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Our Co-op Experience

Our Co-op Experience

Ishita Malhan, B.B.A & M.B.A, Social Media Analyst
Patrick MacIntyre, B.A & B.Ed, Social Media Analyst

My colleague and I were employed as Volunteer Social Media Analysts for a not-for-profit organization known as Journey to Diversity Workplaces (J2DW) from October 2017 to mid-December of the same year. We are so thankful to have had this co-op opportunity available to us through our Research Analyst program at Georgian College. J2DW first caught our attention because it provided us with the ability to work from home and communicate with one another using different types of multimedia tools. We were motivated to work with an organization that we found so inspiring and shared similar perspectives on business ethics as we do.

The time we spent working for J2DW has granted us the opportunity to build and enhance our skill set that we will utilize throughout our career. There was no designated team lead within our social media analyst team, therefore, we approached each assignment with a very democratic perspective. Communication was a crucial factor to our success, as each member would offer his or her thoughts and opinions on the best approach to each task. Through this method, we were able to understand the importance of clarity on tasks at hand, allowing everyone to focus towards the same goal. Each member of the team had specialties and was able to provide a unique perspective on how to best approach each task. We held one another and ourselves accountable for assigned sections that enabled us to further develop our teamwork and communication skills.

After completing our co-op, we can honestly say that we have learned and developed new skill sets. Some of our assignments required collective work and at times it was challenging because we were not in the same city. Setting a plan, sticking to it and holding one another accountable while working remotely was not an easy task. My colleague and I had the privilege of working together prior to this experience, which was a great asset to the team. We had the opportunity to complete diverse tasks, learn new programs, problem solve and overcome challenges.

Below are examples of the tasks we assisted with during our co-op with the J2DW organization:

• Conduct User Analysis
• Social Media Platform Comparison and Trend Analysis
• Key Word Analysis
• Crowdfunding Analysis
• Post on various Social Media Platforms
• Conduct Research on various topics for the organization
• Google AdWords’ Marketing Campaigns
• MailChimp Marketing Campaigns
• Google Forms Survey Development, Distribution, and Analysis
• Drafting Policy Guidelines
• Blog Post

J2DW is an organization bent on setting the standard for diversity in the workplace and has been spreading its message and gathering new followers every day. By focusing on issues that influence the Canadian workforce, it is relatable knowledge that both employers and employees should be aware of. Subjects such as labour, education, and equality are things that are becoming more readily spoken about in public and J2DW is a resource bent on ensuring that employees know their rights. J2DW wants to set a workplace standard for equal treatment that will spread to other businesses, illustrating that equality is attainable.

This post was written by volunteer co-op students Ishita Malhan and Patrick MacIntyre. It was edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

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Voices of our Nation

Communication and Other Workplace Barriers

Communication in the workplace is affected by a number of factors, some of which are recognizable to the worker while other are more complex and require a closer look. For example, there is a co-worker that you feel is unapproachable and as a result, you might prefer to procrastinate and not ask them questions or notify them of certain information. It could be any numerous of reasons that you feel this way, they looked at you funny, said a rude remark or cut you off in a meeting. However, without cutting to the chase of the problem and approaching them, you unconsciously created that barrier that made it difficult for you to approach them.

Over time, if there is no effective communication, it does weaken the bonds between the employers, employees and the organization as a whole. For example, a newly recruited employee is unsure if their work is up to par and if they completed it correctly, but they are intimidated by their senior. They may choose to go to a co-worker or other senior who may or may not be able to guide them as effectively and could consequently cause the work to suffer along with the credibility of the employee.

We underestimate the power of communication at a workplace such as sending quick emails, texts, phone calls, memos and of course the coffee breaks. Misunderstanding and miscommunications are common, hence it is important to overcome these barriers to build a healthy working environment.

Some common communication barriers are:

1) Distractions – getting distracted during a presentation or meeting and wanting to save face and not admit to these distractions, you don’t ask a colleague on what was said while your mind wandered (we do have an attention span of only 20 mins). Therefore you choose to input whatever you thought they said, which can lead to confusion and mistakes.

2) Shyness and Discomfort – these are real things that do hinder a conversation at a workplace. You have a great idea that you want to contribute but every time you are about to speak, the thought of having ‘all eyes on you’ and actually articulating this idea is too much and uncomfortable. Being too shy and uncomfortable in a workplace doesn’t allow for the worker to show what they are capable of doing and hinders the production of work overall.

3) Trivial Doubts – you might be thinking to yourself ‘why must I ask my senior such a trivial doubt such as rounding off one digit in a transaction’ and end up costing the firm thousands of dollars. Prevention is better than cure. It is a good idea to ask co-workers or management even a trivial doubt question (it may be a big deal and you’ll be grateful you asked) to prevent any further issues.

4) Body Language – I cannot stress enough how non-verbal body language speaks louder than words. Mixed signals (are they listening or not, should I repeat myself, how much have they understood) all cause confusion and work may suffer because of it. It is important to make sure (as my teacher used to tell us in class) that you are there both in body and mind. If you miss something because you got distracted for a few minutes, make sure you catch up either with a colleague or just ask them directly. They might appreciate the honesty (no one can pay attention 24/7 and the mind is bound to wander).

Some other barriers that one may face are:

5) Cultural Barriers – how people think, react and see the world can vary widely because of culture. This might give rise to stereotypes and other preconceived notions and sometimes make the person feel uncomfortable. For example, telling a person of Asian origin to handle the finances just because they are known to be good at math, is a gross violation of an employee’s personal merit.

6) Multitasking – with access to technology at work, employees feel that it’s necessary to check e-mail, answer customer calls and send text messages at the same time. Multitasking is a barrier to productivity because it can prohibit an employee from remembering important information and not being able to perform their job satisfactorily.

7) Stress – the amount of stress an employee feels when faced with many uncompleted duties prevents one from actually completing said tasks or opening up to a superior about it for fear of repercussions. Please speak up if you think your plate is too full. It is not healthy with regard to mental fatigue and physical health.

8) Physical Barriers – the closed doors and cubicles can be a subtle hindrance to communication. People in open rooms tend to talk more and walk about more freely.

These are just some of many different barriers that arise every day at one’s workplace. At the end of the day, open and effective communication between employers and employees goes a long way in solving issues and prevents new ones from cropping up.

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

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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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Voices of our Nation

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Older Employees vs. Younger Employees

Ever thought you would one day be in a position where you would have the decision on your hands to make or break someone’s career? Well if you are, here is something that you might come across depending on the nature of your job. This article aims to analyze some of the main factors to consider while picking the right person for the job. At the very outset, I must make it clear that I am referring to older as in more experienced professionals and not just being ageist.

What are the things one could consider? We have tried to lay down factors that could influence one’s decision below in a concise format. Hope it helps you come to a conclusion about your Sophie’s choice.

I have tried to first evaluate the pros of hiring older employees as opposed to younger employees before proceeding to the cons.

1) Experience – for certain jobs, job experience is a huge factor. Experienced employees bridge the gap from teaching from scratch to jumping right into the thick of things.

2) Less supervision – they definitely do not need as much supervision as a just out of college hire.

3) Fewer chances of mistakes – they have made their mistakes and hopefully learned from them.

4) Takes lead – having probably worked at other places before, they feel confident enough to take charge and lead the team.

5) Mentorship – older employees are able (and willing) to mentor younger, less-experienced employees.

6) Clients – older employees might just have a list of contacts and networking that will be useful in the growth of the firm.

7) Patience – apart from the odd temper tantrum, they display more patience to teach and to communicate with the team.

8) Loyalty – it comes with the package.

9) Punctuality – this is one of those old tradition school things but punctuality is common and important to their generation.

The pros of hiring younger employees as opposed to older employees can be listed as follows:

1) Adept at technology – younger employees have grown up in the lap of technology and are therefore much more proficient at it than the older generation.

2) More risk-taking – they just might be more open to the idea of risks (this might not necessarily go down well for the company but they at least had the courage to take that chance. Older employees are more cautious and less open to something and who knows, the risks might pay off).

3) Dynamic – I do know of 60-year-old CEO’s who have been nothing but dynamic all their lives and that is why they are at the top. But younger blood with more ideas, fresh out of college and enthusiastic might be just what is needed to revitalize the company.

4) Flexibility – older employees tend to have their own set of ideas and notions and cannot adapt easily to the changing mindset. Younger employees generally have a flexible attitude because they are more adept at changing (it’s a millennial thing maybe) and can pick up on such changes sooner (without grumbling).

5) Expectation of Salary – the older employees come with some experience and want to be compensated for the fact that their previous skill has saved some training of the employers and therefore they must be compensated for the same. Younger employees are more than happy that they are being paid as the job is a place where they start off and learn (they know that their salary is not going to be through the roof).

6) Physical attribute – though it sounds ageist, it is true that older employees do face certain physical drawbacks as compared to younger employees and the strenuous work can take a toll on their health.

Several more pros and cons could be listed. However, the important take away from this article is that at the end of the day, the circumstance, the company and the post being recruited for is what will ultimately decide as to who stays and who does not.

This article was written by volunteer blogger Riya Prem Raaj and edited by volunteer editor Shan Simpson.

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Voices of our Nation

Whitewashing Hollywood

We all watch them, use them as forms of entertainment, and follow the news leading up and after them. But did you know that there is an entire strategy behind how movies and Hollywood pick their actors and actresses to skew the racial distribution?

The term used to best describe this practice is “white washing” and can be defined as the entertainment industry’s attempt at making ethnic characters more appealing to the white, money-spending masses by making exotic characters less ethnic and more “white.” An example of a whitewash would be an Asian movie cast with half Asian actors and actresses instead of ethnically Chinese actors, even if the roles required the actors to be full Asian.

Such whitewashing not only plays a role in direct consequences for the viewers of the film, it also plays an important role in propagating its effects into society’s realms. Numerous times, Middle Eastern, or people of colour, have been asked to play roles as criminals or terrorists in films. Statistically, the majority of terrorists around the world are not Middle Eastern and criminals are not always people of colour.

In an article recollecting 7 Middle Eastern actors and their experiences with such discrimination, one actor says “…I had an epiphany. I called my agent: ‘Hey! Don’t send me out on these terrorist parts anymore. I’ll be open for anything else, but not the terrorist stuff.’ “After that, she never called. [She used to call] three or four times a week.” (GQ online magazine).

The statistical evidence by the FBI is that 94% of terrorist attacks in the USA from 1985 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. Putting that into perspective, an American terrorist suspect is over nine times likely to be not Middle Eastern than Middle Eastern. According to the same report, there have been more Jewish acts of terrorism than Muslim, but when was the last time you saw a Jew being cast as a terrorist in a movie versus a Muslim Middle Eastern?

A recent example of such colour whitewashing has been the casting of Scarlett Johansson, a blonde white actress in a Hollywood remake of classic Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell. The argument used by the movie producers and directors for such Asian white-washing is the argument of green colour, the amount of money the movie would gross if they would not hire a white actress.

The argument of money should not be valid anymore as the world progresses towards eradicating racism. An increasing number people are becoming accepting of people of a different colour and will definitely pay to see a movie even if the lead character is non-white. Many scholars have partially blamed the entertainment industry for the racism that exists in the world today and it only makes sense for the same industry to solve the problem.

Another common argument Hollywood uses for casting non-minorities in their movies is simply that there exists no talent in the minorities. However, this argument does not hold much water. In fact, Hollywood has recently developed a strong reputation for casting relatively modest actors and actresses in blockbuster films. One look at the Marvel Studios model shows at the time of their initial casting actors and actresses such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, and Scarlet Johansson were not guaranteed box office commodities. So apart from it being Marvel Studios, and most of them having the first name “Chris,” why were these actors considered safe risks while Asian actors aren’t given the same luxury? The only other variable is that they are white. Hollywood will risk box-office uncertainty on Caucasian actors, while not risking box-office uncertianty with Asian actors, but not all is lost with whitewashing. An actor, Ed Skrein, exited a movie once he figured out that the role was whitewashed. It seems like the more awareness we generate about this, the more likely the problem will go away.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger & co-op student Mohammadali Saleh.

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Voices of our Nation

Developing a Positive Workplace Culture

A workplace’s culture is composed of the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that the employees share, and use frequently, within the workplace. The workplace culture determines how employees describe where they work, how the employees understand the workplace, and how the employees see themselves as an essential part of a productive workplace. The workplace culture is what makes the workplace unique. This culture is very important, because the workplace culture can either strengthen or weaken the objectives and goals that the workplace is trying to achieve.

Every workplace has a unique style which contributes to developing a workplace culture. The beliefs, principles, and values of individual workplaces form the workplace culture. A positive workplace culture encourages the employees to stay motivated and loyal to their employees and also committed to the goals of the workplace. The culture of the workplace controls how employers and employees behave within the workplace as well as managing behaviours in regards to interactions with people that an organization may do business with outside of the workplace. A positive workplace culture encourages employees to behave in responsible, ethical ways, resulting in higher workplace morale, employee collaboration, and empowerment.

A positive workplace culture allows individual employees to be clear about his or her role and responsibilities in the workplace. A positive workplace culture can increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction. A workplace culture should be established where employees are treated equally. Every employee should be made to feel valued and respected within the workplace. Workplace policies can help to develop a positive workplace culture as these policies assist to guide the employees’ conduct. Policies also give employees a sense of direction at their workplace. A positive workplace environment can lead to significant benefits for employers and employees as the workplace is more likely to be successful when a positive workplace environment is established.

A negative workplace culture can decrease productivity and also reduce employee satisfaction. Employees can become uninterested or disengaged, in their job, which will cause significant workplace issues. Workplace stress has been linked to serious health problems and absenteeism which can be costly for workplaces. Workplaces can improve their culture by addressing negative issues promptly and effectively. Workplaces should make it clear what types of positive behaviours are expected to reduce the impact of a negative workplace culture.

Changing the workplace culture might seem like a quick and easy process. However, changing a negative workplace culture can be challenging when negative workplace habits have been allowed to continue over a significant amount of time. Adjusting the workplace culture will require setting policies with clear boundaries and consequences. The long term goal will be to change the negative workplace culture, but this process usually requires changes in the behaviour of individual employers and employees before there can be a noticeable difference in all aspects of the workplace culture. Improving the workplace culture may require letting go of disengaged or unproductive employers and employees which could present temporary challenges, such as an increased employee turnover before workplaces will benefit from a more positive workplace culture. Developing a positive workplace culture will typically require patience and also a commitment from to employees and employers to improve their workplace habits.

A positive workplace culture can be achieved by encouraging good communication, employee input, cooperation, participation, and trust. Better productivity is accomplished through increasing employee satisfaction along with paying attention to the physical and emotional needs of individual employees. Policies should be implemented that will promote the success of workplace. These policies should be evaluated and adjusted to ensure that workplace policies can remain effective in the future. The development of a positive culture leads to greater workplace effectiveness, which positively affects financial workplace performance, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and also an overall improvement in workplace productivity. When employers and employees are willing to cooperatively to create a positive workplace culture there is a better chance of ensuring that workplaces will be successful.

Sources:
Challenges to Promoting a Positive Workplace Culture
Importance of the Workplace Culture
Statistics Canada
The Impact of a Positive or Negative Workplace Culture

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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Voices of our Nation

The Truth About Tech World Inclusivity In 3 Minutes

The Tech World and Inclusivity

Over the last few days, there has been quite a bit of buzz in the news about the Node.js community and it’s recent failed vote to get rid of a member of the project’s technical steering committee (TSC). The member, Rod Vagg had posted some controversial statements on Twitter about inclusivity in tech. I won’t go into all of the details here, but feel free to look it all up if you’re interested.

Reading about this event, and others like it, got me thinking about my own ideas on inclusivity in a tech environment. Let me start off by saying, I’m not perfect, and rarely have all the answers, but I would like to share a couple of personal experiences that hopefully can illustrate some ways we can be more conscious of inclusivity in our own environments. For me, the key is to realize that, no matter how inclusive we think we are, there are areas where we can improve. Accepting that we need to change the way we think and feel about the world, and how inclusive we are in our daily interactions, is a powerful first step.

Changing the way we talk changes the way we think

I think our end goal, when it comes to inclusivity, is to change the way we think. For example, we can read about it in a book, or online, and figure out all the right things to say, without actually believing or internalizing any of it. But actually changing our mindset can be extremely challenging.

While I was working in California several years ago, I had an experience that helped me see the power in changing the way we think about being inclusive, and what we can do to change it. There were three guys who I considered close friends. We would hang out socially outside of work, and often go to lunch together. However, we had a co-worker, a female employee, who we could not tolerate. Now, we were all pretty nice, and were friendly to her in person. But on our lunch breaks, and outside of work, we would constantly complain about all the things we didn’t like about this employee. This private bad-mouthing went on for some time actually.

At some point, the four of us came to the realization that our attitude and behavior towards this employee, even in our private interactions, was unacceptable. So we made a pact with each other. If, at any point, any one of us said anything negative about that employee, or another employee for that matter, the other three of us would have permission to punch the other person in the arm as hard as we could. I know, I know, a typical ‘guy’ way to solve problems, right?

The point though, is that we often think that inclusivity is a conversation only about how we treat other people in public settings. But the truth is, that inclusivity starts at home, in our private thoughts and conversations that are removed from the public sphere. Changing the way we interact, and our thoughts about being inclusive begins with changing our private thoughts and behaviors.

Now, with my experience in California, an amazing thing happened. It probably took a couple of weeks before all four of us had finally learned our lesson, and stopped all of the negativity outside of work. But the unexpected result was that we were happier at work as well. Our morale had lifted, and we actually all really ended up liking this employee. Our conversations inside and outside of the office changed to a more positive tone, and the way we felt while we were at work improved, and by default, our behavior at work became much more inclusive to all of the employees.

Get out of the comfort zone

My second experience comes from a conversation with my wife. I’m white, and my wife is multi-racial, and so naturally our life experiences, and thoughts about both race and inclusion are different. My wife pointed out to me one time that each of us have built in biases and prejudices. Of course my natural reaction was one of defensiveness. “Of course I don’t. I like everybody. I don’t have any biases.” So, she gave me a challenge. Throughout your day, just be conscious of who you talk to, and who you interact with. Are they all different genders and races? Or, are they most often people who look pretty much like you?

So I took the challenge and really thought about it as I interacted with people throughout my day. Sure enough, she was right. Almost 90% of the people I talked to and associated with were people who looked just like me. And, it wasn’t that I was being consciously un-inclusive, but I was just naturally more comfortable around people who looked like me. It was somewhat of a shocking realization.

At that point, my wife gave me another challenge, which was to just go out of your comfort zone and talk to people who are different than you. Now, as someone who considers himself mildly introverted, that can sometimes be difficult. However, since then, I do consciously make an effort to be more inclusive to everyone. Not just the people who look just like me.

It doesn’t have to be any grand gesture. Sometimes, for me, it’s simply saying “hi” to the woman behind me in line at the grocery store. And that’s the point of inclusivity. It doesn’t have to be any huge changes in our life all at once. But if we do try to make baby steps in changing how we think and how we act, eventually it will make us better people.

In conclusion

These are just a few experiences I’ve had, which have shaped my thoughts about inclusivity. Being conscious of it, both in the tech world, and elsewhere is invaluable. There’s definitely no ‘right way’ to be more inclusive, but the main point is to realize we can do better, and to find ways we can improve our own inclusiveness in the workplace and outside the workplace.

This article was submitted to us by author Ethan Jarrell.
The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Journey to Diversity Workplaces

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Voices of our Nation

Seasonal employment’s effect on employee absenteeism

Employee burnout is considered as when employees have exhausted their physical or emotional strength. Employee burnout generally happens as the result of extended stress or frustration. Stressful jobs, lack of workplace support and resources, along with short deadlines, can all contribute to employee burnout. The seasons of the year can have an effect on the performance level of employees. Burnout can also occur when employees’ have high expectations of themselves or when an employee has stressful personal circumstances. Burned-out employees can be costly in terms of productivity, and if burned-out employees quit, there are costs of replacement searches and job training for workplaces.

Employee burnout cannot always be prevented, but it can be managed. Full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees can each present unique challenges that employers need to address effectively. Workplaces should understand the reasons for the burnout for their employers and employees. Workplace burnout is often still perceived as carrying a stigma, so staff may be reluctant to seek help at an early stage. Employers and employees should work together to find effective solutions to workplace problems such as burnout. A study of Canadian employees found that an increased salary, improving morale and employees being recognized for their accomplishments were the best ways for employers to improve their work satisfaction.

Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or excessive absences from work. Some common causes of absenteeism include burnout, stress, depression, illness, harassment and work related injuries. Frequent employee absences can also have a major effect on workplace finances and workplace morale. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of work days each year, many absences can cause decreased productivity. Seventy-five percent of Canadian employees studied considered the office as the most productive place to get work done. Sixty-eight percent of these Canadians felt that an increase in temperature was a contributing factor to employee burnout. Forty-three percent of Canadians have reported that they are working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t accomplish during an eight-hour day especially during the summer months.

Employers need to understand the laws governing the various types of employment for the different types of employees. Seasonal work has been an important aspect of the Canadian labour market throughout Canada’s history. However, employee performance can still be affected even when employees are only exposed to extreme temperatures for brief periods of time. Employers should be aware that completing certain tasks may be more challenging for disabled or elderly employees and make reasonable accommodations to assist their employees in completing their assigned tasks. Employers also must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

Sources:
Absenteeism: What’s Missing in Canadian Labour?
Business Advantage Canada
Causes of Absenteeism
Causes of Employee Burnout
Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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Voices of our Nation

Religion and the Modern Workplace

Freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right in Canada. Freedom of religion allows religious believers to have the freedom to assemble and to worship without limitation or interference. However, freedom of religion has not always been granted in the history of Canada. There are numerous religions, and workplaces should be aware that an individual religious employee may have varying beliefs from other religious employees. Employers are required to provide reasonable religious accommodations to their employees. Employers also need to effectively incorporate Christians, with diverging views, into a diverse workplace culture for the workplace to be successful.

The workplace culture has continued to evolve and change over time. Modern workplace employees and employers are now faced with different challenges than previous generations of workers. Technology has changed modern workplace interactions as workplaces have opportunities to become more global and diverse. However, religious employees can still bring skills that will benefit the workplace when these employees are properly integrated with the skills of the non-religious affiliated workers.

Inclusion has become an increasingly important concept for workplaces. Equality forms the foundation of inclusion. Employers must understand that equality does not necessarily mean treating everyone the same, but rather appropriately taking into consideration the differences of employees. Inclusion focuses less on what makes people different and more on creating a workplace environment that encourages employees to bring various perspectives, contribute a variety of ideas, and where employers can be appreciated for all aspects of their diversity in the workplace. There are benefits to creating an inclusive workplace environment. Inclusive workplace cultures develop organizational practices and goals that allow employees having different backgrounds to be treated equally within the workplace. Inclusive workplaces generally have higher job satisfaction, lower employee turnover, higher productivity, increased employee morale, improved problem solving, additional creativity, and an improved quality of employees through better hiring and retention practices.

The integration of work and faith is an ancient concept for some countries. Employee integration is an important component of a successful workplace. The values that workplaces need for long-term effectiveness are similar to the values exhibited in the major religions such as loyalty, compassion, respect, integrity, humility and a belief in something greater than the job or the individual employee. Employee integration can be easier when a culture of respect, tolerance, and acceptance is established within the workplace. Diversity is based on a positive attitude to differences, along with recognizing that everyone is unique and that these differences should be respected for the benefit of the workplace. Workplaces need to develop employee integration strategies that will allow the workplace to maintain success in the future.

Employee integration strategies should recognize the strengths and weaknesses of individual employees. Diversity encourages the individuality of employees and the unique qualities that the employees can bring to the organization by seeing differences as a valuable resource to a workplace. When diversity is acknowledged and respected employers can find new ways to maximize and capitalize on the different skills and ideas. Employees that feel valued and respected are much more likely to be actively engaged or put forth their best efforts for the workplace. Employee integration is more effective when employees feel as though their relevant input is valued. Employers should eliminate employee stigmas and reduce conflict or issues that develop between employees. Employers need to promote a safe and healthy work environment especially as new employees are integrated into the workplace. A diverse workforce brings a unique set of experiences and perspectives, which are essential for developing new ideas and innovations. The management of workplace diversity focuses on integrating individual differences into the workplace to benefit both the individual employees and the organization. Communication is also an essential factor that will contribute to the success of any workplace.

Workplaces can significantly benefit from inclusion and diversity. Progress still needs to be made toward the goal of workplaces becoming more inclusive and diverse in the future. However, employee integration strategies should still remain effective when these strategies are implemented properly to improve the productivity, wellness, and success of future workplaces. Religious employees can provide unique skills and values that will benefit workplaces when these employees are properly integrated with other diverse groups of employees along with non-religious affiliated employees. Each employee should be made to feel valued, included, and respected. Future technology will continue to transform workplaces as employees will utilize various new skills to complete assigned tasks. Workplaces could potentially use improved technological advancements in communication that would make workplaces even more globalized. Employers and employees must cooperatively develop a positive workplace culture consisting of good habits, policies, procedures, and values that will allow the workplace to meet various challenges while remaining successful in the future.

Sources:
Benefits of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Developing an Inclusive Canadian Culture
Diversity Management for the Modern Workplaces
Diversity in Canadian Workplaces: The Present Building to the Future
Integrating Health and Safety in the Modern Workplace
Stats Canada
Workplace Integration Strategies

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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What you need to know about child labour

Child labour is the regular employment of Canadian children under the age of fifteen or sixteen. Attitudes toward child labour have changed since the late 18th century when it was generally assumed that children should contribute to the family economy from about age seven. Prior to the 19th century, children were often seen as economic assets to families.  By the beginning of the 20th century, most provinces had enacted labour legislation to restrict the employment of children. The employment of people who have not reached the age of adulthood can cause significant workplace issues. Younger employees do have unique skills that can benefit a workplace.  However, it is important that employees understand the Canadian laws that are associated with hiring younger employees.

In Canada, the provinces have established ages of majority for the purpose of determining when a child has the legal capacity to enter into contracts, is able to purchase restricted products, is free of parental control, and can exercise full civil rights. Child welfare and employment are within provincial jurisdiction in the Canadian Constitution, but most of the young worker legislation is created at the provincial level. The minimum age for working in Ontario is fourteen years for most types of work. However, fourteen through seventeen-year-olds are not to be employed during school hours unless they have been excused from school attendance under provisions of Ontario’s Education Act. The legislation governing minimum age for employment, the number of working hours per day and the time of day that a youth may work varies between the provinces and territories. Some provinces require parental permission for a minor to be employed. The Ministry of Labour enforces and promotes the awareness of employment standards, such as minimum wage, hours of work and public holidays. Explore the Ministry of Labour website to learn more about employee rights and employer obligations in Ontario. The legislation also exists to protect minors from working under dangerous or hazardous conditions.

Child labour consists of the employment of minors in any labour industry, particularly when it is illegal or exploitative. Labour shortage is a significant problem in some countries.  Child labour’s main advantage is that compared with employing an adult child labour is remarkably cheap.  Workplace expenses could be driven down by expanding the child workforce. Child labour potentially can teach children to help provide for their family or could be beneficial in earning and saving funds for educational opportunities such as tuition for college later in a child’s life. Child labour also could allow children to develop a  variety of useful skills from a young age.  Child labour is a prevalent driving force in countries such as China and Vietnam.  It is easy to imagine that a wider scope of goods could are manufactured from such regions using child labour.

Child labour risks are rising around the world.  Young workers are still developing their physical, social and mental skills or judgment.  Young workers may find it more challenging to protect themselves from injury, overwork, or abuses than adult workers.  Verbal abuse or sexual abuse can have a detrimental effect on a child’s mental health.  More than two hundred million children today are child labourers worldwide.  An estimated one hundred twenty million child labourers are engaged in hazardous work.  Several countries now consider underage child labour as an unethical practice and a violation of human rights.  The effects of some forms of child labour are traumatic, and the consequences can include long-term health or psychological problems for the children that are involved.

Child labour is still a significant issue that needs to be effectively addressed.  There are many aspects to active child labour that employers might consider. Employers and employees have an interest in maintaining workplace health and safety standards. Laws can change suddenly and employers have a responsibility to understand how these laws affect their workplaces. Workers have the right to know about any potential or real workplace hazards that they may be exposed to. Workplace employers should not treat their employees as slaves, but rather employers must maintain respect for their rights as employees.  Employers also should respect an employee who exhibits proper conduct toward their employees.  Workplaces can operate more successfully when employees are encouraged to communicate their concerns and to provide input to employers or supervisors that cooperatively assists in resolving workplace issues.

Sources:
Child Labour: Canada’s Invisible Crisis
Pros and Cons of Child Labour
Statistics Canada
The Canadian Encyclopedia

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and was edited by both volunteer editors Parul Datta and Peter Tretter