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May 2014

Breaking Up With Your Employer

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Employment law is at times complex and just a little bit confusing, but it sure has come a long way. The right to “break-up” with your employer is a key element of all provinces’ Employment Standards legislation. Among the most common frustrations expressed by employers is employees who walk away from a job without providing notice. It’s viewed as rather poor form to just pack up, leave and never come back, but quitting a job without giving notice happens more often than one would think. In this day of multiple forms of communication, even a text break-up is better than not showing up.

If you’re an employee and you’re thinking about leaving your job, consider the reasons. Are you feeling stuck or restless? Do you feel as though the job isn’t contributing to your longer-term goals? If that’s the case, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Before you quit, you may wish to:

  • Talk to your manager about how you can improve your skills
  • Network, seek out a mentor, or go back to school
  • Invest in your own career development by selecting and paying for professional development experiences such as training or conferences.

However, if the time is right and you’re ready to make the move, check out your employment agreement first. Be sure you know what your obligations are. Even if you have a written agreement, consider giving your employer a longer notice period. Your goal is to provide reasonable notice. In most cases, one to two weeks of advance warning is considered to be reasonable, unless you’re in a management or key role. You and your employer can come to an agreement on how long the notice period will be, and once accepted, it’s a binding change to your employment arrangement. That way you can expect to continue to do a good job for your remaining time there, and to get paid according to whatever terms and conditions existed at the moment that you gave notice. This can be really helpful if you’re ever in need of a reference. In past rulings, Courts have established that notice periods should allow the employer sufficient time to hire and train replacements with minimal disruption to the business.

If the employer prefers that you leave immediately, you’re still entitled to receive your usual income for the notice period. That means, even if the employer feels it is inappropriate for you to remain in the company for whatever reason, you are entitled to receive payment.

As you leave your job, here are six tips to make the experience respectful:

  1. Put it in writing. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, just say when you’ll be leaving. If you wish, you can include the reason, but it’s not essential.
  2. Tidy your desk or work area and take your personal belongings with you. No one wants to open your drawer to find a handful of gummy bears or a half a dozen end-chewed pens.
  3. Talk to your manager or payroll person to confirm your mailing address. This will make sure your T4 finds its way to you.
  4. If asked, agree to participate in an exit interview. This is a terrific tool that gives you an opportunity to share your perspective. Typically, the information is used to help companies improve their human resources practices.
  5. Say farewell to your colleagues.
  6. Keep your bridges intact. If you’re not leaving on the best of terms or are feeling disgruntled, tell your family, not the world. Don’t impede your chance of securing another position by bad-mouthing your former employer.

Since the circumstances around leaving a job are so variable, if you’re feeling uncomfortable or have questions or concerns, it’s a good idea to seek out professional advice before you make your decision. Consider contacting an employment lawyer or an HR consulting firm. Most HR consultants won’t charge you for quick questions. You might also try speaking with a job coach or employment counsellor at a government-funded employment resource centre such as Job Gym and the Employment Help Centre. If you’re in college or university, your school’s job centre may be able to help. It’s worth the extra effort. Even if you decide to break-up with your employer, life will be easier for both of you if you make the extra effort to try and stay friends.


Turning Crabby Employees Into Happy Employees

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By now moody March is behind us and we’re looking forward to warmer weather and revived spirits. At least one can hope. With hard winter weather creating difficult driving conditions, plant and office closures and many a missed deadline, you and your staff may be under considerable stress. You may have even seen an increase in workplace meltdowns.

So what’s to be done with a crabby workforce? Lots!

  •  Plan some fun activities, such as a bowling night, card tournament or pizza night. If that doesn’t work with your workplace culture, find a charity to support and organize fund raising events that can be done at work, during working hours. Social activities give everyone an opportunity to focus on something other than work-related annoyances. Even if the participation rate isn’t the best, those who do participate, and the charity will benefit from a fun time.
  •  Hold a ‘Take your Dog to Work’ day. We love our pets, and having an opportunity to show them off can be an act of kindness to both the pet and the proud owner. Take Your Dog To Work Day® celebrates dogs and promotes their adoption. The next organized TYDTW Day is Friday, June 20, 2014. More information and helpful tips on making this a successful event is available on For maximum impact, combine this fun event with a charity fund-raiser.
  • Consider setting aside a private space where employees can go to nap, meditate or just chill out for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a quiet spot with a bit of privacy will do.
  • Organize a lunch time walking group. A five-minute stretch followed by ten minutes of walking, followed by a glass of water can be invigorating and a healthy alternative to sitting in front of a computer screen or gossiping in the lunch room.
  • Do a spring cleaning. Sort through and store or dispose of unwanted documents and publications (keeping in mind your organization’s document disposal policy), and give work areas a good scrubbing. The clean-up can be done over a few days to keep the activity fresh. 
  • Say a big hello to greet co-workers, especially if you’re a manager. Set a great example by being courteous and friendly. If it doesn’t feel genuine at first, keep at it and sooner or later it’ll become second nature.
  • Talk about it. Open dialogue before behaviours escalate can act as a deterrent and even help smooth over troubled waters.
  • Consider including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in your benefits offering. EAPs help those experiencing personal and work-related problems access professional help before their productivity is compromised. It is a confidential service that is available to managers and employees alike.
  • Ask for, and listen to feedback. Simply asking your workforce for their thoughts can go a long way to helping them feel included and important to the success of the organization. Give the feedback or idea the right amount of consideration and say thank you. You may be surprised at the great ideas people bring forward.
  • Bring in treats from time to time. Communal dining is a very social activity and the occasional free donuts (or fruit) and coffee can turn a humdrum day into a good day.
  • Encourage chair yoga to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Even 15 minutes can calm the mind and help your workforce feel better.
  • Bring in the green. Plants are said to improve air quality and add luster and beauty to a space. Some evidence shows that office plants increase productivity, by helping us reduce stress and boost creativity.

All of us are, to some extent, a product of our environment. So, make your business/organization even better by adopting small changes that can improve the at-work experience of your managers and employees. You’ll be rewarded by improved turnover rates, employee motivation or satisfaction scores, and an enhanced level of staff engagement.