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Advocacy Across Borders


by Stephany Below, SIOP Communications Manager

SIOP Members Provide Consultation to Canadian Government Regarding Flexible Work Arrangements

Advocacy often works best as a team effort. When industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists team up with larger organizations, they can have a wider impact and increase awareness of the I-O field more globally.

One such example came to the forefront recently when a call came from the government of Canada, which sought consultation from Canadians on flexible work arrangements.

Heeding the call, SIOP members Winny Shen (far left) and Lynda Zugec teamed up with the Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (CSIOP), of which Zugec is the chair, to offer their expertise on this important issue affecting the Canadian workforce. A discussion paper was published in May to which the group responded.

The Canadian government has pledged to amend the Canada Labour Code to allow workers in federally regulated sectors to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers. Flexible work arrangements, such as flexible start and finish times or the ability to work from home, were proposed as a way to help employees balance the often competing responsibilities of work and family. The government was seeking to consult with Canadians to more fully explore which flexible work arrangements would help better manage the demands of paid work and their personal and family responsibilities.

“We, as industrial-organizational psychology academics and practitioners, have much to offer in terms of insights on this topic,” said Zugec, founder and managing director at the Ontario-based The Workforce Consultants.

Shen is an assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She said that as scientist-practitioners, she believes I-O psychologists should use their research to help organizational decision-makers whenever possible.  

"This is a workplace issue that could potentially affect the lives of a large number of government workers and we believe that there is a strong evidence base located within I-O psychology on this topic that should be carefully considered by policy-makers," she said. 

They prepared a summary of some of the most pertinent research and findings in this area for submission. The full report can be accessed here.

In their report, the psychologists expressed support for flexible work arrangements (FWA), though they warned that a discussion of the benefits should be more nuanced, based on the current research.

“We applaud the Canadian Government for considering the option of flexible work arrangements for federal workers," Shen said. "However, this is a nuanced issue and we believe that how the policy is implemented will be critical to its long-term success. We also hope that our response will highlight the many potential contributions of I-O psychology to addressing ongoing social problem."