Long commutes kill relationships

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The standard commute in Canada is 26 minutes, with 17% commuting more than 45 minutes to work every day. The latter group is especially common around cities such as Toronto (27%), Montreal (27%), and Vancouver (21%), and they could be at significant risk of divorce.

A study from Umea University found those who commuted more than 90 minutes a day had a 40% higher chance of divorce. The survey looked at more than 2million adults in the US, 11% of whom travelled 90 minutes round trip to work.

If you’re based in one of the cities above then more than one in five of your employees have a higher risk of relationship problems, especially if their new to the commute. The separation was found to be more likely to take place in the first year or two of the commute.

Because commuters were able to get “better” jobs, it was attractive to employees, researchers said. However, the long-term payoff may not be worth it.

Why is this HR’s problem? Because employees who have stresses at home are less focused and less productive at work, so by easing your employee’s work/life balance you can have happier, healthier workers.

How HR can help:

  1. Flexible hours and shifts
    Home work, telework and flexible start and finish times can all ease the burden of commuters. Even one or two days working from home can make it easier to manage responsibilities in both spheres of an individual’s life.
  2. EAPs and benefits
    Have an effective EAP available, or offer therapy and support through your benefits program to ensure staff get the help and support they need.
  3. Supportive management
    If your employee needs time to care for children or is late because of traffic don’t implement strict policies unless it’s truly necessary. If you can be flexible for your staff, they will be more loyal and engaged – and less likely to look for a job closer to home.
  • Desariella on 2013-07-08 7:42:56 AM

    Currently my commute is 2-2.5 hours a day each way. I live in Oshawa and work in downtown Toronto. Next year our office will be moving to Downsview and my commute will change to 2.5-3 hours each way.

  • Danielle on 2013-07-08 8:32:41 AM

    I have never understood why people commute long distances so that they can have a big backyard and large home outside of the city... if you are never home to enjoy it, what's the point of having it?!?!

    I would rather pay more to live in the city (and get less), but be able to enjoy what I have!

  • Audrey on 2014-07-16 1:08:19 PM

    Desariella, is it really worth? that's about a 14 hour day that you're not home.
    I can't even imagine doing that for anything other than an emergency situation like a family member in the hospital or something and in that case, I'd get a hotel room.

    Danielle, I agree. It's not worth if when you can't enjoy the time there.

  • Sue on 2014-07-16 1:59:00 PM

    I have heard so many ppl claim they just don't understand why ppl put up with long commutes to jobs and even accuse people of being greedy for a house with a yard. That tends to be short sighted attitude. People will put up with a long commute for a job that may provide a career advantage, benefits, or it's simply the only job available at that time.

    There are many factors in choosing to commute other than a house with a yard. Sometimes, it's a school that provides the necessary special needs program for your child or that you need to share a home with your parents due to limited income. Some people really are poor!

    Cramming a family of 4 into a 1 bedroom 600 square foot apartment with a 4 block commute to the nearest green space is just not healthy.

    Sometimes one partner in a couple works near home while the other commutes.

    Commuting more than 1 hour each way to a job is not new. Before the dual income households, bread winners were often commuting while the wife managed the home.

    Commuting outside the great metropolis cities is just as common. Long dreary drives on highways from one town to the next can be taxing as well. People find ways to help each other through it.

    It's not unusual to hear couples can walk to work in downtown Vancouver or Toronto from their 1 or 2 bedroom condo, but the kids need to bus it 1.5 hours or more to school because the school 1 block over is already full for the next 6 years or it's a private school and only the most affluent cash paying families can access education within a reasonable distance from home. (Whatever other exclusion criteria to access a school you want to add.)

    My point is, long commutes to work is driven by a variety of influencing factors. HR and management has their work cut for them when it comes to recruiting people to work in places that are difficult for their employees to live in.

  • Caroline on 2014-07-16 2:11:58 PM

    Commute times have increased over the years due to increased traffic congestion and urban sprawl. Over the last 20 years my commute has increased from 50 minutes one way to 1 hour 20 minutes or more and it will only get worse as traffic volumes increase.

  • jeffrey on 2014-07-22 10:40:24 AM

    Here's a thought; Why is it still so important to employers to be located at King and Bay in this information age???? The insurance industry gets it as many head offices are located in the Kitchener-Waterloo area where a young employee can actually own a home. Want to attract the best and brightest young talent??? Get out of the dirty, dingy, expensive, crowded downtown and see how that works!!!!

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