Humaniqa HR Blog

Problem Participants: Common Training Session Obstacles July 13 2015

Training can take on a variety of forms; it can be online, in the classroom, or on the shop floor. It can be on the job or off-site. It can be a short, hour-long lecture, or an all-day event. Regardless of the form it takes, the key relationship remains the same: how do the trainees interact with the trainer?

When it comes to building an effective training session, both the trainer and the trainees are key ingredients. For their part, the trainer must be able to capture the attention of the audience, clarify the goals, provide guidance, and offer supportive feedback. Trainees, in turn, should be open-minded and attentive, ready and willing to learn. Unfortunately, the optimal training scenario is more often fantasy than reality.

All trainers will eventually come to deal with particularly ‘difficult’ trainees: those who fight with the instructor, distract the class, refuse to participate, or even those who might attempt to take over a training session. In addition to having the skills required to be effective in their own right, trainers must be prepared to deal with these challenging participants.

In order to ensure that trainers are able to deliver as informative of a session as possible, we will examine the topic from two angles: 1) the process of building effective instruction itself, and 2) identifying and coping with difficult participants.

A Guide to Effective Instruction

When designing a training session, instructors will want to create a detailed lesson plan that they can follow throughout the program. Most of what is required to deliver the training should be included within this plan. While there is no specific format to follow, it is best to focus on what the trainees in question will be doing; a good plan should reflect the content, trainer, trainees and culture of an organization.

There are three primary factors in determining what makes an effective instructor. First is subject matter expertise: does the trainer know enough to be teaching the topic? The greater mastery of the given topic the instructor has, the better they will be able to inform. This is far from the only important factor. The instructor must be capable of making the material interesting, in addition to keeping the audience engaged throughout the course.

Unlike expertise, however, one cannot merely study in order to create interesting and engaging training. The following are several steps that may help in creating an engaging lesson plan:

  1. Gain attention:

Gather information from the audience. How familiar are they with the topic? Gauge the general level of interest in the room. Engaging with the audience early on is a good way to grab their attention.

  1. Describe objectives:

Tell the trainees what the session will cover. Introduce the training with a brief overview of its key points.

  1. Stimulate recall:

Involve trainees by asking them to share their past experiences with the training topic. Many may have valuable information to contribute. Having different voices keeps things varied and interesting. Regardless of their level of expertise, relating the training with their own recalled experience will create a greater impression on the trainee.

  1. Present material:

This is the main portion of the session. Explain the key points in depth and relate any other information the trainees may need to know. Summarize your points frequently; repetition will help the trainees retain the information.

  1. Provide guidance:

Set goals for the trainees and assist in meeting them. Even in practice scenarios, the trainer remains the expert in the room.

  1. Elicit practice:

It is importance to test the trainees’ abilities frequently. Trainees are more likely to pay attention when they know that they will have to demonstrate their proficiency later.

  1. Provide feedback:

Offer constructive feedback to those practicing their skills. Correct their mistakes and demonstrate what successful performance should look like.

  1. Assess performance:

Eventually, it will come time to decide, based on the performance of the trainees, whether or not the goals of the training have been met.

  1. Enhance retention and transfer:

There are many little things you can do throughout to enhance retention. Offer different scenarios within which to practice the same skills. Space out practice, but practice often. Offer notes or handouts that trainees may keep. You can even book follow-up sessions for a later date.

  1. Close training program:

Summarize everything the trainees have learned thus far. Ensure that there are no remaining questions. Be sure to thank the audience for their cooperation.

When delivering a training program, instructors should be wary of their own weaknesses. Anxiety and lack of confidence are common foes for new trainers and may be mitigated through practice or rehearsals. It is also important to note that while tools such as notes, materials, and multimedia devices can prove indispensable, overreliance on such techniques may make for an altogether unengaging presentation.

Problematic Participants

Everyone needs training, but not all trainees are made equally. In the course of instructing, trainers may run into people that, by their very nature, make teaching difficult. Such participants may require adjusted tactics. The following list contains examples of ‘problem participants’, as well as tactics one might adopt in order to deal with them:

Type of Participant



The Quiet One

  • Reluctant to engage in training due to a lack of confidence, shyness, or social discomfort
  • Difficult to deal with, as they often pass by unnoticed by the instructor
  • Treat them with respect and make light effort to engage them
  • Address them in private and ask if there is any way you might help them feel more comfortable engaging in training
  • Do not focus all your attention on them; this may only heighten their anxiety
  • The Monopolizer

    • Seeks to overshadow the other trainees and demand an inordinate amount of the instructor’s time and efforts
    • Not mindful of the needs of other trainees in the session
  • Thank the person and move on to the next subject
  • Set rules or structure: as an example, all participants must take turns speaking, or only those holding a specific marker may address the class
  • The Voice of Experience

    • The so-called “expert” in the room. Believe themselves to be of equal, or greater, expertise than the trainer
    • They may not be receptive to learning from somebody they think knows less than them
    • May inadvertently attempt to overshadow the instructor and take control of training
  • Do not compete for control of the class or become defensive
  • Treat them with respect, thank them for their input, and move on to the next topic
  • Acknowledge their experience and provide them with additional tasks to aid in running the training session
  • Ask for their assistance in answering question; only offering answers when requested
  • The Arguer

    • They are quick to find fault in the training, whether it be in the program itself, or in the instructor
    • They are eager to make their feelings known to either the instructor or the rest of the class
    • The arguer is often angry, but may be reluctant to admit or explain their anger
  • Maintain a cool and calm composure
  • Acknowledge their level of passion and ask for the reason behind it
  • Suggest that your differences be resolved later
  • If necessary, indicate that the individual is free to leave the session
  • The Complainer

    • Individuals that may complain about anything and everything, regardless of whether or not it is relevant or within the instructor’s control
    • Tends to focus on the negatives in a given situation, rather than the good
  • If the complaint is valid, apologize for the inconvenience
  • Maintain focus: do not become sidetracked by frivolous complaints
  • Do not allow the complaint to become personal
  • Do not agree simply to forfeit the argument; this will mislead other trainees
  • Attempt to reframe the complaint in a constructive manner
  • The Talker

    • Has difficulty making simple and concise statements
    • May come up with overly complex theories or explanations, or drift frequently into tangents
    • Has danger of confusing and misleading other trainees
  • Do not demonstrate impatience or behave rudely
  • Summarize and distill their key points when speaking to them
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Set time limits for questions
  • Politely thank them and open the floor to questions from other trainees

    Part of teaching is adaptation; no one technique will work for all students. Trainees have a variety of values, temperaments, and learning styles. Being able to identify them early and tweaking the lesson plan accordingly is the mark of a skilled trainer. Not all trainees are made equally, but with the right knowledge and the proper application of strategy, you can maintain that key relationship between trainer and trainee.

    Please visit our website to find sample HR policies, forms and letters related to training and development that you can download and modify to fit the needs of your organization.


    Overtime Rules Across the Country July 02 2015

    Each province and territory has its own rules and regulations surrounding overtime. We have provided a breakdown of those rules and regulations according to each jurisdiction.
    This article also serves as an important reminder to keep your overtime practices and procedures up to date.  A clear policy and advance authorization of overtime usually helps to ensure proper management control of this major expense.
    Furthermore, an overtime policy is essential to clearly outline when and how overtime will be allowed, documented and compensated. This will eliminate discrepancies when employees claim for overtime not earned and to ensure it is reasonable.
    Both employers and employees should ensure they are aware of their overtime rights and obligations.
    Visit the Resources Center of our website to find sample policies and forms relating to overtime by provincial jurisdiction. As with all samples you will find in this section, you will want to revise it in order to suit your specific circumstances.


    An employee is entitled to overtime pay if their hours of work exceed eight (8) hours in a single work day, or forty-four (44) hours in a work week, whichever is greater. Overtime pay must be at least a rate of  time-and-a-half. Where an agreement is made in writing, the employee can opt to take time off in lieu of overtime pay. The overtime agreement must contain the following minimum provisions:
    • Time off with pay instead of overtime pay must be taken and paid at a time when an employee would have been regularly scheduled to work non-overtime hours;
    • If time off in lieu of overtime pay is not taken and paid to the employee, then overtime pay at a rate of time-and-a-half must be provided for the overtime hours worked instead;
    • Time off with regular pay in-lieu must be taken and paid within three months of the end of the pay period in which it was earned;
      • This rule does not apply in cases where a collective agreement allows for a longer period of time; or
      • The Director of Employment Standards issues a permit to extend the period.
    • The overtime agreement cannot be amended or terminated without at least one month’s written notice from one party to the agreement of the other.

    When either the employer or employee ends the employment relationship by giving a written notice of termination, the employer can require the employee to use up some or all outstanding banked overtime during the notice period.
    Whether or not any notice of termination was provided, any banked overtime not provided and taken with pay by the end of the last day of employment must be paid out at a rate of time-and-a-half the employee’s regular rate of pay at the time it was earned.

    British Columbia

    An employee qualifies for overtime pay when they work more than eight (8) hours a day, or more than forty (40) hours in a week. The overtime rate for employees’ who work more than eight (8) hours a day, but less than twelve (12) hours, is time-and-a-half. If an employee works more than twelve (12) hours a day, the rate is double the employee’s regular wage. If an employee exceeds forty (40) hours in a week, the employee must be paid at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular wage rate.
    If an employee is working under an averaging agreement, this means that the employee and the employer have agreed to average an employee’s hours over one, two, three or four weeks. Employees may agree to work up to twelve (12) hours in a day, averaging forty (40) hours a week, without being paid overtime. However, there are certain rules that the Employment Standards Act outlines for such agreements. The agreement must:
    • Be in writing;
    • Specify the number of weeks over which the hours will be averaged (one to four weeks);
    • Specify the number of times the agreement may be repeated;
    • Specify a start and end date for the agreement; and
    • Be signed by the employer and the employee prior to taking effect.

    Employers and employees also have the option to bank overtime hours. This means that an employee may request in writing,  to have the employer start a “time bank”. The overtime hours would be added to that bank, rather than be paid out during the pay period in which they were earned. At any time, an employee may request that the employer pay out all or part of the wages credited to the bank. The employee may also request time off with pay for some mutually agreed period, or request in writing that the bank be closed. Upon receiving an employee’s request to close the bank, the employer must pay the outstanding balance to the employee.
    The employer may close an employee’s time bank, but only after giving the employee one (1) month’s written notice. When an employer closes an employee’s time bank, the employer must, within six (6) months, either:

    • Pay the employee all of the overtime wages credited to the time bank;
    • Allow the employee to use the credited overtime wages to take time off with pay; or
    • Pay the employee for part of the wages credited to the time bank and allow the employee to use the remainder of the credited overtime wages to take time off with pay.

    Overtime must be used or paid out at the rate it was earned. On termination of employment or on receiving the employee’s written request to close the time bank, the employer must pay the employee any amount credited to the time bank.
    Overtime is due for any work exceeding eight (8) hours in a day, or forty (40) hours in a week. If the total daily overtime hours differ than the total weekly overtime hours, the greater of the two will be used in calculating overtime payment. The overtime rate for federal employees is one-and-a-half times their regular wage rate. The maximum hours that most employees may work are forty-eight (48) hours per week. Maximum hours may be exceeded:

    • With the permission of the Minister of Labour;
    • If there is an emergency, such as an accident or essential work needs to be done on a piece of equipment; or
    • If there is an averaging agreement in place.

    If the employee works a compressed work week (e.g. ten hour shifts, four days a week), daily overtime would be calculated when an employee works in excess of ten (10) hours in one (1) day.
    If an employee and employer agree in writing, an employee’s hours may be averaged over a period of two (2) or more weeks. In the averaging agreement, overtime would apply after the employee exceeds the standard hours in an averaging period. The standard hours are calculated by multiplying the number of weeks in the averaging period by forty (40).


    Employees are entitled to overtime if their hours exceed eight (8) hours in a day, or forty (40) hours in a week. The overtime rate is one-and-a-half times their regular wage rate. Employees are not permitted to work overtime unless they have been given permission to do so by their employer. Likewise, employees’ must agree to work overtime before it can be scheduled.
    If agreed to in writing, overtime hours can be banked. The parties can make their own rules as to how the time will be provided or paid out, as long as the following minimum requirements are met:
    • For each hour of overtime worked, employees receive one-and-a-half hours off at their regular rate;
    • Time off must be scheduled during hours when non-overtime would normally be worked;
    • The time off must be provided to the employee within three (3) months of when it was earned, unless Director of Employment Standards authorizes a longer period.

    The employer is required to pay out any remaining banked time if the employment relationship ends.

    New Brunswick

    According to the New Brunswick Employment Standards Act, employers must pay overtime to employees who work more than forty-four (44) hours in a week. As of December 31, 2014, the minimum overtime wage rate is $15.45 per hour.  Employers must pay their employees at least one-and-a-half times the minimum wage for each hour they work in excess of forty-four (44) hours during a work week.

    Newfoundland and Labrador

    Any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in a week are to be compensated at a rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular wage rate. Employees also have the option to bank overtime hours. An employee can receive one-and-a-half hours of paid time off work for each hour of overtime worked in lieu of overtime pay. However, the following conditions apply:
    • The time off shall be taken within three (3) months of the date earned, unless the employer and employee agree to extend the time period; and
    • Payment or time off must be finalized within twelve (12) months of the date the overtime is earned.

    If the employment relationship ends before banked time is used, the employer shall pay the employee the remaining overtime pay within seven (7) days of termination.

    Northwest Territories

    The standard hours of work are eight (8) hours a day, or forty (40) hours a week. Any time worked that exceeds the standards hours of work for a day or a week must be compensated at a rate of one-and-a-half times the regular wage rate. Employers are not permitted to schedule an employee’s hours to exceed ten (10) hours in a day, or sixty (60) hours in a week.
    With the permission of the Employment Standards Officer, an employer and employee of an industrial establishment may agree to average out an employee’s hours over a period of one (1) or more weeks if the nature of the work necessitates irregular distribution of an employee’s hours of work. The Employment Standards Officer may authorize the hours of work in a day to exceed the standard hours of work by requiring the days of work in a week to be reduced.
    Employees and employers may also have an overtime agreement in place which allows the employee to take time off with pay in-lieu of overtime pay. An overtime agreement must include at least the following provisions:
    • Each hour of overtime entitles the employee to one-and-a-half hours of time off with pay instead of overtime pay;
    • Time off with pay will be provided and taken at the employee’s regular wage rate;
    • Time off with pay will be provided and taken at a time when the employee could have worked and received wages from the employer;
    • If time off with pay is not provided or taken, the employer shall pay the employee overtime pay;
    • Time off with pay will be provided and taken within three (3) months after the end of the pay period in which it was earned, unless
      • The agreement is part of a collective agreement and the collective agreement provides for a longer period within which the time off with pay is to be provided and taken; or
      • The Employment Standards Officer makes an order authorizing a longer period within which the time off with pay is to be provided and taken;
    • No amendment or termination of the overtime agreement is to be effective without at least one (1) month’s written notice given by one party to the other.

    Nova Scotia

    The general rule for overtime is that employees must receive at last one-and-a-half times their regular wages for each hour worked in excess of forty-eight (48) hours in a week. Some groups of employees have special rules to deal with overtime called wage orders. The jobs covered by these wage orders are, Minimum Wage (General) and Minimum Wage (Construction and Property Maintenance).
    Employees and employers can have averaging agreements in place in which both parties agree to have the hours of work averaged over a number of weeks.


    The standard hours of work for an employee are eight (8) hours in a day or forty (40) hours in a week. An employer may require or permit an employee to work more than the standard hours of work provided that the total hours of work for an employee do not exceed ten (10) hours in a day and sixty (60) hours in a week.When an employee is required/permitted to work in excess of the standard hours of work, the employer must pay at a rate of wages no less than one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate.
    The Labour Standards Officer may authorize hours to be worked by any class of employees in an industrial establishment in excess of the maximum hours of work where:
    • The nature of the work in an industrial establishment is seasonal or intermittent in nature; or
    • There are exceptional circumstances to justify the working of additional hours.

    A permit issued under the increasing maximum hours may:

    • Specify the total number of additional hours in excess of the maximum hours; or
    • Specify the additional hours that may be worked in any day and in any week during the period of the permit.

    With the permission of the Labour Standards Officer, an employee and employer may agree to average hours of work over a period of one (1) or more weeks, where the nature of the work in an industrial establishment necessitates irregular distribution of an employee’s hours of work. The Labour Standards Officer may:

    • Reduce the days of work in a week by permitting hours of work in a day in excess of the standard hours of work, in respect to those employees; and
    • Specify the conditions under which the permit applies.


    In Ontario, overtime pay is one-and-a-half times the employee's regular rate of pay. Overtime pay would begin when an employee exceeds forty-four (44) hours in a week. Overtime is calculated only:
    • On a weekly basis; or
    • Over a longer period under an averaging agreement

    Many employees have jobs that are exempt from the overtime provisions within the Employment Standards Act (ESA).
    Employees can agree in writing to bank overtime hours and take time off in lieu of overtime pay. If an employee has agreed to bank overtime hours, they must be given one-and-a-half hours of paid time off work for each hour of overtime worked. Paid time off must be taken within three (3) months of the week in which the overtime was earned or, if the employee agrees in writing, within twelve (12) months. An employer and an employee can also agree to average the employee’s hours of work over a specified period of two (2) weeks or more for the purposes of calculating overtime pay. Under such an agreement, an employee would only qualify for overtime pay if the average hours worked per week during the averaging period exceed forty-four (44) hours.
    If an employee’s job ends before they have taken the paid time off, the employee must receive the overtime pay. This must be paid no later than seven (7) days after the date the employment ended or on what would have been the employee’s next pay day.

    Prince Edward Island

    The standard work week is forty-eight (48) hours. Any time worked beyond that is subject to overtime at a rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate. Employees also have the option to accumulate their overtime hours and use them as paid time off. Time taken off in lieu of overtime pay can be taken only if the employee requests it in writing and the time must be taken within three (3) months of the time it was earned.
    An employee who accumulates overtime hours must be compensated at the rate of one-and-a-half hours of paid time off at the employee’s regular rate of pay for every one hour of accumulated overtime. If there are still banked overtime hours when the employment relationship ends, the remaining hours must be paid out to the employee at the time-and-a-half rate.


    A standard work week in Quebec is forty (40) hours. Anytime worked above that is paid at a rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate. The employer may, at the request of the employee or as provided for in the collective agreement, allow the employee to receive paid time off work instead of overtime pay.
    If the employer agrees to bank the overtime hours, the time off must be given at one-and-a-half hours of paid time off work for each hour of overtime worked. The banked time off must be taken within twelve (12) months of the time it was earned, or paid out to the employee. If the employment relationship ends before the banked time is used, the remaining balance must be paid at a rate of time-and-a-half at the same time as the last payment of wages.


    A standard work week in Saskatchewan is forty (40) hours. Most employees who work for more than eight (8) hours per day are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one-and-a-half times the employee’s hourly wage rate. They are also entitled to overtime for any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week.  Employees are able to bank their overtime hours and take time off  rather than receive overtime pay.
    The Averaging of Hours Permit facilitates an averaging of the hours of work for employees who want to work longer shifts but over fewer days or weeks. Overtime must still be paid if the hours worked by the affected employees exceed the hours stated in the permit. These permits do not apply to unionized workplaces. Unionized work workplaces must obtain the written agreement from their trade union.


    The standard hours of work in the Yukon are eight (8) hours in a day and forty (40) hours in a week. Overtime is any hours worked in excess of eight (8) hours in a day and forty (40) hours in a week. The overtime rate is one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
    Employees are able to take paid time off instead of receiving overtime pay under two  conditions: 1) there is an agreement in writing between the employee and the employer, or 2) it is part of a collective agreement. Time off is calculated by multiplying the hours of overtime worked by the employee by one-and-a-half times. Any earned and unused overtime must be paid out within a twelve (12) month period stated in the agreement or, if no date is specified, within a calendar year. A short work week may be implemented when there is a written agreement between the employer, employee and/or a majority of the employees, or the employees' bargaining agent.
    Employers can apply to the Director to issue a permit to average the hours of work. Permits may be granted when:
    • The nature of the work justifies the irregular distribution of the hours of work; 
    • The employer and the trade union representing employees agree to an averaging arrangement; or
    • The employer and a majority of employees at a non-union worksite agree in writing to averaging.

    An averaging permit allows hours of work to be averaged over a period of two (2) or more weeks, so that overtime becomes payable after eighty (80) hours worked in a two (2) week period.

    Continuation of Benefits While an Employee is off on a Leave June 29 2015

    Employers often wonder what their obligations are in regards to continuing to provide benefits for employees while they are on a leave of absence.  There are multiple factors that must be taken into consideration in order to determine what the employer’s obligations are for benefit continuation while an employee is on leave of absence. We will discuss these factors in this article; however, it is important to note that legislation varies by province with regards to benefit continuation. It is important that you review your jurisdiction’s legislation and/or contact our OnDemand team for assistance in developing and implementing your company’s policy as it relates to benefit continuation.

    The first consideration is the ‘type of leave’ that the employee is going to be on. Is it a legislated leave? Is it a sick leave due to a workplace injury or illness?  If the leave is a legislated leave (meaning the employee is entitled to the leave by law), then the employer generally has an obligation to maintain the employee’s benefits during the period of the leave, subject to any cost sharing arrangement already in place for most jurisdictions. If the employee chooses not to maintain their share of the cost of the benefits, then the benefits can be discontinued, however, we would strongly recommend getting this in writing from the employee.

    Common types of leaves that fall under a ‘legislated leave’ are: Maternity Leave, Parental Leave, Adoption Leave, Compassionate Care Leave and Emergency Leave.  Some legislation also require the employer to maintain benefits for a certain amount of time, such as Ontario’s WSIB Act, which states that Employer’s must continue coverage for a minimum of 12 months when an employee is unable to work due to a workplace injury or illness.

    For ‘non-legislated leaves’, the requirement to maintain benefits is at the employer’s discretion. However, the one caution is with sick leave. Although there may not be a legal requirement to maintain benefits, employers must be careful under Human Rights legislation not to discriminate against an employee due to a disability. Does that mean employees are entitled to their benefits for life if they become unable to do their job? The answer is no. Does that mean that you can cut them off their benefits from day one? This is not a good idea and not a recommend practice!

    Benefits continuation during a non-legislated sick leave

    It is important to have a policy that clearly outlines what your company’s rules are as it relates to benefit continuation for legislated and non-legislated leaves so that it is fair and consistently applied from one employee to the next. Here are some common practices for non-legislated laves:

    1) Maintain benefits for a period of 30 days from date of illness/injury – after that the employee is on their own.
    2) Match Workers Compensation rules for maintaining benefits. In other words, an employer treats all illnesses/injuries the same, regardless if the illness or injury is work related or not.  As previously mentioned, in Ontario, this would equate to employer’s maintaining coverage for 12 months.
    3) Maintain benefits for up to 24 months to match the Own Occupation definition commonly found in Long Term Disability (LTD) contracts.
    4) Maintain benefits for the elimination period for LTD (this is often either 17 weeks or 26 weeks).

    Whichever decision you make, you need to put it in writing and inform the employees of your policy. This is often done in the Employee Handbook and/or by a separate standalone policy. When employee’s go off on a leave, you should remind them, in writing, of your policy as it relates to their benefit continuation and if they are nearing the end of coverage, send them another letter prior to terminating their benefits so they have sufficient time to seek alternative arrangements. You will find templates for such letters under the Resource Centre.

    What about employee’s currently on a leave?

    The other issue you need to consider is how this ‘new’ policy will apply to employees already on a leave. One option is to advise the employee currently on leave of the new policy and give them reasonable notice of the change (We recommend at least 30 days) to allow sufficient time for the employee to find alternative coverage.

     Another option is to advise the employee of the new policy and let them know that the timelines for discontinuing the benefits (e.g., 30 days, 1 year, 2 years or 17/26 weeks) will start effective immediately. In other words, if you choose one (1) year as your company policy for maintaining benefits, the employee who is off will have coverage for the one (1) year from the date you notify him or her of your new policy, regardless if they have been off for longer than the time frame chosen.  Alternatively, you can also choose to ‘grandfather’ your employee(s) who are currently off at the time of the new policy being implemented and choose not to apply the policy for this leave and continue their coverage for the remainder of their leave. 

    Heat Stress June 22 2015

    As we enter into the summer months, employers in Canada are becoming more and more concerned that their workers will develop heat stress due to rising temperatures. Exposure to extreme heat while working can lead to a number of occupational injuries and illnesses, including heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and fainting.

    OH&S legislation in several provinces requires employers to take every precaution reasonable for the protection of workers in all circumstances, which includes paying close attention to the dangers related to heat exposure. Here are some tips that will help ensure your workers do not develop heat stress this summer:

    • Acclimatization: Allow your employees to take a week or two getting used to the heat by allowing their bodies to adjust. The longer they work in a hot environment, the better their bodies will adapt to the heat. This means progressively increasing their shift time in hot working conditions each day. So you may want to limit their shift time in hot working conditions to 50 percent of the shift for the first day, 60 percent for the second day, and so on. By taking this approach, your employees should be able to work full shifts in hot working conditions by the end of the first week depending on their health and age.
    • Administrative Controls:  Monitor  and  develop  strategies  for  coping  with  hot  days  and  hot workplaces; increase the length and frequency of rest breaks; ensure workers drink plenty of water (at least every 15 to 20 minutes); schedule physically demanding jobs for cooler parts of the day; train workers to recognize the signs and dangers of heat stress; and advise workers on the proper precautions they should take and clothing they should wear (i.e. PPE such as cooled vests or bandanas, hats, etc.)
    • Engineering Controls: Install air-cooling systems and fans for work areas and rest areas, as well as insulation and reflective barriers around machinery and furnaces. Also, attempt to provide shaded work areas whenever possible, and reduce the physical demands of tasks through use of equipment such as hoists.

    Reference Checks 101 June 08 2015

    Everything you need to know about conducting reference checks

    Employers are becoming increasingly unsure as to how to go about conducting reference checks for potential candidates in an effective and responsible manner.

    Nonetheless, we still strongly encourage employers to conduct reference checks before hiring employees.  Conducting reference checks can help employers avoid costs associated with employee turnover and poor performance.

    These verifications allow employers to confirm information on the candidate’s resume and sometimes even gain greater insights into the candidate’s skills, abilities, as well as, the quality of their work performance.

    In this article, we will explore commonly expressed concerns and misconceptions by employers with regard to conducting reference checks.

    Myth:  I have the right to contact former employers whether or not I have officially been given permission to do so by the candidate.

     It is important to have potential employees sign an authorization giving you permission to conduct a formal reference check. In order to avoid any legal liabilities, it is best practice not to contact any references that the employee has not authorized you to contact. 

    Myth: I may only contact referees chosen by the candidate. In contrast, other employers believe that if you rely only on the referees listed on a candidate’s list, you’re likely to get a skewed sense of the person.

    In either case, the solution is to tell the candidate you wish them to list professional (not personal) referees who have had the opportunity to supervise them directly. The candidate has the right to refuse to list certain references. However, their reluctance may act as a red flag for employers. 

    Myth: Reference letters should not be relied on.

    This belief stems from the fact that reference letters are sometimes negotiated in severance packages. We recommend simply asking for consent to contact these referees just as you would any other, with the consent of the candidate.

    Myth: It is best to email the list of questions to the referees so that they may fill in a standard form.

    Though we strongly recommend being consistent with the questions posed to referees, the best reference checks are conducted on the phone, where tone and intonation, even pauses can often reveal more than words.

    Myth: There is no sense in verifying references, as everyone will always give a glowing reference.

    You may be surprised. Though this may be true in some cases, in other cases, references can be extremely revealing. Some employees who may have been poor performers may list a reference because they suspect the person will not speak negatively of them, or because they are not convinced the employer will give them a call.


    Other Helpful tips for Conducting Reference Checks

    • We recommend employers verify from 2 to 3 work related references. Ideally these would consist of former supervisors to the candidate.
    • Always introduce yourself to the referee, by identifying yourself, your organization and the reason for your call.
    • It is very important not to ask referees any questions that would infringe on the candidate’s human rights. For instance, never ask any questions pertaining to or that would reveal the candidate’s age, family status, nationality, race, religion, etc.
    • Be respectful of candidates; only verify a candidate’s references if prepared to offer the candidate the position should the reference checks go well. Should the reference verifications reveal that the candidate is not a right fit for the position, only then should you verify references for the next candidate. If you have two or three top candidates, it is okay to conduct the reference checks simultaneously, but you should not bother wasting time conducting references of candidates you will not be considering for the position.
    • Do not refer to the candidate as the successful candidate to the referee, but rather as a finalist, so as to protect yourself should you choose a different candidate as a result of the verification.
    • Create a list of questions so that you are asking the same set of questions to all referees, giving you a consistent frame on which to base your decisions. A sample of questions can be found on our site.
    • Always be professional, do not press a referee to answer questions they do not wish to answer.
    • Consider whether performance issues disclosed by previous employers might affect performance in the new position. They may lead you to the decision not to hire the employee, or simply to monitor these areas more closely during the employee’s probation period.
    • Be sure to ask the referee the proper questions. We recommend always including the following questions: “Would you rehire this person?” and “Why did the person leave the organization?” We also recommend ending with an open-ended question such as “Is there anything else you’d like to know about this individual?”
    • Keep in mind that some employers may have ulterior motives. They may be resentful to have lost a good employee or they may want a poor performer gone.
    • Be particularly tactful when contacting current employers. Only do so once you have verified all other references and you are prepared to extend a job offer and have permission to contact them.
    • Lastly, when conducting reference checks, do not “put words into their mouths” so to speak. Document the reference’s answers as spoken; do not re-word it or try to interpret what they are saying.


    Everything you need to know about acting as a reference for your former employees.

    Employers are more hesitant than ever when asked to act as a reference for a former employee. They do not want to be held liable for slander or for not respecting the privacy rights of their former employees. They are unsure as to which information they have a right to disclose.

    Myth:  You are obligated to act as a reference for your former employees when you are requested to do so. 

    This statement is false.  Even if the employee is required to provide references to the prospective employer, there is no law requiring former or current employers to act as a reference for employees. To avoid liability, some organizations have implemented company-wide policies that do not allow any references; allowing only confirmation that the person did work there, what their position was and the length of time they were employed.

    Myth: I can provide a reference for a former employee if an employer requests information. I don’t need the employee’s permission to do so.

    It is important to see a written authorization form signed by the employee permitting you as a reference before providing any reference on their behalf.  This helps to minimize the likelihood of any legal liabilities. Employers should implement a policy on providing reference checks and ensure all employees are aware of the proper procedures. Most importantly, you want to make sure that all of your supervisors and managers know to ask for proof that the former employee has authorized them to be contacted as a reference before doing so.

    Myth: It is safest to always give a positive reference for former employees regardless of their job performance.

    Some employers view these situations as an inexpensive way to get rid of an under-performing employee, with minimal effort and pay. They may see this as an opportunity to let go of the employee without having to provide them with severance pay. In these situations, it may be safest not to say anything at all or to simply confirm employment with your organization.  Ideally we would encourage employers to have Human Resource Professionals give out these types of references. It is important to remember that employers choose to conduct reference checks because they believe the best predictor for future behaviour is past behaviour. 

    Intentionally misleading an employer in any situation may hinder your credibility, and may cause the new employer to lose respect for you and/or your organization. It is important to be tactful in these situations, but also to be as respectful as possible for all stakeholders involved.

    Myth: You can get in trouble for giving a negative reference.

    It depends. However, we always encourage employers to proceed with caution when giving out references that may be perceived as negative by the former employee. Again, under no circumstance may an employer give out a false or misleading reference to the new employer.  This means employers must be very careful to base their statements on facts and not opinion when speaking of a former employee, especially if these statements may hinder the employee’s reputation.  Otherwise, these statements may be deemed to be defamatory. As stated previously, it is a best practice to ask to see a signed consent form on behalf of an employee before giving out a reference. It is important to note however, that a signed consent does not give employers carte blanche to criticize former employees in any which way. Former employers are within their rights to give a less positive reference if it accurately reflects the employee’s performance, although such statements must be very well calculated and thought out. Remember, you are not required by law to provide a reference, so if you are not comfortable in doing so, politely decline to do so. If a former employee asks you to be a reference but you do not believe you would be able to provide a positive reference, you should let the person know that you are not prepared to act as a reference.

    Myth: Those who have directly supervised the former employee should be the one’s giving out a reference.

    The answer here is yes and no. When giving information on a former employee’s performance, this information should typically be given by their supervisor and/or manager, not a coworker.  Naturally, in most cases an employee’s direct supervisor is in the best position to assess the employee’s performance. However, if an employer empowers all of their managers and supervisors to give out references for their subordinates or former subordinates as they wish, they should be provided with the proper training so as to protect themselves and the organization. Again, ideally, if you have an HR professional on staff, have your employees consult with them, prior to acting as a reference for former employees. Remember to be consistent with whatever practice you choose to implement with regards to reference verifications. We recommend creating, implementing and communicating a standard policy for your employees to follow.


    Being Heard in the Information Age: Social Media and Recruitment Strategy June 01 2015

    Information overload: a colloquial term referring to the difficulty a person may have in making decisions due to the presence of too much data. In essence, their ability to mentally process is outpaced by the flow of new information. These words have become emblematic of the recent evolutions in social media.

    Social media has captured the attention of the world and continues to grow at a startling rate. More and more companies are integrating their Facebook page into their branding strategy, while Twitter keeps the world informed of the latest breaking news stories 140 characters at a time. Between computers, smart phones, and other channels of communication, many find themselves being constantly inundated with information. With the state of communication such as it is, how are businesses supposed to compete for people’s attention without being drowned out among the noise?

    The important thing is not to fight against the tide; recruiters should go where the recruits are. Social media is no different.  With the variety of new tools available, it is possible for recruiters to not only compete, but to thrive. Here are some ways employers can leverage social media in the hunt for talent:


    Employers are beginning to catch on to the wealth of candidate information available online. With proper social network engagement, it is possible to track more than a given candidate’s personal life. A user can monitor a candidate’s professional activity, the areas of their expertise, as well as the events that they might attend.

    But media research goes beyond interview screening. Current employees, past employees, competitors and clients are all talking; and chances are, they are doing it in a public forum. Social networking offers up a cheap way to find out what people might be saying about your company as well as insight into your competitors’ strategies. People always talk. It is up to us to figure out how to listen.


    In the age of the “internet-controversy”, maintaining the company image has never been more important. Through the application of social media tools, companies have access to a variety of methods with which to engage with both their clients and prospective candidates. Such interaction also provides an opportunity to unify the message a company sends out to the world. It is important to ensure that an organization’s “voice”, their specific tone or style of address, is consistent across all channels of communication. The company’s voice should reflect its mission, vision, and values. 

    Further, a company can quickly construct a network of advocates to communicate their message. These advocates most commonly take the form of the organization’s employees, but everyone has a voice in the information age; that is part of what makes public perception so important.


    Thus far we have discussed taking in information from the environment, but it is equally important to contribute to that same discussion. Posting available job openings online is only the beginning of how one might spread the word amongst potential candidates.  Take multinational branded food manufacturer General Mills as an example.

    General Mills makes use of their company Facebook page in order to inform applicants of not only job openings, but links to career events, introductions to the recruitment team, and information relating to the company and careers in general. They also make use of YouTube, creating videos that highlight key aspects of the jobs, their corporate culture, examinations of the typical work day, and more. These are but a few ways social media can be utilized to offer a more complete portrait of a company to prospective employees.

    Communication & Engagement

    The tools are such that companies no longer need to passively interact with their contacts. One good way to break through the white noise of social media is to engage directly with individuals. Responding to questions and participating in discussion has never been easier. Rather than simply plastering job postings on every site available, it might work to the recruiter’s benefit to partake in conversation about those postings with those who might show interest. Building relationships with the candidates goes beyond filing a position currently in demand; there will always be future openings. Having a pre-established network of candidates may expedite the process.

    These are only a few of the ways companies can look to incorporate social media into their recruitment strategy. Such tools are only poised to continue evolving and expanding as we move into the future. In a time where everyone is constantly being exposed to information in nearly every aspect of their lives, the key is not to try to cut through the noise or disengage with the conversation. Rather, employers should focus on making the tide of information work for them.


    Errors that Employers make in the Interview and Selection Process May 25 2015

    Selecting the most qualified candidate when hiring is one of the most important decisions managers make.  The right hiring decision can:

    • Lower turnover and increase productivity
    • Establish employee trust within the organization and improve morale
    • Increase the knowledge, skills and abilities within the organization

    Relying on unstructured interview questions and processes, and being unprepared can lead to mistakes in both the interview process and in the rating of candidates.  Ultimately, it can lead to poor selection decisions that can have negative effects on the organization.

    Interview Errors

    1. Allowing pre-interview impressions of the applicant to influence conduct in the interview

    Preconceived beliefs and judgements based on information obtained from the resume and cover letter can influence the tone of the interview.  Interviewers are in charge of the flow of the interview, and can easily set the tone using verbal and non-verbal communication.  When one allows preconceived beliefs about the characteristics of the applicant to lead the interview in a negative or positive direction, the applicant’s responses and reactions will be affected as well.

    1. Asking questions that are unrelated to the job

    This wastes time and does not produce any valuable information with which to rate or evaluate the candidate’s qualifications.   Be careful not to ask questions of a personal or lifestyle nature.  Basing hiring decisions on factors unrelated to the job can put employers in a legally vulnerable position.

    1. Talking too much

    The purpose of the interview is to gather as much relevant information about the candidate as possible.  When interviewers spend too much time describing the job, and/or talking about themselves or the organization, valuable time is lost.  The key to being a good interviewer is in being prepared and listening

    1. Not allowing enough time

    Because “time is money”, employers will often cut interviews short before all questions are asked and/or the candidate is allowed ample time to answer.  This does the organization a disservice.  By allowing 45 minutes to one hour for an interview, the likelihood of gathering meaningful information increases. 

    Rating Errors

    1. Selective Perception

    Interpreting what you see or hear based on your own interests, experiences and attitudes.  Leave personal biases out of the selection process.

    1. Halo Effect

    Drawing a general impression about an individual based on a single characteristic.  For example:  after assigning a very high score on “leadership”, a rater may feel that the same score is warranted for “effort”, even if evidence suggests that should be the case.

    1. Contrast Effects

    This occurs when interviewers compare candidates with each other, rather than against the performance standards of the job or the established criteria.  An otherwise mediocre candidate may seem exceptional when he follows a poor candidate.

    1. Projection

    This occurs when an interviewer assumes that a candidate is similar to themselves.  For example:  a candidate that went to the same university as the interviewer may be perceived as being similar to the interviewer in other ways. 

    Avoid making Interview and Rating Errors

    • Preparing interview questions ahead of time, using the job performance standards to establish the selection criteria
    • Allow a minimum of 45 minutes for each interview
    • Ask the same questions of all candidates, being careful not to lead candidates towards the desired response
    • Consider using a panel (a minimum of two interviewers)
    • Make the candidate feel at ease by allowing a few minutes for introductions and small talk, as well as explaining the interview process
    • Using the established scoring scheme (determined in the preparation stage), evaluate all candidates based on the criteria and their actual responses

    For those that have relied on “unstructured” interviews, this process may seem complicated and time-consuming.  However, the reality is that good selection processes can avoid bad selection decisions, and ultimately money.

    Need Hiring Help?

    Managing the recruitment and selection process is crucial to the effective operations of an organization but can be a challenge. Humaniqa offers a comprehensive Recruitment and Selection Guide, training videos and an inventory of templates to help you hire and retain the right individuals.

    Here’s a brief list of some of templates you can find on to assist with your recruiting;

    • Job Ad Templates
    • Job Descriptions
    • Recruitment Checklist
    • Employment Application Forms
    • Interview Questions & Evaluation Forms
    • Reference Checking Documents
    • Offer Letters
    • New Employee Information Form
    • Unsuccessful Candidate Letter
    • Orientation Checklist Form


    Onboarding New Employees May 08 2015

    Why an Employee Orientation Program should be the first step in an organization’s larger scale Onboarding Process.

    Though no legislation exists requiring employers to implement an orientation or onboarding program, it is in every organization’s best interest to do so.

    An efficient employee orientation program is the ideal way to welcome a new employee to an organization. It consists of a short one-time event that will usually last between an afternoon and a day.

    Employers should take this opportunity to have their employees fill out important paperwork such as the signing and dating of their offer letter, filling out a new employee information sheet, and completing a group benefits enrolment form, if applicable, etc. A comprehensive list of the forms to be filled is included in our Orientation Checklist form under our forms section. The orientation program should also include reviewing the health and safety responsibilities of the employees, general safety rules, a fire or emergency response plan and other health and safety related items also outlined in our orientation checklist. 

    It is also important for the new hire’s supervisor to be involved in the process and to take the time to review the employee’s job description with the employee as well as all other important organizational policies and procedures. Training objectives and job expectations should also be discussed with the employee. An employee who knows exactly what is expected of them is likely to have fewer oversights and is better set up for success.

    The orientation program can be conducted online, in a group setting or in a one-on-one face-to-face orientation. Employers are also recommended to provide new hires with Employee Handbooks, which outlines important information, such as the organization’s mission and values, as well as the company dress code. Don’t have an up-to-date handbook? Visit our Resource Centre to use our unique handbook tool and create one in a matter of minutes!

    Existing staff should be made aware that they are expected to make new employees feel welcomed. To facilitate the process, an email announcing the arrival of the new employee should be sent out to staff. Additionally, the employee should be provided with an organizational chart of the organization, and introduced to their new colleagues.

    A well-organized orientation program can reduce employee anxiety. Naturally, if an employee experiences less stress they are more likely to achieve a higher level of performance sooner.

    It is important to make the distinction between the orientation process and the onboarding process. The orientation process is about introducing the employee to the organization, while the onboarding process is about integrating the employee into the organization. While an efficient employee orientation program is the ideal way to welcome a new employee to an organization, it only consists of a short one-time event that will usually last between an afternoon and a day.

    The onboarding program consists of a more elaborate strategic process of integrating new employees into the organization. This is accomplished by providing the new employees with information, training, and at times even mentoring and coaching. It is intended to define and clarify work assignments, roles and responsibilities.

    During this time, a variety of workplace resources should be made readily available to the employee. This may include an organizational chart, workplace policies and procedures. Employees should also be made aware of whom they may go to with any questions or concerns. This allows the employee to better understand the different workplace dynamics and adapt more easily. The overall responsibility of the onboarding program should be shared amongst the new employee, senior management, HR if applicable and the employee’s supervisor or manager. The senior management team may be more active in the development and monitoring of the onboarding program. The new employee’s supervisor or another designated employee may be asked to administer the onboarding program. The employee’s supervisor should be actively involved in the process and make every effort to ensure the new employee’s success. The process can last anywhere between three, six or even twelve months after the first day of employment. It is crucial to follow up at the end of the process in order to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the onboarding program.

    It is important for employers to understand the value of an effective onboarding experience. The process facilitates the employee’s ability to contribute more effectively in the new role, by making the employee feel more at ease and confident. A proper onboarding process can also validate the employee’s decision to join the organization. Implementing an onboarding program can ultimately lead to a higher level of employee engagement and enhance employee productivity.

    Having a structured onboarding program is not only a best practice; it is an opportunity for employers to make a positive and lasting impression on new employees and to foster a positive organizational culture. We strongly encourage employers to seize this opportunity. Contact us via the OnDemand feature today with any questions you may have on the onboarding process.

    Don’t Have An Employee Handbook?

    We make developing an employee handbook quick and easy! Visit our Resource Centre to use our unique handbook tool and create one in a matter of minutes!

    Managing Millennials in the Workplace May 01 2015

    Time magazine has declared them the “Me, me, me Generation.” They are also claimed to be the most social, and tech savvy generation of all time. We are of course referring to “Generation Y”, also known as: “The Millennials.”

    Millennials are individuals born between the year 1981 and 2000. There are many reasons for which it has become increasingly important for employers to learn about Millennials. Many Baby-boomers are now retiring, and there simply are not enough Gen-Xers to meet the demand for human resources in a sustainable way. By the year 2025, Millennials will form 75% of the workforce, worldwide.

    Is your workplace millennial friendly?

    It has now become increasingly urgent for employers to properly manage millennials in the workplace. Employers must learn to successfully attract, retain and of course motivate these individuals. Here are some helpful tips.

    Step 1: Attracting Millennials

    Employers must attract millennials by letting them know about their:

    • Positive organizational culture
    • Value of their position within the organization
    • Use of technology
    • Compensation

    A great organizational culture can do a lot to attract individuals belonging to this group. Millennials value work-life balance and a healthy and positive work environment. Let potential candidates know if you host a monthly breakfast for your employees, have flexible work hours, or offer special summer hours. Millennials are also known as the “No collar generation.” This means they enjoy having fewer boundaries in terms of restrictive appropriate work attire. Make them aware of your “Jeans for Charity Fridays” if this applies to your organization.

    Millennials are known to be more comfortable around technology than those from other generations. Participating in social media, whether through Facebook or Twitter can help in attracting these hyper- connected individuals.

    Though compensation is rarely the sole determining factor in attracting these individuals to organizations, it certainly helps. On average, new graduates have a debt of $20,000. Offering a competitive salary will help employers draw in the most qualified individuals to their organization and help retain them.

    Step 2: Retaining Millennials

    Millennials are sometimes viewed as being less loyal than others, as they have a turnover rate three times higher than that of the Baby boomers. For this reason, employers must put more effort into retaining these employees. This can be done by:

    • Creating a less formal and less structured atmosphere
    • Having an open and honest communications culture

    Millennials tend to prefer a less structured workplace. This means offering flexible hours of work and allowing employees to work from home (even some of the time) is appealing to these individuals. Millennials also tend to have disdain for the traditional workplace hierarchy. A less traditional, non- hierarchical workplace structure may be more appealing as it may result in more efficient communication.

    Having an open and honest communications culture is highly regarded by Millennials. They expect it and are more likely to trust employers who communicate more frequently and effectively. They respect organizations with high regard for integrity and prefer organizations with open door policies. Ensuring your employees feel comfortable to share ideas will not only keep the company current with fresh new ideas, but will also help the individual feel valued and important.

    Step 3: Motivating Millennials

    Keeping millennials motivated and engaged in their work can be challenging. Millennials need to feel as though their organization is as invested in their success as they are in their organization.

    In order to motivate these employees, employers should:

    • Invest in their professional development
    • Offer them frequent feedback
    • Provide regular employee recognition

    Professional development opportunities have proven to be particularly appealing to those belonging to Generation Y. They are often concerned about their future employability and worry that they will eventually lack the skills and education necessary to advance in their career. Make the steps for advancement at your organization clear and known to prospective employees. Millennials want to be challenged .They want to work on assignments from which they can learn and hone their professional skills. Career advancement opportunities are another great way to foster employee engagement and motivation.

    Feedback is important as it allows employees to know where they stand within a company, if they are doing well, or if improvement is required. It keeps employees motivated by reminding them of what is expected of them. Don’t assume that they know things are going well if you haven’t provided negative feedback. A new graduate’s confidence can only get stronger with positive reinforcement that they are doing well and their employer has confidence in them as well.

    Providing regular employee recognition is necessary in order to foster motivation. Millennials want to know that their effort and dedication does not go unnoticed. Saying a simple “thank you” can go a long way with these employees.

    The Importance of Work-Life Balance April 28 2015

    Work-life balance has become a hot topic and a popular trend among organizations in the modern world.  Some feel as though this is a result of the changing priorities of the emerging millennial workforce, while others feel it is in response to the competing personal responsibilities in today’s society and the changing family dynamic.  Whatever the reason, it is important to understand the concept of work-life balance and have the ability to provide some flexibility and accommodation to workers to help deal with this challenge. 

    Work-life balance is the challenge of prioritizing, and essentially managing, all aspects of one’s ‘work life’ and ‘personal life’.  This can be a very stressful process for many, which can lead to increased stress, lack of motivation and can negatively impact all aspects of an individual’s life.  Work-life conflicts are the factors and influences associated with the challenges of balancing one’s work and personal lives.  There are four types of work-life conflicts:

    • Role Overload
    • Being overwhelmed by the duty to perform several roles in one’s life, which does not allow them to perform some or all of the roles adequately
    • Work-to-Family Interference
    • When work demands impact family life or relationships with individuals outside of work (ex: constantly working extended hours, which may cause one to miss important aspects of their children’s lives)
    • Family-to-Work Interference
    • Result from family conflicts which put strain on the individual and does not allow them to adequately focus and fulfill work obligations or duties (ex: a conflict at home resulting in a distracted employee at work)
    • Caregiver Strain
    • Occurs when the demands of work interfere with the daily obligation to care for someone (ex: caring for a young child or ill loved one)

    Each of these work-life conflicts are predominant throughout society, which can have a significant impact on an employee’s personal life, their employment and job performance and their overall mental health and well-being.  Thus, it is vital for employers to recognize the impacts of work-life conflict and attempt to mitigate the stress and burdens which are part of their employees’ daily lives.  A lack of support in dealing with these work-life conflicts can result in:

    • increased absenteeism
    • employee burnout
    • increased employee turnover
    • increased managerial stress
    • increased health and disability costs
    • reduced productivity
    • reduced job satisfaction
    • decreased employee well-being
    • impaired family/social relationships

    From a management and organizational perspective, this is a major concern.  The success and sustainability of an organization relies on its employees.  For this reason, the ideal workforce should be made up of high functioning and high performing individuals.  Providing opportunities for work-life balance within your organization is an effective way of supporting and motivating employees.  It allows them to fulfill their non-work related obligations and enjoy leisure time, so that they are capable and willing to be high functioning employees while at work.

    Listed below are several strategies to help employees achieve and maintain a sense of work-life balance:

    1. Allow for flexibility for work day start time and end time (e.g. working 8:00-4:00, 9:00-5:00 or 10:00-6:00). Employees work a full day but can vary the start and end of the workday within defined guidelines. As a result, employee can fit work around personal commitments and can work at times when they are at their “personal best.”
    1. Allow employees to work a compressed workweek (e.g. every other week get a day off and work longer hours the other days).
    1. Allow employees to work from home (if operationally possible). This arrangement may be permanent or temporary, part time or full time or a set portion of the workweek.
    1. Review job descriptions and identify areas of work overload and increased stress. Maybe the job itself needs to change, not just the time allocation (e.g. is there another way you could divide up the work tasks?).
    1. Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to provide support for individuals and families dealing with life challenges and transitions.
    1. Encourage employees to take their annual vacation to unplug, unwind and de-stress.
    1. Encourage employees to avoid checking their work e-mail and voice mail after the workday and on weekends, to separate work from their personal lives.
    1. Provide education and training to help employees understand and become efficient with difficult or tedious aspects of their jobs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    2. Develop policies and procedures which reflect these work-life balance initiatives (e.g. ability to take time off and make it up later, flex time, job sharing, and flexible work arrangement).

    It is important to note that every organization and operational requirements are unique, which may limit or restrict certain options listed above.  It is vital to understand the importance of work-life balance in the lives of your employees and to work within your organizational requirements to provide some options and support.  Understand that this should be viewed as a significant benefit in the eyes of the employee, which will contribute to increased motivation, productivity and morale.

    Overall, work-life balance is an increasingly important aspect in the lives of employees. A great starting point for initiating work-life balance is revising current policies within your organization to reflect management support, or to create and adapt new policies which demonstrate support and flexibility. 

    Please visit our website to find templates for policies which promote work-life balance, including flextime, flexible work arrangements and work from home.

    Workplace Wellness Programs April 21 2015

    Employees are the most important asset a company has. With that being said, employers should consider having a Workplace Wellness Program in place to help ensure that they have a happy and healthy workforce. In this newsletter, we will look at what a workplace wellness program really is, what you can do to help your employees’ health and some of the benefits that a wellness program could offer your business.

    What is it?

    Workplace Wellness Programs are designed to help employees choose healthier behaviours. For instance, healthy eating or a quit smoking campaign can be part of a wellness program. A wellness program consists of activities and campaigns such as health education, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs, and many more.

    Companies should also have a workplace wellness policy that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The policy should inform the employees about the benefits of workplace wellness, and what you as the employer plan to offer to promote a healthy workplace. For example, offering healthier choices in vending machines in the lunchroom, or offering flexible working arrangements to promote work-life balance. Other wellness programs could include offering on-site flu vaccinations, “walk and talk” programs, or stress management coaching.

    What are the Benefits?

    Having healthy employees is great for business. By introducing a wellness program, your company will have the potential to have fewer injuries, less human error, and a more harmonious office environment. Wellness programs can also reduce stress, increase employee morale and improve the ability to attract and retain key people.

    In terms of money, some companies, such as Canada Life and Citibank have reported a positive return on investment (ROI) with savings between $2 and $6 for every $1 invested in employee wellness programs. Healthier employees mean spending less on benefits and insurance. Other benefits include lower absenteeism, fewer sick days, lowered health and insurance costs, and an overall improvement in employee performance.

    Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can provide a better quality of life to employees outside of work. Access to assistance within their personal lives may be what employees need to have a more productive work life. When companies offer EAPs to their employees, it shows that they really care about their well-being.

    How to implement a Wellness Program

    If you want to start a wellness program in your company it is going to have to begin at the top. Top level management and even the President are going to play a vital role in getting the wellness program to be a success. It will take more that just approving and funding the idea. For a truly successful wellness program, top management will need to participate and encourage participation among all employees.

    As for the program itself, you could start with a health risk assessment (HRA). The reason for the HRA is to get a starting point for your employees. It will also allow you to track any progress and link it with potential increase in productivity. It is important to remember that any organizational reports should not identify individual employees; however individual employees should have access to their own personal information. Completing this initial health assessment will help establish a baseline which the employer will be able to design their wellness programs around in order to target specific areas of concerns.

    The next step is to get employees interested in the program itself. The program should be well communicated and completely accessible to everyone. In order to ensure a return on investment, research shows that companies need a participation rate of at least 60%. Research also found that participation rates are higher when the activities are group oriented and create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.

    When you plan your wellness program there are a few things to consider. You need to ensure that you have clear objectives and know what you want to see as a result of the program. You also need to consider your target audience. Make sure you know who you want to target and that you create a program tailored to them. The type of campaign is another thing to consider. You should consider the tone you want the campaign to take, whether it is fun or informative. This aspect goes along with knowing your audience. Make sure that the tone of the campaign aligns with what your audience will most likely respond to.

    In order to have an effective program, it may be in your best interest to form a wellness committee. By allowing employees who are passionate about the program play a role in creating and advertising it, will increase your chances of getting the entire workplace to participate. A wellness committee also has the advantage of working with key groups within the workplace, including the health and safety committee.

    A workplace wellness program does not have to be a big expensive project that you jump right into. It is important to remember that you can start our small. Simply allowing a small amount of time for physical activity or providing healthy snacks in the lunch room are both easy and relatively inexpensive ways to get the ball rolling. Check with your local Health Unit for free healthy workplace programs that you can participate in. One great example that we have done internally is to launch a Walking Challenge. We borrowed pedometers from our local Health Unit and employees tracked the number of steps taken on a weekly basis and competed for prizes.!bFzHRI

    What You Need To Know About Employee Handbooks April 16 2015

    Though no legislation exists in Canada requiring employers to have an employee handbook, it is in every organization’s best interest to have one. A good employee handbook acts as a valuable communication tool for employers and serves as a reference guide for employees, thereby avoiding common misunderstandings and unreasonable expectations.

    Regardless of company size, the benefits of implementing an employee handbook are endless. Employee handbooks are intended to enforce workplace policies and procedures; establish clear employment standards; reduce employee misconduct; promote consistent management and administration of the policies and procedures; demonstrate a commitment to equal treatment of employees; and relay important information such as company history, philosophy, and goals.

    Most importantly, a well-drafted handbook is a source of legal protection for an organization by setting clear expectations and standards that employees must comply with. Clearly communicated and consistently enforced policies also help to support disciplinary action and avoid charges of discrimination or unfair treatment.

    When developing a new employee handbook it is essential to confirm whether the policies comply with employment standards laws of each jurisdiction in which it will be used. We recommend reviewing your employee handbook on a semi-annual basis to ensure it accurately reflects the reality of your organization and addresses changing laws and regulations. It is also important to advise employees to any policy updates or new policies added during the revision process.

    When introducing a new handbook or changes to an existing one, employees should sign an acknowledgement that they received a copy of the handbook and it is their responsibility to read and understand the policies contained within the handbook. An “Employee Handbook Receipt Acknowledgment” template can be found on our website in the Resource Centre under Forms.

    There are several key elements that should be included in an employee handbook. In addition to the policies and procedures that are legally required in the provinces where your employees work, we recommend including the following items:

    • Privacy Policy –outline the mechanisms for accessing and revising personal information.
    • Termination Policy – set some ground rules related to terminations and ensure they are consistently followed.
    • Progressive Discipline Policy – define employee misconduct and explain the consequences of such actions.
    • Absenteeism Policy – spell out the expectations for all employees and establish a system for measuring and dealing with absenteeism.
    • Overtime Policy – express when and how overtime will be allowed, documented and compensated.
    • Work Impairment Policy –outline the rules surrounding alcohol and drug consumption in the workplace.
    • Conflict of Interest Policy – state what constitutes a conflict of interest and when the consequences may be if the employee is found to be in a conflict of interest.
    • Telephone and Network Use – communicate to employees that the use of computers and phones are for business purposes and that employees should not have any expectation of privacy in the use of company owned technology.

    In addition to the policies noted above, your handbook should cover other relevant information needed by employees as part of their daily work life, such as your dress code, pay periods, holidays, vacations, sick days, leaves of absences, employee benefits, performance appraisals, workplace violence and harassment and other pertinent housekeeping issues. These policy templates can be found in the Resource Center of our website.

    Lastly, employers should make the handbook accessible to all employees. This can be done on your company’s intranet, a portal, company computer, by having a printed copy available in the lunchroom, with supervisors or in the office. We recommend providing new employees with a copy of the handbook during their orientation to help them become familiar with your organizational policies and procedures.

    Don’t Have An Employee Handbook?

    We make developing an employee handbook easy. Visit the Resource Centre of our website to create your own handbook today! This handbook can be accessed at any time from the My HR Files page.

    Got a HR Question? Ask the Experts!

    Do you have an HR question or workplace concern? Our team of HR experts is here to help! Additional support can be provided to you via the OnDemand feature at anytime. Contact us today at 1-855-237-0110 or signup for Free Trial !

    What You Need To Know About Temporary Layoffs April 01 2015

    During times of economic hardship, it is common practice for employers to lay off employees; however, some employers are unsure of their legislative requirements during the temporary layoff process. Below we will go through what is required of employers in each jurisdiction.
    In general, a temporary layoff is when an employer cuts back or stops the employee’s work, but does not end their employment. During a temporary layoff, an employee is still employed with your organization. The employee is only considered to be terminated if and when the layoff exceeds the maximum temporary layoff timeframes, as set out in the legislation. This is important because in the event of a temporary layoff, termination notice is not required until the temporary layoff becomes a permanent layoff.
    The length of time that a temporary layoff can last differs by province. There are two main ways in which layoff duration is measured. The rolling period is the amount of time (days or weeks) within a rolling or consecutive period. The other way to measure is the number of days, regardless of the timeframe in which it occurs.
    Severance and termination payments will not be owed if you recall an employee before the stated maximum timeframe for a temporary layoff, in any jurisdiction. Should an employee refuse to return to work upon being recalled, they will be considered to have quit and would not be entitled to notice payments; however, they may still be entitled to vacation or other accrued benefits. If you fail to recall an employee before the maximum deadline, they are considered to be permanently laid off and will be eligible for notice payments (termination and, if applicable, severance pay). In order to effectively calculate payments, you must determine the effective layoff date (varies by jurisdiction).
    Visit the Resource Centre of our website to find sample letters relating to layoffs by provincial jurisdiction.  As with all sample letters you will find in this section, you will want to revise it in order to suit your specific circumstances.
    In Alberta, a temporary layoff can last up to 60 days. The layoff can exceed the 60 day maximum if the employer agrees to continue to pay the employee, or make pension or group benefit contributions on their behalf. Alberta also allows for extensions to be made to layoffs up to 12 months if the collective agreement allows the employee to retain recall rights during the layoff.
    Employers are not required to give notice of the layoff to their employee(s) as long as they are recalled by the recall date. If the layoff is to last longer than the maximum timeframe, the employee is considered to be permanently laid off and termination notice or termination pay is required. The effective date of termination would be the day after the temporary layoff period ends (i.e. 60 days).
    British Columbia
    In British Columbia, temporary layoffs can last up to 13 weeks in any 20-consecutive week period. A layoff can be considered any week where the employee earns less than 50% of their weekly wages, at their regular wage, (as a result of reduced hours worked in that week), averaged over the previous 8 weeks.
    Employers are not required to give notification of a lay off as long as employees are recalled by the specified date. If the temporary layoff exceeds the maximum deadline, the employee will be considered to be permanently laid off and termination pay or notice is required. When determining termination pay, the effective date of termination would be the first day that the layoff began.
    In Manitoba, a temporary layoff can last up to 8 weeks within a 16-week period, and employers are not required to provide notice of the temporary layoff. The layoff can exceed the 8 weeks if the employer agrees to continue payments to the employee, or make pension or group benefit contributions on their behalf. If layoffs are regular and recurring in the business, employers can extend past the 8-week duration, as long as employees are notified that it is the nature of the business upon hire (i.e. seasonal construction work). If the layoff exceeds the maximum deadline, employees are considered to be permanently laid off. When determining termination pay, the termination date is the first day layoff began.
    New Brunswick
    A temporary layoff can last up to 6 days and notice of the temporary layoff is not required. If the layoff is to exceed 6 days, or is due to a lack of work which the employer does not foresee, employers are required to give employees who have continuously worked for a period of 6 months or more at least two 2 weeks’ notice of the layoff.  In New Brunswick, employees who are laid off for more than 6 days are not considered to be permanently laid off, as the employer must explicitly terminate the employment relationship.  When calculating termination pay, the day of termination is considered to be the day the temporary layoff began.
    Temporary layoffs can last up to 13 weeks in a 20-consecutive week period; however employers must notify their employees of the layoff in writing.  The notice period for the layoff ranges from 1 to 6 weeks, based on the employee’s length of service. If the employee becomes permanently laid off by exceeding the temporary layoff deadline, termination of the employee is effective the first day the temporary layoff began.  Termination pay is then calculated based on length of employment.
    Northwest Territories
    Temporary layoffs can last no longer than 45 days in a 60-day period. The temporary layoff can be extended by an Employment Standards Officer under special circumstances, if the employee is recalled within the time determined by the Officer.
    Employers are required to give notification to their employees of a temporary layoff, as well as specify an expected recall date. If an employer fails to give notification or if the layoff exceeds the timeframe permitted for the temporary layoff, the layoff is considered to be a termination. When determining termination pay, the effective date of termination is the last day of the temporary layoff.
    Nova Scotia
    Temporary layoffs can last up to 6 consecutive days before the layoff becomes a termination of employment. Employers are not required to notify their employees prior to a layoff as long they are recalled by the specified date. When determining termination pay, upon exceeding the temporary layoff deadline, the termination date is considered the first day of the temporary layoff.
    Temporary layoffs can last no longer than 45 days in a 60-day period. The temporary layoff can be extended by a Labour Standards Officer under special circumstances, if the employee is recalled within the time set out by the Officer. Notice of the layoff is required by employers prior to temporary layoffs and an expected recall date must be specified. If a temporary layoff exceeds the permitted time frame then termination pay would be owed.  When determining termination pay, the effective date of termination is the last day of the temporary layoff.
    In Ontario, temporary layoffs can last up to 13 weeks in a consecutive 20-week period. A layoff can be time not worked, or if an employee is earning significantly less than their regular earning. In Ontario, “significantly less” would be if the employee were earning 50% or less than they would ordinarily earn in a week, as a result of a reduction of hours.
    A temporary Layoff can be extended under the following circumstances: the employee must continue to receive substantial payments from the employer, the employer must continue to make benefits payments on behalf of the employee, if the employee receives or is entitled to receive supplementary unemployment benefits or if the employee is recalled within the approved time frame. The extension cannot exceed 35 weeks in a 52-week period.
    Employers are not required to give notice of the layoff prior to a temporary layoff as long as employees are recalled by the specified date. Should the layoff exceed the maximum deadline, the employee’s employment is considered to be terminated. When determining termination and severance pay, the termination date is considered to be the first day of the temporary layoff.
    Prince Edward Island
    In P.E.I., employers are required to provide notice to employees who have worked continuously for 6 months or more if they are terminating or laying them off. Notice of a temporary layoff of less than 6 days is not required. If the layoff exceeds the 6 days, then termination pay is required. When calculating termination pay, the effective termination date would be at the start of the layoff.
    In Quebec, a layoff temporarily suspends the contract of employment between the employer and the employee. In other words, a laid off employee may be called back to work. The employee retains his employment relationship for the duration of his layoff and the contractual relationship is maintained. An employee who is laid off for a period of 6 months or more must receive, within the time periods stipulated in the Act, a notice of termination of employment. 
    In Saskatchewan, layoffs can last up to 6 consecutive days and employers have a responsibility of providing written notice to their employees, who have worked more than 13 consecutive weeks for the employer, prior to a layoff.  If the layoff is to exceed 6 days, termination notice or payment is required.  Since layoffs and terminations are treated the same, the effective termination date would be at the start of the layoff.
    In the Yukon, temporary layoffs are permitted to last up to 13 weeks in a 20-week period. Notice of a temporary layoff is not required prior to the beginning of the layoff. The temporary layoff can be extended under special circumstances by order of the Director of Employment Standards, as long as the employee is recalled prior to the extended recall date. Should the layoff exceed the maximum deadline, the employee is considered permanently laid off and termination pay would apply. When determining termination pay, the termination date is the first day of the temporary layoff.
    Under federal jurisdiction, layoffs can last up to 3 months, or 12 months if mandatory under the collective agreement. A layoff can exceed the 3 months maximum if the employee is notified in writing that he/she will be recalled and the recall date does not exceed 6 months after the date the layoff began. The employer must also agree to continue to pay the employee, or make pension or group insurance contributions on their behalf to extend a layoff beyond 3 months. Under Federal jurisdiction, extensions can also be made to layoffs, up to 12 months, if the collective agreement allows the employee to retain recall rights during the layoff.
    Employers are not required to notify their employees of a layoff that lasts 3 months or less. If the layoff is to extend past 3 months, but not exceed 6 months, the employer must notify the employee(s) in writing and inform them of their recall date. Should a layoff exceed the maximum timeframe, they are considered to be permanently laid off. When determining termination pay an employee is deemed terminated on the date the layoff began.

    Another Shocking Instance of Violence in a Canadian Workplace May 28 2014

    The alarming news out of Nanaimo, British Columbia is that a shotgun-toting man who walked into a sawmill earlier this week and opened fire, shooting four employees (two of them fatally), is a former employee of the sawmill.

    This news comes less than one month after a former employee of a human resources software firm walked into a Toronto office building wielding a knife and proceeded to attack his former co-workers, stabbing four of them.

    These horrifying instances serve as sobering reminders of the need for Canadian organizations to ensure that they have sound policies and procedures in place related to the prevention of workplace violence, and that employees are well-trained on them.

    You may in fact have a legislative requirement to do so.  Many Canadian jurisdictions – including Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and those regulated by the Canada Labour Code – have regulations specific to the prevention of violence in the workplace.  Even where there is not specific workplace prevention legislation in place, all Canadian jurisdictions have occupational health and safety legislation that includes a provision requiring employers to generally protect the health and safety of employees, which could apply to circumstances of workplace violence.

    Let Humaniqa help you put policies and practices into place to meet your legislated obligations, and better ensure a safe working environment for your employees.


    About the Author:

    Ehren Baldauf, CHRP, is the Vice President of, a national comprehensive web-based business solution that supports small and medium businesses in managing their human resources. Ehren is a Senior Human Resources Consultant with over nine years of HR experience. Ehren is experienced in assisting clients in both the private and public sectors manage their human resources function and aligning it with their organizations’ strategic objectives. Whether it’s providing expert advice on matters such as attendance or performance management, developing compensation strategies, or working with employers on labour relations matters such as collective bargaining, Ehren’s expertise and guidance has allowed countless business owners and managers to focus more of their energy on their business, while knowing that they are well supported when HR challenges are encountered.

    If you don’t like it, leave! – Amazon’s strategy to improve employee engagement May 28 2014

    One of the most popular buzz terms in human resources over the past decade has been “employee engagement.”  Countless studies have presented the positive co-relation between employee satisfaction and organizational performance.  Intuitively, this makes sense.  Employees that are engaged in their work are likely more motivated and more committed to their employer, and therefore more likely to be focused on driving organizational performance. Disengaged employees are the opposite – they drag down those around them, and all the metrics associated with high performing organizations get dragged down as well (customer service, sales, quality, attendance, productivity, retention, etc.). 

    Stories of companies taking unique steps to encourage buy-in of their employees are prevalent.  From Google, who is renowned for having one of the most employee-friendly work environments and takes great pride in listening and responding to employee suggestions, to Zappos (an online shoe and clothing retailer), who has spent a reported $350 million to develop a community for its employees to work, live and socialize in. 

    Even small businesses (those that aren’t investing $350 million in building entire communities for their employees) have jumped on the trend, by working hard to ensure that they have created a culture where employees are empowered and challenged by their work, where employees are able to readily connect their individual contributions to the success of the organization, and where employees feel supported by management.

    Regardless of the approach that one takes to achieve a more engaged workforce, effecting a change in culture takes significant time and energy.  Much of the effort is often spent attempting to convert employees that are actively disengaged in their work, to those that are engaged and driven to help the company, and themselves, succeed.  Often, a significant portion of actively disengaged employees, despite the best efforts of their employers, simply cannot be converted.

    It was likely this type of thought that led Amazon to their most recent program aimed to increase employee engagement, or as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos terms it, “employee empowerment.”  Last month, in an annual letter to Amazon’s shareholders, Bezos writes:

    "Once a year, we offer to pay our associates to quit. The first year the offer is made, it’s for $2,000. Then it goes up one thousand dollars a year until it reaches $5,000. The headline on the offer is “Please Don’t Take This Offer.” We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay. Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company."

    This concept, which Bezos claims to have borrowed from Zappos, is interesting in that it recognizes that there is likely a greater return on investment by incenting unhappy employees to leave, than there is in attempting to turn around people that simply do not want to be there and are not committed to the company. 

    While such a strategy may not work in isolation, any creating an environment where a greater proportion of employees are more committed to the company, is likely to have an overall positive impact.


    About the Author:

    Ehren Baldauf, CHRP, is the Vice President of, a national comprehensive web-based business solution that supports small and medium businesses in managing their human resources. Ehren is a Senior Human Resources Consultant with over nine years of HR experience. Ehren is experienced in assisting clients in both the private and public sectors manage their human resources function and aligning it with their organizations’ strategic objectives. Whether it’s providing expert advice on matters such as attendance or performance management, developing compensation strategies, or working with employers on labour relations matters such as collective bargaining, Ehren’s expertise and guidance has allowed countless business owners and managers to focus more of their energy on their business, while knowing that they are well supported when HR challenges are encountered.

    Changes to Criminal Record Checks Coming Into Effect November 30th in BC November 11 2013

    Criminal record checks to be free for volunteers in British Colombia as of November 30th, 2013. This will be of great assistance to many volunteers who are required by law to obtain criminal record checks due to the nature of their work with children or other involvement in the vulnerable sector.

    The province of B.C. will now be assuming the cost of the verifications currently costing approximately $20. Representatives of the government have stated that the changes are intended to show support and appreciation to the volunteers and to allow non-profit organizations to better focus on providing great services and programs to members of their communities.

    You may be wondering how the province intends to mitigate the added costs of the criminal record checks for volunteers. The cost for employees requiring verification of criminal records will rise to $28.

    Whether other jurisdictions intend to make similar changes to criminal record verification programs remains to be seen.

    Customer Service AODA Style - Now It's Law! October 03 2013

    Customer Service (AODA)

    The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005 is legislation that mandates how businesses and organizations provide accessible services to community members with disabilities. The goal of the AODA is for Ontario to be fully accessible by 2025. To fulfill this goal, a series of standards will be enacted and organizations will be required to meet accessibility standards as outlined in the AODA.

    As of January 2012, all organizations with one or more employees that provide a good or service to the public must have the Customer Service Standard in place. Compliance with this standard involves a written policy as well as employee training.

    For organizations with 20 or more employees, there are certain requirements:

    • On-line reporting on the Service Canada (check this) website
    • Documentation of policies and procedures
    • Policy has to be posted
    • Notify customers that documentation is available upon request (i.e. posted, or on website) that takes into account the person’s disability

    There are four basic points or issues for employers to address in order to comply with the regulations.

    1. Establish policies, practices, and procedures
    2. Establish a training program and train staff
    3. Establish a feedback process
    4. Prepare and complete documentation

    Organizations need to make sure they have the ability to receive feedback from the public.  The process for providing feedback needs to be made available in a variety of methods, for example, prepared forms in large print, email, etc. Any complaints received must be addressed in a timely manner. All feedback must be recorded and filed and be available for the ministry, if requested.