Businesses and workers both benefit from flexible schedules

March 4th, 2013 · No Comments · News Release, Nursing, Research, Social Work, business, human ecology

According to recent StatsCan data, at least a quarter of Canadian parents in dual-earner families said they were unsatisfied with the balance in their work and family domains. Parents are spending an increasing amount of time in the workplace, which often means less time with their loved ones.

The traditional nine-to-five schedule can be rigid and restrictive for modern parents. But research by Karen Duncan and Rachael Pettigrew of the Faculty of Human Ecology at the University of Manitoba provides insight on how employers and parents can restore that balance, and help strengthen the basic unit of society-the family.

“Parents who work flexible hours are more likely to be satisfied with their work-family balance,” says Pettigrew. “Flexible hours allow parents to schedule their work time around appointments and other family obligations, easing the stress of the parental balancing act. This proved particularly impactful for women, who remain primary caregivers in the home, despite 82 per cent of Canadian women being represented in the workforce.”

On the other hand, Duncan and Pettigrew found that fathers doing shift work and self-employed parents had a harder time balancing work and family life. These positions can be stressful, full of responsibility, and lead to health problems, along with their negative impact on a balanced life.

The study also indicated that an employee’s enjoyment of their work played a huge role in how well they balanced their family time and their jobs. Data showed that Canadian parents who enjoyed their time at work were about seven times more likely to be happy with the balance in their lives.

Employers and policymakers can help ease the strain on working parents-and especially working mothers-by allowing for a flexible approach to workplace policy when possible. Efforts to ensure employees enjoy their time in the workplace could also go a long way towards supporting Canadian families, Duncan and Pettigrew’s study shows.

Duncan notes: “These approaches could pay dividends in the workplace by reducing the frequency of costly absenteeism and employee turnover-which are common when workers are overstressed-and leading to a more productive workforce.”

For a summary of the research, visit:

For more information, contact: Karen Duncan, family social sciences, Faculty of Human Ecology, University of Manitoba, at: 204-474-6702 or email:

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