Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

The Costs of Intangibles in the Canadian Public Health Care System

Janice Foley.

As part of an ongoing, nationally funded research project on health and workplace practices in Saskatchewan, CANADA, focus groups were conducted in August 2003 with employers, employees, community care providers, and representatives of government and trade unions. Many of the participants came from the health care sector which has undergone almost continuous reorganization and budget reduction over the past 10-15 years. The sector is currently experiencing major problems in terms of recruitment and retention, particularly of nurses, who are suffering extreme job dissatisfaction and poor morale. While this dissatisfaction is manifesting in complaints about salary, 'Quality of Work Life' surveys and emerging evidence that the psychosocial characteristics of work have a profound impact on mental health, suggest that the prevalence of excessive workloads, insufficient staffing, and unavailability of full-time work, which contribute to perceptions of unfair treatment, are other aspects of the health care culture that are contributing to the problem.
This paper will identify some of the tangible costs accruing to health care organizations because they have failed to develop organizational cultures where, despite financial constraints, it is deemed essential to maintain workplace practices that promote physical and mental health. The characteristics of such healthy workplaces will be described and contrasted with those typically found in the Canadian public health care sector. The costs in terms of morale and job dissatisfaction, and associated increases in stress claims and the frequency and duration of absenteeism which affect performance, will be illustrated using quotes from employee and employer transcripts.


Janice Foley  (Canada)
Associate Professor
Faculty of Administration
University of Regina

Graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1995 with a doctorate in Organizational Behaviour. Obtained first academic position in 1998 at the University of Winnipeg, and assumed current position at the University of Regina in 2000. Current professional interests relate to workplace practices in the New Economy and their impact on employees; organized labour's adaptation to globalization; contingent workers and labour legislation reform.

  • Health care in Canada
  • Quality of work life
  • Psychosocial health factors

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)