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Finance & Administrative Coordinator – IRON WILL RAW

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Position Location: 600 Read Road, St. Catharines Ontario L2R 7K6
Position Reports to: Financial Controller & CEO
Job Type: Full-Time
Hours of Work: Up to 40 hours/week (Monday-Friday, 8AM-4PM). Evening hours to accommodate business demands and position requirements may be required.

We are looking for a reliable, organized and motivated individual with a positive attitude to join our dynamic team and take on the role of Finance and Administrative Coordinator at Iron Will Raw Pet Food (Iron Will Raw).


Iron Will Raw is a manufacturer of quality raw pet foods. We take all common beliefs about “pet food” and turn them on their heads.  As an industry leader in food safety in the pet food realm you’ll find yourself in a pristine, organized and technology advanced work environment.   We are meticulous in all we do and are looking for team members who can contribute to our core values by adding Value, Passion and Excellence. As a company we are continuously looking for ways to improve our contribution to the raw pet food world and embrace team members who positively impact this mission.


Reporting to the Financial Controller and/or CEO, the Finance and Administrative Coordinator provides accounting and administrative support to help facilitate the growth, efficiency and effectiveness of day-to-day operations at Iron Will Raw. As a contributing, collaborative and solutions-oriented team member, the Finance and Administrative Coordinator is responsible for all daily financial transactions, overseeing payroll administration, and ensuring accuracy of financial and administrative records. The job incumbent must positively represent the Iron Will Raw brand and team by providing exceptional customer service and reliably coordinating with both internal and external stakeholders.


Financial Administration (bookkeeping / accounting)

  • Calculate and process invoices, payments, credit card transactions, deposits, credits, account statements, etc.
  • Enter, track and verify accounting transactions including Accounts Payable (A/P) and Receivable (A/R)
  • Log and complete deposits, efficiently managing and reporting cash flow
  • Manage bank accounts and prepare month end account reconciliation
  • Ensure accurate preparation, reconciliation and filing of financial remittances (i.e., HST)
  • Compile data and provide weekly/monthly accounting reports and other financial summaries to upper management, as requested; collaborate with Accountant for quarterly and year end reporting
  • Monitor department budgets, review financial movement, flag variances and pull reports, as needed
  • Communicate with customers and suppliers to secure payment and aid in resolving discrepancies
  • Liaise with internal and external contacts to extract necessary accounting information, following administrative procedures
  • Complete all data entry and record keeping tasks pertaining to A/P and A/R accounts, cost analysis, credit card activity, budgets and forecasts
  • Maintain orderly financial filing systems and uphold internal processes and controls
  • Other similar and related duties as required

Payroll Administration

  • Conduct weekly payroll activities including preparing and processing employee payments via direct deposit
  • Monitor employee hours and process employee timesheets using payroll software (“QuickBooks T-sheets”)
  • Ensure accurate preparation, reconciliation and filing of payroll remittances and forms (i.e., source deductions, ROEs, T4s, etc.)
  • Administer compensation and benefits plans, enrolling new employees and preparing necessary remittances
  • Maintain knowledge of legal requirements and government reporting regulations affecting administrative functions.

Customer Service & Collaboration

  • Manage correspondence with suppliers and customers in a prompt and professional manner, always ensuring the provision of exceptional service
  • Efficiently resolve discrepancies and/or stakeholder complaints by being proactive and solution-oriented
  • Collaborate with the accountant, and departments heads, to monitor budgets and ensure accurate financial reporting
  • Assist and support co-workers and external contacts as needed to promote positive working relationships


  • Three to five (3-5) years’ experience working in a bookkeeping, finance and/or accounting role, required.
  • Three (3) years of customer service experience, preferred.
  • Experience working within a finance role for a manufacturing company, an asset.
  • Certificate, diploma or degree in business administration, bookkeeping, accounting, and/or a related field, an asset.


  • Working knowledge of various accounting and payroll programs and software (i.e. Fishbowl, QuickBooks, T-sheets, etc.)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping principles and practices.
  • Skilled communicator with demonstrated interpersonal skills, a professional demeanor, and proven commitment to exceptional customer service.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Reliable, punctual and business-oriented
  • Skilled at comparing, interpreting, and organizing a variety of data and information, systematically
  • Ability to work efficiently in a team setting and liaison with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Strong time management skills with the ability to effectively prioritize responsibilities and work activities
  • Ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment while paying great attention to detail.
  • Willingness to learn, adapt and take initiative in light of new information and/or organizational changes.
  • Ability to put systems in place and provide input on how to improve processes.


  • Office setting, primarily
  • Availability to work flexible hours


  • A casual, friendly, and supportive team culture.
  • Health and benefits plan.
  • Food and store discounts.
  • Bonus opportunities.


Iron Will Raw is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes all interested applicants to submit their detailed cover letter and résumé to by October 19, 2022. Please be sure to include “Finance & Administrative Coordinator” in the subject line. We thank all applicants, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Iron Will Raw will provide reasonable accommodation in compliance with AODA when notified by a candidate that accommodation due to a disability is required for the interview process.

Accounting & Administration Specialist – (Thorold Community Credit Union)

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Work Location: 63 Front St. S. Thorold, Ontario L2V 0A7
Reports to: Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Hours of Work: Full-time, Monday-Friday. Evening or weekend hours may be required to accommodate business demands.

We’re looking for an organized, driven and detail-oriented accounting professional with banking experience 
to join the Thorold Community Credit Union Team!


Established in 1948, Thorold Community Credit Union (TCU) is the oldest community credit union in Ontario. Our mission at TCU is to provide quality financial services and be financially responsible to the members and residents who live or work in the community we serve. To the extent possible, we work to create a source of credit at a fair and reasonable rate of interest, and provide an opportunity for our members to effectively control their economic and social condition.


Reporting to the CEO, the Accounting and Administration Specialist will effectively oversee all finance and accounting functions at Thorold Community Credit Union (TCU) and actively support the health and security of administrative and financial systems.

Specifically, the job incumbent is responsible for preparing regulatory financial reports and statements, tracking and monitoring financial transactions, managing general ledger accounts, administering payroll, and ensuring the accuracy, security and maintenance of administrative and financial records. The Accounting and Administration Specialist must proactively coordinate with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure all accounting and financial data, plans, policies, programs and procedures are in strict compliance with applicable finance and accounting standards, regulations and best practices, and are aligned with strategic objectives.


Financial Accounting & Reporting

  • Compile, check and balance all general ledger (GL) transactions, accounts and accruals on a daily basis.
  • Prepare regulatory financial reports and statements on a monthly basis (i.e. balance sheets, statement of income and expenses, GAP asset/liability reports, etc.)
  • Oversee all execute all accounts payable (A/P) functions.
  • Review specified and daily banking reports; identify potential errors and take corrective action as needed
  • Stay abreast of all regulations, standards and legislation affecting banking, accounting and/or finance administration.
  • Manage all activities related to the administration of RRSPs, RRIFs, and TFSAs
  • Reconcile bank statements on a semi-monthly basis and prepare required income tax and liability returns.
  • Work closely with the chartered accountant(s) and external auditor(s) at years’ end to ensure required documentation needed to perform audits is complete, comprehensive and accurate.
  • Meet with members in relation to registered investments.

Strategic Planning, Coordination & Support

  • Assist in policy development, implementation and administration.
  • Collaborate with CEO to prepare and monitor the annual operating budget and three-year business plan.
  • Review competitor interest rates and set new interest and foreign exchange rates with the CEO.
  • Provide assistance and act as the Board’s recording secretary during monthly meetings by preparing the agenda, taking minutes, organizing financial data/reports and distributing board packages to members.
  • Oversee and coordinate special projects and manage the implementation of new services.
  • Implement, monitor and take part in various organizational plans and ensure they are regularly updated and revised to reflect changes in legislation or regulatory requirements (i.e. Contingency Funding Plan).
  • Compile and provide relevant documentation to committee members for meetings (governance/audit).
  • Organize and execute training initiatives for TCU staff and board members.
  • Proactively work to streamline administrative/financial functions by addressing operational inefficiencies.
  • Administer TCU’s investment portfolio in conjunction with the CEO.

Payroll Administration

  • Conduct weekly payroll activities including preparing and processing employee payments.
  • Ensure accurate preparation, reconciliation and filing of payroll remittances and forms (i.e. HST, EHT, EI, ROEs, T4s, etc.)
  • Administer compensation and benefits plans, enroll new employees and preparing necessary remittances.
  • Manage all records and documents related to health and safety initiatives, issues, and incidents, completing all WSIB and MOL claims when required.

IT Systems & Security

  • Organize and maintain the LAN/network file system through file retention and periodic purging; perform offsite and test backups through file retrieval.
  • Ensure workstations are operating efficiently and systematically troubleshoot issues when they occur.
  • Manage network usersand act as security officer for Central1 (i.e. adding, deleting, updating staff access).
  • Test and implement new systems as required (i.e. network devices, printers, workstations, etc.)
  • Maintainand monitor the effectiveness of network security controls andsystem stabilitythrough regular network patching.
  • Update the banking system during off hours and as required for product updates, changes or additions.
  • As the CGI point of contact, oversee the coordination of data systems and CGI year-end processing
  • Other similar and related duties as assigned by the CEO.


  • At least three to five (3-5) years’ experience in an accounting and/or finance role, required.
  • Diploma or degree in finance, business, accounting or a related field, preferred.
  • Experience working for a credit union or in the banking industry, an asset.


  • Exceptional financial management skills.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping principles and best practices.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills; proficiency in English.
  • Ability to think systematically and implement procedures that address administrative redundancies.
  • Excellent organization and time management skills; competent in prioritizing work activities.
  • Skilled at effectively utilizing various banking, payroll and accounting software/programs (i.e. RBC Express, QuickBooks, etc.); Proficiency in Microsoft Excel.
  • Capable of multi-tasking while paying great attention to detail; meticulous.
  • Capacity to understand the consequence of errors with regard to financial mismanagement.
  • Ability to have foresight, analytically problem-solve and use using sound judgement.
  • Willingness to adapt and take initiative, always maintaining exceptionally high standards.
  • Ability to ensure compliance with all accounting principles, regulations and legislative requirements.
  • Excellent customer service and coordination skills.


  • A casual, supportive and friendly work environment.
  • Extended health and benefits plan.
  • RSP investment.
  • Exemption from service charges/fees.
  • Clothing allowance.
  • Free parking.
  • “Special Saturdays”


If you think your experience, skills and career aspirations are aligned with this opportunity – please send your resume to by October 16, 2022. Please be sure to include “Accounting & Administration Specialist” in the subject line.

We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage applications from all qualified individuals. We are committed to providing a safe, healthy, diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels valued and respected. We will consider accessibility accommodations to applicants upon request.



Iron Will Raw – HR Manager

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Position Title: Human Resources Manager
Job Type: Full-time 
Work Location: 600 Read Road, St. Catharines ON, L2R 7K6
Position Reports to: President

Company Overview

Iron Will Raw Inc. is a manufacturer of quality raw pet foods. As an industry leader in food safety in the pet food realm you’ll find yourself in a pristine, organized and technologically advanced work environment. We are meticulous in all we do and are looking for team members who can contribute to our core values by adding value, passion and excellence. As a company we are continuously looking for ways to improve our contribution to the raw pet food world and embrace team members who positively impact this mission.

Job Purpose

The Human Resources Manager position is responsible for managing all Company Human Resources and Health & Safety functions and related issues. This position will support all company departments, and all locations, both on-site and remote.

Responsibilities and Duties

The responsibilities of the Human Resources Manager include, but are not limited to:

  • Complete full-cycle recruiting, including developing job descriptions, facilitating the interview processes and completing all onboarding and orientation items.
  • Develop, implement, update, and maintain Company and Health & Safety policies and procedures, including training of all employees on such policies, and ensuring compliance with applicable legislation.
  • Complete and manage employee performance management, including preparing and delivering performance evaluations, disciplines and terminations.
  • Investigate, manage, and resolve employee relations and labour relations issues.
  • Manage employee attendance, and the attendance management program
  • Administration and management of employee vacation, leave, benefits and compensation.
  • Facilitate and manage employee succession plans, and departmental and positional restructuring.
  • Human Resources administration duties such as, Company communications, organizational charts, HR reports, office layouts, record keeping and document control.
  • Manage all employee files.
  • Lead and manage the company health & safety system and initiatives.
  • Facilitate the joint health & safety committee and all its functions.
  • Lead workplace incident investigations, and determine and implement the appropriate controls.
  • Ensure work processes and employee actions are compliant with government health & safety regulations.
  • Manage the Health & Safety Excellence Program and submit required documentation to the WSIB.
  • Ensure employees receive adequate training for all work processes and health & safety responsibilities.

Education Requirements

  • Successful completion of a post-secondary program in a Human Resources related field.
  • CHRP designation preferred.


  • A well-rounded HR professional with at least five (5) years’ Human Resources experience.
  • Ability to build and sustain strong working relationships, both internal and external to the organization.
  • Proven and exemplary organizational, leadership and communication skills and a professional and collaborative approach to problem solving.
  • Understanding of legislation and regulations relevant to employment and Health & Safety.
  • HRIS and payroll Software experience; specific experience with QuickBooks an asset.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Industry experience (production, food processing) would be considered an asset.

Physical & Working conditions

  • The work environment will be based in the office.


Send your resume directly to:

We promote equal employment opportunities for all job applicants. At Iron Will Raw Inc., we are committed to inclusive, barrier-free recruitment and selection processes and work environment. We are happy to discuss any need for accommodation and will make every effort to meet those needs in a timely manner. Please advise the HR Manager if you require accommodation throughout the recruitment and selection processes and/or within the work environment. Information received relating to accommodation measures will be addressed confidentially.

IWR Human Resources Manager JP 2022(1)

Paddi Riopelle’s Recent Retirement

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July 1st, 2019

On behalf of the team at HR Off-Site, we would like to congratulate Paddi Riopelle on her recent retirement!

While Paddi will be missed by those at HR Off-Site, her retirement is extremely well-deserved. Paddi’s leadership, vision and sense of integrity have been the driving force behind HR Off-Site’s success. She has fostered incredible client relationships over the past several years and she has been an inspiration to her team.

After more than 35 years of dedication to the field of HR, we hope retirement brings Paddi many years of fun, relaxation…and meditation! We wish her all the best in this new and exciting chapter!

It’s business as usual for the rest of us at HR Off-Site! We look forward to supporting your business with all your HR needs.

Best Wishes,

The HR Off-Site Team
Julia, Anne Marie and Sarah


Employer Requirements by Number of Employees

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A: Under 5 Employees


What You Should Know About the Ontario Employment Standards Act: most recent copy of the Ministry of Labour’s poster is to be given to each employee.


Occupational Health and Safety Act (green book):  post a copy in the workplace.


Health and Safety Policy:  develop, post and review annually.  Also required to develop a program to implement the policy.  The policy must be signed by an Officer of the company.


WSIB “In Case of Injury – 1234”: poster is to be prominently displayed in the workplace.
First Aid requirements:
*First aiders must hold at least a St. John Ambulance Emergency First Aid Certificate.
*Employers need to assess their workplace to ensure they always have First Aiders available to provide first aid to injured workers.
*First Aid Station with a First Aid Kit:  specific contents outlined on WSIB website.  First Aid kit must be in the charge of a worker who is a holder of a valid First Aid Certificate.
*The valid first aid certificates of qualification of the trained workers on duty must be posted.
*An inspection card with spaces for recording date of most recent inspection of first aid kit with inspector signature must be posted.


Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS):  workplaces with hazardous materials are required to identify the hazardous materials; ensure proper data sheets on the materials are readily available; containers are properly labeled;  ensure employees are properly trained in handling and use of these materials.  All workplaces must train employees in WHMIS.


Violence and Harassment in the Workplace:  as of June 2010, the Ontario Health and Safety Act requires employers to assess the risk of workplace violence and to put programs in place regarding workplace violence and harassment, including preparing and posting policies; developing and maintaining programs to implement policies; and training employees on the policies and program.


Accessibility for Ontarions with Disability Act (AODA):  as of January 1, 2012 the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act legally requires all organizations, both public and private, that provide goods and services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario (third parties) and that have one or more employees to i) provide accessible customer service to persons of all ability levels ii) to meet the requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards and iii) have in place a workplace emergency plan for employees with disabilities.


Worker and Supervisor Basic Health and Safety Training: As of July 1, 2014 all employees and supervisors are to complete mandatory basic occupational health and safety awareness training.


Leaves of absence Under Employment Standards Act:  employers must offer the following leaves to eligible employees:  Pregnancy and Parental Leave; Family Medical Leave; Reservist Leave; Organ Donor Leave; Family Caregiver Leave; Critically Ill Child Care Leave, Crime Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave.
B: 5-20 Employees all of A plus the following:


Health and Safety Representative:  Workplaces with more than 5 but less than 20 employees must select, from among themselves, one person to be a health and safety representative.


First Aid Requirements:  First Aiders must hold at least a St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid Certificate. Contents of First Aid Kit change with 5-15 employees.
C: 10+ Employees all of A & B plus the following:


Pay Equity:  must achieve and maintain pay equity for employees.
D: 15-200 Employees – all of A & C plus the following:


First Aid Requirements:  must have available a stretcher and two blankets in addition to the contents for the First Aid Kit.  First Aiders must hold at least a St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid Certificate. Contents of First Aid Kit change with 15-200 employees.
E: 20 – 50 Employees – all of A,C & D plus the following:


Health and Safety Committee:  employers with 20 or more employees must have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) consisting of at least 2 persons (one worker rep and one management rep, both certified) who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues.  A JHSC is a forum for bringing the internal responsibility system into practice.


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act Additional Requirements:  document in writing policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service; notify customers that documents are available upon request; provide information if requested to a person with a disability in a format that takes into account their disability.
F: Over 50 Employees – all of A,C, D & E plus the following:


Leave of absence under the Employment Standards Act:  Personal Emergency Leave.


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act Additional Requirements: i) Document in writing policies, practices and procedures for statement of commitment on how IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards Requirements) will be met ii) develop multi year accessibility plan.
G. Over 200 Employees – all of A,C,E & F plus the following:


First Aid Requirements: Must have a First Aid room. Contents of First Aid Room and Kit change with over 200 employees.


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.

Thriving in Constant Change

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Constant change is a fact of life and a hallmark of a thriving business in most businesses and industries. Many companies and their employees are challenged by their need to keep pace with rapid changes in market conditions, in technology and in consumer preferences. The most successful companies are able to go one step further and actually lead these changes.

Research highlights two important findings about change:

  • Companies who don’t manage change well don’t capture the potential impact of initiatives, meaning that their efforts don’t tend to pay off;    and
  • Strength on any one level of the organization, whether senior executives, middle managers, or the frontline workforce, gives companies a better chance of success. Interestingly, no single level was found to be more critical in that respect than any other.

Change affects business performance. It interrupts our flow and it interferes with our sense of security. So, even when it’s good, change can be painful. Not everyone is negatively affected by change and not all change is bad. But, change acts like an extra heart beat; it creates a blip that can be neutral or downright deadly.

Clearly, one of the best ways to position your business for growth is to work on its capacity to anticipate, manage and lead change. The question is how to go about doing that. Before you start the change process, it useful to understand that almost any change can have a significant impact on a business, and to use effective strategic planning methodology to figure out where you are, what’s important to your business, what must be done by when to achieve priority goals, and who’s accountable.

One important key to dealing with change in your company is to understand that people are hard wired to be either resilient, resistant, or somewhere in between. So, start by building an adaptable workforce through purposeful recruiting. Look for candidates with the following qualities: a strong sense of self, a sense of control, solid coping skills and self- efficacy (the belief in his or her ability to succeed in specific situations).

If your change initiative is beyond that point, knowing where each member of your leadership team lands on the embracing change continuum will help you manage them. In turn, having this awareness will also help them manage their teams. Here are a few other tips:

Talk about the upcoming change with your trusted advisors.  Involving others in the thinking behind the change and in the overall vision allows key players time to come to terms with the potential impacts on the financial, infrastructure and people side of the business.

Identify the champions in your company who will facilitate (or at least enable) the change.  These are usually the employees who are the most adaptable and who have embraced change in the past. They can also be informal leaders who are skilled communicators. Communicate early and often with your champions.

Be available for conversation as concerns arise.  This is important throughout the change process, but especially so in the early phases. Regular conversation helps diffuse fear and makes it easier for your team members to work through challenges and develop solutions.

Know that people prefer to know, even if you don’t know all the answers. In the absence of information, employees may fill in the blanks with speculation and/or their own versions of the truth. This can easily derail an entire work unit. Your employees will cope better with uncertainty if they see that you’re being open and honest and telling them everything you can.

Treat your staff with honesty and respect and you might be surprised which employees use the changing environment to shine. For some, this will be an opportunity to be flexible, to showcase skills that might have not been visible before, and take on greater responsibility. Even a small group of people who exhibit these behaviours can ease the transition process and make it seamless to customers.

The Art of Respectful Termination

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Sometimes, despite your best efforts to train, coach and counsel an employee, you need to terminate his or her employment. In a way, termination is like the break-up of a relationship. One party is dissatisfied and wants to end it; while the other party is shocked even though the writing has been on the wall. In an employment relationship, performance reviews, performance improvement plans and/or disciplinary actions that precede termination should make the situation clear, however, breaking up is hard to do. Both parties will likely wind up feeling a little bruised. 

Walk for a few moments in your employee’s shoes. Imagine you’ve been coached for several months and have made multiple attempts to improve. You’ve been asked to change from who you are to the person your manager believes you can be. Envision how hard it must be to dread going to work every day knowing you don’t measure up to the standards of the job or of the manager to whom you report. Would you want to be told over and over again that your enough isn’t enough? 

To paraphrase Kevin O’Leary, from the TV show “Dragon’s Den,” the time to terminate an employee is when you first think of it. While it’s important to coach and develop your workforce, the point is not to be afraid of the decision to terminate someone’s employment. It’s a decision that depends on circumstances, the position, the risk, the employee, the manager, and to a lesser degree on how hard it will be to find a replacement employee. You will lose sleep over it, asking yourself, is it right for the business? Is it right for the employee? Will this employee be better off when their job search matches them with an employer who recognizes and needs their unique talents? 

If terminations are new to you or you could use a refresher; here are a few tips to make this difficult business a bit easier to manage:

  • Review your notes to verify what actions you’ve taken to date. Have you done what is reasonable to help the employee achieve success? Have you smoothed the path to their development or created barriers? Own your piece of this failure and learn from it.
  • Know what the Employment Standards Act minimum standards are, and what common law provisions apply to this unique situation. Get support from a Certified Human Resources Professional or employment lawyer.
  • Think it over. Never terminate on the spot. If the matter is that grave, send the employee home to allow you time to plan your next step. 
  • If termination is the right decision, put it in writing and have three copies of the letter available; two for the employee and one for you to review with them.
  • Plan the meeting, ensuring your chair is closest to the door with a clear exit route. Just in case. 
  • Do the deed in private and at the end of the day when inquiring minds are less likely to pay attention. Always have someone else present during the termination to take notes. 
  • Keep it short. Even when termination is expected, chances are the employee isn’t hearing much of what is being said anyway. 
  • Gently escort the employee to their desk or locker. Be respectful of their space and the emotional impact of the action. Offer to pack up and deliver their personal belongings, if they’re not up to it. Ask for building access cards, keys, electronic devices, and phone and computer passwords before they leave the building. 
  • Always ask the employee if they can make their way home safety. Be sure to offer a taxi service if the employee is too distraught to drive safely.

Terminations are never a pleasant task; but they are often part of being an effective manager. Plan them carefully and be respectful and compassionate. Your employee’s feelings and the company’s reputation is worth the extra steps you take to ensure the termination goes well.

Be A Positive Force At Work

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Everyone’s job is important in some way, to someone. Whether you run your own business, tend a garden, work a machine, assemble parts or answer the phone, your work impacts other people’s work. And that makes it important.

If you employ or manage people, you are charged with an awesome responsibility: leadership. Never take that privilege for granted. Make being a positive force at work your new year’s resolution for 2014.

A good way to start is to remember that each person you work with is a continually developing individual shaped by his or her unique personality, experiences and family circumstances. The way you behave towards them not only makes a difference in their lives, it influences how they treat others in your workplace. Your presence and way of “being” may calm or disturb, create or destroy. You may bring serenity and harmony to the busyness of the day, or you may stir up negativity and resentment. You may be the empathetic friendly face, the supportive leader who is genuinely there in the moment, present and willing to do what it takes. Or, you may be the one who takes misplaced credit or who is always there to offer a backhanded, hurtful comment in the guise of advice or ‘just saying’. It’s up to you.

Consider also the positive forces that could combine to make your workplace better, more than just a place where you have to go to earn money. With your personal contribution, the workday can afford you an opportunity to witness tremendous achievements and moments of ‘personal best’. You have a choice, your role, whether supportive or not, caring or destructive, is up to you.

You may wonder how you can make a difference in an established workplace, with people who have been there forever or who have dominating personalities that leave little room for a different approach. It’s daunting alright, but consider this: what kind of workplace would you be building if you walk away from an unkind comment or refuse to be engaged in a verbal tug of war? Your change of behaviour, your decision to behave with dignity at all times, regardless of circumstances, can be a tremendous catalyst for change.

One of the most powerful ways you can influence the workplace is through what you say, and how you say it. Have you ever blurted out unkind or hurtful words that you immediately wished you could take back? Words hurt, especially when delivered in the absence of compassion, and they have the power to create conflict or calm. So, watch your words.

Beyond what you can do personally, talk to your managers to discuss what can be done from their perspective to create a positive workplace. Think of ways to connect with your team through reading groups or hobbies such as baking, quilting or fitness activities. Everything you have in common will bring you closer to workplace harmony as the topic of conversation moves from gossip to constructive conversation.

You can make positive differences in other ways as well. Look for opportunities to re-balance; schedules, duties, and working hours are often common annoyances. With minor adjustments these dis-satisfiers may become satisfiers. Consider establishing a positive workplace team that is charged with responsibility to encourage harmony through social activities and community contribution. Many not–for-profit organizations, seniors centres and charities welcome volunteers.

Standing tall in the face of overbearing personalities, unkind words and behaviour is empowering for managers and employees alike. Each of us can make a difference by being the voice of reason and demonstrating the unflappable strength of one person deciding to be a positive force at work.

Managing Leadership Turnover

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While there are some variations in the translations of the quote by Greek philosopher Heraclitus  “nothing endures but change” or “the only constant is change,” one thing is certain: workplace relationships and productivity suffer when changes are clumsily introduced.

Among the most difficult changes for employees to handle is a change in their manager. Whether the change is due to a transfer of duties, promotion or departure from the company, reporting to a new boss is worrisome to most employees. Some may even see it as job-threatening. How your employees deal with this depends to a great extent to how safe they feel in their current role.

Generally, employees whose performance has been assessed and for which feedback has been provided are in the best shape. They know their standing in the company and will use that knowledge to help them if they become insecure. Employees who don’t know, or who are on performance improvement plans are often more insecure. They tend to fret more and their fear may compel them to engage in unproductive behaviour such as speculation or gossip.

Fear of change is natural, but there is a lot that owners and managers can do to help their teams during management transitions:

  1. Let staff know of the change as soon as possible. Provide information about timeframes.
  2. Let staff know what they can expect in the immediate future. Be as open as you can be given the circumstances. Consider holding a live five-minute meeting with local staff and sending out an announcement email confirming the information.
  3. Communicate the anticipated impact of the change on the business, customers and suppliers.
  4. State your expectations that team members will continue to work to their usual high standards during the transition.
  5. Explain how you will go about finding a replacement. If you will be recruiting, let staff know the timeline and any interim arrangements that will be made.
  6. Check in with employees frequently. This is especially important during the first few weeks. Just because you haven’t heard anything, doesn’t mean your employees aren’t worried.
  7. Provide periodic general updates on the status of the recruiting process.
  8. When you’ve made your decision, prepare an announcement to introduce the new manager. Whether he or she is from inside or outside the company, use this communication to provide a brief summary of the new manager’s professional background and anticipated contribution to the company in the new role. Some employers use this communication to share some personal information, such as the names of the new manager’s partner and children. This is optional and if you are considering this, be sure to have the new manager’s full consent to do so.
  9. Conduct a thorough on-boarding. Even if the new manager is transferred from within the company, there will be distinct differences in expectations and responsibilities.
  10. Be sure to set goals to ensure that the manager is adapting well to his or her new role. Consider setting a goal related to getting to know the team and ensuring that your employees receive the attention they deserve.

The early days in any new position can be hectic and potentially overwhelming for the manager. Help both your employees and your new manager succeed with open and frequent communication. No matter what kind of business you’re in, this is an important practice. It encourages employees to share their concerns and ideas and helps keep management and frontline staff on the same side.

12 Ways to Tackle Difficult Conversations

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As a business owner or manager, there are times when you need to have a conversation with an employee that you don’t want to have. The topic might be awkward, such as body odour, gossip and poor timekeeping, or a game changer such as unsafe work habits and performance gaps. The cost of avoiding these difficult conversations and leaving these situations unresolved is likely higher than you think. If you’re noticing the problem, chances are other employees and perhaps even your customers are noticing it as well.

According to a 2008 study conducted by the executive development firm CPP Inc., workplace conflict is a nearly universal occurrence, with 85% of all workers spending more than two hours per week dealing with conflict. What does this mean to your business? In financial terms, if you have 24 employees, 20 of them claim to spend at least two hours a week dealing with conflict. That’s 40 hours per week or 2080 hours per year! You’d have to hire one more full-time person just to make up for the productivity lost due to conflict. Given the fact that workplace conflict can also lead to stress, illness, absence from work, harassment, violence, labour complaints and failed plan execution, what is it doing to your customers, your profits and your company as a whole?

One of the keys to preventing and reducing workplace conflict is to deal with situations when you first become aware of them. Taking immediate action often is enough to change an outcome, show leadership and create positive and lasting results. Waiting until the problem is so big that it has to be dealt under unfavourable conditions, such as in response to a complaint or when an accident occurs, puts you at a real disadvantage. By then, you may have become emotionally charged, perhaps full of frustration or anger. In this case, risk is increased and the chances of a positive outcome are reduced.

It doesn’t really matter why we tend to avoid having the conversations we most need to have. The real issue is how to deal with the difficult issues with the least amount of pain. Here are 12 tips for tackling difficult conversations:

  1. Deal with the matter as soon as you become aware of it.
  2. If the topic is sensitive or emotionally charged, prepare the person in advance by letting them know that a meeting is planned and what you will be talking about.
  3. Be gentle. No one likes to be scolded, so be professional and keep your composure.
  4. Be sure to ask questions to clarify the facts of the situation, unless you have first-hand knowledge.
  5. Listen carefully and hold your judgements until you understand all angles of the situation.
  6. Be as direct as possible while using empathy to engage the other person.
  7. Steer clear of small talk. It can minimize the importance of the conversation.
  8. Stay on target and discuss only the matter at hand. Dragging up old gripes and grumbles will divert you from the purpose of the conversation. If the employee brings up other matters, consider scheduling a separate meeting to address those issues.
  9. Share with the employee why the matter is important to you and the business, and what effect their behaviour is having on other employees and customers, as well as the potential employment impact.
  10. Clearly state your expectations. Be specific about what you the person to start or stop doing.
  11. Document the meeting, have the employee acknowledge the content and and provide a copy for their records.
  12. Follow up. This is an important, often overlooked step. It’s tempting to think, “Whew… I’m glad that’s done with,” but you likely won’t know if your expectations have been met until some time has passed and you’ve asked for feedback from the employee and others.

Even in workplaces that boldly encourage engagement, difficult conversations are often avoided. This works to everyone’s detriment. Do yourself and your company a favour and create an environment of early conversation, before difficult enters the equation.

August Civic Holiday

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The first Monday in August, which is often called “Civic Holiday” or “Simcoe Day” is a municipal holiday* generally observed in Ontario. The holiday is mentioned in a number of Ontario statutes within the context of giving time off for specific types of employees or of regulating business hours, etc.  However, because it is not designated as an official public (statutory) holiday in provincial employment standards or retail business holiday legislation, the Civic Holiday is a workday like any other for thousands of Ontario employees.  As a result, public (statutory) holiday rules do not apply and the decision to give employees the day off rests with employers. When employees are given the day off, their employers also decide whether it should be a paid holiday.

Did you know??

The concept of a midsummer holiday for a “day of recreation” in Toronto dates as far back as 1869; the House of Commons in England first established it as a Canadian version of a bank holiday in 1871. In 1875, the Toronto City Council fixed the first Monday in August as a Civic Holiday. The Toronto City Council officially called the civic holiday “Simcoe Day” after John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada on September 12th, 1791. He convened the first legislative assembly and established York (now Toronto) as the capital of the province. Several other Ontario municipalities have chosen to honour a significant local person or organization to help focus the celebration.

*The Municipal Act provides that municipal councils can make by-laws proclaiming a civic holiday and requiring the closing of shops on such a day.

Hiring The Best

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At some point in your career as a business owner or manager, you’ll need to lead a hiring process. Before you do, take the time to think about how to hire the best people for your business. Many managers still rely largely on gut instinct or simply accept the first person who comes knocking at the door. Taking a more planned approach can be an important competitive advantage.

If you were purchasing new equipment, you would first consider the financial investment. You wouldn’t pick just any equipment, you’d identify what the equipment should be able to do, choose the features that most closely match your needs, and ensure a level of reliability and return on investment that makes the financials work. You might even set up a maintenance schedule, so you could respond quickly if the equipment didn’t perform to optimal levels.

Though people are immeasurably more complex than equipment, using a similar thought process can help you see that the investment in hiring great people is well worth it. Once you include benefits and other costs, such as training and skills upgrading to keep up with technology advancements, hiring a new employee at 40K a year will likely cost your business more than half a million dollars over 10 years of employment. That’s a huge financial investment. The costs are even higher if that same employee leaves the company and you have to start all over again.

Hiring without a process is like trying to hit a target wearing a blindfold; you may know the general direction in which you aim, but precision is unlikely. Here are a few ideas to help keep your hiring on the mark:

  • Prepare your job ad with the reader in mind: know your most important audiences and place your ads accordingly.
  • Ask all applicants to include a cover letter along with the resume or application form. The cover letter may offer otherwise hidden clues into an applicant’s ability to formulate and communicate their thoughts and their ability to stand above the crowd.
  • Review the resume and cover letter and pre-screen the top few candidates by phone. Asking a few questions related to their background and competencies will save you interview time by weeding out those who clearly don’t meet your minimum criteria.
  • Respond to each and every applicant with whom you speak, even those who are screened out. This helps enhance your company’s brand. Be mindful that the applicants may also be your customers, suppliers or vendors, if not now, in the future.
  • Rely less on the top 100 interview questions from the Internet and more on your knowledge of the job. What skills will the ideal candidate need to possess to thrive in your workplace?
  • Schedule a consecutive block of time to interview the candidate using quality questions that address the competencies you require of the position. Strong      responsibility and proactivity skills are essential in most roles.
  • Before the meeting, turn off your cell phone and avoid interruptions. Your candidate has set aside time from their schedule to meet you and they deserve your undivided attention.
  • Explain to the candidate how the interview will proceed. At the end, offer an opportunity to ask questions as a way to signal the wrap up of the interview.
  • Again, communicate with all candidates to share the good and bad news. It’s only fair to let them know the outcome so they can begin planning right away or move on to the next opportunity.

The measure of whether or not your hiring process is successful is in the effectiveness of your new employee. The best advice is to recognize that your ‘gut instinct’ probably has merit, while using solid interviewing and assessment skills to make the final decision.

Reporting Your AODA Progress

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By now many of you will have heard or read about the AODA – Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Customer Service Standard was the first of five standards that, by 2025, will form the entire AODA. The AODA dovetails with the Human Rights Act to provide structure to how we, as Ontarians, will build our communities now and in the years ahead. That said complying with this legislation is a bit different than complying with other more familiar employment legislation.

Other employment legislation requires adherence in a silent way. The expectation is that employers will comply with each requirement, and only when deficiencies are identified as a result of an inspection, accident or complaint, does government action take place. Compliance with the AODA requires that employers file regular reports with the Province.

Depending on the size of your company, your obligations differ.  Basically private sector organizations with 1 or more employees were required to meet certain AODA requirements by January 1, 2012.  Companies with 20 or more employees have an additional requirement to report annually to the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS). Word on the street is that companies who haven’t filed have received a phone call reminding them of their obligations. MCSS is proactively following up to ensure your compliance related to accessibility planning, training of employees, web content, and accessible information, among other elements of the standards.

So if you haven’t filed your report for 2012, you may wish to set aside some time to take care of it. The Province has created an online tool to help you file your report. An introductory link to more information can be found in the Accessibility Wizard at

The online report is located at Navigating the site can be a little challenging, so here are some tips to save you time and frustration:

  1. Be sure to have your business number and official business name handy, you can find your business number on your federal or provincial tax payment or refund.
  2. You’ll be setting up an account with Service Ontario’s ONe-Source for Business, where you’ll create a user name and password and answer a few questions in case you forget your password. Next, you will set up your business profile before clicking on the AODA reporting tab to answer the questions.
  3. The 15 questions you will be required to answer for the report can be viewed at: and click on ‘questions’ at the bottom of the page
  4. Any staff member or volunteer can complete the accessibility compliance report. However, it must be certified by an individual who can bind the organization.
  5. Set aside one to two hours to complete the report for the first time, from setting up your account with AccessON to completing the report.

2025 sounds like a long time away, but with multiple standards coming into force between then and now, complying with this legislation may be more complex than you may expect. The AODA is far-reaching because it covers customer service, information and communication, employment, transportation and the built environment, and applies to virtually every organization in the province.

Tuned In and Turned On

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Is your staff tuned in to what your customers need? Do you ever worry about losing your top performers? Is your ratio of low performers outnumbering the good ones? How do you know when to take action? To feel confident that you’re managing your team better than your competition is managing theirs, read on. 

Knowing your turnover rate is a good place to start. Besides increasing your costs related to recruitment and training, high turnover rates mean that your workforce likely lacks experience which translates to less efficiency and an increased number of mistakes, at least for a while. Your staff turnover rate also tells part of the story of what is going on with your workforce. 

To calculate turnover, consider the last calendar year. Divide the number of employees who have left the organization by the average number of employees during the same period and multiply by 100. For example:  if four employees out of 35 left in one calendar year, then the annual turnover rate is 11.4%. 

You might be thinking that counting someone who leaves the organization due to a decision to stay home with a new little one, to return to full time post-secondary education or to move out of the area might not be a good reflection of your company’s turnover or level of employee engagement. And you may be right. In calculating your assessment it’s okay to omit those departures, as long as you make a note of the exclusions to avoid comparing apples to oranges in the future.  

The rate should be compared to that of the industry, if possible. Ask colleagues what their turnover rate is to help you understand how you compare. If your rate is higher, consider how you can achieve better results by understanding why the employees made a decision to leave. Do you use exit interviews with departing employees to really understand their motivation for leaving? Be brave enough to ask, “what could I (or the company) have done differently?” Then, be prepared to shift your thinking if a pattern emerges.  

Turnover rate is a reflection of employee engagement and employee engagement is the catch phrase that thought leaders and coaches are talking a lot about these days. But what exactly does it mean? In a recent blog by Michael Brenner on the American Society for Training and Development website, engagement is described as: The extent to which a person chooses to apply their talent, energy and care toward any effort.”[i] 

Every employee brings talent to the employment relationship, but whether or not they bring their energy and care to work may be a different matter. Some people just bring it, others don’t have it to bring, but there are those who may be in the middle ground. This is where your leadership skills can be particularly influential. 

Leaders have to help other people get what they want out of life. Try to understand how you can help individual employees progress towards accomplishing meaningful work. If you can do that, both you and your employees will get what you want, both for the company and personally. It’s a beautiful thing to develop your employees’ talents to the point of making yourself obsolete. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes for a moment. If you want to grow and develop, they likely do too. It’s not a bad thing for a business owner to have the freedom to do other things and let his or her staff step up and take charge. 

Getting a handle on employee engagement is more than calculating turnover, it’s all about knowing your workforce and how they are motivated to perform. Aligning your company’s goals with the employees’ goals brings value beyond the numbers.

Make Day One a Good Day

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The first day on a new job is a bit like the first day of kindergarten. Feelings of anticipation and excitement, mixed with sheer terror. After all you have a new route to travel, new people to meet and a new physical space to get used to. To top it all off, you have a new boss. Now you need to figure out how to stay in his or her good books. Likewise, your boss needs to plan to make your first day a good day. 

If you’re the new employee, it’s important to find out a few things before the big day. You need to know what time to show up and what attire is appropriate. Are safety shoes required? What is your travel route? What time do you have to leave home to get to work with 15 minutes to spare? Where do you park? If you are taking the bus, determine the timing of the bus route, and how to navigate to your new place of work from the bus stop. If possible, check it out over a couple of days, so you can review traffic patterns and watch for bottlenecks that might slow you down. 

Before the big day, review the research you did on the company during the recruiting process and be aware of recent articles that may have been added to the website or that have appeared in the newspaper, or relevant industry journals. This can help you make a strong impression. Finally, if you don’t know what to expect to do for lunch, prepare a brown bag lunch for the first day.  

When you arrive at your new job, announce yourself with a smile and a genuine greeting. A simple, “Hi, my name is Pat and today is my first day,” can be an easy conversation starter. Usually, a colleague or the manager will collect you and take you to your new space. This journey signifies your entry into the clan–an already formed group of people with a common goal. Soon, that will soon be your goal too! 

You’ll be meeting lots of people, so pay attention to names and titles. You`ll be given lots of information, such as passcodes, voice mail protocol and information from HR, so it’s a good idea to bring a small notepad that you can jot down notes to refer to later. It makes a good impression if you come in the second day and remember Susie’s name from payroll. 

While you’ve been preparing for your new role, your new manager has been preparing for your arrival. No doubt he or she has been working behind the scenes work to ensure you have a workspace, a desk and chair and has sent out a communication to let your colleagues know that you will be joining the team. Your computer has been set up and your phone voice mail is cleared and ready for you. Your manager may have assigned a mentor to help you settle into the work environment. An appointment has been set up to assist you with filling out government tax forms, emergency contact information forms and setting up your payroll account. Now the manager and you have some quality time together. Be ready for a tour of the facility, evacuation options, introductions, and a sit down meeting to review the details of the company handbook, specifics related to your new job, and/or your rights and responsibilities related to health and safety.  

If you are lucky, you will have an opportunity to meet a senior manager to review the company values and expectations of conduct. Pay close attention to these; values are the foundation of an organization and living those values is an important part of success in your new job. With planning and an open mind, the first day can set the tone for a long and productive work relationship.

On-boarding Checklist

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Onboarding Checklist
The “recruiting process” doesn’t end after the “locate, identify, interview and hire” steps. It is really a continuous and ongoing activity each and every day to continuously re-engage your workforce. Well organized on-boarding of new employees is a critical step in ensuring their success and engagement.

Help Your Staff Succeed

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Many small business owners, managers and supervisors inadvertently sabotage their staff’s ability to succeed. They often do it by neglecting three basic things: job descriptions, the employee handbook and annual performance reviews. In small workplaces, these items may seem like mere formalities, but they are critically important to helping employees excel both as individuals and as a team. If you haven’t already taken action on these items, here’s why it’s important and how you can start.

Have Written Job Descriptions
Simply put, a written job description is the only common language an employer and an employee have for communicating what, how and when work is to be done, what results should be achieved and how success will be evaluated. Without a written job description, your employee is left to guess what you actually expect. This uncertainty often translates into a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” mindset on the part of the employee. If even one member of your team is subject to this kind of daily uncertainty, it can lower the morale of your entire staff and prevent them from sharing their ideas or taking initiative.

Preparing or updating a job description with the employee(s) involved can be a good opportunity to better understand how your organization functions and make any changes that you both agree might be required. Don’t worry if the specifics of a particular position need to evolve over time, work with the employee(s) involved to develop an initial job description and agree to revisit it in six months time.

Have an Employee Handbook
The employee handbook further outlines the parameters of the relationship between your organization and its employees. It is the best way to convey information about policies pertaining to time off; vacations; sick days; overtime; use of company computers and property, phones, faxes and other equipment; access to and use of customer information; whether or not personal mobile phones are allowed in certain areas of the workplace; safety and security procedures; facility opening and closing checklists; workplace policies stipulated by the government, etc.

The employee handbook is important from the perspective of ensuring that all employees are treated equally with respect to the basic rules of the workplace. If you run into a situation that isn’t covered by the handbook, you can always add it in. Be sure to schedule an annual update of this important document and that all employees are aware of its contents. In the event of a dispute, this will help prove that your organization has done its due diligence with respect to compliance with the Employment Standards Act.

Have Annual Performance Reviews
Imagine how you’d feel if you had been working hard for a year or more, trying your very best and then, out of the blue, your boss told you that you were so far off-base that you were being disciplined and/or your job may even be in jeopardy. For both the employee and his or her coworkers, the experience can be absolutely devastating, undermining both their self-confidence and trust in management for months (or years) to come.

Conducting a formal, documented annual performance review for each employee based on the evaluation criteria outlined in the job description provided to them. prevents this from happening. It also allows you and any employee who may be missing the mark to work together to improve job success through increased communication and additional training or other supports. For the employer, annual performance reviews offer other important benefits -they help reduce the need for and expense of progressive disciplinary action, and offer a major source of insight into factors in the work environment that may be undermining the performance of a number of employees, or even the entire staff team.

If you require assistance with job descriptions, employee handbooks or developing a system for annual performance reviews, consult a Certified Human Resources Professional and look for the designation CHRP after the consultant’s name. Only CHRPs and lawyers are recognized by the Province as being qualified to provide professional advice about achieving and maintaining compliance with employment legislation such as the Employment Standards Act.

Sharing the ‘Right’ Message

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For an employee, few life experiences are as traumatic or demoralizing as working for an employer who allows or even encourages its supervisors to hold job security or other advantages over their heads like a guillotine. Fortunately, growing numbers of employers have come to realize that they not only need hardworking, qualified employees in order to prosper, they need supervisors capable of communicating to the employees how much the company cares for and appreciates them.

Many company owners have a strong sense of responsibility toward their employees and truly respect and value them. Yet, this high regard can get lost in translation when the company grows big enough to need middle managers and supervisors. A look at the origins of the modern Employment Standards Act sheds some light on how the relationship between managers and employees has evolved. During confederation, Canada adopted master-servant law from Britain and to some extent, this inherently adversarial perspective has found its way into what many people accept as the nature of work, and of motivating and managing employees. It may be time to challenge this.

Yes, an employer still has a measure of power, such as the right to grant, enhance and withdraw an employee’s earning power, and to determine which types of tasks an employee will perform. However, competition among employers for the best employees means that in many fields, employers must go well beyond the Employment Standards Act. Higher wages, extended health benefits and pension plans are some of the ways employers show employees that they care. Others include other less obvious benefits such as offering additional paid vacation time, fitness reimbursement, team sponsorship, child care allowances, additional amenities in the workplace, and some measure of flexibility in terms of hours of work. Despite all of these measures, when old attitudes persist at the supervisory level some employees still feel that their employers don’t really care about them.

From this perspective, a forceful personality, formal authority and the desire to achieve the company’s business goals at all costs are not a recipe for supervisory success. In fact, they can be the opposite. A much better approach is to train supervisors to watch for and continually seek to balance and reconcile the differences between employer and employee priorities. Successful companies are interested in understanding and aligning the two areas of interest to develop an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect between management and employees.

The extent to which a supervisor is able to do this rests not only on his or her training, leadership and technical skills, knowledge and experience, but on the policy framework the employer puts in place. Ideally, policies offer employees a clear picture of how the company’s goals and the employee’s goals are aligned, and creates opportunities for mutual benefit. They also allow supervisors to adopt a model of consistency and fairness. Supervisors who are perceived as fair can still be firm while earning the respect of their employees. Respect translates into engagement, which in turn drives better results.

Policies should also help eliminate potential areas of conflict by providing clarity about the “rules” of the workplace. The framework should also articulate how supervisors are to manage the relationship between the company and its employees, and how differences between supervisors and employees will be resolved. The company should also provide supervisors with a sense of the company’s history, values and aspirations, so supervisors are better able to help employees see themselves as a vital part of the company’s future.

The depth and breadth of an employee’s ability to share their talents every day in exchange for pay and benefits is heavily dependent on the relationship between the employee and the employer, and the supervisors and managers who represent those values.

Most business leaders agree that employees leave supervisors, not companies. It’s in a company’s best interest to make sure that supervisors are sending the right message.

Time for a New Job?

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If you no longer enjoy going to work, but aren’t sure it’s time to take the plunge, try this simple exercise.

If advancing in your career, achieving greater work satisfaction or earning more money were among your New Year’s resolutions, but you keep putting off looking for a new job, you may need to do some soul searching. Moving on isn’t easy and no job is perfect. So, how do you know it’s really time to go?

Much like a personal relationship, employment relationships take energy, compromise and dedication to the task of staying together. When one of those elements is missing, considering other options may be the best decision for everyone involved, So, what keeps us at a job that no longer fits; that no longer brings us a sense of accomplishment or joy; or that no longer makes us proud when we tell people about what we do for a living or where we work?

Often, the answer is quite simple. Fear!

Fear can take many forms. Have you ever gone on a tirade about how rotten your job or boss or working conditions are and had someone ask why you don’t just leave? Fear is what makes you respond by saying things like: “I’m only a few years away from my pension.” Or “I need the benefits.” Or “I’d miss my colleagues.”

If you no longer enjoy going to work, but aren’t sure it’s time to take the plunge, try this simple exercise. Take a blank page and create two columns. In the left hand column, list all the reasons keeping you at your current job. Is it the money? The benefits? The rush you get with a sale? Your at-work friends? List as many points as you can.

Now in the column on the right, put a checkmark beside each reason that kept you at previous jobs. Everything else will be unique to your current job, so mark them with an “X.”

Take a second blank page and create two columns. On the column on the left, make a list of what is getting in the way of making every work day a great day. Is it that you feel your contributions are unrecognized? Do you feel underappreciated? Are you having trouble keeping pace with your work hours? Do you feel you are treated unfairly by colleagues and/or your boss? These may be the reasons for wanting to leave your job.

Now in the column on the right, put a check mark beside any of the reasons why you have wanted to leave any job in the past. If a reason for wanting to leave is unique to this job, this supervisor or this employer, mark it with an “X.”

Where did you land? What dominates your list? Checkmarks or “Xs”? If your lists include multiple checkmarks, this may indicate there is a pattern forming. You might notice that your experience in this position is actually similar to experiences that you’ve had in past positions. If this is the case, it’s possible that your employer isn’t the issue.

This short exercise can help you identify what is at the heart of your discontent at work. It can help you distinguish whether what you are experiencing is about you or your current employment situation. This is important because your attitude to life and work will set the bar for your successes. If you’ve reviewed your lists and you’ve found that the reasons for staying in your job are too important to overcome the fear of leaving, then consider this: making a decision to do well at work can mean the difference between continuing to dislike your job or staying focused on how you can make the most of it and any opportunities it may offer.

Link HR to the Bottom Line

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Many companies talk about their employees being their competitive advantage or their people being their greatest asset, yet surprisingly not as many make the correlation between employee engagement and the return on this investment. You can enhance your success as a business owner by understanding this connection and taking a strategic approach to staff training and development.

The terms “human capital” or “talent management” are often used to encompass a variety of topics that have traditionally been classified as human resource issues. These terms reflect a growing recognition by the business community that the people working in a business are an asset that can yield a greater or lesser return for the company based on how they are managed.

How much is that asset worth in your business? Think about what would happen if everyone left your organization tomorrow. What would it cost to replace them? This cost is only a minimum value of your human capital asset. It does not begin to answer the question of how much knowledge and productivity your organization would lose while replacing the lost talent and training new staff.

Many studies support the theory that superior human capital practices create substantially more shareholder value. A Towers Watson study found that when 50 global companies compared employee engagement to financial outcomes, there was an average of three times greater operating margins with higher employee engagement. While this survey found 33% of Canadian employees engaged, there were another 24% who are considered “the unsupported.” Unsupported employees are engaged from a motivational perspective, but they lack the tools, resources or capacity to deliver peak performance. As an organization, you can bring these employees from unsupported to fully engaged by providing them with the necessary tools, resources and capacity.1

In an age of economic turmoil, global completion and tight budgets, how do you maximize your investment in talent?

Do you initiate a bonus program that aligns performance with delivery of strategic objectives? Do you invest in a rewards and recognition program? Do you train 10 people for 20 hours or 20 people for 10 hours? Every initiative has a cost, so the first question to address is that of return on investment (ROI).

Strategy mapping is one way to capture the metrics that are part of a chain leading to a strategic outcome. You can use it to determine if the staff development investment you’re considering is worthwhile. This is less complicated than it sounds. For product training a simple chain would look something like this:

Will increased product knowledge result in more sales? By adding numbers and historic data or assumptions, you can determine if this investment in talent is worthwhile. The same process can be used to determine the success of a performance management program or new recruiting process. Once an investment is made, analysis needs to ongoing to determine if this is something that should be continued, or if the level of investment should increase or decrease over time. Using this form of strategy mapping helps to track the elements of human capital initiatives that are the most important in driving success.

HR has often been guilty of the “flavor of the month” approach to training and initiatives. Using strategy mapping can help keep you focused on outcomes, resulting in an increase to the bottom line.

What Toby’s Act Means for Employers

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“…how can you ensure your organization treats all employees with respect and sensitivity?”


Toby’s Act came into force on June 12th of this year. This simple piece of legislation adds four words to the definition of prohibited grounds of discrimination to the Ontario Human Rights Act: “gender identity” and “gender expression.” It provides greater clarity to the Ontario Human Rights Code and gives transgendered Ontarians the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination and harassment in employment, accommodation, membership in trade unions and contracting, and other workplace matters. For employers, it means that you are responsible for ensuring that your company provides a non-discriminatory environment for employees and people doing contract work or who regularly come into contact with the organization.  You must also ensure that there is an appropriate process for dealing with harassment complaints.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission refers to the term “transgender” as people whose sense of self, particularly their sense of being male or female, is different than social expectations based on their birth-assigned sex. It includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, intersex individuals and other people. It can be daunting to try to understand how each of these groups fits into the larger trans community. The key thing to understand is that individuals are to be recognized as the gender they live in.

Although some employers struggle with how to ensure their workplace is always respectful, there are many benefits to taking positive action. You not only gain access to the broadest possible range of employee and contractor skill sets and perspectives, you open your doors to the largest possible customer and client base. So, how can you ensure your organization treats all employees with respect and sensitivity?

Here are some positive actions you can take:

• Update your discrimination and harassment policies to include gender identity and gender expression.

• Verify that your privacy policy ensures the maximum degree of privacy and confidentiality in all cases including employment records and files, medical information and insurance company records.

• Ensure all your policies include inclusive language such as “people of all genders” rather than “men and women.”

• Take a look at your recruiting processes—is your job application form sensitive to transgendered candidates?

• When asking for “employee name” on forms include “preferred name.”

• Review your appearance standards or dress code to ensure they are gender neutral.

• Provide access to washrooms and change facilities based on the gender people currently live in, unless an individual specifically asks for other accommodation.

• Deal with any language or behaviour that deliberately degrades or stereotypes employees on the basis of their real or perceived gender identification.

• Check with your benefits provider to determine if your organization’s plan covers gender reassignment related services/drugs.

• Ensure your organization is open to conversations about transitioning from one gender to another while in the workplace and how the employee will come out to colleagues and customers.

• Create a more inclusive workplace by offering expanded diversity training to heighten awareness and develop sensitivity of all diversity issues.

Sound business practices that that respect and honour the uniqueness of all employees and customers aren’t just good for your bottom line. Increasingly, they’re the law. More information about Toby’s Law is available at

Take a Win Win Approach to Employee Relations

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“While flexible, family-friendly policies take some effort to develop and implement, they are already the best practices for employers.”

In an ideal world, the goals of your employees would be perfectly aligned with the goals of your business. In the real world, this happens less often. People play many different roles as they progress through various stages of their lives. Whether you are an employer or an employee, you may also be a spouse, a parent, a neighbor and a friend. Additionally, you may be a community volunteer or the caregiver for an elderly relative. On top of it all, you need time to take care of your own physical and mental well-being. Achieving balance among these competing priorities is a challenge for most people.

Employee relations issues can result when employees feel overwhelmed by this challenge. Work-life conflict is sometimes a root cause of employee absenteeism, lateness and distractedness. Over time, such conflict may move beyond being a source of stress for the employee and an annoyance to the employer, to threatening the very employment relationship itself. For employers, one of the best ways to break the impasse and keep team members engaged is to think beyond corrective action and traditional disciplinary processes. Instead, focus on creating win-win situations.

If you have an employee who seems to be struggling with maintaining a full-time job, an opportunity to consider a voluntary schedule change or reduction in work hours may be welcome. The options you offer could be virtually any variation of the hours of work, including working family shifts or fewer days per week.

Family shifts allow parents to start later in the morning after the children leave for school, and to leave earlier to pick them up. The family time a parent gains and the money saved by not having to pay for children’s after-school care may more than offset the income loss associated with reduced work hours. The result is a win-win for the employer, the employee, and the family, and may possibly result in the creation of a new part-time opportunity for somebody else.

Working fewer days per week can be a good option for an older employee who wants or needs to slow down. This kind of arrangement can start anywhere from one year to five years prior to the person’s planned retirement date. Achieving a win-win in this case might be to allow the older employee to work fewer days per week, yet retain his or her medical, dental and drug benefits. Such a solution not only accommodates the aging employee’s personal energy level, it allows your business to keep benefitting from that person’s expertise, and might even create an opportunity for a younger employee to develop through mentorship by the person transitioning to retirement.

If you decide to explore these types of changes in your workplace, be sure to consider the fine details, such as how your company’s current policies, employment agreements and benefits may be affected. You may also need to review the allocation of job duties and any impact there could be on current pension and retirement plans, or on time-off provisions such as vacation. A Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) can help. While flexible, family-friendly policies take some effort to develop and implement, they are already the best practices for employers. Adopting such policies not only recognizes the complexities of modern life, which helps to attract the best people, it inspires the highest levels of employee loyalty and commitment, creating a true win-win for both your employees and your business.