Work-life balance and
combo to go
Synopsis of a presentation by Dr. Linda Duxbury
innovative way to get around town. Her new bicycle weighs
I recently had the privilege of attending a half-day presentation given
by Dr. Linda Duxbury, Canada’s leading expert on the topic of work-
life balance. Dr. Duxbury has been actively involved in researching
work-life balance for more than 20 years. She is on top of the very
latest statistics and trends in this area and guides PhD students
in completing their theses on issues related to work-life balance.
Given her background, I was not surprised that her talk was very
informative, but her lively and engaging style was a big bonus.
transportation and her own pedal power in getting to work,
Dr. Linda Duxbury had come from Ottawa to address a group of
approximately 150 men and women, mostly municipal public sector
employees, on why organizations need to take action now to reduce
work-life conﬂict in their ﬁrms. Although work-life balance has been
a serious issue for more than a decade, little has been done so far to address these problems. Using Duxbury’s metaphor, standing still is no longer an option; we are at the edge of a precipice and must address the burgeoning increase in work-life conﬂict and role overload. We must act not only in the interest of the individual’s physical and mental health, but also in the interest of the organization, and in the interest of our already overburdened health system.
Summary of the issues
The workplace challenges that we need to be addressing, according
to Duxbury, are “role overload,” “work to family conﬂict,” “family to
work conﬂict,” Role overload is deﬁned as “having too much to do in
the amount of time allocated to do it.” Work to family conﬂict, as the
term suggests, is when work responsibilities negatively impact one’s
relationship with family. Family to work conﬂict occurs when family
illness or other crises prevent one from meeting work responsibilities.
According to Duxbury’s ﬁgures, almost 60% of employees report high levels of role overload. This in turn is the #1 predictor of prescription drug use in Canada with Prozac being the most prescribed drug.
Work to family conﬂict, as Duxbury points out, rose from about 25%
“Laughter is the sun that
to 30% over the decade from 1991 to 2001 and has been continuing
drives winter from the
to rise ever since. This has resulted in increased levels of job stress,
depression, burnout, and physical illness, as well as higher rates of
absenteeism and lower levels of engagement at work.
What makes work-life
conﬂict an even bigger
issue for employers today?
dollars. It is simply unsustainable.
ularly among “boomer” employees.
As if these soaring work-life conﬂict issues were not challenge
What can be done to turn
Why has work-life conﬂict
spiralled out of control?
with the issue of work-life conﬂict.
What would be the cost of
Statistics Canada reports, show the increased medical beneﬁt costs,
them in her presentation, include those that continue to add more
billion in doctors’ visits, $4 billion
The Employee and Family
into your hands!
telecommuting, developing healthy organizational cultures,
remember to help ensure that you don’t infect anyone else. Most
the struggles we face daily in trying
personal needs. Thanks to everyone
A daily dose of chocolate
Did you know?
Health food or fattening indulgence?
Dark chocolate contains the antioxidant epicatechin, a plant ﬂavonoid
which is also found in tea, red wine, and various fruits and vegetables.
(Flavonoids beneﬁt your body by attacking free radicals—the generally
bad stuff that causes cell damage, leading to heart disease, strokes and
cancer). Consuming small, regular amounts of dark chocolate (with a
cocoa content of 70% or more) may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels,
reduce the risk of blood clots, and reduce hypertension.
urine and pipe it into a holding tank that farmers
Plant ﬂavonoids contribute to colour. Accordingly, the darker the
chocolate, the higher the level of ﬂavonoids. Three-quarters of an ounce of dark chocolate contains about the same amount of ﬂavonoids as a
glass of red wine. Milk proteins appear to bind to these antioxidant
qualities, blocking absorption by the body. Accordingly, milk and
white chocolate do not contain beneﬁcial amounts of ﬂavonoids, and
consuming a glass of milk with your dark chocolate will negate the
The fat in dark chocolate comes from cocoa butter, which is equal parts
oleic acid (heart-healthy monounsaturated fat), stearic acid (a somewhat
heart-neutral fat, which may lower LDL), and palmitic acid (a saturated
The bad news about chocolate, of course, is that it is high in calories.
Adding a 1-ounce bar to your daily diet will pack approximately 150
calories into your waistline. That can quickly reverse any health beneﬁts!
If you do indulge in a square or two a day, make sure you offset the
extra calories. And please remember that fair-trade chocolate is generally
HeartMath ﬁtness tip
The Institute of HeartMath is a great information organization for
research linking emotions and “heart-brain communication” (www.
In one of their recent newsletters, they offered a “HeartMath Fitness
“When you’re exercising, choose an attitude you want to carry with you
during the day. Before you start your exercise, take a minute to focus on
the feeling of that attitude. An example would be if you want to have an
attitude of “ease” through your day, focus on what it feels like when you
are moving through your day effortlessly, handling whatever comes up during the day with clear thoughts and a balanced feeling inside.
The contents of this newsletter are intended to encourage better
“While holding that feeling in your heart, you can then start breathing
health decisions, not to provide medical advice. Please consult
that attitude and carry the attitude and feeling with you into your
workout routine and for the rest of the day.”
before embarking on any new diet or exercise regime.
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THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL Resources Committee – 5th October 2005 Report by Director of Corporate Services Smoking Cessation Support in Support of the Policy on Managing Smoking at Work Summary This report proposes that smoking cessation support be made available for elected members and staff in support of the policy on Managing Smoking at Work. Introduction It was agree