds and 32 per cent of age 55 plus).
Carrying on that Summertime Feeling
As Labour Day arrives, many Canadian workers bid farewell to leaving early on Friday afternoons, loosening the tie and being more casual. For two-thirds of Canadian workers in the Workopolis poll, summer meant a more informal, comfortable work environment; one which they would like to work in all year long.
The most popular feature of the summer workplace is adjusted working hours, which 34 per cent of workers would like to see continue, followed by a more relaxed attitude (selected by 25 per cent), and a casual dress code (16 per cent).
"How we work is as important to job satisfaction as what we do," explains Sullivan. "In the summer, many workplaces tend to loosen up a little, provide more flexibility about hours or dress code. These environmental factors contribute to employees' positive attitudes toward work. It is important for employers to recognize the role these summer modifications play in overall productivity and satisfaction."
Quebecers particularly covet summer hours with more than half (52 per cent) saying they'd like to see them continue year around. By contrast, B.C. workers place a higher priority on a relaxed attitude (25 per cent) and dress code (25 per cent) compared to summer hours (22 per cent.) Albertans were most likely to say that their workplace environment does not change in the summer: 45 per cent vs. the national average of 34 per cent.
Not surprisingly, preference for a casual dress code is stronger among young workers. Twenty-three per cent of 18-24 year olds want it to continue year-round vs. only 13 per cent of those 55 plus. Desire for adjusted working hours is higher in older workers with 37 per cent of those 55 plus wanting it compared to 29 per cent of 18-24 year olds.
Adjusted work hours were also most desired by those higher income levels, including 45 per cent of those with household incomes of more than $100,000. "Those with the most money, most crave time," comments Sullivan.
Tips for Back-to-Work Workers
Sullivan provides the following tips for working Canadians who want to retain the benefits of the summer feeling all year:
- Manage work hours – Continually coming in early and working late can rapidly lead to stress, loss of motivation and burnout. "Book yourself into an after-work activity -- like a sports class, a dinner plan or a play date with your child -- at least one or two days a week," recommends Sullivan. "Having a firm plan at the end of your day forces you to leave work at a reasonable hour and helps you clear your mind of the day's work."
- Recognize the signs of stress – Identify how stress impacts you personally and look for the early warning signs such as sleeplessness, a short temper or getting sick more often. "Address stress early, before it gets out of hand," said Sullivan. "Talk to your boss about how you're feeling and renegotiate workload or responsibilities."
- Create a positive workplace atmosphere – "You and your coworkers have as much of an influence on workplace atmosphere as management does," says Sullivan. "If you have positive relationship with coworkers, have fun and enjoy humour at work, you'll create a more pleasant and productive environment."
- Treat yourself – A smart employer will celebrate your major achievements, but you should also reward yourself for the smaller, everyday successes. "Too often we focus on the problems we're having and not on what we have achieved," said Sullivan. "Even small rewards – like treating yourself to a special lunch – can have a powerful psychological affect."
Best time for a Career Change?
Even though Labour Day is a time of readjustment, only 27 per cent of Workopolis poll respondents thought fall was a good time to make a career change. Spring was the first choice with 35 per cent selecting it.
"When planning a career or job change, don't follow the pack," says Sullivan. "The fact is there are new job opportunities coming on the market all the time, including the fall, when many companies are doing forward planning. Job seekers should continually keep their eyes open for opportunities even if they are not considering an immediate change. For example, signing up for JobAlert emails on workopolis.com will notify you the moment one of our 60,000 relevant job opportunities become available."
A Canadian-born Holiday
The Labour Day holiday is generally thought to have originated in Canada in 1872 from a demonstration held by the Toronto Trades Assembly. At the time, workers wanted a reduction to a 58-hour work week -- a far cry from today's average -- and the right to join trade unions. Since then, annual workers' picnics and demonstrations have been held across Canada, including one attended by a member of an American carpenters' union who took the idea of a labour festival to the U.S. The first official American Labour Day was on September 5, 1882.
Labour Day became a statutory holiday in Canada in 1894. September was picked because it would coincide with the American holiday. The concept of a labour celebration has now spread around the world.
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About the poll: The Workopolis Labour Day Poll was conducted between August 17 – 21, 2006 via a national omnibus telephone survey conducted by Decima Research among a representative sample of 609 working adult Canadians. The margin of error is +/- 4%, 19 times out of 20.