Canadian Workers Face Office Reality – Most Productive Place to Work Also Contributing to Stress, Burnout

By Michael Zahra

30% of Canadian managers work 11 hours or more per day

Almost 70% of Canadian office workers and managers report working more than 40 hours a week, and the majority consider the office the most productive place to get work done. But employers need to take action to ensure it remains an inspiring, motivating environment. This, according to the second annual Workplace Index conducted by Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

Forty-three per cent of Canadians say they’re working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t tackle during an eight-hour day, with 22% working 11 hours or more per day. That workload is taking a toll. Consider:

68% of Canadians say their workplace has contributed to stress

More than one-quarter of Canadians (27%) cite the volume of their work as the number one stressor in their workplace
One in five Canadian respondents (19%) has taken a workplace stress-related leave of absence

“The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index provides an important look at the state of the workplace and what Canadians want and need from their employers,” said Michael Zahra, President, Staples Business Advantage Canada. “Based on the results, it is evident that Canadian employees are working long hours just to keep up with their volume of work. It is the responsibility of employers to therefore provide an inclusive, welcoming environment that boosts employee productivity, increases happiness and positively impacts the bottom line.”

The study involving office workers and business decision makers in Canada is to help companies meet their recruitment, retention and engagement goals. This year’s study was created in conjunction with Jacob Morgan, best-selling author of The Future of Work, Futurist, and Co-founder of the Future of Work Community, a brand council of the world’s most forward thinking organizations who explore the future of work.

“This study shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to focus on and design employee experiences where employees truly want to show up,” said Morgan. “Offering employees health and wellness programs, well-designed office environments and up-to-date modern technologies are all a part of that employee experience. This is crucial to be able to attract and retain top talent.”

Despite an increasing number of employees opting for telecommuting and on-demand workspaces, 75% of Canadian respondents consider the office the most productive place to get work done. Thirty-seven per cent say it’s the most inspiring place to work as well, more than any other location. But as workers spend more time in the office, the onus falls on employers to keep their employees healthy, productive and inspired.

Wellness Programs

Sixty-six per cent of Canadian respondents say the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but 55% say their workplace doesn’t offer one. In a wellness program, Canadians report they’re looking for fresh foods, ergonomic furniture, onsite gyms and other perks that help improve health and fitness.

Additionally, employees want their kitchen, lounge, café or breakroom to be well-stocked. The survey found that Canadian managers and office workers believe successful breakrooms lead to happier and more productive employees, as well as a more social environment and less stress.

Productivity Barriers

Seventy-one per cent of Canadian respondents say their employers do not give them access to the latest technology to help them do their job more efficiently.

Workplace distractions also impact productivity, with top responses being loud co-workers, people coming to talk and email overload. Sixty-five per cent of Canadian office workers cited loud co-workers as an office distraction, more than any other surveyed group.

Design with Purpose

There’s still work to be done when it comes to office design, as the majority of survey respondents describe their office as standard, plain and dull. Canadian managers are the most likely to rate their offices as inspiring (23%) or energetic (20%) as compared to other respondents. When asked what design features they would like to see in their work spaces, Canadians cited natural light, private spaces, ergonomic furniture and flexible furniture for multiple uses as the most desired elements.

The Key to Happiness

Canadian respondents ranked increased salary, improving morale and being recognized for their accomplishments as the best ways for employers to improve their happiness at work. Canadians also stated that feeling heard, being given opportunities for professional development and providing more flexibility are important to workplace happiness.

Canadians at Work

In most cases, findings for the U.S. and Canada were similar; however there were a few notable differences. A higher percentage of Canadians would like to telecommute due to weather than U.S. respondents (40% versus 32%, respectively). There are also a greater percentage of business decision makers in Canada who prefer working with 22-33 year-olds when compared to their U.S. counterparts (36% versus 28%).

Canadian respondents also:

Believe their direct boss is less of a motivating factor (14%) to do their best at work than U.S. employees (18%).
Are less inspired by different styles of working locations than U.S. workers (28% versus 33%).
Identified career progression as a leading contributor to loyalty for their current employer more than U.S. respondents (23% versus 19%).

Burnout less because of personal pressure on themselves to perform (29% versus 37% in the U.S.)

Canadian decision makers also cited email overload as impacting their productivity more than any other respondent group, work more hours than any other respondent group (30% work 11 hours or more per day) and would be more inspired by having more autonomy at work than their U.S. counterparts.


The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index was conducted online among 1,995 employees in the U.S. (936 were classified as general officer workers and 1,059 as business decision makers) and 1,110 in Canada (468 general officer workers and 542 business decision makers) by Morar Consulting in March 2016. This survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.8 per cent at 95% confidence limits.

For additional resources, including an executive summary and shareable infographics and slideshare, visit