Are Canadian Workers Happy?

Where Do We Rank?

Are Canadian Workers Happy?


by Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer

Globally, Canadians are among the happiest workers in the world. According to a 2012 Randstad Workmonitor study, 76% of all Canadian workers are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ at work, which ranks fifth in the world (and the highest among non-European countries surveyed). On a global level, Canadian companies are placing a greater emphasis on providing an equitable and happy workplace; but what actually makes a happy worker?
Job Security
According to another 2011 study, 53% of surveyed Canadians rank job security as one of the most important factors when evaluating an employer. “When we asked them to rank the largest companies across the country on who they would most like to work for, a large majority of the employers ranked the highest do have a unionized environment in some regard,” says Stacy Parker, executive vice-president of marketing at Randstad Canada.
According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), 31.2% of Canadians belonged to a union or were covered by a collective bargaining agreement in 2011. However, it is important to note that the unionization rate in Canada has decreased gradually over time, falling from 33.7% in 1997 to 31.2% in 2011. Given the high volume of unionized workers across the country, it is clear that job security affects national well-being.
Work-life balance
When looking to measure overall well-being, a well-balanced life is often one of the most weighted metrics. Given that the typical Canadian worker spends a favourably proportionate amount of time on non-work activities – on average, Canadian employees worked 36.4 hours per week in 2011, down 1.6 hours from the 1976 average of 38.0 hours per week – it is understandable why Canadians are so happy.

So, where in Canada are people the happiest? According to a 2012 report from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, four of the five metropolitan areas with the highest life satisfaction were in Quebec : Québec City, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, and Saguenay. I guess it’s true what they say about the Quebec “joie de vivre”!
Given that the average Canadian spends 36+ hours per week at work, it is necessary that this time is well remunerated to offset this investment. According to additional statistics from the HRSDC, men should have more reason to be happy; the average Canadian male earns $956 per week, whereas women earned $723. However, this gulf is narrowing: the difference between men's and women's average weekly earnings declined from $274 in 1997 to $233 in 2011. If you are looking to possibly relocate, Albertan workers currently earn the most ($969) while those in Prince Edward Island round out the bottom of the scale at $712 per week.
Health factors
It may not seem like a very real concern for most office workers, but many Canadians are employed in an industry where risk of injury at the workplace is a very real possibility. One in every 68 workers was injured at the workplace in Canada in 2010 and received some form of workers compensation. Among the industries with the highest rates of injury were workers in construction (24.5 per 1,000 employed workers), manufacturing (24.0) and fishing (20.5). By contrast, the rate in the financial sector was a little less than one (0.6) per 1,000 employees.
Employment Rate
On a national level, the employment rate is a huge determining factor when it comes to measuring overall happiness. Since 1976, the overall employment rate has increased 4.7% despite the fact that Canada has experiences three economic recessions. The employment rate in Canada in 2011 was 61.8%, with the highest rate again coming in Alberta at 69.7%. On an international level, Canada was second among the G7 countries in employment with an employment rate of 72.0% among people aged 15 to 64 years. Germany had the highest employment rate of 72.6%.
Unemployment rate
Being unemployed can be a very difficult experience for most of us. In addition to experiencing loss of income, being unemployed can bring additional strains and hardships to other aspects of our lives. The unemployment rate spiked in 2009 (8.3%) following the economic recession, but has steadily declined since. In 2011, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest unemployment rates in the country (12.7%0 while Saskatchewan had the lowest (5.0%).
The good news is that Canadians are among the happiest workers in the world: "Canadians are more satisfied than (workers) anywhere else globally and part of that is because of the value our organizations within our country place on work-life balance, job security, and creating a happy workplace" says Ms. Parker. While it can be very difficult to measure happiness, the work lives of Canadians play a large role in determining our overall well-being. And it appears as though we are happier than ever.

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