Ontario’s provincial government recently passed Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019. The law amends a vast array of legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). And while not as sweeping as Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, Bill 66 still makes significant and important changes to Ontario workplaces. As with many of the changes from previous employment legislation under the Ford government, Bill 66 primarily removes obligations from employers.
Topics: Legislative Changes
Have you ever stopped to look at who is moving up in your organization? Is there a trend that employees in the same social circle typically move up the corporate ladder quicker than everyone else? If so, this may not be a coincidence.
While it may not be intentional, employees who participate in activities together, whether at work or outside of the office, can sometimes have a greater opportunity for advancements than others. Take for example a summer softball league for work, or employees who have a daily lunch ritual of grabbing a coffee together. These situations build those ‘getting to know you’ relationships that can uncover information about hobbies, life events, even career goals. If these interactions are around people of power in the organization, they may also provide additional ‘face time’ with the bosses, where work is likely to come up. The effect of these relationships can be completely harmless, but may unconsciously influence decisions when it’s time for promotions in the workplace.
Topics: Employee Management
Imagine you’re looking at a job in your organization and reflecting on the tasks the person occupying the position has to carry out: to do the job, the candidate needs to be able to run diagnostic tests, set up online employee profiles, and install new technology. Sounds like some basic tasks a technology professional, for example, might have to do, right? Sure, these are some of the hard skills—specific, teachable, and easily defined and measured—but hard skills aren’t the whole picture. Other parts of the job that may be overlooked, like communicating with co-workers or being able to work under pressure, are equally important.
Enter soft skills. Soft skills are the attributes, traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success in a job. They can include communication, creative thinking, decision-making, time management, problem-solving, and critical thinking, among others.
Leaders must constantly communicate feedback to employees on performance, behaviour, attitude, or work habits, under the expectation they will make improvements. Occasionally, you might hear begrudging complaints or have an employee who’s completely defensive about your feedback, but feedback, if done right, is one of the most constructive ways we can provide others with suggestions and ways to make things better, or different, than they currently are.
In a leadership position, you’re normally the one providing feedback, but what happens when an employee wants to turn the tables and give you some feedback of their own? It’s not only important to provide feedback to others, but to be open to feedback from your employees as well. This can help you monitor aspects of your team like engagement, satisfaction, and any concerns in the workplace you might not be aware of.
Hiring is difficult, and sometimes organizations make mistakes. In the best case, the employee quickly realizes that the job is not for them, and they resign to find a better opportunity. In the worst case, the employee lingers, failing to achieve in their role and even making it difficult for other employees to get their work done.
A bad hire might even be worse than unproductive—they could have a toxic effect on the workplace, bringing strife and conflict into what was formerly a harmonious environment. Whatever specific effects a bad hire has on your workplace, the best option is to act quickly and use formal coaching and performance management to try to correct the issues. If this fails, or if escalation is warranted due to their behaviour, enact progressive discipline. The longer you wait, the more damage the bad hire could do.
Topics: HR Challenges
Every job involves some degree of human interaction, whether with managers, colleagues, direct reports, or external stakeholders like clients, customers, or partners. All of these human interactions have emotional dimensions, so that no matter how technical the topic of discussion, the psychological states of the people involved are critical to success. Because of how central emotion is to all professional activities, developing emotional intelligence (EI) is imperative. But what is emotional intelligence, and how can it be developed?
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to recognize, control, and express our own emotions, as well as the ability to recognize others’ emotions and manage interpersonal relationships with empathy. It influences every human interaction and is an essential skill to be an effective leader. One study found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance and that 90 percent of high performers in the workplace possess high emotional intelligence. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report indicates that social skills, including emotional intelligence, will be in high demand across industries by 2020. Put simply, having high EI can significantly improve your professional success, especially as a manager.
Environmental responsibility has become a popular concern lately. People are going green at home with energy efficient appliances and lighting, and the zero-waste lifestyle movement has encouraged individuals to buy in bulk, stop using disposable plastics, and use refillable and reusable containers. The same individuals are also looking for businesses they support to take on green initiatives and environmentally friendly operations.
Many businesses believe that going green is expensive and increases operating costs, but introducing green initiatives in the workplace can actually save money. The financial effects of going green are not only attracting new sources of revenue from environmentally conscious clientele, but also saving money directly by reducing disposable waste and energy consumption.
In Canada, there are now more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. The 2015 census found that one Canadian in five over the age of 65 still works—nearly 1.1 million seniors. People are staying in the workforce longer for many reasons: longer life expectancy, financial security, or simply a desire to continue working. Older workers want to be engaged and productive, but ageism is still a barrier for them.
Employment and Social Development Canada defines ageism as “prejudice and discrimination based on age that often results from myths and stereotypes that do not reflect the reality of aging and older individuals. It prevents people from recognizing the valuable contributions of older individuals and limits the choices and opportunities for older individuals to actively participate in society.” Like other types of discrimination, ageism takes several forms. It can be subtle and implicit or overt and direct. In any form, discrimination damages its victims and its perpetrators.
The gender pay gap has been a big topic of conversation lately, and this prominence is likely to continue. Despite increased awareness and changing legislation, the gender wage gap persists in every province across all sectors. In the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 conducted by the World Economic Forum, Canada ranked twenty-seventh in economic participation and opportunity, with a distance to parity of 0.31 for wage equality for similar work. This means Canadian women typically earn 69 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. This figure is shocking, especially because a gender difference in educational attainment is not taken into consideration when doing these comparisons.
It’s important for employers to be aware of the gender wage gap, as well as actions they can take to reduce it. Women are half of the population. Not surprisingly, female participation in the workforce can significantly influence growth, competitiveness, and future economies. Similarly, women make up a large portion of the consumer market. It is estimated that an additional $150 billion in GDP growth could result in 2026 if the wage gap was closed and female workforce participation was boosted. Excluding women from equal participation in the labour force harms individuals, families, employers, and the economy at large.
Topics: HR Challenges
For recruitment, staff retention, or simply creating a positive work culture, employers often provide employees with benefits or perks that exceed employment standard minimums. This may include offering employees sick days that not only exceed statutory minimums but are also paid, or vacation benefits for new hires greater than the standard two weeks.
It is a great feeling for employers to know they can provide valuable perks to their employees and stand out from the competition. But demands for a business’s services can fluctuate—a decrease resulting in reduced profits, or a rapid increase requiring additional staff that increases the costs of perks. There are many situations that may force an employer to review the benefits they provide to their employees, and the conclusion might be to reduce benefits for the business to succeed. Is that even possible, though?
Topics: Employee Benefits