“No good work goes unpunished” ….

…. said a friend of mine in a moment of pure frustration a while back.  The thought returns to me now and then – this time in regard to Canada Post’s suspension of the super box program.  Their great change management process couldn’t prevent the backlash around home delivery.  Pity!

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Canada Post – Change Master!

Up until last week we have had home mail delivery.   Now we are picking up our mail from a super-box about a block away.

Canada Post has done a magnificent job of preparing us and our neighbours for this change. We received our original notice about it early this year. Over the last 8 months we’ve been provided a process map and ongoing status reports.   About a week before we started using the super-box we were provided an information package about it along with our keys.   Our postal delivery person was well informed about the process and timing; provided information and answered questions.

A couple of days before we started using the super-box we happened upon the Canada Post team who were checking the postal box assignment to addresses and their master list. They spent a few minutes chatting with us about the service change indicating the positive attributes of it and letting us know that no one at Canada Post was losing a job as a result of the service change and that individuals who were not able to get to the super-boxes would continue to receive home mail delivery.

All in all the management of this change was handled perfectly. We were informed early about the change, were provided with great information over the months between notification and implementation and the service providers we regularly interact with were well informed and shared information well.

Over the years Canada Post has been one of those organizations we’ve loved to grumble about.   This is not our old Canada Post and we couldn’t be happier.

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(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Organizational Satisfaction surveys are intended to provide information about whether the company is successfully creating a work environment in which employee expectations are adequately fulfilled.   The underlying assumption is that satisfied employees will be more productive overall and less likely to leave the organization.

In essence, satisfaction surveys are being used as a proxy for trying to understand how to engage employees in the work they do and in the mission and goals of the companies they work for.   Engagement – the state of employee involvement desired by companies – is not the same as satisfaction and identifying it requires different metrics.

The craving for engagement expressed in this verse of Satisfaction:

He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

Engagement produces creativity, productivity and both emotional and mental commitment.  Engagement is “being in the zone”,  or “a state of flow1” which becomes possible when there is a balance of a high level challenge and skill, clear purpose, immediate and unequivocal  feedback and concentration on the work.   Intrinsic satisfaction is exceptionally high when an individual is engaged.

Building an Engaged Workforce is an HR Trend that has been around for a while and is likely to stay for some time because studies have indicated that when people are genuinely engaged (not just satisfied), productivity and profitability increase, shareholder value increases and attraction and retention of key talent improves.

(1 A State of Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his seminal work on work, motivation and happiness describes the condition as “a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation.)

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Why a Workforce Strategic Plan?

Earlier this month Statistics Canada told us something we had already figured out – the unemployment rate was up – not a lot – to 7% from 6.8% last month. In Alberta the unemployment rate has risen to 6% up from 5.2% at the same time last year. 7% unemployment means that 1.35 million people who want to work do not have jobs.

Along with the national 7% unemployment rate we also have a national Job Vacancy Rate (the share of jobs that are unfilled) of 2.6% or roughly 400,000 jobs.     We have a Dependency Rate (proportion of the population that is older than 64 and younger than 15) of about 47% – which means that we have 1.12 people of working age for every 1 person who is not.

Population projections indicate that at the end of 2015 or into early 2016 there will be more people in Canada over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 15. Our average age is 41.7 years old and we are getting older.  Canada’s baby boom began in 1947 – our oldest boomers are about 16 months shy of turning 70. The youngest boomers, born in 1966 are turning 50 in 2016. The peak of the boom, born in 1959, will be turning 65 in 2024. Every year from now until then an increasingly large number of people will be leaving the workforce and there will not be as many new workforce entrants.

Today, 67% of all job openings in Canada require post secondary education and even though Canada is among the global leaders in higher education only 51% of working population between 25 and 64 have post secondary education. A major business concern expressed by Canadian CEOs is the challenge in finding and keeping the talent required for business success.

These factors

  • An unhealthy unemployment rate coupled with a significant number of vacant jobs;
  • The loss of knowledge and skills as the boomers leave the workforce and a smaller number of people who are and will be joining the workforce;
  • the gap between the proportion of jobs requiring post secondary education and people who are acquiring it;

indicate a need for every organization to develop and implement a strategic approach to workforce management.

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Strategic Employee Development

Every now and then my husband shares an HR related story, joke or news tidbit he sees with me.

The other day he shared this with me:

 A CEO, talking with her leadership team,  said, “we need to increase our education and training programs to ensure our staff have the best skills in the industry.” 

One of the team responded with, “That is going to cost a lot.  What if we spend all that money and the staff leave?”  The CEO responded with “What if we don’t and they stay?”

What struck me was the thinking behind the team member’s response.   That lack of understanding about the connection between development of people and achievement of business results is not unique, which brings me to the point of this commentary.   Employee development of all types needs to be one of the key strategies associated with business goals, and that strategy needs to have the same type and level of expectations for results as any other business strategy.

A good employee development strategy:

  1. Is directly aligned with both short and long term organizational goals
  2. Provides a long term objective for development across all work units and employee levels
  3. Is focused on shared employee and organizational needs
  4. Sets specific expectations for the employee development results
  5. Sets specific expectations for the business improvement outcomes
  6. Tracks the results achieved for all expectations
  7. Holds individuals and the organization accountable by evaluating improvement in productivity and profitability
  8. Celebrates success and starts again.

Of course, the risk that an organization’s well trained and skilled staff will attract attention from industry competitors is high and provides some good potential for upcoming blogs.

Interested in discussing this and other related HR topics?  Join me for the @CatalystHR Tweet Chat on Monday September 28 at 10 am (MST).

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The Mysteries of Technology

Today, for the second time in two days, I am wondering about what is most likely a completely basic matter with respect to technology use.  A  challenge for small practitioners who use external tech support services  for network and hardware support is the other tech support we need – where can we get the software and general knowledge support. So, here I am wondering about how to manage the new anti-spam compliance requirements and,  if this comment will show up in my own blog or in a blog I follow (yes I  really am a neophyte blogger!).  Tomorrow researching the bigger question.  Today – a simple answer – looked at the preview and sure enough, it appears on my own website.



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Compassionate Care Leave


Earlier this year (February 1/14) with the implementation Bill 203 the Province of Alberta’s, Employment Standards Code now contains provisions for Compassionate Care Leave for Employees.

What is Compassionate Care Leave?

Compassionate Care leave is a leave that can be taken from work to care for a gravely ill family member who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

How Much Time Does the Employer Have To Provide for Compassionate Care Leave?

Up to eight (8) weeks leave.  The eight weeks of leave may be split into two sections and must be taken within a 26 week period.

Does the Employer Have to Pay the Employee for Compassionate Care Leave?

No. The leave is unpaid leave.  Six (6) weeks of EI benefits may be available for some employees.  The employee will need to check  with Service Canada Employment Insurance in regard to eligibility.

What Other Requirements Exist For Employers?

  • Employers are required to provide the leave on a job-protected basis which means that the employee must be able to return to their same or a comparable job with all of the same earnings and other benefits the employee had prior to the leave starting.
  • Employees cannot be dismissed or laid or off when on compassionate care leave.

What Are the Requirements for Eligibility for Compassionate Care Leave?

  • Employees must have worked for at least 52 weeks for their existing employer to be eligible
  • Employees must provide their employer with a certificate signed by the attending physician regarding the grave condition of the family member and his/her need for care by one or more family members
  • The employee must be the primary care giver of the ill family member
  • The employee must give the employer two weeks’ notice unless there are circumstances that necessitate a shorter notice period. 

What does  Family Member mean?

Under Compassionate Care Leave, a family member is:

  • the spouse or common law partner of the employee,
  •  a child of the employee or employee or the common law partner,
  • a parent of the employee or spouse or common law partner
  • any other person who is a member of the class of persons designed by the regulations including   grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and other relations including person who the employee considers to be like a close family member whether or not related by blood for whom the employee has the  primary responsibility for providing care or support
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