Let’s think back to 8 years ago, where Facebook was not yet a household name, Twitter was non-existent, and LinkedIn was only just starting to become established. It’s amazing how much can change in less than a decade. Since then, the use of social media has exploded. Facebook now has over 1 billion monthly active users, Twitter has an average of 58 million tweets a day, and LinkedIn has become a central networking tool for over 200 million professionals worldwide. Because of this, social media has also successfully weaved itself into the workplace.
From employees posting negative things about their employers on Facebook and Twitter, to a discussion about the ownership of your social media connections, the news has been flooded with countless stories about social media and its impact in the workplace.
"FIRE ME...Make my day"
In a recent case, a woman was involved in a group discussion with some of her fellow co-workers on Facebook where she ranted about her employers and pleaded to be fired. Well, let's just say she got her wish. One of her colleagues took a print-out of the rant to her managers and she was promptly fired.
The employee then sought the help of the National Labour Relations Board claiming that she had been fired in retaliation for protected concerted activity. It was decided that she was not entitled to proceed with the case. (Source)
Situations like this have been plastered all over the news in recent years. From elementary school teachers posting inappropriate photos of themselves on Facebook, to frustrated employees ranting about work in their status updates, some people have little to no discretion when it comes to what's posted on social media. This case just goes to show you some of the consequences that can come from that and the importance, as employers, of having a social media policy in place. Check out one of our past blogs on the topic.
Social media for recruitment and selection
The relationship between the workplace and social media is not always a negative one however. More and more, employers are using social media to their advantage - not just as a means to connect with their client and prospect base, but as a means to bring top talent into the workplace.
Social networking sites expand the once limited options for recruitment and selection. Many employers use these sites as tools to recruit candidates who might not normally apply.
In a recent survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a number of interesting statistics surfaced around the relationship between social networking websites and the recruitment and selection process. Here is some of the data that was pulled:
Owning social media content
"Who owns the social media content created and maintained in the course of employment? Work product is traditionally the proprietary interest of the employer. But there’s something different about social media content." Source
When it comes to the connections you make on LinkedIn, the relationships you form with potential clients, and the networks you form while in an occupation - who exactly owns those contacts? Do they belong to the employee on the LinkedIn account or to the employer? That's the debate.
Most would agree that the key purpose of LinkedIn is to either generate business in your current occupation (increase your employers client base) or to generate business and connections for the next position (networking). Yes, it is true that the network developed an nurtured by an employee on a LinkedIn account is a crucial tool for them to have in their career, but it is also true that employers have a good reason to assert a proprietary interest over its customer list. So which is it?
The LinkedIn User Agreement is between the individual and LinkedIn. This means that, despite the "proprietary interest" argument on behalf of the employer, all connections made ultimately belong to the employee. Traditional standards have been shaken up by this rise in social media - something that testifies to the importance of being up-to-date with all the changes.
One thing has been reaffirmed after all these cases and debates surrounding social media - the importance of implementing social media policy in your workplace.
This hot topic is one we will cover in our Employee Policy Manual learning session held in September 2013. Visit our website for more information.
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Things were looking hopeful for the Leafs as they entered into the third period with a 4-1 lead against Boston. This is the team that, against all odds, made an incredible comeback in the series and made it to the long-awaited game seven. Leaf fans everywhere held their breath as the clock ticked away. Suddenly, Boston came back with three unanswered goals – leveling up the score to 4-4. Overtime. At this point, fans were on the edge of their seats, biting their nails, scared to blink. The win that seemed to be just within grasp was slowly slipping away. Six minutes into overtime and it happened – Boston scored the winning goal.
There was a noticeable lull at the Clear Path lunch table the following afternoon. Claims consultant and die-hard Leafs fan Kelly Auld felt it the most: "My initial emotion when Boston scored was anger – how can they give up a 4-1 lead in 10 minutes only to lose in overtime? That emotion was quickly replaced with heartbreak – realizing that I no longer have a team to follow in the playoffs." Players and fans alike both felt the aftermath of the devastating game seven loss.
What do you do when a similar situation is experienced in the workplace? Whether your team has just lost a large contract or you’ve had to make significant layoffs in one department, there’s no denying that these situations have negative repercussions on employee morale.
The significance of morale
According to sociologist Alexander Leighton, “morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.” Organizations that are plagued with low morale tend to experience lower levels of productivity and engagement, and higher rates of turnover and absenteeism. You can pretty much chalk it up to higher morale = happier workforce.
Re-building morale, where do you start?
So your organization has just suffered a recent defeat and employee confidence and morale is quickly decreasing. What do you do? Developing a strategy for these types of situations can help to make a difficult time like this easier. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Make communication central: Making an increased effort to go around and speak with each of your employees is crucial during a time of defeat or loss. Giving everyone accurate, clear, and timely information about what is happening also helps to eliminate the spreading of rumours which can have a huge negative impact on morale.
Build confidence through empowerment: Employee confidence can take a huge dive when suffering a company loss – whether it is a failed project or a lost contract. For this reason, it is crucial to re-build that confidence as quickly as possible to keep morale and productivity up. One way this can be done successfully is by empowering your employees to make more decisions – push them towards challenging but achievable goals, offer more autonomy, and encourage creative thinking. Investing in your employees and helping them to improve their skills also helps to create a higher sense of security and commitment to the company. Be sure to offer opportunities for continual learning and development.
Appreciate employees and celebrate the positives: Recognizing accomplishments in the workplace, both large and small, helps to make employees feel appreciated and valued. Something as small as leaving personal voicemails, short notes of encouragement and feedback, or spontaneous snacks and socials can do wonders when it comes to boosting employee morale. Establishing attainable goals that will earn quick wins will boost confidence quickly and has the power to completely change the attitude in your workplace.
Losses happen - it’s how you respond to them that makes the biggest impact. Regardless of the situation, there’s always something that can be learned or gained from defeat. Clear Path consultant Kelly Auld had these last words about the Leafs-Boston game:
After those feelings of anger and heartbreak after the loss, my final feeling was one of pride – for such a young team to perform as well as they did, when everyone said they wouldn’t have any chance of making the playoffs, was amazing. They crawled back from a 3-1 series deficit when everyone expected them to be swept in 4 games. At the end of the day, I love this game, I love this team, and I bleed blue. What they demonstrated is what playoff hockey is all about.
Do you have any HR related questions? Clear Path is here to help! Contact us and one of our consultants will get in touch with you: http://www.clearpathemployer.com/contact-us.html
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Let’s be honest. As HR professionals, we’ve all probably seen our fair share of oddities in the workplace. From unusual employee excuses for missing work (see blog) to other hilarious mishaps, some workplaces are anything but boring. Over the past couple of months, the news has been flooded with stories of ridiculous happenings within the workplace. Check out some of the craziest ones of the bunch:
Resignations - they're a piece of cake!
For most of us, resignations are far from being all fun and games. British man Chris Holmes appears to believe otherwise. He informed his bosses of his leaving by baking a large white cake with his resignation letter scrolled across the top in black icing.
The cake read: "Today is my 31st birthday and, having recently become a father, I now realize how precious life is and how important it is to spend my time doing something that makes me, and other people, happy. For that reason I hereby give notice of my resignation, in order that I may devote my time and energy to my family, and to my cake business."
Holmes, also known as "Mr. Cake", left the company on good terms (cake tends to have that effect on many people). He even managed to squeeze in a plug for his up and coming business!
New Jersey teacher fired for urinating in class
Yes, you read that title right. Last month, elementary school teacher Ron Tuitt, who had been teaching at the same school for more than 15 years, was fired for "inappropriate behaviour".
He was accused of two things: urinating in the classroom garbage can while his students waited outside and multiple occasions of urinating in a plastic bottle and having his students flush the contents in the bathroom.
Tuitt, who is in a wheelchair, denied the second accusation but did admit to urinating in the classroom garbage can. He said that a lack of accommodation when he had a urinary tract infection made his actions necessary. In response to this, he's filing an appeal of his termination and a discrimination lawsuit against the Paterson school district. Read more about the case here: www.nbcnewyork.com
His first day on the job couldn't have gone any worse...
It's safe to say most people get the first-day jitters when starting a new job. Unfortunately for A.J. Clemente, his first day turned out worse than most.
Clemente was starting as a news anchor for KFYR-TV in North Dakota and, as his colleague was introducing him, he didn't realize the camera was rolling and his microphone was on. Completely oblivious to being on the air live, he is seen sorting through notes on the table and swearing. You can watch the awkward video here: www.businessinsider.com/iowa-news-anchor-gets-fired-on-first-day-after-swearing
“That couldn’t have gone any worse,” Clemente tweeted after the Sunday evening broadcast. He was immediately suspended, and was later fired. Talk about a rough first day.
Boss assigns his child's homework to employees
I bet you've never seen "complete my child's school work" in a job description before. A boss in China made headlines last month after assigning the homework of his 12-year-old daughter to his employees.
The initial news report on the story stated that NINE workers were tasked with completing the school project. Students were asked to study the hometown of their parents and make note of the changes that had happened over the past decades through pictures, videos, or an essay.
One of the workers on the project said this wasn't the first time they had been asked to help with school homework. "We stayed up late for two nights," he said. "The girl was quite demanding. She only needed to do one of the four options, but she insisted on doing them all, without actually getting involved herself in any way." Wow.
Man wrestles a shark and is fired from his job
Paul Marshallsea, a 62-year-old man from Great Britain, was named a hero after wrestling a shark away from children on an Australian beach (Source). The courageous act was caught on tape and quickly became a viral sensation (You can watch the video here). However, shortly after this happened, the man was fired from his job.
Turns out him and his wife took a two-month sick leave from their jobs due to work-related stress. When his employers saw the video of him wrestling the shark, they felt that the couple had been dishonest and fired them.
Part of the letter to the couple read: "Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way".
Marshallsea argued that him and his wife had gone on holiday at the advice of a doctor, who said that a vacation might help relieve stress. I can't imagine shark wrestling helped with that...
There's no denying that the workplace can be home to some interesting situations. If you have any unusual workplace stories of your own, please share it with us in the comments section below:
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Fans of the daytime drama The Young and the Restless (Y&R) were saddened to hear about the death of Emmy award winning actress Jeanne Cooper, who has played the iconic role of Katherine Chancellor since 1973, at the age of 84.
It also highlights the complications involved in managing the loss of a key employee in any organization.
Cooper’s death creates a unique dilemma for the producers of Y&R. Katherine Chancellor was front and centre in the show’s storyline and the actress appeared in nearly every episode. This was quite an incredible feat for an actress in her 80s and a wonderful role model for senior citizens everywhere. Her character has faced numerous challenges over the years, including a battle with alcoholism, an on-screen face lift, several marriages, and of course an ongoing feud with Jill Foster Abbott.
We suspect that the producers had a contingency plan in place in the event of the death or illness of the elderly actress, even though we can imagine some very awkward and perhaps macabre meetings on the subject. Since her character was so central to the show’s story lines, it would be difficult to explain a sudden disappearance.
Some scenarios could include:
Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeanne Cooper and her family. We thank her coming into our homes for nearly 40 years and entertaining us with her incredible portrayal of this iconic character.
Other TV programs have had to face the loss of a key cast member:
Who shot J.R. (Pt. 2)
The “rebooted” version of TV’s Dallas had to manage the death of Larry Hagman, who played villain J.R. Ewing, from cancer in 2012.
Producers told Entertainment Weekly that they were aware of Hagman’s health issues but his death was still unexpected. They re-edited previously shot material to have J.R. speak with his son on the telephone from a Mexico hotel when his character was shot (again, remember “Who Shot J.R.?”). His character died off screen. In addition to an onscreen funeral, the producers also created a special tribute to the actor with a modified version of the show’s theme song and opening credits.
What will happen to Miss Ellie?
The original version of Dallas had to deal with the death of actor Jim Davis in 1981, who played J.R.’s father and the show's patriarch, Jock Ewing. His character was sent to South America and died off screen.
Farewell to mother of all nasty mothers
Revered character actress Nancy Marchand, who played Tony’s twisted mother Livia on HBO’s The Sopranos (she put a hit on her son for putting her in a nursing home), died in 2000.
Her death caused the producers to rewrite significant plans for her character (including testifying against her son in court). Notably, producers even controversially used special effects to film a hospital scene between Livia and Tony (James Gandolfini) prior to her off-screen death.
We'll miss you, coach
TV’s Cheers lost actor Nick Colasanto played beloved “Coach” Ernie Pantusso, to a heart attack in 1985. NBC aired one remaining episode with the actor (with an on-screen dedication) and later had Coach die off-screen.
Newcomer Woody Harrelson took his spot behind the bar and later went onto a successful film career.
Aren't these supposed to be comedies?
Several sitcoms had to handle the very unfunny loss of key actors, including:
Preparing for the loss of a key employee
Every business owner knows that certain employees have a disproportionate importance to their success and they are not necessarily limited to the executive suite. Managing the risk of unexpectedly losing a key employee (whether they retire, take a position elsewhere, win the lottery, or are hit by a bus) is critically important. Risk management techniques can include:
If you would like assistance in managing the loss of a key employee or any other HR situation at your workplace, please contact Anna at (519) 624-0800 or email@example.com.
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There have been a number of HR-related controversies surfacing in the news lately (check out our blog on the Yahoo WFH debate). With university and college students now finished final exams and looking for summer work, it seems fitting that the latest controversy under the spotlight is that of unpaid internships.
More and more, students and recent graduates are turning to unpaid internships as a means to kick-start their careers. The idea behind these internships is that they provide real-world experience that allows young people to network themselves, get reference letters, and learn about the industry they are looking to enter into.
These types of internships are common practice in some of the more competitive industries such as journalism, fashion, politics, and technology. In these industries, finding full-time paid work is extremely challenging and candidates need to be able to boast practical experience and the ability to hit the ground running in order to secure a promising job.
Teachers are fighting for a spot
We're seeing something similar happening in the teaching industry right now. With literally thousands of teachers' college graduates fighting for a small number of available positions, many are "volunteering" their time in order to gain experience and develop relationships with the right people.
In one case, a married teacher in his forties decided to volunteer full-time for a school in Georgetown for an entire year. This was a serious financial sacrifice for his family. Luckily, the volunteering paid off and he was offered a full-time position the following year. However, not all stories like this have such a happy ending. Is this a realistic option for most people?
Paying to work...for free?
Believe it or not, some recent graduates have even been paying to take part in unpaid internships through organization-led auctions. Right now on charitybuzz.com, a 6-week internship working for United Nations with the NGO Committee on Human Rights is being auctioned off to the highest-bidder. Right now, the bid sits at a whopping $26,000!
HootSuite under scrutiny
This entire unpaid internship controversy was sparked back in April where Vancouver-based tech start-up HootSuite began receiving negative attention on social media networks around their use of unpaid interns:
According to the Employment Standards Act for British Columbia, it is illegal for companies to hire unpaid interns who do work that benefits the company, unless it is a requirement for completion of a school program. After receiving mainstream media attention, HootSuite reviewed their program, found they were not in compliance with the Act, and ended the practice. They also paid out all current and previous interns.
Back in Ontario, Toronto City Councillor Ana Bailao (left) also found herself in a similar situation after she advertised an unpaid internship in her office. She was forced to withdraw the offer soon after as online controversies ensued.
As more and more cases begin to surface and the number of organizations using unpaid interns increases, it’s becoming clear that there is widespread confusion over an employer’s legal obligations when it comes to internship positions.
So what's the deal? Are unpaid internships legal in Ontario?
Canadian employment standards are not explicit when it comes to interns. When it comes to Ontario, the Ministry of Labour has released a fact sheet on the legality of unpaid internships. According to the MOL, the word “intern” is actually just an industry term and it does not hold any significance when it comes to determining how you are paid.
In most circumstances, if you are performing work for another person or company and are not in business for yourself, you are considered an employee and are covered under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). However, there are some exceptions.
6 conditions that must be met for legal unpaid internships:
If even one of these conditions is not met, the intern is deemed to be an employee under the Employment Standards Act and, among other things, is entitled to at least minimum wage. (Source: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/internships.php)
Get Compliant. If you are an employer that is currently using an unpaid intern, hopefully this clears up some of the uncertainty around who is and who isn’t exempt from the ESA. When it comes to being fully compliant with all legislative obligations, Clear Path is here to help and make it a stress-free process for your organization. With recent legislation like the AODA and Bill 168, even the most patient business owner can be sent over the edge. Contact us for information about our workshops and DIY packages: firstname.lastname@example.org
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We've enlisted Clear Path HR Assistant and recent graduate, Karleigh Buist, to discuss the importance of maintaining employee files and the risks involved in not having sufficient documentation. Click here to learn more about Karleigh and her role here at Clear Path.
During my 4 years at Wilfrid Laurier University, I had the opportunity to work in a couple of different workplaces as part of the co-op program. With that, I had the chance to learn about several different types of workplaces and how their Human Resources departments worked. During my four month co-op work term at a large auto-manufacturing facility, there were strict policies and procedures set in place by the Human Resources Department. Employee files were no different. Everything had to be documented - from an applicant’s resume and educational documentation to all health and safety training information.
This experience taught me about the importance of documentation and the role it plays in both the Human Resources department and the company as a whole. Just when you think you've documented enough, document some more! Without documentation, a company can run into issues surrounding hiring practices and federal or provincial mandatory training. Both of these examples can help companies avoid many frustrating headaches down the road.
What about small businesses?
My experience working for a large, well established company has been contrasted with working with clients who own small businesses. While some have traditional Human Resources departments, others rely on external services providers like Clear Path to guide them along the way. For some small businesses, the belief is that creating and implementing procedures around the hiring and orientation process can be complicated and time consuming. I have come to realize and understand that although it can seem like a daunting task; these elements become critical in insuring a company’s due diligence.
Smaller employers especially can get caught on insufficient documentation when considering termination for cause for example. In situations such as this, not having a great paper trail will make terminating an employee with ongoing performance issues, next to impossible.
According to the Employment Standards Act of Ontario: All employers in Ontario are required to keep written records about each person they hire. These records must be kept by the employer, or by someone else on behalf of the employer, for a certain period of time. The employer must also ensure that the records are readily available for inspection.
Let's get practical
In order to ensure that your employee files are up to date and include all necessary information, establish a time to review them annually. For many, it is easiest to let this coincide with an employee’s annual performance evaluation. It is important to establish this routine to ensure that you identify any missing documents or information before the whole process becomes overwhelming.
Remember, your personnel files should only include relevant information. For example, an employee file is not a place for every note, document or thought about an employee rather keep a log if necessary for conversations or to document isolated incidents. There are a few key documents that should be included, without a doubt. These documents include, but are not limited to:An employee’s resume and/or application
Although this list is by no means fully comprehensive, it does represent some of the key documents that will help protect you and your company in the future.
Don’t know where to start with your employee files? A Clear Path consultant can review and identify missing documentation as well as help you set up procedures to ensure this practice is maintained in future. Once a procedure is set in place, you will have a documentation system that will be easily available when the time comes to make decisions on discipline, promotions, layoffs, or to complying with government audits. A little prevention and preparation ahead of time, can hedge a lot of headache later!
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We've all heard the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" tossed around on more than one occasion. But is that really the case? I think it's safe to say it's not for employers.
According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder, 3 out of 10 workers call in sick when they're not actually ill. These numbers also happen to increase around holiday season (surprise, surprise!). This makes December the most popular month to call in sick according to surveyed employers. Runner-up goes to July, with the second most number of people calling in sick.
Check out some of these outrageous excuses shared by real employers:
My personal favourite is "My toe is stuck in the faucet" (I don't even want to know how that one happened...). However, while these are all hilarious excuses, they also present a serious issue for employers.
Almost 30 percent of employers check up on their employees to verify that the illness is legitimate. This can be done by requiring a doctor’s note or even calling the employee later in the day to see how they are doing. Some employers have gone to more extreme measures to check up on employee with 18 percent having other employees call a suspected faker and 14 percent driving to the employee’s home. Statistics reveal that 17 percent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse. (Source: CareerBuilder)
Alternate work arrangements - the key to success?
With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about prevention. So what are some ways you can reduce unexpected employee absences in your workplace? Consider establishing an Alternate Work Arrangement program. This can help boost overall morale and even reduce employee absence.
There are several options when considering an alternate (or flexible) work arrangement:
These are just some of the most common alternate work arrangements. You can alter them in different circumstances to help employees balance their work, personal, and family responsibilities depending on the situation. By introducing more flexibility into the work week, you reduce the likelihood of hearing those ridiculous employee excuses listed above. Employees are happier, morale is lifted, and “I swallowed too much mouthwash” no longer needs to be used as an excuse to miss work.
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