Construction workers have trouble balancing work and family: studying


This situation could also contribute to the labor shortage in the industry, according to two UQAM professors.

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Half of Quebec construction workers with children struggle to balance work and family, according to a new study released in January.


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They are both men and women among the 45 percent of construction workers who say their work has a negative impact on family life. All respondents had either children or a sick or elderly family member to care for.

Construction jobs “are characterized by unusual hours, difficult working conditions and a male culture that values ​​physical strength and high availability,” according to the study. Two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents “reported having a heavy or very heavy workload.”

Those who reported struggling with work-life balance often suffered from “poorer physical health” and “greater emotional exhaustion, which is an important predictor of mental health.”

This situation could also contribute to the labor shortage in the sector, according to the authors of the article, Mélanie Lefrançois and Mélanie Trottier, two professors at the École des sciences de la gestion of UQAM.


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“Conflicts between family and work appear to affect job satisfaction for both men and women,” they found. “This is reflected in their intent to leave, or even leave, the industry.”

Men are much more likely to want to walk for this reason. Men “have a greater chance of holding positions that require field work, that are more affected by seasonal work, and that require long and unpredictable hours. They are also expected to work mandatory overtime.”

One engineer said: “While my wife did her homework (with the kids), I made dinner and did the dishes, and then I had to play with them. You can’t put her to bed without taking care of her first. I didn’t have time to go to bed at 7 p.m. Now I’m sitting in a chair and I can’t help it – sometimes it’s only 10 minutes, but my eyes don’t stay open. i am older now … I’m more tired at night.”


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One woman said: “At the end of the day, I don’t go out for a beer with the boys. I have to go home, get everything done and then be ready for the next day. It’s literally a race against the clock.”

Although family life is equally affected for workers regardless of gender, women are more likely to interrupt their careers with family responsibilities.

“Women were significantly more affected by this factor,” the study found, “probably because they were more likely to be interrupted by family issues, such as calls from school or having to leave work because of a sick child.

“Those kinds of conflicts were less common among men, probably because they often have a wife at home who they can rely on to address those kinds of demands.”


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For example, one male worker said he was the third option when his child became ill, after his wife and grandparents.

Meanwhile, a worker explained with her partner: “That was always our understanding. His job comes first, I’m second income. I can be more flexible with my schedules.”

Others are single parents juggling different aspects of their lives.

“When school calls, I have no choice but to leave work,” said one woman. “And in construction, we don’t get paid if we’re not there, so it’s not moving forward.”

According to the Commission de la Construction du Québec, only 2.4 percent of construction workers in 2019 were women.

However, the division of labor based on gender stereotypes also affects men, many of whom feel the pressure of having to support their families financially. Their strategy is often to work even harder, as one worker explained.


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“It’s important because having kids is expensive,” he said, “and I need the full health insurance plan (which is only available after a certain number of hours), so it’s a compromise that my wife and I made. “

The study was based on a survey of 789 workers, 85 percent of whom were men. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 workers, 14 of whom were men and six women.

The study was funded by the Ministry of Family Affairs after the ministry found in 2017 in the world of construction: “Of all areas examined, companies and organizations have the lowest implementation rate of measures to promote work-life balance.

This article was produced with financial support from the Facebook and Press Canadienne News Grants.



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