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Written for: River City Recruiting & HR Inc. by Riley Witiw
What’s the best way to deal with workplace harassment? As an employer, harassment threatens both your business and your employees. Therefore, effective human resource management is critical to prevent and manage incidents when they arise.
But, what do I mean by harassment?
The Alberta Government defines workplace harassment as a single or repeated incident of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group.
If unchecked, harassment results in an unhealthy workplace, which can impact your bottom line:
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) warns of increased absences, turnover, stress, costs associated with employee assistance programs, and accidents, as well as decreased productivity, morale, and image.
Here we present five human resource tips to minimize your liability while ensuring harmony in your workplace:
1. Develop a comprehensive harassment policy
To prevent workplace harassment, the CCOHS recommends that you communicate your management commitment through a written policy with several essential characteristics:
- Developed by management and employee representatives
- Applies to all levels of personnel
- Defines and provide examples of harassment
- States your commitment to preventing harassment
- Encourages employees to report all incidents
- Outlines the confidential reporting process, investigation procedure, and consequences for breaching conduct
- Commits to provide support services to victims
- Commits to monitoring and regularly reviewing policy
These policies should be made available through reference in an employee handbook or manual.
2. Promote your workplace policy
According to a survey of 1,349 Canadians conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada, 76% of survey respondents acknowledged their workplace had a sexual harassment policy.
But there’s a problem:
Only 43% received any training on the policy.
This statistic indicates the need for more human and financial resources dedicated to raising awareness about rights regarding harassment. Your workplace may need to promote related educational materials and training opportunities actively.
39% of the respondents noted such a campaign would be a useful tool in making them feel safe and secure in the workplace.
3. Ensure all international employees know their rights
The law firm, MLT Aikins, relates that internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers are vulnerable to harassment because they often don’t know their rights and are afraid of being deported if they are unemployed. Therefore, if your company hires internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers, educate them on how to identify and report workplace harassment.
This education is especially vital for visible minorities, as Employment and Social Development Canada found they are more likely to undergo harassment than other groups. Educating international employees reduces their potential work-related suffering and limits your legal exposure in cases where harassment potentially goes unreported for an extended period, due to their limited knowledge on the subject.
4. Enforce a social media policy
You are legally obligated to provide your employees with a safe workplace, whether it’s in the office or online. Social media has wide-reaching implications that can expose you to some operational and legal risks, including harassment. However, you can mitigate this risk through a social media policy. MLT Aikins notes an effective policy defines the appropriate use of social media, informs employees you will monitor their online activities, and describes the consequences for breaching protocol.
5. Remove obstacles for employees who report incidents
In a healthy workplace, employees are empowered to report harassment and receive a resolution. However, three-quarters of respondents in the Employment and Social Development Canada survey who experienced harassment faced obstacles from their employers while trying to resolve their incident. Additionally, these obstacles dissuaded 25% of those who suffered harassment from reporting their conflict.
By following these three simple steps, you can avoid creating roadblocks:
- Take harassment complaints seriously
- Initiate workplace investigations
- Do not retaliate against employees who file harassment complaints
The health and success of your workplace depends on the steps that you take to deter and resolve harassment, such as developing and promoting a harassment policy, educating foreign workers, making a social media policy and removing obstacles for employees who report incidents.
Written by: Janet Hueglin Hartwick
For many leaders, the most uncomfortable message to communicate is ‘no’. Watching a person’s face fall as they’re told something they don’t want to hear is never pleasant. But, if you work in human resources or public relations (aka communications) chances are you’re comfortable handing out disappointing news like Tic Tacs after a spicy meal. It can be a challenge for colleagues to understand why HR and communications staff seem to butt their way into other departments’ business. It’s not always understood both professions require its practitioners to do what’s best for their organization, not just their own department. Sometimes mistaken by colleagues as the ‘fun police’, here’s a light-hearted look at the challenges these corporate cousins have in common.
Three Reasons HR and Communications Practitioners Are Misunderstood
1. You enforce rules your colleagues don’t understand
Common sense doesn’t always win the day if you’re talking with someone in HR or communications. Both professions are guided by industry specific rules and professional standards which are not well known and can, at times, seem unnecessary.
HR leaders are expected to be on top of ever-changing legal precedents and they have the unenviable task of asking leaders to follow new processes and procedures, often resulting in more work for their colleagues. They must ensure their organizations stay in compliance with a myriad of employment standards and labour laws. Similarly, communication professionals actively enforce a number of best practices when dealing with the media or sharing external communications. Well known for being persnickety when it comes to the written word, PR practitioners are required to follow the Canadian Press (‘CP Style’) guide used by journalists. This quirky guide is full of rules that go against common sense, making it a regular occurrence for practitioners to tell senior leaders “Sorry, I know it looks wrong but we have to write it that way.”
2. You look like you’re “kissing up” to the boss
It’s easy for HR and PR professionals to look like they’re campaigning to be employee of the month. To do their jobs well, these leaders need to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening across the organization, not just in their own departments. HR and communication practitioners are known for being ‘in the know’. This is why top management tend to stop by to chat. Savvy leaders, especially those who travel frequently, appreciate the chance to catch-up on what’s been happening while they’ve been away. It’s also common for members of the leadership team to seek out human resources and public relations for their advice. Seasoned leaders appreciate the value of a gut check from their HR or communications practitioner before making an important decision. Many of these discussions are time sensitive and confidential so they happen behind closed doors which can be confusing to leaders in other departments who don’t have this type of relationship with management. Nor do they realize there’s a good chance the boss is actually receiving a word of caution.
3. Some of your best work is a secret
HR and communication professionals see people at their most vulnerable. In times of crisis, these practitioners are able to put their personal feelings aside to offer compassion and guidance to those in need. Leaders make mistakes and it’s often the HR or PR team members who make things right again. How do you quantify the value of an HR leader who stops a colleague from accidentally giving an employee a case for constructive dismissal? Or the communications professional who writes a letter to “further clarify” and tactfully override a catastrophic mistake that was included in a previous letter signed by the top leadership? Much like a member of a covert military operation, the facts of what happened (including the hard fought victories) usually remain classified. The bad news is keeping these events confidential furthers the misunderstanding of how critical HR and communications are to an organization.
I admit there was a time in my career that I envied what it must be like to work in finance. Have you ever watched a financial update be delivered to a leadership team? It’s pretty amazing. Everyone pays attention, some get out their calculators and there are always questions. Communications, and I suspect HR, are not capable of engaging leaders in the same way as finance, sales or even marketing. We often live up to the nickname the ‘fun police’. We say ‘no’ a lot, we tell people what they don’t want to hear and we appear inflexible. But, we also have the deep satisfaction of knowing we help people in need, we develop leaders, and, thankfully, we have each other.
Welcome back to school! Whether it’s your first year of studies or your final year, you may want to think about what comes after you complete your program.
Written by: Janet Hueglin Hartwick
When I give a talk or lead a training session, I like to ask leaders “What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received for your work?” While the answers can vary, what all the ‘best’ examples have in common is how meaningful each compliment was to the employee. Recognizing a team member with a compliment, a thank you or a “keep up the good work” all serve the same purpose – to convey the message “we value you and your work.” But as many HR pros can attest, leaders can be reluctant to give employees recognition, missing the opportunity to deliver what could have been a positive conversation.
Recognition is a Need Not a Want
It’s been said that “Waiting for validation from others is like waiting for never to arrive.” This might be true if you are expecting your co-workers to notice a new haircut, but when it comes to work performance, staff need feedback to validate they are doing what’s expected.
Some leaders openly chastise a team member’s need for recognition. But isn’t it possible some employees are actually looking for reassurance instead? Acknowledging an employee’s work is more than a ‘thank you’, it tells them if they are meeting, and perhaps exceeding, their leader’s expectations. This feedback is critical for staff to feel invested and feel psychologically safe to give their best.
Three Tips to Consider When Recognizing an Employee
1. Conversation vs. Statement
Recognizing a job well done with an employee as a statement without the expectation of a conversation is like giving a gift and forgetting to wrap it first. It reduces the value of what you’re offering and poor delivery will likely be what’s remembered. Some leaders get nervous and try to rush through the discussion without giving the employee a chance to reply. It’s important to give your team members the opportunity to talk about the recognition they have earned. Ask open-ended questions that encourage self-awareness. New research shows “self-disclosure - revealing personal information to others - produces the highest level of activation in neural regions associated with motivation and reward.” In fact, “sharing information gained through personal experiences can lead to performance advantages by enabling teamwork and shared responsibility for memory.”
2. Personal vs. General
When’s the last time an employee said, “I received a group email today thanking me for my hard work. It really meant a lot to me”? Leaders know it’s more effective to offer individual recognition yet many rush to get it done rather than get it right. Here’s why this matters: personalized feedback creates an emotional connection which will be better remembered – longer, and with more clarity – than a group compliment. It is the equivalent of adding a Post-it note that says “Remember this!”
3. Spontaneous vs. Prescribed
When staff participate in a performance review there’s an expectation they will hear positive and constructive feedback. This can water down the meaning of a compliment, even if it’s well deserved. There is something about an impromptu conversation that makes what is said more memorable. If you really want your talk to engage your employee’s brain leave the office and go outside, sit in a coffee shop or take a stroll. Changes from your usual surroundings will offer more sticking power to the recognition you’re about to give.
The benefits of offering spontaneous recognition can boost an entire organization. Tom Rath, coauthor of How Full Is Your Bucket?, says a “positive leader” “[walks] around the office, [makes] calls, or [writes] e-mails, they are always trying to catch excellence in action. When they spot a job well done, they call attention to what is right. This in turn raises the entire organization's productivity.”
Recognition should not be rationed out like sugar during wartime. Some leaders believe staff should do their job and “not expect a thank you”. In other words, they are paid to do their work so why receive recognition for doing what is expected. This outdated notion is as appropriate as smoking cigarettes in the lunchroom. Employees should not be penalized for wanting their hard work to be acknowledged. This is a natural expectation of a high functioning employee. Cranky people managers are the ones who need to change and lead better conversations with their staff.
Written by: Saeed Sadooghi
Search engines play an important role in the decision-making process. When people are looking for a vacation destination, a new home or even someone to date, they often begin their search online. And the same rings true when job seekers are looking for their next employer.
With millions of job postings on search engines – not to mention, millions of job seekers – how can companies ensure that they’re attracting the right candidates? It begins with effective job content. Having a quality job title and description improves the chances of people finding your job opening, clicking on it for more information, and finally – hitting the apply button.
Indeed recently presented a webinar with CPHR Alberta, “A Recruiter’s Guide to Content Strategy,” and uncovered 10 tips to optimize your job content to attract top talent. Let’s take a look.
1. Capture job seekers’ attention
Pique job seekers’ interest by opening your job description with a strong, attention-grabbing paragraph. The job description should depict your company’s personality while at the same time communicating what makes the role exciting.
It might be difficult to describe a role or profession that differs from your own. The best way to overcome this challenge is to interview people that are currently doing the job. Or, enlist the marketing team to help with the copywriting and get feedback from other recruiters.
Steer clear of generic job descriptions – make it as informative as possible to give job seekers an accurate depiction of what the job entails.
2. Target and be precise
Your job description should contain keywords that will perform well in search, and job titles should describe the main aspect of the role. For example, the title “senior software engineer” will perform better than “software engineer 3,” as it is less ambiguous and job seekers are more likely to search using this title.
If you’re unsure about what keywords to include, visit Indeed’s Trends to learn the top performing search terms for various fields.
3. Be open
Your job description is a chance to shine and sell your company to prospective candidates. Include an overview of your company including the benefits and any perks that you offer.
Some companies struggle to determine how transparent they should be. For example, whether or not to include salary information. This is an opportunity to start measuring variations of your job postings – if you find you’re getting a higher bounce rate on your posting with salary information, remove this piece of information and see if it starts performing better.
4. Make every word count
The old adage, “less is more” applies here. Provide relevant details and don’t be afraid to delete portions of the job description that you feel don’t provide necessary information.
Character count is key. In fact, job posts receive an average of 30% more applies when the description is 700 to 2,000 characters. When it comes to job titles, they should be 60 characters or less for desktop, and shouldn’t exceed 35 characters for mobile.
5. Avoid Jargon
Most people search by job title, so when crafting your job title and descriptions – think like a job seeker. Avoid using internal jargon, acronyms or ambiguous terms. For example, if you’re hiring a “social media specialist”, call it that and avoid using wacky titles such as “social media wizard”.
6. Be honest
You want to ensure that people have a full understanding of what the job entails. That said, don’t exaggerate or underplay the responsibilities of the role. If you’re looking to fill a marketing manager role where 80% of the employee’s time will be spent on social media, describe the role as being primarily social media focused. This will help you reach candidates who are skilled in this area.
If job seekers know that they are unable to fill the requirements, they are more likely to self-disqualify, removing the burden from you.
7. Learn from others
Perusing job descriptions for similar roles can be helpful. Take a look at what your competitors are including in their job descriptions to get a sense of how they’re describing a certain role and selling their company.
Of course, you don’t want to copy them, but it’s always good to stay abreast of the competition. You might pick up on some interesting approaches and styles or see how you can differentiate yourself.
8. Keep it simple
Remember – less is more. Keeping it simple can go a long way. Don’t over format the job description, inundating it with a lot of bullet points and subheadings. And don’t feel obligated to fill white space. Only include the most integral information.
9. Test everything
When trying new job titles and descriptions, test everything. Understanding what delivers more traffic and candidates and better hires will help you gauge what is – and isn’t – working.
There are three ways to start testing your job content:
- Contact Indeed’s Client Services team to arrange a test campaign. The team will help you analyze your job content and make recommendations for improvement
- Leverage your applicant tracking system to test various job titles and descriptions
- Work with your marketing team to get ideas on the best way to test ideas, content and campaigns
10. Audit and Proofread
It’s important to monitor the performance of your job content and ensure that it’s up to date, user-friendly, well-maintained and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Sloppy mistakes can reduce your credibility and tarnish your employer brand.