Canadian Employees Are Overworked and Burnt Out, But Surprisingly Happy at Work

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 business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

“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? Either way, employers need to retain talent and optimize productivity, engagement and loyalty with employees.”

Longer days and constant connection leading to burn out

Employees are working longer days, and a quarter of them regularly work after the standard workday is done. Furthermore, about four out of 10 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 10 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.

Also, half of employees said decreasing work load or providing more time to complete tasks would minimize burnout. That may seem daunting to employers, but employees said some simple steps would help:

  • Provide a more flexible schedule
  • Encourage employees to take breaks
  • Improve technology

Employees are happy despite long hours, but still pose a flight risk. Flexibility is key.

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. With employees working longer days and on weekends, the biggest request for employers is to provide more flexibility. Other steps employers can take to improve happiness include:

  • Add more office perks
  • Improve office technology
  • Provide better office design

Of particular note is that all of these softer benefits are more important to millennial happiness than any other age group.

Flexibility is also critical to the recruitment and retention of top talent. In fact, work-life balance was one of the most important aspects to employees when looking for a new job (56 per cent), which is even more important than increased salary. Additionally, one in five employees cited work-life balance issues as a reason for considering a job change while nearly four out of 10 identified it as a leading contributor of loyalty.

Differences between U.S. and Canada

In most cases, findings for the U.S. and Canada were similar; however there were a few notable differences. A higher percentage of Canadians cited work-life balance and workplace flexibility as the most important workplace motivators. Following a similar pattern, more Canadian employees identified work-life balance as one of the most important considerations when looking for a new job and a higher number of Canadians reported they would actually leave their job if their telecommuting benefits were taken away.

“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. They are also some of the most important considerations as workers look for a new job,” 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. We are committed to understanding how the workplace is evolving so we can effectively educate, advise and support our customers through these changes. ”

Staples Advantage Workplace Index Methodology

The survey was conducted among 2,602 employees 18 or older across a variety of companies, both in size, geography and industry. A total of 1,528 employees were interviewed in the U.S. (1,026 were classified as general workers and 502 as business decision makers). A total of 1,074 employees were interviewed in Canada (744 general office workers and 330 decision makers). The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in May 2015. This survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.9% at 95% confidence limits.

To download the rest of the Full Report, Download the Workplace Index Full Report

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Welcome to the Staples Advantage Canada blog!

Join us here weekly as we publish informative articles to assist every company to run a more cost-effective and efficient business while promoting an enjoyable work environment for employees.

Check out some of our most popular features and articles:

4 Steps To Reduce Digital Clutter:
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Fifty Shades of Green:
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3 Easy Ways to Clear Your Mind At Work:
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How Collaborative Workspaces Improve Office Productivity:
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Choosing the perfect office chair fabric

Colour and style, comfort and durability – choosing the perfect fabric for your office chair is all about getting the right balance.

That’s what makes these four fabrics so popular for office chairs. They not only look good and feel comfortable but, most importantly, they are able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use.

Four popular office chair fabrics:

  1. Wool: This is among the most popular fabrics for office chairs, thanks to the endless array of colours, styles and textures to choose from. Wool has a high abrasion resistance and is naturally breathable and flame-retardant. It also tends to be more budget friendly than leather chairs. On the downside, it is easier to stain and requires regular cleaning to keep it looking its best.
  2. Mesh: Mesh chairs provide the highest level of breathability and airflow to keep the body cool. Mesh also adapts to the body for a more personalized fit, is durable and easy to clean with a damp cloth. These features combined with its affordable price tag make mesh an excellent choice for general office workspaces and meeting rooms.
  3. Leather: Inviting, durable and timeless, leather chairs speak of quality and class. A good quality leather covering will last a lifetime, and is the epitome of style for executive offices, conference rooms and reception areas.
  4. Synthetic (PU) Leather: This fabric ticks all the boxes when it comes to style, durability and easy care, however can be less breathable than other fabrics. On the upside, PU gives the desired leather look without the price tag.The bottom line is that the fabric you choose needs to fit the chair’s purpose. While leather chairs provide prestige for executive offices and conference rooms, mesh and fabric chairs will be more suitable for all day, every day use.

Consider how your chosen fabric, texture and colour combination will work with your interior, existing or new. You’ll want your choice in chair to maintain a flow and pull the look together.

The bottom line is that the fabric you choose needs to fit the chair’s purpose. While leather chairs provide prestige for executive offices and conference rooms, mesh and fabric chairs will be more suitable for all day, every day use.

Explore the near endless selection of chair solutions we offer at Staples Advantage.

Looking to Boost Productivity? Take a Break.

It may sound counterproductive, but encouraging employees to take a break can actually boost their productivity.

In a recent survey by Staples Advantage, 41% of US workers reported feeling burned out as a result of spending too much time at work. And with 66% of people spending more than 8 hours a day in the office, employees are bound to start feeling the effects of being overworked.

Keeping your breakroom stocked with the snacks and beverages your staff loves can be good for business. Why? 80% of employees say taking short breaks is important to them and makes them more productive, but when they head to the breakroom, it’s often bare.

63% of employees surveyed reported that they feel more appreciated by a company that offers complimentary snacks and beverages. And 76% felt they could reduce their stress and unwind easier in a comfortable and well-stocked breakroom.

Is it time for your company to explore better breakroom options to help motivate your employees?

Explore the Breakroom solutions by Staples Advantage.

Office Ergonomics: The Benefits of a Sit/Stand Workstation

As previously unveiled, 84% of office workers report that they sit at a desk for four or more hours a day, putting so many at risk of long term injuries due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). In an effort to combat the increased lost employee time due to MSDs, many companies have been investing in proper ergonomic tools to help diminish strains and pains caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Sit/stand workstations are a rising workplace trend that offers an ergonomic solution companies are looking for. The hybrid desks allow easy flow of movement between sitting down and standing up, giving employees the option to make a more concerted effort to get away from sitting down all day.

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(Click on images for product information)

And another added bonus? The sit/stand workstations are said to have a variety of positive benefits that improve overall health, including a reduced risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lower long-term morality risk (source).

Learn more about outfitting your office with sit/stand desks from Business Interiors by Staples.

How Collaborative Workspaces Improve Office Productivity


The key to a more productive office might just be moving away from that very thing: the office. Your workspace should make you feel comfortable enough to do your best work, even if that means sitting on the couch with your feet up.

Communal spaces encourage employees to utilize breakout rooms to brainstorm new ideas in a fresh and open atmosphere away from the typical four walls of a cubical desk.

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“The idea is that chance encounters will spark conversations and collaboration that would not happen when creative minds are moored to a singled assigned desk.” – Knowledge©Wharton / “Cost Efficient, Open-Space Office Designs: Ditching Desks-and Privacy”

An alternate option is to add moveable furniture to the office to allow employees to pull up a chair or stool. This helps promote impromptu meetings and thought sharing sessions while working with the current workstations or seating areas already established in your office.

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Business Interiors by Staples offers expert vision in creating workspaces that cater to every environment, including open concept office spaces to encourage employee collaboration.

Learn more about how you can improve your current office workspace to promote employee to participation and productivity. Get started today, click here for more details.