About Linda Duxbury
If you’re struggling with a heavy workload while trying to raise your kids and help elderly parents whose health concerns are becoming more demanding, Linda Duxbury wants you to know that you’re not alone. And the Sprott School of Business professor wants your employer to get the message too.
Duxbury, one of Canada’s leading experts on work-life balance, hopes that a recent book she has written will start a national conversation about elder care in the Canadian labour landscape and the conflict between work and family commitments. “I wanted it to be in-your-face,” she says about Something’s Got to Give: Balancing Work, Childcare and Eldercare, co-authored with longtime collaborator Christopher Higgins. “This is a hugely significant issue.”
The book not only makes a compelling business case for employers and governments to rethink their policies and strategies for accommodating elder care demand, it is also — with multiple quotes throughout from Canadians doing their best to cope — an eloquent cri de coeur. “I hope readers will be reassured to realize that their frustrations, stress levels and guilt are not unusual,” says Duxbury.
As the book points out, while child care and elder care both present challenges, there is joy associated with raising children, whereas looking after aging parents is about diminishment, illness, disability and loss. “Governments are counting on employees to be caregivers,” Duxbury says. “I want this book to result in action and change, and that action starts with the recognition that employees are caregivers because they love their parents and have to care for them in the absence of tangible supports. How many people have to burn out before we actually start to do something?”
As has happened throughout her nearly 30 years of investigating work-life balance, Duxbury focused on elder care because of personal experience: her own parents were aging. “My research has always reflected my life,” she says, “and the lives of people around me.”
The biggest change she has seen in the workplace in that time? “Technology. No question. As we’ve downsized and restructured over time, workloads have increased significantly, and because of technology — most specifically email — employees are more likely to work at home in the evening and on weekends, which reduces the time available for looking after family. So, stress levels have gone up, along with work levels, unpaid overtime and expectations.”
In addition to researching and writing about work-life balance, Duxbury has completed major studies on HR and work-family issues in the small business sector, management support, career development in the public and high-tech sectors, and generational differences in work values. She has published widely in both academic and practitioner literatures, is an accomplished trainer and speaker in areas such as change management and recruitment and retention, and is currently conducting a research project evaluating the sustainability of policing in Canada.
- Co-author, Something’s Got to Give: Balancing Work, Childcare and Eldercare, with Christopher Higgins, U of T Press, 2017
- Deloitte’s Women of Influence award, 2009
- Canadian Pension and Benefits National Speaker Award, 2003-’04
- Canadian Workplace Wellness Pioneer Award, 2002