Considerations for Workplace Holiday Celebrations

When celebrating any religious holiday within a multicultural workplace, it is important to make participation optional. The decision-making process to celebrate this type of holiday should focus on ensuring that each individual beliefs are respected. Try to celebrate different types of festivities so everyone will feel included. Employees should not feel excluded if they choose not to participate due to their beliefs. Here are a few things to consider when celebrating office holidays:

Greetings – Try to avoid religious sentiments like “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” instead use generalized greetings, such as “seasons greetings” and “happy holidays”.

Decorations – These should be kept moderate and tasteful. Stay away from noisy singing figures and excess use of lighting this may be blinding, garish and not to mention distracting. Decorations for individual desks and cubicles should also be kept simple to avoid disturbing co-workers or overwhelming clients.

Music – Music should be tasteful and kept in the background, if used at all. This too should not be disturbing or distracting staff or clients.

Dress code – Multi-coloured sweaters with flashing lights and jingling Santa hats that light up can be overwhelming. Instead, select a theme for your office, such as “red and white” or a “touch of gold.” This way, everyone is co-ordinated and tastefully dressed.

Gifts – A gift exchange event such as secret Santa is fun. However, participation should be optional. It is polite to still offer non-participants gifts as well; this way they don’t feel forgotten. It is a season of giving and receiving.

While these considerations should place any workplace in good ethical standing for celebrating the holidays, there are a few situations where overkill is acceptable.

For example, if you operate a store where holidays (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.) are the core of business then you have free reign in the décor, music and dress code departments.

Celebrating the holiday within a multicultural workplace can sometimes be tricky. However, as long as we thoughtfully consider all staff members when planning celebrations, the holidays can be an enjoyable time for everyone.

 

Natasha | DBPC Blog

Workplace Wellness Programs

Studies have proven that the physical and mental conditions of employees affect the productivity of a business. Therefore, companies should implement workplace wellness programs to improve the health and nutrition of their workers. In addition to benefitting existing employees, these features also attract other skilled workers to join the company. Here are various examples of effective workplace wellness programs that will make your company a coveted place to work at.

Health Programs

This is one of the most important programs that employers include in employment packages. This can range from health/dental insurance to therapeutic massage sessions. In Canada, OHIP covers general health care, but areas that they do not compensate are major concerns for the public. It would be an attractive incentive if companies included benefits that the government didn’t. This reflects the company’s consideration in their employees’ well-being.

Onsite Gym

A lot of people these days are conscious about fitness. This is why the gym industry is making good business through membership sales. Going to the gym has become a routine for many people. However, a lot of working professionals would complain that it’s too time consuming to juggle work, sleep, and the gym. As a result, they would have to sacrifice either their sleep or the gym, both of which would affect their health in the long run. Having a gym facility in the office would solve this dilemma.

Other Fitness Alternatives

Of course, an onsite gym would be a large expense for most companies. Other alternatives include a regular yoga or Pilates session. These exercises are cost-friendly; each session can include a big group of people. They are stress-relieving methods and will give you a break from the normal routine of the work environment. In addition to encouraging their fitness, these sessions would inspire mental recovery.

Free Meal/Organized Lunch

A cafeteria with a set schedule of different meals per workday could prove beneficial for the entire company. In addition to saving time and money for employees, it allows the employer to monitor the regular diet of their employees. The typical half-hour lunch break offers employees little option of food to choose from. If they aren’t able to bring their own lunch, they will tend to choose something from a fast-food menu. Eventually, this will take its toll on the employee’s health.

There are numerous workplace wellness programs that your company can implement. More employees are looking for these benefits in their job searches. The more wellness programs your company has, the more it will persuade effective workers to support you. It might require the business to expend more money; however, the benefits will reap in the future. As long as your company looks out for the employees’ well-being, the workplace will emit a positive atmosphere.

– J. Tjoandi

Personality Tests in the Hiring Process

The vast majority of Fortune 100 companies use personality tests to separate the candidacy wheat from the employee-to-be chaff. What do these tests do? Are they worth the time and resources? And more importantly, are they effective?

Kathy Brizeli, the Senior Director of Member Services and Client Success at McLean & Company, worked in psychometrics for 12 years at Caliper. Psychometrics is one of many tests used to measure how an applicant’s traits relate to job performance. As an evaluator, Kathy interpreted assessment results and relayed them back to the potential employers for the candidate being evaluated.

“What we found out were the candidate’s innate tendencies – strengths and weaknesses,” notes Brizeli. “I would recommend their use as an additional piece of information, but never the sole determinant of a hiring decision; they should only be a piece of the puzzle. Assessments don’t necessarily consider experience or skill development.”

Personality testing is in the news: Merve Emre’s The Personality Brokers is the just-released book on how the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was invented by a mother-daughter team in the early twentieth century. According to Emre, personality testing is now a two-billion-dollar industry.

The New Republic weighed in on the topic, saying that Myers-Briggs, taken by two million people each year “is used by universities, career coaching centers, federal government offices, several branches of the military, and 88 of the Fortune 100 companies.” CPP Inc. sells it for $49.95US. On the flip side, organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote, “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is better than a horoscope but less reliable than a heart monitor.”

Robyn Knezic, Delmanor’s Director of Human Resources uses the Wiley – Global Assessment Profile XT.

“We are able to see areas where a candidate excels, and where they may have challenges. Some of those areas are: verbal skills, verbal reasoning, numeric reasoning, energy level, assertiveness, sociability, manageability, attitude, decisiveness, accommodation, independence, and objective judgment,” notes Knezic. But this comes with a caveat: “I think it is important to keep in mind that the personality profile is only one piece of the process and should not be relied on solely when making a hiring decision.”

With fifteen years of testing experience, Maryann Romano, Vice President of Human Resources at Distinct Infrastructure Group, also worked with Caliper, which she says costs $600 per test. “If you are limiting it for one or two candidates, fine. If you’re filling ten candidates over six months, the costs can get significant, especially if things don’t work out for whatever reason.” She claims that personality testing has shone light on, “knowing the warts, deciding if you can live with them, how to manage them, and how they like to work.”

Meanwhile, Mardi Walker, VP of Human Resources for the Ottawa Senators shares similar experience with personality testing. “Personality testing,” she says, “has worked out well for store clerks and store associates.”

In addition to Caliper, Walker used Gallup’s StrengthsFinder Personality Test – what she refers to as “very intense”. “It tested arithmetic ability, a person’s honesty and integrity, and how likely they’d be to ‘help themselves to the merchandise’.”

Vered Lerner cautions if the test is not administered properly, or if the tested individual isn’t honest, “the results may be misread or misunderstood.” The CEO and Founder of Bizstance Services has been working in HR and management for over 20 years.

The employer, moreover, ought to understand that a test doesn’t reveal everything. “Not all roles require testing, and employees are complex individuals with emotions, and the ability to change and adapt, given the right conditions and support.”

– Dave Gordon

How to Have a Difficult Conversation with an Employee

It’s never easy to have a difficult conversation in the office, especially if you’re deathly afraid of confrontation. However, it’s impossible to manage a company and not have to approach an employee at some point about their behaviour, insubordination, or work quality, and sometimes even terminate them. Brushing the issue under the rug or simply ignoring it can make the situation worse and negatively affect the workplace, productivity, and other employees. There are several different types of difficult conversations that you might need to have at some point, including policy breaches, coworker complaints, dress code violations, and even workstation cleanliness. As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to know the proper way to handle these conversations, or it could do more harm than good.

Prepare Yourself
Before deciding to have the conversation, get prepared by asking what the behaviour is that’s causing the problem, and what outcome from the behaviour is impacting you, the team, the environment, etc. You need to have an understanding yourself before providing clarity to someone else about the issue. This will also keep the focus on the issue and avoid derailing the conversation.

Choose an Appropriate Location
Before entering the conversation or even calling for a meeting with the individual, decide where it will be held. Finding the right location will set the tone of the meeting. Your office is usually the best place, but depending on your company culture, it might ease the tension if you talk over a cup of coffee or lunch at a food court in the building or nearby; this can lessen the chances of the employee feeling embarrassed. However, if it’s a more formal conversation, your office, a conference room, or a boardroom is probably the most appropriate place.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door
When starting the conversation, be straightforward and tell the individual what the purpose of the meeting is. Be sure to not get caught up in your emotions; keep your feelings in check and don’t let them drive the conversation. Focus on the facts and be careful not to say things like, “I feel disappointed,” which will only add biased emotional elements. It also helps to be aware of your preconceived notions about the situation and the person involved, so make sure to leave that at the door as well.

Be Open and Listen
Be calm and fair during the discussion. Don’t project anger or judgment because that may result in the employee getting defensive and things might get heated. Find a balance between polite and firm; be caring but remain professional. It’s important to be open to hearing what the other person has to say. Be mindful and treat them with respect, even if you completely disagree with them.

Brainstorm
It’s important that you brainstorm solutions during the meeting. Ask the employee in question what they think will work. Out of their ideas or suggestions, build on something you like. Asking for their point of view can create a safe atmosphere and encourage them to engage.

Always Follow Up
Following up after the conversation is a good way to smooth over the relationship between you and your employee. It’s also a good way to check up on their progress if there are any changes they need to make. Don’t micromanage, but keep track of how they’re doing, for as long as you think is necessary. If progress needs to be made, there is a possibility they might backslide.

Putting off a difficult conversation will only do more damage to your business. Holding off on speaking to an employee about their performance or attitude won’t help productivity and might even affect the rest of your team. Practice these tips and prepare your points so that you can mentally prepare and be more effective, confident, and comfortable with having difficult conversations. That way, you can get everyone on your team working together and at their highest potential.

 

Helen Jacob | Staff Writer

Creating Openness Within Your Team

Human Resources

Everyone who has ever worked on a team will agree that the key ingredient to a successful team is collaboration, yet few have a thorough understanding of what this entails. Collaboration is a team’s ability to interact efficiently and work towards achieving a common goal. However, numerous studies show that without openness, any opportunity for collaboration will be lost, and the team will fail.

What’s the best way to create a sense of openness within your team? Consider the following tips:

Open Communication is Key

Open communication is not limited to your organizational hierarchy or a set team meeting. Team members should have access to opportunities and resources to communicate whenever and wherever it’s necessary. One way to create an open communication dynamic is for yourself and your team to familiarize yourselves with Tuckman’s Team Development Model. Assess what stage your team is at, and proceed from there.

Actively Listen to Team Members

While many of us hear what others are saying, we rarely truly listen. By encouraging team members to listen to one another and acknowledge understanding of their peers’ ideas, you’re facilitating improved productivity in all relevant processes. If your company employs remote workers, always make them feel as if they are in the room with the rest of your team to help encourage effective participation.

Establish Transparency Across All Operations

Transparency in your business practices is one of the shortest paths towards creating an open and supportive workplace. Before team members can trust one another, they need to be able to trust that the company’s mission, vision, and values are in line with their own. Not only will this improve collaboration within your team, but it also encourages accountability for every action taken.

Turn Failures into Learning Opportunities

The largest setback for many a team is the fear of failure, which often stems from leaders who focus on the here and now rather than the big picture. Remember, there is no innovation without risk. The simplest way to get this message across is to openly encourage risk-taking within your team. Although not all risks lead to rewards, allowing your team members to implement their own personal touch in company operations promotes trust and flexibility in the workplace.

Plan Regular Team-Building Exercises

At the end of the day, a team is a group of human beings who must feel comfortable to step outside of their respective comfort zones to share their ideas with others. In addition to open group discussions, members should be encouraged to grow closer through informal activities, such as lunch outings, to help promote mutual support and trust.

Openness inspires creativity. As Steve Jobs once said, the larger your “bag of experiences,” the more diverse the connections you can make between the ideas set before you. Creating a sense of openness within your team is not only beneficial for the team’s overall performance, but also for each team member’s individual growth and development.

 

 

Diana Spektor | DBPC Blog

Tips for Workplace Holiday Safety

Christmas is coming! Usually, offices and shops start to decorate their work spaces to get into the holiday spirit. Beautiful Christmas trees, pretty lights and shiny ornaments – these are all aesthetically pleasing for onlookers but can prove to be a hazard for all. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported over 15,000 Christmas decorations-related injuries in November and December of 2012 alone. Unfortunately, that was the fourth consecutive year that the injury statistics have risen. So before you decorate your office, make sure you follow these tips:

  1. Fire-proof your tree

If your workplace decided on an artificial tree, purchase one that is non-flammable/flame resistant. A real tree would be a major concern because it can dry up and become a fire hazard. Dry trees are more flammable than well-maintained ones. With this in mind, it goes without saying that your tree should never run out of water. Keep at least four litres of water under the tree every two days. Keep watch of the water level and refill when necessary. Additionally, you want to keep the tree away from overcrowded power outlets, heaters, fireplaces and spaces where people might knock it over.

  1. Avoid certain ornaments

About 11% of holiday injuries are cuts and gashes obtained from dangerous ornaments. Remember how the two thieves in the movie Home Alone comically fell on the floor after slipping on booby traps that the boy set up? As funny as it may sound, incidents like these are a reality. Ornaments that drop from Christmas trees are accidentally stepped on, causing injuries to the victim. Try avoiding fragile or heavy ornaments such as glass spheres. The last thing you want is to have a colleague or customer hurt themselves on a Christmas decoration. Better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Watch your ladder

At 34%, falling is the one of the highest cause of injury during Christmas. Yes, it is recommended that one should use the ladder while decorating; however, take precautions before climbing it. Personally, I would suggest decorators use a stepladder when decorating indoors. Even so, make sure the spreaders are fully open and tested for stability. Climb down and move the ladder when needed; do not attempt to stretch and reach too far.

  1. Keep burning candles in sight

While it is no doubt that candles are obvious fire hazards, there are several ways to prevent it. First, you would want to keep them away from the tree, curtains, blinds and drapes. Candles that are lit should be supervised; never leave the candle burning in a room alone. You would also want the candle to stand on a stable and heat-resistant surface. Avoid placing lit candles among other objects such as paper, tissue boxes or stationaries. Candle-related incidents have caused 70 deaths, 680 injuries and $308 million in property damage between 2009 and 2011.

As much as we enjoy seeing Christmas decorations being set up in workplaces, it is also important to take action in reducing the number of possible accidents. Let this holiday season be full of good memories. Remember: something as simple as vigilance can make all the difference.

J. Tjoandi | DBPC Blog

Succession Planning in Small Organizations

When we talk about “succession planning”, the first thing that comes to mind is the “seamless process of replacing a top executive when he or she decides to leave the organization”.  However, as business trends change, so does the system.  The procedure is now more inclusive with wider scope.  Aside from exit strategies, it takes into account the (short-term and long-term) stability and sustainability of a company’s human resources plus the individual development of its employees.

Businesses, irrespective of size, legal structure, nature or industry, are always faced with uncertainties – employees or executives leave.  They may reach retirement age, become incapacitated, receive a better position within or outside the company.  Regardless of the reason, the institution must always be ready to fill that void with the right person to ensure continuity of leadership and operations.

There is no prescribed formula in succession planning but here are a few points to consider:

  • Develop and maintain an updated demographic profile of the workforce. This identifies each member’s roles, determines key position(s) that are critical in the short- and long-term operations and recognize personnel with the potential and eligibility to replace or assume other posts.  The data also helps in conducting an analysis of the current office’s collective expertise and what it needs in the future.
  •  Staff development as part of succession planning, requires organizations to provide further training to ensure employees acquire the needed know-how. Equally important is getting the “soft” skills associated with the demands of the job (decision-making, leadership, critical thinking, interpersonal and communication).  Develop programs and coach/mentor them while helping them acclimate to the situation.  This phase likewise involves increasing the scope of their responsibilities and, most importantly, getting the individual participate in the action plan.
  •  Conduct a regular review to re-assess if targets are achieved. If there are changes in goals and/or job requirements, be proactive and make adjustments.  Creating a plan is not enough, it must be updated periodically to reflect the shifting demands of the enterprise and the market.
  •  Select individuals based on competencies and not personalities. Hiring internally is almost always more preferable than contracting out.  However, the pros and cons must be carefully considered.  Regardless of what management decides, it must be communicated to all stakeholders to avoid resentment and confusion.

The success of an enterprise highly depends on its qualifications, knowledge and experience, which are tied to its people.  The moment a staff member walks out, they take with them this valuable asset.  Instead of scrambling and making hasty or uninformed decisions, it is always best to prepare for any eventuality.  Make sure to find the individual who will and can support and complement the company’s vision, values and objectives.

Succession planning is not a one-time event, it is a continuous process – it evolves with your trade and your experiences. It is never too early to start one.  Do it now!

 

Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog

Taking Time Away From Your Business

For today’s professional, life is a constant race where we are caught running from task to task and place to place. Whether we like it or not, we become used to the same routines day by day in order to complete our daily tasks. We wake up in the morning, take care of duties at home, arrive at work, complete given assignments, go back home, cook, eat, cuddle and quarrel with our loved ones and finally head to bed. This cycle simply repeats itself all year long where we are often consumed by our restlessness and make it a priority to complete other errands.

According to The 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, the average employee in a 25, 000 sample size spends 50.2 hours a week on activities related to work, with 54% taking assignments home to be worked on, while 57% indicate high stress levels in the organization. Taking time off from work has therefore become a crucial choice for employees and an attractive benefit for employers, where too few of us truly take time to refocus on ourselves and refresh our souls to once again perform brilliantly when back at work.

Consider 3 significant elements when deciding to take time off:

  • Time:
    The importance of time and scheduling cannot be underestimated. Choose a time frame where your commitments are minimized. Attempt to complete your tasks well in advance for your business to continue smoothly in your absence. Advise clients beforehand and offer them a well thought out external contact option in the case of an emergency.
  • People:
    There are many significant people in your life who have secretly been the backbone to your success. They may be your family, your friends or even coworkers who played a part in some of your accomplishments. Carefully choose who you want to spend your hours and days with. These individuals should bring positivity to the table and more importantly help rejuvenate and motivate you enough to continue your business once your time-off is over.
  • Activity:
    What will satisfy you best during this rest period? Whether it is a day or two off in addition to a long weekend or even a well thought out vacation for two months, put some thought into what activities you want to engage in. Being a parent, you may want to consider something enjoyable for your entire family. As a bachelor or even a couple, you may seek adventure and get lost in some new surroundings. Whatever you choose, put some time into planning your vacation in order to enjoy it to the fullest.

To put it simply, spend some time focusing on yourself while it is available! Think of it as a reward for all the committed hard work put into your professional life!

 

Reference: Revisiting Work-life Issues in Canada: The 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada
http://newsroom.carleton.ca/wp-content/files/2012-National-Work-Long-Summary.pdf

What Great Employees Do Differently

There is a lot of competition in the workforce, not just in finding a job but also for attaining a higher position or raise. Being a good worker is not enough, most employees in a company are good. Great employees possess some special characteristics that differentiate them from the rest. They do things differently and take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them. The following are some of the traits a great employee should have:

  • Takes action: waiting for instructions and only doing what is require is what an average worker does. A great employee will go further, even if it is risky. They go the extra mile to make a difference and they are the ones who take on the tough tasks others are not willing to do.
  • Passion: they love their job and are enthusiastic about it. They go to work not just for a pay check or a promotion, but for the satisfaction of what they do.
  • Ambition: career success is one of their main goals. Employee’s ambition is what helps a company succeed. They create new ideas and are always looking for new ways to make procedures more effective and efficient.
  • Autonomy: the ability to work without supervision is key for effectiveness. A manager needs to work with people that will not require too much hand-holding or supervision. Employees who understand instructions quickly and are able to help others do so are an asset for any company.
  • Energy: people with good energy and a positive attitude, are not just more productive, they also help make the work environment more enjoyable. Having someone on the team that is always positive and enthusiastic, helps others do their job better and contributes to a better workday.
  • Reliability: this is one of the most important aspects, having someone you can trust and depend on is key for success. It’s imperative for a great employee to be dependable. Supervisors will be able to trust that any job given to this particular employee will be done on time and accurately. This is a person anyone can trust, and a true asset to the business.
  • Knowledge: they know their job and the company well. They know how to excel on any and understand how to best meet company goals. Understanding the company’s mission is important for them and knowing their supervisor or manager’s leadership and work style is key to their success.

Being a great employee takes time and dedication. Feeling appreciated and recognized also helps motivate workers to keep doing a great job. If you are a company owner or manager make sure to focus on these characteristics in your employees, because even if they like their job, feeling undervalued will shadow all their efforts and negatively affect their performance.

 

Viviana

DBPC Blog

Socializing With Colleagues After Work

People in an office environment typically spend 8 hours a day, five days a week with their co-workers, often longer than the time they spend with family members. Whether we like it or not, our co-workers can become a kind of surrogate family. It is natural to bond with your colleagues, but as with most relationships, this has its ups and downs. Hanging out with co-workers beyond the cubicle can easily translate into better team dynamics and a more collaborative work setting. After-work fraternizing can be fun, but even with all the pros of doing this, there are cons that must be considered as well. These tips can help you decide how personal your relationship with your co-workers should be.

 

Everyone needs positive relationships in their day to day life, whether it’s at work or home. Work relationships are important on many levels, from encouraging teamwork to landing promotions or simply making the work day more pleasant. While all of you may be battling deadlines individually, together you create a constant support system that helps greatly when things becomes stressful. The main objective of seeing co-workers after work, is to gain insight into each other’s personalities and build better teams to improve work performances. Avoid letting these sessions turn into gossip whenever possible.

 

Most companies have an annual holiday party or activity. This is the perfect time to indulge in some healthy office fun. Stepping out of the staid office environment and having the opportunity to relax and socialize with the people around you on a daily basis, can be very liberating. But don’t let your guard down, it is imperative to maintain a level of professionalism in order to uphold your reputation. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, as it tends to loosen inhibitions more quickly than one might think. Having an excessive amount to drink around bosses, clients and your fellow colleagues can lead to negative consequences and regrettable behavior. This can include discussing controversial subjects in front of a supervisor or talking about an employee in an unfavorable light.

 

Part of being a professional also involves conducting yourself appropriately inside and outside of the office. You shouldn’t swear too much. Avoid controversial jokes. A good rule to follow is not to do or say anything that you wouldn’t at the office. Socializing with co-workers has its own set of rules and practices that are far different from hanging out with friends and family, since you still have to work together every day.  It is imperative to understand even if you’re not at work your social life will still impact how you’re seen at the office.

L. Paul | DBPC Blog