The ability to combine work and personal life is important for the well-being of all individuals. However, finding a balance between work and daily life is often a challenge. Many provincial and territorial governments encourage flexible working patterns and employees attract new workers by emphasising how they support creating a work-life balance.

While achieving a healthy balance between work and free time is the aim, how many Canadians feel they have a work-life balance? And while remote work opportunities have risen following the COVID-19 pandemic, does working from home mean a better work-life balance or has it blurred the boundaries between work time and home time?

In this article, we have collated information about what work-life balance looks like in Canada. We have also included information on how Canada compares globally, the best jobs and employees for work-life balance and the benefits of having a balance between work and free time.

Work-Life Balance Statistics for Canadians

  • Canada ranked 24th for work-life balance in a survey by the OECD.
  • Ottawa has the best work-life balance among Canadian cities and ranks 7th in the world.
  • 88% of Canadians said they enjoyed working from home more often during the pandemic.
  • 21% of the workforce works full time from home.
  • 40% of people over 54 say they would prefer to continue working from home full time.
  • 56% would consider leaving their job told to return to the office full time.
  • Half of the workforce has thought about finding a new job in the last six months.
  • 39% of Canadians would be happy to take a pay cut in order to work fewer hours.
  • 72% of people working from home said they had a good work-life balance, compared to 58% of people who work outside the home.
  • 60% of people working outside the home said they were satisfied with the time they get to spend with their family compared to 70% of people working from home full time.

How does Canada rank globally for work-life balance?

Canada is often considered one of the best countries in the world for work-life balance, but how does it actually compare with other countries? In a recent study by the OECD, researchers looked at how much time on average citizens across the OECD devote to leisure and personal care together with employees working very long hours to rank countries.

Italy, Denmark and Norway hold the top three posts, and Canada is ranked 24th. Although in Canada only 3% of employees work very long hours, the same as in Italy, there is a significant difference in the time devoted to personal care such as sleeping and eating, and leisure, including hobbies, games and watching TV.

The OECD average for time devoted to personal care and leisure is fifteen hours. For Canadians, the figure is 14.6 hours. In Italy, the number is 16.5 hours, the most time across all the OECD countries.

Which Canadian cities have the best-work life balance?

A study conducted by Kisi compared a hundred cities across the world known for their employment opportunities and lifestyle offerings. The focus of the study was to find out which cities provide the healthiest work-life balance for their residents.

The categories they analyzed to establish how good the work-life balance was in the cities studied included work intensity, suitability for remote working, overtime worked, and holiday allowances. They also looked at how well individuals were supported during the pandemic as well as the affordability, happiness and safety of each city.

Topping the list are Oslo, Norway; Bern, Switzerland; and Helsinki, Finland. The best city in Canada for work-life balance, according to the Kisi study, is Ottawa, which ranked seventh. The other Canadien cities that were included in the study were Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, which placed 16th, 19th and 30th.

What impact has working from home had on work-life balance for Canadians?

During and following the pandemic, more Canadians have worked from home. A very large majority of those workers, 88%, said they enjoyed working from home more often in an Ipsos poll they conducted for Global News. The survey also found that those who enjoyed working from home would prefer to continue working from home on a regular basis.

64% of the people taking part in the survey, also said they achieved a better work-life balance when they worked from home. The highest rate was in Quebec where 77% of the people said their work-life balance was better in 2021 than before the pandemic.

How many Canadians work from home all the time?

According to Statistics Canada, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Canadians who worked from home full time in 2021 was 21% with an additional 18% reporting to work from home some of the time. In 2016, only one in twenty said they worked most of the time from home.

However, since the lifting of restrictions, the number of people working full time from home has decreased. In April 2022, 19% of the workforce said they worked from home all the time and 6% said they had a hybrid work arrangement.

Which province or territory has the most people working from home?

People in Ontario are the most likely to work from home full time with just over a quarter of workers saying they work from home all the time. In British Columbia, 16% of employees work from home and 15% in the Atlantic and Prairies provinces.

Which groups prefer working from home the most and are the least willing to return to the office?

According to a survey by Angus Reid, older employees have enjoyed working from home the most and are the least likely to want to return to their workplace full time. Around 40% of Canadians older than 54, say they would prefer to continue working from home full time. Only a third of employees between 18 and 34 say the same.

However, even the younger age group is not looking to return to the workplace full time. They would prefer a hybrid model with their working time split between home and the office.

In all age groups, the percentage of women who would like to stay working at home full time or at least part of the time, is higher compared to men.

How are employees likely to react if told they have to go back to the workplace full time?

Another question addressed in the Angus Reid survey showed how people would feel if their employer insisted a full-time return to the workplace. Only 29% of those who took part in the survey said they would just accept it. 33% of the respondents said they might look for a new job, and an additional 23% said they would be likely to quit straight away.

A further 1% said they had already given notice, while 14% were not sure what they would do if they had to give up working from home completely.

How many Canadians have thought about finding a new job in the last six months?

Regardless of whether or not they are currently working from home, over half of the Canadian workforce has considered finding a new job in the last six months. A survey which was conducted by Léger and commissioned by Allstate Canada found that 11% of those considering leaving their current employment thought about it every day with a further 27% thinking about it at least a couple of times per week.

The age group that was thinking about finding new employment the most was the 18-34-year-old group. 68% of the people who took the survey in that age group said they had thought about leaving their job during the last six months.

The main reasons for thinking about leaving were finding more balance between work and life, finding a role with flexible hours and the potential to work from home.

Do Canadians feel they have achieved a good work-life balance?

Despite most people reporting that they felt their work-life balance has improved, the Ipsos study found that there is still a lot of work to do. When asked if they would be happy to take a pay cut in order to work fewer hours, 39% of the people responding to the survey said they would.

People between 18-34 would be the most likely to take a 20% pay cut for 20% fewer hours. Almost half (49%) of that age group said they would sacrifice pay for more free time. The figures for the other age groups were 35% for workers aged 35-54 and 34% for workers over 55.

How do workers with children feel about their work-life balance?

According to Statistics Canada, parents who work from home are more likely to be satisfied with their work-life balance than those working outside of home. 72% of people working from home full time said they were happy with how they had balanced work and their own time. In comparison, 58% of people working outside of the home said they had achieved a satisfying work-life balance.

There was also a difference between families where both parents worked from home compared to with just one parent working from home. 78% of families where both parents could work from home said they were happy with their work-life balance compared to 61% of families where only one parent worked from home.

What percentage of Canadians feel satisfied with the amount of time spent as a family?

Once again, the people working full time from home were more likely to report they were highly satisfied with the amount of time they spent with the family according to the findings by Statistics Canada. 70% of people working at home all the time said they were very happy with how much time they could spent as a family compared to 60% of those who work outside of the home all the time.

Couples without children who work remotely full time were also more satisfied with the time spent together (71%) compared to those working away from home (62%). The findings also showed that families where both adults worked from home all the time were also most satisfied with the quality of family time.

Which jobs have the best work-life balance in Canada?

The job you do can have a huge impact on how well you can balance work with the rest of your life. The recruitment company Indeed listed the twenty best jobs for work-life balance. Here are the top five.

Job

Perks

Web designer

Work can be done anywhere with Wi-Fi, which allows web designers the freedom to travel even whilst working, national average salary: $47,925 per year.

Lab technical assistant

The role involves assisting scientists with experiments and research activities and most lab assistants have the opportunity to work flexible shifts, national average salary: $47,694 per year.

Recruiting coordinator

Since the pandemic, more interviews have been conducted online, which has allowed coordinators to work from home, national average salary; $46, 478 per year.

Substitute teacher

Working as a substitute gives the teacher flexibility as they can choose when and how much they want to work without the stress and pressures that come with full time teaching roles, national average salary: $41,221 per year

Copy editor

Most copy editors can work from home, or anywhere with wi-fi and many work as freelancers which allows them to choose their own hours, national average salary: $34,451 per year

Who are the best employers in Canada for work-life balance?

It is not only what you do for living but also who you work for that can make a significant difference to your work-life balance. The recruitment company Glassdoor has created a list of the best employers for work-life balance in Canada. Their ranking is based on the feedback from the employees.

The top ten companies to work for in Canada are:

  1. Dell Technologies
  2. Keg Restaurants
  3. Roche
  4. Ciena
  5. Google
  6. Cisco Systems
  7. Fortinet
  8. Desjardins
  9. SAP
  10. Jazz Aviation

What are the benefits of having a good work-life balance?

Both employees and employers will benefit from a healthy work-life balance. According to FMP Global, the benefits for the employee include more time for personal growth, reduced stress levels and overall improved health and wellbeing.

In return of supporting their employees to achieve a better balance between work and free time, the employers are likely to have better staff retention and engagement, improved morale, less absenteeism and increased productivity.

Conclusion

With more people expecting more flexible working arrangements to improve their work-life balance, the challenge is for employers to provide those opportunities.

This will be easier in some sectors than in others where work cannot be done from home, including retail, education, healthcare and the hospitality industry. Employers in those areas will need to get more creative to ensure they, too, are supporting their workers in a quest for a work-life balance.

However, equal responsibility lies with the employees themselves. It is up to the individual to establish clear boundaries between work and free time and refrain from answering to work calls or emails outside their working hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canada ranked 24th for work-life balance in a survey by the OECD.

Ottawa has the best work-life balance among Canadian cities and ranks 7th in the world.

21% of the Canadian workforce works full time from home. And 88% of Canadians said they enjoyed working from home more often during the pandemic.

72% of people working from home said they had a good work-life balance, compared to 58% of people who work outside the home.

Some of the top companies to work for in Canada are, Dell Technologies, Keg Restaurants, Roche, Ciena, Google, Cisco Systems, Fortinet, Desjardins, SAP, Jazz Aviation.

Sources