What we found
The 2017 Executive Work and Health survey paints a picture of an executive population that feels pride in their work, respected by their superiors and are increasingly committed despite a high-stress, demanding work environment with constant time-pressure and an increasing workload. Key outcome measures like job satisfaction and self-rated health status remain stable and relatively strong compared to 2012.
There are, however, some worrisome trends which could negatively impact individual and organizational health over time. Thirty-five percent report working 55 or more hours per week (up from 25% in 2012), satisfaction with pay has declined and 70% have thought about leaving their current position at least monthly in the past 6 months. Further, from a personal health standpoint the majority of executives are classified as overweight or obese, more executives have been diagnosed with musculoskeletal (from 28% to 45%), mental health (from 11% to 21%), and gastro intestinal (from 8% to 18%) issues than in 2012. The incidence of incivility continues to be of concern.
For most, managing the demands of work have only been exacerbated by the increasing use of e-technology which led executives to feel obligated to work after hours, has made it more difficult to take a break from work and has not provided them any more flexibility. While the majority feel e-technology has increased their productivity (particularly among younger executives), their ability to do their job and ability to communicate it has also increased their workload and steadily decreased work life balance over the years.
Public sector executives are much less confident in their ability to balance the demands of work and personal life compared to those in similar managerial positions across Canada, as well as less likely to feel their employer promotes a work-life balance or that they have a psychologically healthy workplace.
Lower level executives, while reporting fewer work hours, are much more likely to have issues managing the demands of work. Lower level executives are less satisfied with their job, feel less respected, are more likely to get burnt out from work and are less likely to feel they can take risks on their team. They are also less likely to rate their mental health as positive and more likely to report being diagnosed with mental health issues or to seek professional counselling.
There are also consistent differences between male and female executives. Female executives report higher levels of stress, higher absenteeism, higher incidence of harassment and generally have more trouble separating themselves from the demands of work, however they are also more satisfied with their pay and career prospects, rate their personal health higher, are more likely to fall into an acceptable BMI, sleep better and drink less than male executives.
In a context of rapid change, and expectations that they be agile and resilient, executives express a high level of uncertainty that we are well positioned to respond to future demands with respect to the use of technology and social media, the recruitment and retention of talent, adapting our workplace environment to a new context, and building a strong, capable leadership team.