Embrace Diversity, Let Go of Your Anger

Victoria 2017Recent events have given me the opportunity to remember just how much I cherish and value diversity in our society. I am astonished that in 2017 we find ourselves having to remind others, including those who are supposed to be our role models that regardless of our differences in this world, it is our commonalities that bring us together. It is our compassion, which has been described as unconditional love that can allow us to see through the veil of hate clouding the minds of those who are unable to let go of the pain they chose to carry within. I have asked myself recently, “how is it that people in 2017 can come to feel so passionately about something that is clearly not in the best interest of our communities?” “What hurt are these people clinging to that is placing a mask over their eyes causing them to be blind to the amazing achievements we as human beings create when we work together towards a common goal?”

Then it occurred to me, it is because some people are clinging to a story that they truly believe is the truth. Something has likely occurred in their lives to present them with this twisted point of view and so, they have become lost. In my lifetime, I have also realized that even when people become misguided and have lost their direction, more often than not there is still hope. Sometimes, the ability to change the social framing of events so that others might be willing to listen can happen in just a single conversation. In other cases, it can take years of dedicated work to shift the balance and give opportunity for alternative perspectives to be understood. Clearly, there is much work we still have to do as a society to ensure that the perceptions we create bring joy and inspire others to pursue a path that perpetuates a sustainable, healthy and loving society for all. But I have hope that it can be achieved.

To do this, we have to break down the barriers that prevent us from understanding each other. We need to let go of the painful past that we burden ourselves with and we need to forgive those who have wronged us. We should learn from our past rather than allowing the wicked to perpetuate the cycle of abuse that breeds discontent. We need to be critical of what we have been taught, and ask ourselves the following more often, “How does this perspective strengthen our society?” and let me be clear that when I use the word “society” I do not mean some form of fraternity, cult or faction of people. I define our society as a community of human beings that inhabit the Earth. “What have we done to inspire love rather than hate?” and when I say love I speak of the general sense of caring that is appreciated by all.  “How have we behaved today to bring hope to others where perhaps it was beginning to fade?” because hope is what can motivate others to achieve greatness. “In what fashion have we demonstrated love for ourselves and love for the communities that we serve?” because the easiest way to inspire others is to act as a role model that they aspire to imitate. And the last question we should ask ourselves more often is “In what way have we ensured that seven generations from today we will be remembered as someone who cared about a sustainable future for everyone?” because our world is a fragile giant that is slowly withering away, and we as a human race won’t survive without it.

If you are angry, let it go before it breeds hate and causes the suffering of those around you and from within. Then be the change that you want to inspire in others, because if nobody starts, then nothing will change.

Do you value diversity in our world?

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Balance and Sustainability

World in balanceRecently I’ve given pause to consider the notion of balance and sustainability which led me to consider our future; all of us. I thought I would share with you some thoughts.

If you consider the rate at which technologies change and the world conforms to these changes, you must have hope. We as a people who have hope for a better world already have the motivation that we need to act so that we can make this a reality.

I envision like most other things on earth a lifecycle will take place if not by our choice, then perhaps through the natural consequences of the choices we make. Eventually the world will succumb to the need to behave in a more sustainable manner, it will require people to learn to see past our differences and focus on the commonalities we share. Through history people have shown that when humans act in the interest of a common goal, that remarkable feats can be achieved.

I believe our needs will be focused on renewable resources rather than the finite resources we currently use. I believe growing food in one’s own home will become more popular and perhaps vital to sustain our food supply in a sustainable fashion. Or perhaps there is potential in the market for indoor, climate controlled agri-solutions in order to amplify the food supply and reduce the amount of chemicals that are required to deter pests and unwanted weeds. I believe people will respect the limited natural resources we have left and eliminate unhealthy habits that contribute to the demise of our planet and bodies such as buying bottled water. We as a people will end such unhealthy habits and purify that which nature has already provided for us.

I believe transportation will utilize more sustainable means of construction and the fuel will be some form of electrical power. I believe we will recognize value in sustainable development of walk-able neighborhoods so we can reduce our carbon footprint and reduce the amount of individual transportation that would be required. The development of such sustainable models of living would improve our use of existing infrastructure and improve the social interactions that exist within our communities. The possibilities of such a sustainable way of living are at our doorsteps, we have but to open the door and embrace the changes that are needed to implement them.

I’m not suggesting we all become bicycle riding, tree hugging, organic vegans who live in communes. What I am suggesting is that we all in our own individual ways decide to take one action to promote a better way of living. For instance, I’ve chosen to no longer support the purchase of bottled water. Studies have shown it is less healthy than tap water, it pollutes our earth through the creation of the plastic bottle it is packaged within and it removes vital fresh water resources from our rivers, lakes and underground wells that can no longer be used as nature intended them. I live and work in an area that has clean drinking water available, so the need to purchase what is already available at no additional cost simply does not make sense to me. My hope is that I am not alone in this endeavor and through this; I can hope that 7 generations down the road clean water will be available for future generations to come.

Let’s recognize that sometimes the consequences of our actions today may not be realized until years to come, but it is our choice as individuals to decide how we wish others to remember what actions we take and why we take them. I believe people will reclaim the power to make the world a better place by recognizing it is the everyday people like you and me whose actions guide the decisions that get us there. I have hope that a better future is possible when we as a people decide to no longer support the destructive systems which will lead to our demise.

Let us recognize that words will not lead us forward, action is needed and it is only through our actions that we will be judged by those who live through the legacy we leave behind. So I ask you, what have you done to promote balance and sustainability in today’s world so you can be remembered 7 generations from now as someone who made a difference? What have you done today to give others hope and inspire them to build a sustainable and healthy future?

Posted in Human Resources, Sustainability | Leave a comment

Recruitment: Going the Distance

IMG_20160904_180957.jpgWhether you are new to recruiting or perhaps you have been recruiting for the last 15 years you will have to agree that recruitment is different today than it has been in the past. Today we have such a unique market in comparison to any in history.

Today’s work environment has four generations of workers all working together with a fifth generation on the way. We have a global economy that affects us even if we are a simple local business that doesn’t venture out of our urban centers. With globalization we have an increasing competitive environment for jobs and talent. We have the ability to communicate with the world in ways we never would have considered in the past. Today’s recruiter must extend themselves beyond what is considered traditional and breathe innovation if they are to be successful.

When you are the recruiter who has been charged with hiring for locations considered some of the more remote places on Earth there are many challenges that you are required to meet. This requires you to wear many “hats” in order to succeed in hiring the right person not just for a job, but for a community.

Increasingly it is shared with us that there is a growing shortage of talent in many industries. In fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, education or even retail it can be difficult to fill these positions in a cost effective manner. Finding people who are willing to modify their lifestyle to meet the needs of a remote community can diminish the number of applicants quickly.

Some places exist in harsh climates such as the arctic. When traveling above the tree line you are faced with an environment sometimes described as a frozen desert. It can be – 50 °C in the winter with snow storms that can bring your visibility to zero. The other extreme could be when you are tasked with finding candidates to work out in a tropical jungle village tucked in an area only accessible via a hiking path. In secluded areas such as this it is often difficult to obtain supplies and at times there may be limited communication via phone or internet. Such lifestyles choices are not for everybody. Such examples are often in communities that are small and a lack local resources with the appropriate skills to hire from. A challenge that is difficult for any recruiter to overcome.

A lack of infrastructure and housing can also be a challenge when hiring in remote locations. Some communities in the world are only accessible via plane, boat or by foot. In such cases, you may have to consider if the applicant has a genuine fear of flying. If the only way to enter the job location is by plane, it is unlikely the applicant would be comfortable accepting the role.

What if the applicant has a serious medical condition and there is no hospital in the community? What if the applicant has teen aged children but there is no high school in the community? These are all circumstances the recruiter needs to make the applicant aware of before a decision can be made. Failing to inform an applicant about such things could result in the applicant choosing to accept a role only to find later that they aren’t able to live in the community or inadvertently have put their safety at risk.

If an applicant does accept a role, sometimes the challenge is finding a place for the employee to live. Housing in remote communities can be scarce at times. Or perhaps the housing that is available isn’t up to the same standards the applicant is accustomed to so they refuse until more suitable housing can be found or created. In some organizations its the recruiter’s role to manage these types of challenges. Will the company have to rent, lease, buy or build a place for its staff to live?

Not being able to find local talent can be incredibly challenging. Finding someone who was raised in an environment where things such as roads are taken for granted then asking this candidate to physically seclude themselves from the world outside is a hard thing to ask of someone. From the candidate’s perspective accepting such an endeavor is not a simple either. The person’s adaptability to a variety of circumstances whether emotional, physical or social has to be strong.

Living in these remote environments requires new recruits to make incredible lifestyle choices. Customs in the local communities may prohibit them from socially behaving in a manner they are accustomed to. In my experience I have learned some communities restrict drinking alcohol which we would consider normal social behaviour in Winnipeg.

At times communities restrict outside professionals who come to service the community from developing romantic relationships with anyone in the entire community. You can imagine for young professionals wanting to help and make a difference in a community how challenging that can be. They are restricted to live without the possibility of companionship sometimes for years.

One way organizations have tried to manage the potential pitfalls is to seek couples or groups who would like to work in these communities together. Unfortunately it is expensive to relocate one person to a community for a role, but the cost of relocating a whole family or group of people can be much more.

This is why people who recruit for positions in remote communities often end up in a long and tedious recruitment process. This becomes a process where “fit” and “emotional intelligence” is considered to rank above having the right education and experience. Of course there are some cases where this isn’t an option. You can’t hire a person who wants to take a crack at being a doctor who was not educated or licensed to do so.

Whether an applicant is choosing a role in a remote location for the money, for the experience or for the adventure it is vital to be as transparent as possible. Without this transparency the organization could spend a lot of money in recruitment, training and relocation costs without a return on the investment.

It’s vital for recruiters to be transparent regarding the role, the benefits, the community and any challenges associated to them. The applicant in turn should be questioned and should be honest about their expectations, their concerns and any challenges they may require assistance with in order to make sure their personal safety and well being are considered appropriately.

Do you have other suggestions that can assist people in recruitment or would like to share your thoughts regarding what I’ve written, then please leave a comment.

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Goodbye 2016, onward to a “A New Hope”

Colin Finlay, CPHR, 2016“Clinging to a situation that brings nothing but despair and it doesn’t matter how hard they try to navigate troubled waters eventually all they can see around them is jagged rocks. The rocks are waiting for the moment where a mistake would be made and sharks are swimming in the waters waiting to feast on what might come. Eventually it’s realized however; that it is forces beyond their control creating these troublesome waters and pushing them towards those rocks. The only way to be put at ease is to abandon a crew and a vessel that they care for in order to ensure they can return home to those they love in peace. They are reminded that sometimes you can’t always solve the problems created by outside forces and letting go of it all is required to spare what’s most important, friendship, family and health.

The winds of change help them escape, they gazed over the rails of this doomed ship that was without the required competence at its helm, eventually to find a path that leads to calmer waters and a new vessel brought to them by chance that could carry them forward.”

2016 has been a year of tremendous tribulations and triumphs all of which have lead to this moment; the moment where I contemplate what has been learned in order to usher in a new year filled with hope.

Similar to the exert above I found myself in a situation that required me to let go in order to move forward and find the balance in life that I let slip away. I was reminded in 2016 of a lesson I learned so long ago; you may not be in control of the environment around you, but you are always in control of your choice to stay.

There have been many occasions where I have spoken to others about work-life balance. Many times, I have read fantastic articles about steps to achieve such a thing in the workplace. One thing that is often overlooked however is that on occasion you need to recognize it can only be achieved by walking away.

To those who offered me their ear, their patience and their wisdom this year, and you already know who you are, I say thank you.

2016, was a beast in so many ways. Creative icons of a generation “became one with the force” throughout the year. People whose craft of song and storytelling always left people inspired or at least in silent contemplation about how they could relate.

We also have seen a dramatic shift in the political spectrum that will most certainly have an impact on the economy from both a macro and micro perspective. All the ways in which these changes impact us at home have yet to be realized. Or as it was once stated by Edward Lorenz in his study related to the theory of chaos, “When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”

To me, 2016 was like a ball of chaos that rolled through my life, but it wasn’t the first time, and I’m sure it likely will not be the last. After all, the definition provided by the Oxford Dictionary on Chaos Theory, “… complex systems whose behaviour is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.” I can only imagine this would only enhance the probability that additional times of chaos will follow those which have been overcome.

But it wasn’t the Oxford Dictionary that brought me to contemplate this recently. Disney’s new Star Wars movie, “Rogue One” was what inspired me to consider what “alterations” where left behind by 2016 and envision the possibilities of what those “strikingly great consequences” might be. I then realized this film was what lead us directly into the story of George Lucus’ 1977 movie, “Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope”.

So, what alterations did I come up with? Here’s a few:

The birth of my son. Watching him come into the world, the sleepless nights and even sleeping on the floor of the hospital was a welcome reprieve from the overwhelming chaos that awaited me beyond that hospital room door.

Two of my daughters started school this year, and one started high school. I can’t explain the joy and the fatherly pride I feel when I come home and listen to what they have learned. The excitement they demonstrate when they come and tell us about their day, or the good grades they are getting.

A new focus in my learning plan with acceptance to a program at the University of Winnipeg, through which I will continue to develop both professionally and personally.

A national change in the human resource designation once known as CHRP, is now known as CPHR. This change represents the ever-evolving nature of my profession.

A new job with which comes new leadership and new friends as well as the opportunity to learn about an industry that is also new to me.

Most importantly the supportive and loving relationship with my wife, it is altered by growing stronger with every obstacle we overcome.

My final thought about 2016 is this:

2016, with all the tribulations you brought I will endeavour to learn from them what I can to make better the years ahead. I will celebrate the triumphs that were achieved and grow stronger the relationships that bring a positive influence in my life.

I am happy to see the end of 2016 because from it comes 2017 which in my mind is an era of renewed hope.

Happy New Year everyone, and as it is often said in the Star Wars stories, “May the force be with you.”

Posted in Human Resources, Wellness | 2 Comments

Medical Documentation – Let’s get it right!


Colin Finlay

“There is no better feeling than knowing what you do matters.” – Colin Finlay

An employee comes forward and tells their manager that they have a note from a medical professional…

In my experience this is how what should be a simple conversation often turns into an emotionally heightened state of confusion. Let me illustrate how this happens.

  • Medical professionals typically write a medical certificate that illustrates what solution they believe is in the best interest of their patient’s physical or mental health. For example: “Unable to work from [date] to [date].”
  • Employees often come forward with the impression that whatever the doctor has written must be adhered to, while at the same time and understandably so, prefer not to disclose details related to what was written on the paper supplied by the medical professional.
  • Managers at times are left in a state of ambiguity, uncertain of what to do with the information the medical professional has provided on the documentation, and at times with good reason question the validity of what was written.

Countless times I have seen this scenario unfold not because the employee is trying to manipulate a system that is designed to help people get back to work and not because a manager isn’t sure what to do with the information that was provided on the medical certificate. The reason for all the confusion is most often because the wrong information is being provided by medical professionals.

In today’s world very little privacy is left for people, but when it comes to medical information we can count our lucky stars that under most normal circumstances this information has legally been protected. In most circumstances a person is not required to disclose a medical diagnosis to anyone unless they decide they want to. The reality in the context of “accommodations in the workplace” is that people shouldn’t have to. Employers simply don’t need this information to assist someone in the workplace or through a return to work plan.

It’s also my experience that most medical professionals don’t seem to understand what information they can provide. So in light of not understanding what information they can share, they simply more often than not write down operational directions for employers explaining what the employer should do for the employee/patient. Unfortunately the reality is also that medical professionals don’t dictate the operational functionality of every business in existence, nor do they have the contextual understanding of every position to make such uninformed decisions.

Perhaps medical professionals focus so heavily on what not to write, they don’t get enough practice writing the information they can share?

I’m not sure what the root cause of this is, but I do know that this consistent lack of understanding between employees, employers and medical professionals is troublesome and causes increased levels of stress to everyone without need. It also robs time away from the medical professionals who could be helping someone else rather than re-writing a note that needs clarification because a patient is upset in their office. It’s frustrating for everyone.

In the interest of helping everyone understand how we can all help each other allow me to clarify some differences between a diagnosis, a restriction and a solution for the general purposes of medical documentation for employment purposes:

  • Diagnosis – This is the actual medical condition that the employee/patient has been found to be facing. Examples may include the following:
    • Broken leg
    • Depression
    • The flu
  • Restriction – This is a limitation related to the diagnosis that may prevent an employee/patient from functioning at full capacity both in and out of work. Examples may include:
    • Must keep leg elevated when seated. Unable to stand for periods greater than 20 minutes without sitting for 1 hour.
    • Must not work in isolation for more than 2 hours at any given time. Should be allowed 3 periods of at least 15 minutes of natural light within an 8 hour period.
    • Must have bed rest for extended periods through the day for the next 5 days.
  • Solution – This is an idea that should be discussed between the employer and employee to overcome the restrictions that have been put in place by a medical professional. It should take into account both the medical restrictions of the employee/patient and the operational requirements of the position(s) in the employer’s organization. Some solutions may include:
    • Unable to come to work or the employer could provide a leg rest for the employee when they are seated and ensure they do not stand for periods more than 20 minutes in length without being able to sit for 1 hour in between these periods.
    • Unable to come to work or the employer may situate an employee in an office space to ensure the employee/patient is not left in isolation. During the employee’s coffee and lunch breaks they should also make an effort to go outside in order to get periods of natural light that are needed.
    • Unable to come to work or … well sometimes it might just be best to not come to work.

So what should a medical professional include on the medical certificate? The answer is restrictions and only the restrictions.

A medical professional should not be sharing the diagnosis of their patient. This information is protected through legislation in most areas, but also, it just isn’t relevant information needed to work towards a plan to help a person stay or return to work.

Nor should a medical professional write what their opinion of what a potential solution might be. While they may have a good idea, they do not have the contextual understanding of the work environment, nor do they understand what possible accommodations may be available. It’s irresponsible to make such an uninformed decision and set the stage to contribute to higher levels of stress for everyone involved.

When employers and employees/patients understand what the restrictions are, this can lead to productive discussion to meet the needs of everyone. An employer may be able to assist someone continue with work and lessen the burden of time away without pay. An employee/patient may be able to remain in a social environment which has been shown in studies to enhance the healing process for most people. Meanwhile, medical professionals would have more time to assist people with more urgent needs than re-writing medical documentation until it is “deemed satisfactory to the employer.”

So next time you find yourself seeking the advice of a medical professional and asking for a medical certificate for your employer, remember to ask them to write down the specific restrictions related to the circumstances being faced.

Posted in Employee Relations, Human Resources, Wellness | Leave a comment

Don’t Recruit Like a Wallflower, Get Out and Dance!

I'm no Wallflower copyRecently I’ve been given the challenge to pause and consider my experience in recruitment and what I’ve come to realize is that in some ways this aspect of the Human Resources profession is not given the credit that illustrates the challenges of actually actively scouting and recruiting talent. This is something I think in today’s North American labour market will become a vital component to the success of organizations and impact society in ways beyond simple economic measures.

The concept of attracting talent is going to take a new turn. With a growing gap in the number of jobs available and the people who are qualified to fill them organizations are going to need to seek talent in ways that fall outside their traditional spectrum.

By traditional I mean this:

  • Analyze the job; what does the job do, and what KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) are required to perform the job successfully
  • Create and post an ad hoping that talent exists that may be interested in working for you
  • Collect resumes from those who are interested and begin screening them
  • Interview your short list and evaluate your top candidates via reference checks
  • Make and/or negotiate your offer to the most qualified candidate
  • Onboard the successful candidate into the organization

The challenge that we face with traditional means of recruitment is that we count on a hiring decision to be made based on the talent that is actively searching for work. In other words, we are waiting to be noticed like a wallflower at a Jr.High dance hoping that someone will want to dance with us. Is this really how we are going to find the top talent in today’s competitive market? I remember Jr.High and how competitive it was when everyone wanted to dance with “that person”. I also remember how those who sat on the bleachers waiting; often ended up listening to the music all night, not dancing.

While the traditional methods described above are certainly what I would consider a good hiring process, I don’t really consider waiting for something to fall in your lap, “recruiting”. Pushing some paperwork, placing some ads and asking a few questions don’t mean that you are going to end up with the top talent on your team or as Jim Collins might say in the famed book From Good to Great, “Getting the right people on the bus”. Imagine if the top sports teams out there waited to see which hockey, football or baseball talent were interested in playing for them; would some of these teams even be able to compete? No, they wouldn’t. Some of these organizations have to bend over backwards to attract the talent they have in order to just get in there and play the game.

Too many organizations out there have faltered over the years by relying on their marketing, without considering how they are going to close the sale. The difference between a good hiring process and recruitment comes down to sourcing top talent, and building lasting relationships. It’s selling the benefits of working with your organization so people can understand why they would be better off working for you than any of your competition. It’s about getting out there and talking to people about the culture that exists in your work environment so both of you can make a decision about the prospects that are before you. Most importantly, it’s about always being on the lookout for talent that may show itself at any time in any number of ways and then recognizing when to seize the opportunity to convince the talent to consider a career with your organization.

I recall a time when I was tasked with recruiting over 200 technically inclined people in a 7 month period of time. There was no way that simple job ads would suffice. I put on job fairs and attended career fairs but they just weren’t bringing in enough talent on their own, I had to do more. Determined to meet the targets that were in front of me I found myself in a state of mind that I describe as “always on”. It so happened that during a hot summer day in Winnipeg I decided to head out to a local convenience store to purchase some slushy drinks as a form of recognition for how hard my team was working. I brought trays of drinks up to the cashier who greeted me with the most amazing attitude I had ever encountered at the store.

He was kind, courteous, and articulated himself incredibly well. He tried upselling other products at the counter, by providing examples of complementary items that might go well with the drinks I was purchasing. Then he offered to help carry the trays to my car. That’s when I knew there was a person in front of me who valued the provision of an exceptional customer experience, which was a key aspect of some of the roles I was trying to fill. I asked the person, “Do you know anything about computers by chance?” He then indicated that he did and in fact was once a computer engineer in the country he originated from. That’s when I handed him my card and let him know about the positions we were hiring for. I learned in that instant that he also had a family and so I spoke to him about the benefits available through the organization and explaining all the ways this organization values family and the events that provide opportunity for families to share in our success. I then suggested that he consider learning more about us on our website and encouraged him to come in and run through our technical testing.

A few weeks later, I found myself in front of this same person, having made it through the technical testing, the preliminary screening and a phone interview; he was now sitting in front of me for a final interview. By the end of that interview I knew we had found some amazing talent that would perform well in our organization and who would also appreciate the opportunity we were about to give him.  Had I not recognized the talent at the time I was buying slushy drinks for my team, we may not have been so fortunate as to have him become part of it.

It’s easy to buy a book online based on the synopsis you read; maybe you test it out by reading a test chapter and read some of the reviews of others who have read it. In essence you are buying based on some very superficial information, but would you buy a car in the same way? Not likely. When making an investment of this magnitude a relationship is often formed. Most people will go to a multitude of venues sourcing the vehicles they are interested in, but also evaluating the trust they feel with the sales person, the integrity of the product and service available, and testing, thinking, and coming back. Sometimes the talent we run into behave the same way about organizations they may be interested in working for.

This is another advantage to “recruiting”. When you run across talent in the world you aren’t in a position where you have to make a decision right away like in my previous example. In some cases you may meet someone who sparks an interest, but perhaps only enough to make you curious. Opening a line of communication is what helps both parties decide if joining the organization is the right decision. Sometimes time is required to understand what the needs of the talent are that you are sourcing and likewise they may need time to decide if there is benefit to joining the organization. The late Stephen Covey might describe this as “finding that win/win,” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

I recall another situation when someone was introduced to me by a friend at a restaurant late in the evening. The party I was with was just waiting to be seated, and she was just leaving. We had a few moments of conversation where I was able to learn that she did similar work to what I was recruiting for. I was compelled by my desire to meet our targets to ask if she knew anything about us, or had ever thought about applying with our organization. I learned she had not lived in the city for long and didn’t actually know much about us. Then the hostess informed us that we were about to be seated and we parted ways, but before she left I handed her a business card and suggested that should she like to learn more about us she should call or visit our website.

She was certainly someone who definitely did her research before making a decision. Over a number of phone calls I answered questions about our organization and the roles we were currently trying to fill. I spoke about the different benefits to working with us and the hiring process that would be required of her to ensure she met the criteria for any role she was interested in applying for. Then the call came where she indicated she thought a particular role was interesting, but because we couldn’t guarantee a particular set shift, she thought it would be best to stay where she was. I’ll admit, I was disappointed; but then I asked, “why” the set schedule was so important to her. She explained that her current schedule allowed her to work a second job occasionally.

The conversation took on a new life. After she let me know how much she would earn and how many hours she would work at both jobs I was able to determine that a role with us, would actually allow her to earn more on a full time basis with us, plus allow her some degree of work life balance.  A week later I learned that she had applied for an advertised full time role. Given my ongoing conversations with her, I recused myself from the process and had a colleague of mine interview her. If this person was going to work with us, I wanted her to know it was because she was qualified, because she deserved the role, not because she had spent time speaking to me. I later learned she would be joining us. In my heart I knew not only would this be good for us, but would also be good for her and as time went by she excelled in the organization; I have to admit, I like it when I’m right.

As Human Resource practitioners move forward; the practice of building relationships with people and understanding how to align the needs of our organizations and the needs of top talent in industry is going to be a vital component in recruitment. If you haven’t considered how vital it is to ensure your existing staff act as ambassadors to your organization then you may already be falling behind the competition. In a time when many organizations are looking for more efficient and cost saving ways of running the business, don’t lose sight of the value of the people that fall in the cross-hairs of doing so.

Do you think your business could benefit from a more active recruitment strategy?



Posted in Human Resources, Recruitment | Leave a comment

Exploiting Young Workers is Wrong

IMG_0505Recently I had the opportunity to read an article in The Winnipeg Free Press by Brianna Heinrichs called “Labour Laws are hampering our youth

Some of the points in the article were interesting and it is understandable that restricting the age of workers under the pretense of safety or the need to complete homework does not make sense. In the end however the solution about moderating wages dependent on the age of the worker seems to be an attempt to justify the exploitation of children in our labour force.

Moderating wages based on one’s age is wrong for a few reasons. A clear reason is that it would allow employers the ability to use child labour to offset its regular work force. If an employer can pay an employee less money to do the same work legally, they will. They will find ways to hire as many people they can within the constraint of the labour market to decrease their expenditures on salary and increase their profits. If they didn’t do that, then I can only imagine that some shareholders might be left wondering why the management are not acting in the best interest of the shareholder which simply means ensuring those same shareholders maximize the return on the investment they have made. That is the purpose of business above all else, profits.

Another reason is that moderating wages based on a worker’s age flies in the face of Human Resource best practices. Pay equity and parity cannot happen if you are paying people differently dependant on their age for the same job. You might find a youth is just as inexperienced in a role as an adult and in an age where seniors are being hired often into their “retirement careers” outside of areas where they have experience it doesn’t make sense that you would pay youth less.

Legality of such a system also presents challenges from the perspective of human rights. How can one argue that moderating one’s pay based on their age is not discrimination on the basis of age? What bone-fide occupational requirement would require that a youth be paid less for the same work someone older was doing? How is making the argument that because youth are living with their parents they don’t need a “living wage” not discrimination based on family status? The answer, it isn’t. It might be prudent to also point out that plenty of youth do not live with their parents.

Where the article did have merit however was in regards to discussion surrounding what age is appropriate for youth to enter the workforce. It is inconsistent to allow youth to perform work in a family business or in agriculture but then to say their friends of the same age could not assist as an employee because the work is deemed to be unsafe or that it prevents them from doing homework.

For instance in Manitoba the age of 12 is commonly considered to be the age where it becomes appropriate to allow youth to begin babysitting children younger than them without adults being present. One might wonder how it makes sense that legally a 12 year old youth can legally be put in charge of the wellbeing of children for an entire evening, yet they are considered too young to show a person to the table at a restaurant.

Are youth hampered in the job market today? Yes they are, but the solution is not a change in regulations that prevent the exploitation of children. Youth need to find ways to gain experience either in the type of work they are interested in, or if that isn’t possible, then gain experience in transferable skills that can be used to increase their marketability. How they do that may be left to their own imagination.

Do you think youth deserve a fair wage like anyone else?

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