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Voices of our Nation

Causes and Solutions to Workplace Stress

“You are allowed to be human”

According to a number of surveys, a common type of stress that we see in everyday society is workplace stress. The files piling up on your desk, the phantom phone rings and the constant humming of the computers is a few of many parts and parcels of the workplace. These coupled with nepotism, ready to climb up the corporate ladder but being held back because of competition, lack of incentive and longer work hours all seem to be common causes of workplace stress.

We all have been at that job where we had a boss we were terrified of making a mistake in front of or wanted 25 hours of work in a 24-hour day (sleep was for the weak). The one who wanted you to put in all your waking hours on the job and still withheld that promotion because they “did not feel you were up to the task.” Those bosses are now responsible for half of the psychologists’ clients all around the globe.

Some of the common workplace stressors are increased responsibility, higher production demands, fewer benefits, pay cuts, layoffs, etc. Even bosses and senior management face workplace stress because they need to keep productivity levels high in order to keep the company running successfully and meet certain demands. They face hard tasks such as laying off employees that may have been with the organization for years, making cuts (budget and salary) and doing what is best for the company even at the cost of being called a tyrant. Some common workplace causes are:

• Overload of tasks – Heavy workload, infrequent breaks, long work hours and shift work. Hectic and routine tasks with little inherent meaning, lack of skills required, and little sense of control

• Management style – Lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication within the organization and lack of family-friendly policies.

• Interpersonal relationships – Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors

• Work roles – Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility and too many “hats to wear”

• Career concerns – Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion and rapid changes for which workers are unprepared

• Environmental concerns – Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic conditions*

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the causes of stress mentioned above, don’t worry there are solutions to these causes. Below are some of the solutions we think could help you adapt and get a better outlook. Something for supervisors and company management to keep in mind to help reduce workplace stress are:

• Recognition of employees for good work performance

• Opportunities for career development

• An organizational culture that values the individual worker

• Learning to give them free time for personal life, as they might have families that require them too.

Some things you could try to alleviate your own stresses are:

• Prioritize – you are allowed to step back and evaluate your life, to say no to additional work, to say no if you will be missing your anniversary dinner (but you need to understand when to exercise this option)

• Talk to someone – Talk to a friend, family member or a counselor/ psychologist when you need some guidance or just want someone to vent to when you see yourself burning out (common signs include being irritated, frustrated, feeling depressed, withdrawn from friends and family)

• Exercise – this helps clear the mind and gives you the necessary focus to get through your day (healthy body = healthy mind)

• Get a regular sleep schedule – Whether you work the night shift or regular day hours it is crucial to allocate time for your body to rest (as difficult as this sounds, less sleep causes more health problems in the long run)

These are just some of many solutions to help reduce workplace stress. Find what works best for you and apply it. You are only human after all.

* Helpful list by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

This article was written by volunteer blogger Riya Prem Raaj and edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

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Library

The facts about incentive pay

In the following essay, I am going to analyze incentives for workers to perform tasks, and thus come up with a conclusion as to what makes the most sense for employers to incentivize their employees with. I will back up my analysis with the mention of two research papers.

The exchange of money for the completion of tasks, the labour market, is arguably one of the most important transactions for the ongoing of our economy. If it did not exist, we would not be able to progress further into developing our world into a better home for the generations to come. And with this importance, comes a concept just as important, keeping employees just as motivated to continue working.

Human nature is such that motivation within us does not last forever, and thus refilling ourselves on a constant dose of motivational fuel is pivotal in the success of our tasks.

There are in general, two types of incentive pay, which are merit pay and bonus pay. Merit pay can be defined as the permanent increase related to performance against a standard that reflection evidence of permanently increased productivity. The term bonus can also be defined similarly as a single period additional pay related to performance that may not be reproducible in the next period without sufficient additional effort. We will examine the advantages and disadvantages of both these pay structures.

Under the umbrella of merit pay is the piece rate, where workers are paid on the basis of the output they produce. Piece rates hold the benefits of workers are motivated to produce more output because of the fact that their wages are directly proportional to their pay, it is a system that attracts good workers due to the fact that more skilled labour will want to join the company because of such a pay structure, and there exist savings of monitoring workers and keeping track of their productivity.

Seeing how effective such a piece rate method of payment is, I am going to support my argument with supporting research. Edward Lazear wrote a paper titled “Performance Pay and Productivity” where he examined how effective the incentive pay of piece rate was in inducing workers to produce more output. His examination of personnel economics uses data from a company called Safelite Glass Corporation, which is an auto glass company. His use of this data derives from the fact that in 1994 and 1995, management in the company changed the compensation from hourly wages to piece rates. This provided the necessary data to analyze how effective the new piece rate was in inducing more output.

His findings can be summarized into the following points:

1. A switch to piece-rate pay has a significant effect on average levels of output per worker. This is in the range of a 44-percent gain.

2. The gain can be attributed to two components. Approximately half of the gain in productivity resulted from the ability of the company to hire a more able workforce.

3. The change to piece rate resulted in both gains in productivity for the firm and benefits for the employees. Employees on average earned 10% higher due to the change.

4. Switching to a piece rate increases the variance in output. More ambitious workers have less incentive to differentiate themselves when hourly wages are paid than when piece-rate pay is used.

Even though these findings are specific to one firm, they provide useful insights into how piece rates can affect employees and firms.

In a different research paper titled “Pay Enough or Don’t Pay At All” by Gneezy and Rustichini, the researchers find that some employees react negatively to the piece rate offered if the wages are not substantial enough.

The researchers set out to figure out whether the default economic theory that incentives should induce performance is realistic in the complex world we live in. The researchers conducted an experiment in a lab where students were asked to answer a few IQ test questions and were told that they would be paid a piece rate related to the number of answers they got correct. They got a base pay for showing up for the test and then the subjects were divided into three groups that were randomly assigned a piece rate.

What the researchers found is that the test subjects perceived the piece rate as follows. The test subjects just offered the base pay and nothing more did the job more effectively than subjects that were offered a small piece rate plus base pay. This is because offering a small piece rate changes the perception of the contract as explained below.

If a zero piece rate is offered, subjects tend to perceive the ‘contract’ as follows: “The experimenter has offered me 60 cents to do a job. Now I know what that job is –answering questions—and it is my job to do it satisfactorily.” Putting this in a different way—subjects interpret this as a gift exchange contract.

If a positive piece rate is offered, subjects tend to perceive the contract more as follows: “The experimenter has offered me 60 cents to show up. I’ve done that. Now he is offering me 10 cents per question to answer questions.

The question of incentive pay is an important question labour economists have been trying to answer for years and we need to strive as a society in figuring out what the most effective way of motivating our employees is. In the above analysis, I briefly touched upon piece rate with some evidence from research, but there are a variety of incentive pay schemes the labour market can take advantage of.

Piece rates can be effectively put to use to induce productivity if used correctly. In the case of the first research paper, the nature of the work determined the success of the piece rate. In the second research case, a high piece rate was effective in inducing higher productivity. The piece rate, if implemented wisely, can be a very important determinant in a company’s labour output.

References
1. Gneezy, Uri, and Aldo Rustichini. “Pay Enough or Don’t Pay at All*.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 115, no. 3, 2000, pp. 791–810., doi:10.1162/003355300554917.
2. Lazear, Edward. “Performance Pay and Productivity.” 1996, doi:10.3386/w5672.

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Voices of our Nation

How to Deal with Change in the Workplace

It’s not the progress I mind; it’s the change I don’t like. – Mark
Twain

Let’s face it. No one really likes change – especially at work. Sure it’s okay when it involves something we don’t care about, but once it gets personal – we often resist.

Change in the workplace is vital for growth and development, but it can result in stress and have a negative impact on our psyche.

Resistance to change typically happens when our personal needs don’t match the new circumstances imposed at work. Simply put, these two opposing forces don’t connect. There is a driving force trying to promote change (typically your boss) and an opposing force trying to keep things the same (typically you).

Opposition and resistance to change is a very normal reaction – especially when you don’t see the change coming. Typically, resistance starts out strong when the change first happens and depending on how we respond – our level of stress varies. We can either participate and try to get more involved in the change or outright resist, which can sometimes make things much more difficult.

Why do We Resist Change?

The most common response is ‘fear of the unknown’. Most of us enjoy our security and control, and we don’t want to put this at risk – especially if we don’t understand the need for change. Change also has a habit of showing up at the worst possible time, which only magnifies our stress and resentment towards the people who make it happen. Rewarding and productive relationships with bosses can quickly be replaced by mistrust and stifle any potential change advantages.

Imagine a stressful change you experienced at work and how you reacted? If you could go back in time and help implement that change differently to reduce stress – what would you do? Interestingly, most people would recommend that communication is one of the most important steps to implement any change.

Instead of just quickly implementing something new, what if management got more people involved in the potential change early and asked for input and participation in making the change – would this improve the response and help reduce stress? As managers, it’s crucial to take a step back and understand the nature of people’s resistance – to help overcome any perception barriers to change. By communicating effectively and focusing on ways to reduce resistance to change, the results and implications can be much more positive.

Can Change be Positive?

I’m sure we’ve all been through a stressful change in our lives that ultimately led to something more positive in time. Maybe it helped us change our habits or helped to bring a new opportunity into perspective. It’s always beneficial to avoid getting stuck in old routines, and ways of thinking. Change can often be very beneficial when it comes to new ways of doing things, and each experience can ultimately make you stronger. Most people that become comfortable with change tend to be more flexible and open to adapt to new situations and challenges. Being outside your comfort zone might not be that pleasant, but it can help to build your self-confidence and personal development.

Our opposition to change is very natural and for any organization that wants to grow, understanding our resistance and how to manage it is essential. The trick for all of us when it comes to change is to be open and try to see the bigger picture. Look for positive ways to either overcome the change or provide constructive feedback to help improve the potential outcome. At the end of the day, most of us agree that change can make for a better tomorrow and when we’re in control of change – it helps make for a better today.

References

Boohene, R. (2012). Resistance to Organisational Change: A Case Study of Oti Yeboah Complex Limited. CS Canada. Retrieved August 24th, 2016 from http://cscanada.net/index.php/ibm/article/view/2293

Heathfied, S. (2016). How to Reduce Employee Resistance to Change. The Balance. Retrieved August 24th, 2016 from
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-reduce-employee-resistance-to-change-1918992

Lawrence, P. (1969) How to Deal with Resistance to Change. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 24th, 2016 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/#24c51d183393

Lorenzi, N. (1999). Managing Change: An Overview. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Retrieved August 24th, 2016 from http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/articlerender.cgi?accid=PMC61464

Quast, L. (2012). Overcome The 5 Main Reasons People Resist Change. Forbes. Retrieved August 24th, 2016 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/#24c51d183393

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Patrick Boshell and edited by volunteer editor Thomas Sosnoski.

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Founder's Blog

Why I am hopeful this holiday

[themify_quote]If everyday was Christmas
If we could make believe
If everyone would care a little more
There’d be harmoney

~ Hey Santa! by Carnie & Wendy Wilson
[/themify_quote]

So our world leaders have come to an accord in Paris, France during COP21 – United Nations Conference on Climate Change. This gives me hope, though George Monbiot seems to disagree about that, with him thinking the politicians undermined the deal’s potential. Here in Barrie the temperature averages anywhere from 0 – 10 degrees celsius, and we still have no snow on the ground. Global warming, anyone?

I always enjoy a Christmas day with snow, it’s just a classic holiday for me. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Winter Solstice, Festivus, and many other festivals this time of year. (Airing of Grievances, anyone?)

I am thankful for my friend Shawn who helped with the transition from our previous web host to this one, and for his help in installing our SSL certificate! (See the green lock in the left corner of your browser address bar? That’s new!)

I am thankful for Susan, Lucas, Stephen, Caitlin, and Craig, who are our board members! I am also thankful to Silvia, she knows who she is, and she’s super smart!

I am hopeful for good food, friends, and company. That’s what Christmas means to me. It’s a time to reflect, be thankful for what we have, and spend time with loved ones, and friends. To take the time out of our busy lives to play that board game, or enjoy a cup of hot coco (or if you’re my parents, hot apple cider.)

Finally, I am thankful each day for those who have chosen to support Journey to Diversity Workplaces. Without you, none of this would be possible.

On behalf of the board, I’d like to wish you Happy Holidays, and all the best for 2016.

Peter V. Tretter
President & CEO
Journey to Diversity Workplaces

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Voices of our Nation

Diversity Trends All Workers Should Know

Canada is a nation of newcomers and diversity has played an important role in Canada’s history. Originally inhabited by Aboriginal people, immigration to Canada began with the French and British colonization in the 17th century. This trend continued through the 18th and 19th centuries with United Empire loyalists who fled the United States during the American Civil War.  A wave of immigration from Europe after the two World Wars brought many new cultures, languages and religious groups to Canada, resulting in many changes in government policy and the first laws to protect diversity.  During the last 60 years, immigration has continued to flourish with newcomers arriving from every corner of our world.  In 1971 Canada became the first country in the world to enact an official policy of multiculturalism, showing the value of diversity in Canada’s political and social landscape.  The Canadian constitution, implemented in 1982, contained a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protected multiculturalism.  The Canadian Multiculturalism Act was introduced in 1988 and federal funds began to be distributed to ethnic groups to assist them in preserving their cultures.

Diversity in the workplace is natural to Canada with its multicultural population and more than 250,000 newcomers entering the country every year. One of the distinguished features of Canada’s current workforce is its growing diversity.  It is a significant challenge for both employers and employees to learn to value of diversity and to embrace differences. There is a great need to learn about diversity by talking to people, asking questions and listening. Workplaces should know about differences and diversity issues. When workplaces understand the importance of diversity, it creates an environment where employers can appreciate and value each individual employee’s contributions to the workplace. Employers need to learn how to integrate and manage their diverse workforce while employees must recognize the challenges diversity brings, and then be adaptable to a more diverse workplace in these modern times. It is a process of cooperative efforts whereby everyone wins while acquiring new knowledge,  leading to new opportunities. It is not possible to find effective workplace solutions without recognizing differences and finding similarities at the same time.

A diverse workplace is more quite common in Canada today. It is a reflection of Canada’s unique communities and philosophies. A diverse workplace can create a culture of innovative thinking by tapping into a broader range of ideas.  The definition of diversity is not limited by ethnicity, culture or religion. It is important to be aware that diversity can include many factors including economic status, beliefs, gender, first language, religion, sexual orientation, skill-sets, inclusion of people living with disabilities and countless other factors.  Having a positive work environment for all employees is an essential key to success for any business or non-profit.

Diversity in Canada extends beyond race and ethnicity but spans language, gender, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, abilities and economic status.  Canadian employers have taken strides to ensure their workplaces are representative of the diverse Canadian population. If current trends continue, Canada’s labour force is going to change drastically over the next two decades. By 2031, 29% to 32% of Canada’s population—between 11.4 and 14.4 million people could belong to a visible minority group, which is nearly double the proportion (16%) and more than double the number (5.3 million) reported in 2006. In contrast, the rest of the population is projected to increase by up to 12%. Sustained immigration, and a younger population will bolster the minority population’s growth.

Canadian communities are diverse and workplaces with an emphasis on diversity can often understand their target markets better.  A workplace should be a reflection of the people it serves where people within the workplaces feel empowered and thrive in a culture that recognizes, appreciates and utilizes the unique perspectives and background of everyone. When workplaces capitalize on the strengths of each employee, and leverage his or her differences, the workplace will be allowed to function more successfully as a diverse, inclusive and cohesive unit.

Source: Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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Voices of our Nation

What Happens When Workers Get Real About The Biggest Problem In America.

Workplace ethics and integrity are crucial elements of employment; both these elements contribute to workplace profitability.  Every workplace should clearly specify what is acceptable behavior and what is not at the outset of hiring. It is important for workplaces to summarize expected conduct in job descriptions or outline these expectations during the interview process. Behavior guidelines should typically address topics, such as harassment, work attire and acceptable language. Employees who don’t follow the rules outlined in a code of conduct may receive written and verbal warnings, and ultimately be fired.

A key component to workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, or being honest and doing the right thing at all times. Workplace integrity starts with honesty and trustworthiness. Integrity requires following through with our word and being honorable with our actions. When employers and employees have integrity, it can create a workplace environment that is respectful and professional. Honesty should be valued in every communication and transaction between employers and employees. Integrity stems from employees being honest with themselves, completing tasks effectively and meeting workplace expectations. Ethical employees are what build a good reputation for a workplace.

Ethics are the glue that can hold workplaces together. Employers must understand the differences between moral values and ethical principals. Moral values are what guide our behaviour while ethical principals are the ways we are expected to act in the workplace. It is also important employees understand the meaning of each of these terms and understand what they can do to ensure their behavior aligns with workplace expectations.

Ethical and behavioural guidelines in the workplace often place a high amount of importance on dedication. Although possessing the necessary skills is essential, a strong work ethic and positive attitude can carry an employee a long way. Dedication is often viewed in the business world as contagious, meaning that employees putting forth a solid effort can often inspire their co-workers to give the same level of effort to their job – ultimately enhancing the productivity of the workplace. Employers and employers taking responsibility for their actions is essential when it comes to workplace ethics and behavior. This means showing up on scheduled workdays, as well as arriving on time and putting in an honest effort into completing assigned tasks while on the job. Employees who exhibit accountability are honest when things go wrong and then work toward a resolution while remaining professional at all times.

A vital aspect of the workplace is working well with others in all levels of a company. Ethics and integrity can help to increase the morale and productivity within a workplace. In many instances, those who are not considered “team players” can face demotion or even termination. On the other hand, those who work well with others can advance.

Following the outlined workplace behaviour may not always eliminate all unethical issues. The best defense against unethical issues is to train employees on how to properly handle unethical situations with integrity. Successful workplaces understand the causes and detrimental effects of negative ethical behaviour. Employers then attempt to limit the amount of unethical issues by creating a code of workplace ethics that encourages behavior that is professional and ethical. It is important that employers understand the strengths and weaknesses of each employee to be able to maximize the potential of each employee. When employers are willing to implement strategies that promote integrity along with ethical and professional behavior, it allows the workplace to be productive and successful.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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Voices of our Nation

Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and inclusion are key elements in creating a workplace that treats all of the employees with respect and fairness. Inclusion requires being valued, respected and supported within a workplace. Inclusion is about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. Inclusion should be reflected in an organization’s culture, practices and relationships that are in place to support a diverse workforce.  Inclusion happens when an organization actively recognizes and promotes the diversity of its employees through fair practices, policies, and procedures. All of the employees are properly valued for the unique talents differences and unique talents that they each bring to the workplace.  Organizations who make diversity and inclusion a priority are more likely to succeed in today’s global marketplace as it gives these workplaces a competitive advantage.

Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization, including factors such as race, gender, cultural background, religion, age, sexual orientation, personality,  and education. A diverse workplace environment acknowledges that how these differences are viewed can impact the fair treatment of people within workplaces. A diverse workforce provides many advantages to your company. It heightens awareness and can allow workplaces to serve a broader customer base, provides different perspectives for marketing and product initiatives, increases creativity, and job satisfaction. Programs and training that help immigrant employees navigate the workplace, and help non-immigrant employees understand the benefits of diversity, will improve working conditions for everyone and increase a workplace’s profitability.  Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are known to increase organizational effectiveness, innovation and lead to greater employee satisfaction.
Canada is a progressively diverse country with many people coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 250,000 to 300,000 immigrants come to Canada each year.  Two major demographic pressures affecting the Canadian labour force today include: the large number of baby boomers approaching retirement age and the shortage of young people available to replace them. Employers consistently report challenges in recruiting the skilled talent they need in their organizations. Competition for employees will continue and increase as employers are still being affected by the changing labor force demographics.
Two major demographic factors are affecting the Canadian workplaces today which are the large number of baby boomers approaching retirement age and the shortage of people available to replace them.  Canada’s population is predicted to exceed 40 million people by 2036. In 2012, there were approximately 1.4 million people aged 80 or over, and by 2036 this could increase to 3.3 million.  Although an official definition of the baby boom does not exist, it generally describes a period of increased birthrates lasting from 1946 to about 1965. The Great Depression of the 1930s had prolonged the decline in Canada’s birthrate as it had in most Western countries. The low point in Canada was reached in 1937, when the gross birthrate (the annual number of live births per 1,000 inhabitants) was 20.1. Improved economic conditions caused a recovery that began to accelerate during the Second World War. By 1945 the birthrate had risen to 24.3; by 1946 it had jumped to 27.2, and it remained between 27 and 28.5 per 1,000 inhabitants until 1959, after which it began to gradually decline.
There are skilled and talented young people who have not been effectively implemented into the Canadian workforce. The immigrant workforce, Canadian born minorities, youth and persons with disabilities have been overlooked in the past. Their talents have been wasted.  However, Canada is now relying more on immigrants to adequately fill workplace demands. Employeers must recognize that every employee can bring a unique perspective and skill set that can benefit the workplace when these assets are utilized effectively.  A diversity and inclusion strategy is most effective and sustainable when it Directly aligns with and helps to achieve the workplace goals, creates an environment where everyone feels that their input is valued and that they are encouraged to contribute ideas, and effectively utilizes the individual attributes of each employee to further the goals and overall success of workplaces.   By embracing diversity and creating inclusive workplaces in Canada each employee can be given a better opportunity to use their talents and reach their full potential which can contribute significantly to overall success and effectiveness of workplaces.     
Source: Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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