Dr. Linda Duxbury

Dr. Linda Duxbury

Human Resources | Work–Life Balance

With Canadian corporations losing over $4 billion a year to absenteeism, the satisfaction and well-being of employees cannot be overlooked. Dr. Linda Duxbury is Canada’s most accomplished researcher, writer, and speaker on work–life balance. She has contributed to numerous comprehensive national studies on work–life balance and the bottom-line effect on business. An enlightening and popular speaker, Dr. Duxbury’s ideas and research are invaluable to major corporations and government agencies around the world.

Dr. Duxbury has written hundreds of papers, articles for journals, and books, and she is the co-author of a series of Health Canada reports about work–life balance within the country. She has been published widely in both the academic and practitioner literatures, in the areas of work–family conflict; change management; supportive work environments; stress; telework; the use and impact of office technology; and managing the new workforce.

Recognized for her engaging, enthusiastic communication skills and teaching practices, Dr. Duxbury has received the “Canadian Pension and Benefits National Speaker Award,” the “Carleton University Students’ Association Teaching Excellence Award,” the “Faculty Graduate Mentoring Award,” also from Carleton and the “Sprott MBA Student Society Best Teacher Award.” She has also been awarded the “Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award,” and was recognized as one of Deloitte’s “Women of Influence.” In 2014-15, Dr. Duxbury received the Carleton University Research Award as one of the ten best researchers at the university.

Dr. Duxbury is a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. She holds a Ph.D. in Management Sciences from the University of Waterloo.

Managing a Changing Workforce

The upcoming century will see a fundamental shift in the change in the nature of the employer-employee relationship as organizations seek to attract and retain good employees in a declining labour market. This labour force shortage will arise as the massive baby boomer generation retire and companies compete to hire the small pool of “baby – bust” employees. Other factors that contribute to these changes include the following: birth rates are declining throughout the world, populations are aging, the age at which people are taking retirement has fallen, people are staying in school longer (or returning to school), and the skill-intensity of employment is increasing.

These demographic changes will have profound impacts on employers as they enter a “sellers” market where there are fewer employees with the necessary skills than there are good job. Human resource management will become a critical success factor in the new millennium as companies have to focus on recruitment, retention of employees of all ages, succession planning, work-life balance and career development.

We are currently in an unusual position in Canada in that we have four generations in the workforce at the same time: the Veterans (59 +), the Baby Boom (1947 to 1964), the Baby Bust (Generation X) (1961 to 1972) and the Echo Boomers (Nexus) (1972 to 1990). Each of these generations have different attitudes and values with respect to work and life. Managers in organizations today need to understand key generational differences in order to both attract, motivate and retain good employees.

Dr. Duxbury’s talk will address these following issues. She will look at the formative influences shaping the different generations and look at possible sources of generational conflict within the workforce. She will also give employers information on how to adapt to meet the needs of these different groups of employees.

Dealing With The Boiled Frogs: It's all about Workloads

Many employers implement family friendly polices such as flextime and compressed workweeks – but do not get the desired results.

This talk focuses on the reason why many of the family friendly practices just do not seem to work – they are implemented into a culture which focuses on hours of work not output: where “presenteeism” is equated with productivity.

This talk begins with an examination of why employee workloads, especially at the managerial and professional level, have increased over the past several decades.

It then presents evidence on why employers should care – the impact of high workloads on the employer’s bottom line. The talk ends with a number of suggestions on how workloads can be decreased – without hiring more staff.

Managing a Changing Workforce: Changing How We Manage

This talk is a follow up for the talk on Managing a Changing Workforce. It provides a critical analysis of overview of key disconnects that may be contributing to a disengaged workforce and difficulties with respect to recruitment and retention. Issues covered in this talk include work-life balance, reward and recognition, respect, trust, communication, performance management, and talent management/succession planning and offers suggestions on how organizations can make positive changes in each of these areas.

The talk ends with a summary of how the different generational cohorts view each of these issues and a number of suggestions on how employers and managers can use the information covered in the talk to adapt to meet the needs of employees today.

Capable Managers: The Scarcest Resource of All

This talk uses data from Duxbury and Higgins research on supportive management to discuss the role of the manager within the organization.

The talk starts by outlining the behaviours associated with good and poor management and then the looks at the difference having a supportive makes to key employee and organizational outcomes.

The discussion then turns to why many managers are having difficulty with the “People part of the job” and outlines a number of solutions.

The final section of the talk offers suggestions on managers on how manage upwards and what kinds of things they personally can do within their own section.

This talk provides organizations who wish to increase the number of supportive managers in their organization a concrete set of suggestions on how this can be accomplished. Likewise, employees with direct reports can gain an increased understanding of what it is that employees want from them and how their own behaviour can impact those who report to them.

Work-Life Balance: Rhetoric Versus Reality

This talk draws on Duxbury’s extensive research in the area of work life balance, supportive managers, supportive work environments and managing change.

It begins by providing evidence that work life balance and stress have increased over the past 10 years while organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction and organization commitment have decreased and outcomes such as absence, intent to turnover and job stress have increased.

The talk then turns to an examination of why such changes have occurred. The following factors are considered: demographic changes in the workforce, lack of action on the part of employers, increased workloads, office technology, downsizing and rightsizing, employee behaviour and organizational culture.

The next section of the talk answers the question: “why do organizations need to make it easier for employees to balance work and life?” Key reasons discussed include impending labour shortages, the need to recruit and retain employees, and the costs of inaction.

This is followed by the identification of specific recommendations on how companies can increase balance.

The following solutions are discussed: the development of supportive managers and creation of supportive work environments. Finally, the case is then made that for any significant changes to occur in this area, the organization needs to change its culture.

The talk concludes with a discussion of how cultural change can be achieved.

Reducing Work-Life Conflict: What Works? What Does Not?

There are four stakeholders in the work-life arena:  the employer, the employee, their family and society. This talk uses the data from Duxbury and Higgin’s 2001 work-life study involving 33,000 Canadians  to answer the following questions?  What are the options with respect to work life balance – what can the different stakeholders do?  What are they doing?  What works? What does not?  The talk will end with a number of concrete recommendations on how employers, employees, their families and the government can reduce work-life conflict.

Squeezed in the Middle: Work, Childcare and Eldercare

The children have left the nest and now life should get easier – but not so fast. Your parents and in-laws are getting older and now require your assistance and your children just lost their job and have returned home – with Junior. You waited until your career was established to have children – but then your mother broke her hip and now you are balancing her needs, your child’s needs and a demanding job.

Using data from Duxbury and Higgin’s 2012 National Work-Life Balance Study this talk explores the challenges faced by employed caregivers – individuals who combine paid employment, the care of one or more elderly dependents and the care of one or more children. More specifically this talk identifies the challenges faced by employed caregivers and examines how they cope. It also discusses how employers could facilitate the balance between work and caregiving and looks at the costs this form of work-life conflict has on the employer. Finally, data is used to present a business case for change in this area


Change Management 101

Times have changed and as we move into a seller’s market for labour there is an increasing need for organizations who wish to remain globally competitive to make significant changes with respect to how they manage their people as well as deal with their clients, use technology etc..  Unfortunately many employees and managers are change weary – and approach such efforts with cynicism and passive resistance.  In such an environment both leaders and managers have to understand the fundamentals of change management.  This talk was designed to help managers and leaders effectively manage change in their own environment.  It does this by increasing their knowledge of the critical factors associated with successful transformational change.

The talk will provide an overview of the different types of change, and then talk about how change is a leadership issue as well as a management issue.  It will then outline the challenges associated with transformational change and help individuals understand the types of role that they can play within their organization if they wish to facilitate change.  At the end of the talk participants will be given a tool that they can use to assess their own organization’s readiness to change and a demonstration of how such a tool can be used effectively.

Tool or Taskmaster? The Impact of Mobile Technology on Work and Life

Mobile technology enables people to work any time and any where – outside the office, outside ‘normal’ office hours. This provides flexibility with respect to the timing and location of work, and makes it easier to accommodate both work and family. Unfortunately, at the same time, it also increases expectations that an employee will be available 24/7 for work.

This talk explores the impact of mobile technology on employees and their families. Duxbury uses data from two of her studies (a longitudinal study of Blackberry adoption and a study of low, moderate and heavy mobile technology users) to illustrate how mobile technology is a double edged sword. She also offers suggestions on how to minimize the negative impacts of its use – strategies, unfortunately that involve turning the device off.