This blog post is originally from the Q4 2012 edition of Ceridian’s LifeWorks Advisor e-newsletter.
How employees can cope
For most of us, a job is a source of income and identity and a place where we spend almost half of our life. According to a recent study featured in Business News Daily, more than 60% of surveyed workers reported high levels of job stress. In the first article of this two-part series, we’ll examine the impact of job stress on employees, and share practical coping techniques. In Part 2, we’ll talk about stress management from the perspective of the employer, and present strategies that contribute to a psychologically-healthy workplace.
Stress is difficult for many people to understand because the reality is that stress is not all bad. We need to generate some tension and stress in order to do our best work – researchers call this positive stress. A manageable level of stress is actually purposeful, serving as a motivator, and providing the energy we need to excel and achieve our goals. A major challenge in today’s stress-filled world is to make your stress work for you, instead of against you.
Unfortunately, the habits, attitudes and signs that may alert us to the fact that we are experiencing high levels of stress may be hard to recognize because they have become so familiar to us. When work-life conflict is high, or expectations seem unrealistic and goals unattainable, we may operate in a heightened and chronic state of stress to attempt to wrestle the beast. This level of stress can take its toll on our health, family life and productivity. The negative effects can range from a lack of focus to an inability to sleep, and from anxiety and depression, to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Job stress: The symptoms
More than three-quarters of all medical complaints are stress-related, and half of our population suffers from at least one stress symptom regularly. Physical and emotional symptoms are just a few of the ways that your body may be telling you that you’re under stress. The most common symptoms of excessive job stress are:
- High-blood pressure
- Inability to concentrate or relax
- Changes in appetite
- Waning sexual interest
Stress in the workplace may have become a definite problem for you if you:
- Feel hopelessly overloaded at work
- Are unable to leave job problems behind at night or on weekend
- Experience a trapped, immobilized feeling
How to reduce your stress on the job
Whether you’re an executive, a mid-level manager, or a front-line employee, you should care about your mental and emotional well-being, and do what you can to develop or protect a healthful work environment. Today, stress experts agree that individual resilience, coupled with learning strategies for managing stress, can dramatically improve the body’s resistance to stress. The following basic stress management tips may help you increase your resistance, lower stress levels and increase job satisfaction:
- Take charge of your situation. To the extent that this is possible, set and re-set priorities. Take care of important and difficult tasks first. Organize your time to be more effective.
- Avoid procrastination. Regardless of what you may believe, people don’t do their best work under extreme pressure. Some people convince themselves that they do so they can avoid dealing with their habit of procrastination.
- Take one task at a time. Divide each large project into smaller manageable tasks. Make a list of everything that needs to be done and the approximate time for finishing each task. Prioritize the tasks. Complete the first task, then go on to the next one. Keep the tasks small until you are feeling a sense of accomplishment and control.
- Slow down. Learn to say no. Drop activities that are not crucial.
- Be realistic about what you can change. Set realistic and attainable goals, do what’s possible. Accept the rest.
- Recognize danger signs of job stress. Learn the symptoms of job stress and take action as soon as they appear to be getting out of hand.
- Be honest with colleagues. This includes the boss. Make it plain that you feel in a bind. Chances are that others are feeling the same. Don’t just complain. Be constructive and make practical suggestions for improvements.
- Share your stress. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. A friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor can often help you to see your problem in a different light and offer solutions. Knowing when to ask for help may avoid more serious problems later.
- Let your employer help. Many companies help their employees deal with the effects of stress through their Employee Assistance Program (EAP), corporate fitness programs, or special clinics for diet, smoking and alcohol.
- Learn to laugh. Laughter is your body’s natural stress-release mechanism. Watch a funny movie or television show, read a humorous book or get together with the funniest person you know.
- Take care of your physical health. Good physical health increases tolerance to stress. Eat and sleep sensibly. Avoid sweets and junk food; too much sugar can cause frequent fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which in turn inhibits your body’s ability to cope with stress. Get plenty of exercise. Cut down or eliminate alcohol, tobacco and drugs which alter regular body rhythms of sleep.
- Learn to relax. Find a safety valve, whether it is a sport, hobby, music, reading, or just walking. Use it to create a “bridge” between work and home life.
- Don’t neglect your personal life. Work out a schedule that allows you to do justice to both work and personal life.
- Carefully evaluate your job and its relationship to your goals. Does your job maintain or enhance your life goals and desires? If not, it may be time to consider other options.
Stress of the proper type and in the proper amounts can trigger higher productivity and creativeness. The trick is for you to know when you’re under stress, assess what is causing it, and then do something to relieve it so that it becomes more manageable. Finally, remember that one of the primary sources of stress comes from within—from one’s own attitudes. Minds are highly suggestible. If you think something is going to be stressful, chances are it will be.
To learn more about Ceridian Canada’s Employee Assistance Program and Wellness Solutions, please visit out website.
This month’s Ceridian Small Business blog post is a recent article published in our HR KnowHow e-newsletter. If you haven’t already subscribed to our free e-newsletter, I encourage you to do so now at the link below. Enjoy!
This article first appeared in the October 2012 issue of CeridianVoice.
In a recent Towers Watson survey, nearly half of the organizations reported that they intend to change their HR structure either this year or next. Business leaders who commit to such changes are motivated to increase productivity — but they struggle to create efficiencies within HR, where existing processes can be especially convoluted.
“I witnessed a 1,200-employee company save 10,000 hours annually when they improved their recruiting and on-boarding processes,” said Greg Trok, vice president of Ceridian’s customer process improvement team. “Multiply those 10,000 hours by the average hourly rate of pay, and the financial impact becomes undeniable.”
The business benefits of efficient HR processes
- Reduce costs as manual processes are identified and eliminated. It takes a lot of time to re-key data, track down answers and input information manually. When HR saves time, your business saves money.For business leaders looking to improve quality and lower costs through synergies among their people, processes and investments, understanding existing HR processes is crucial. Trok says, “It’s important to know where you are if you want to arrive at your destination. This journey is important, because when it comes to HR, process improvement delivers demonstrated value.” By breaking down current processes then rebuilding more efficient ones, organizations can:
- Innovate by freeing your HR team from duplicate processes and wasted steps. People stop thinking about Excel and start thinking about ways to create success. They no longer fear the “fire drill” that results from an executive data request.
- Grow by creating understanding between the impacted parties, quickly and naturally. Time is valuable and limited; when you can align improvement priorities with strategic goals in a manner that works in real life, payoff comes quickly.
In many organizations, HR processes are disjointed. Because each process likely draws data from a different set of systems and sources, leaders who want to explore process improvement often don’t know where to begin. “The first step toward increased productivity is a internal HR process review,” Trok says. “But be aware that not all such reviews are equally successful. Make the most of this opportunity by taking a proven, best-practices approach.”
Best practices for an internal HR process review
The best internal process review is one that provides you with a step- by-step roadmap to help prioritize and execute initiatives within your company. “Conduct a review that is specifically created to gather quantifiable information in a useful, genuine manner,” Trok says. “Acknowledge the fact that some people resist speaking up in a meeting — but they’re happy to get involved in a one-on-one discussion of concrete process steps. Expect the unexpected. The results can be surprising.”
10 steps to more efficient HR processes
- Start with a frequent or time-consuming process.
- Get executive buy-in; prove the dollar value of the exercise.
- Plan and organize your strategy by defining stakeholders, scope and timeframe. Ask teammates to prepare in advance for meetings.
- Visually clarify the current process. Keep it simple — sticky notes and a whiteboard can work wonders!
- Reserve judgment and forget assumptions while performing your evaluation.
- Document who performs each step, and how much time each step takes.
- Count the number of transactions and hand-offs. Capture each decision point (YES/NO).
- Identify re-work loops, then ask “Why?” 5 times.
- Uncover opportunities for improvement. Research possible solutions, then investigate their time and cost savings.
- Consider how change affects stakeholders.
View our infographic, “The journey to more efficient HR processes“
This week’s Ceridian Small Business blog post is a recent small business article published in our HR KnowHow e-newsletter. If you haven’t already subscribed to our free e-newsletter, I encourage you to do so now at the link below. Enjoy!
Small business owners are faced with numerous regulations that govern their day-to-day operations. One of the biggest challenges of owning a small business, besides wearing multiple hats and trying to find more hours in the day, is staying compliant with government rules and regulations. While small business owners are passionate about their business, they may not feel the same way about regulation and can often feel overwhelmed with the thought of staying compliant.
Failing to do so can result in a big hit on the business, in the form of Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) fines, lawsuits and issues with the labour board. These are not to be taken lightly and can leave a significant financial impact on a small business.
Kate Bell, Senior Marketing Manager SMB, Ceridian hears stories all the time from people faced with compliance and paperwork burdens. Customer feedback has shown a reduction in CRA fees and legislation headaches for small business owners. Steve Minche, Sheep Dairy Farmer says, “prior to Ceridian, I would end up paying triple the remittance amount to the CRA…to catch up on inaccurate deductions. With Ceridian, my deductions are accurate. I no longer have large sums to pay out unexpectedly.”
Canada revenue impact
In 2006 Canada Revenue created an Action Task Force on Small Business Issues at the request of the Minister of National Revenue. Its mandate was to “identify which of the CRA’s administrative practices imposed the greatest burden on small businesses, develop solutions to reduce the burden and introduce a systemic approach to burden reduction across the CRA.” As of this year, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has addressed the issues raised in its study and is currently “initiating changes to help reduce the compliance burden for small businesses.”
While CRA works to improve the process, there are things small business owners can take into their own hand and actually do to make sure to keep you their small business compliant. Have a look as the checklist below and think about how you can improve your business today.
Remain compliant when paying your people
One of the biggest compliance challenges for a small business can be payroll. Sandra Sutton, Director, Corporate Development, Ceridian Canada encourages small business owners to consider when it’s time to upgrade their payroll processing. Sandra says, “one of the most compelling reasons to consider automating your payroll is risk mitigation.” She continues, “HR and employment legislation is complicated and penalties for non-compliance are significant.” At a certain point in small business, whether it’s the hiring of more staff, or lack of time, smart small business owners often come to the realization that automation facilitates compliance to legislation and keeps small business off Revenue Canada’s radar!
Don’t get buried in paperwork!
If you don’t have a payroll professional on staff, you can outsource this to a company (i.e. Ceridian). Small business owners often find it beneficial to hire someone who has the expertise to manage your payroll, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Visit http://www.ceridian.ca for more information.
Keep up on legislation!
This can be a challenge for the most organized small business owner. What happens if you miss a change in legislature? Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to legislation, this is in part due to the cost of complying with regulatory obligations is proportionately higher for small businesses than for their larger counterparts. It can be helpful to hire legal counsel, or outsource payroll to a company that operates using best practices and has to stay compliant no matter what type of small business you run.
If you remember one thing…
As a small business owner, reduce your administrative burden, stay compliant and get back to doing what you do best!
A trusted partner to more than 42,000 customers, Ceridian offers a comprehensive range of solutions from payroll services and recruitment and staffing, to EAP, learning & development, and workforce and talent management. For more information about Ceridian’s solutions, please complete our web form or call toll-free 1-877-237-4342 to speak to a Ceridian representative.
The following blog post is a summary of a Ceridian Canada whitepaper on “Retaining and Supporting Mature Workers: Sustain and Grow your Business as Baby Boomers Retire…and Beyond” which will be adapted for Small Business. To learn more about retaining and supporting mature workers, you can register for our webinar on “Best Practices for a Mature Workforce.” November 22, 12 pm – 1 pm ET
“They don’t make ’em like they used to!” That may never be more true than when it comes to Baby Boomers as employees – from their work ethic and enthusiasm to their company loyalty. And, as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce predicts a labour shortage of nearly 1 million people by 2020 due to their exit from the workforce, businesses must begin to retain and manage mature talent as long as possible. Mature workers make up a significant portion of small business employees, so it is important that small business owners take the time to understand the motivations and desires of mature workers, and then develop strategies for retaining their skills as long as possible. As well, with the elimination of mandatory retirement in the majority of provinces, mature employees will be staying in the workforce even longer, so organizations must adapt accordingly.
What do Boomers want?
In order to best retain the knowledge of your skilled mature workers and maximize the opportunity for knowledge transfer, small business employers must begin exploring more flexible work arrangements such as:
- Part-time work
- Job Sharing
In many cases, mature workers have been doing the same job for several years. Before they reach traditional retirement age, it is important to communicate with your employees that there are opportunities available for them to make career changes, add new responsibilities, etc.
It is unfortunate that many employers believe that older workers are not interested in training, and even worse that some think they won’t be able to learn new skills as fast as younger workers. However, there are major competitive advantages to be realized through investing in the Learning and Development of older workers, especially considering that many employees will be staying in the workforce longer.
As part of a retention strategy, it makes sense to evaluate how well your current benefit plan addresses the unique needs of aging employees. What many companies are doing is building more flexibility into benefit plans so employees can self-direct which services they would like more coverage on. However, for many small business owners, it is not possible to offer comprehensive health and benefits. In this case, small business owners can focus on keeping employees healthy by encouraging fitness & eating healthy in the workplace. A healthy workforce means lower health costs, and fewer workdays lost to illness or injury.
Retirement Planning Assistance
According to a 2011/12 Towers Watson Retirement Attitudes Survey, less than 40% of respondents think that their employers are doing a good job of providing retirement tools and information. Organizations must focus on giving both formal retirement plan assistance and informal support to aging workers, as this plays a key role when they are deciding whether or not stay in the workforce. While some small businesses are not able to offer retirement plans, more and more are beginning to as it helps small business attract qualified people that are seeking the security that larger companies offer. If your small business does not offer a retirement plan, how about offering training on how to invest or use RRSPs to ensure a comfortable retirement.
To learn more about retaining and supporting mature workers, you can REGISTER NOW for our webinar on “Best Practices for a Mature Workforce.” November 22, 12 pm – 1 pm ET
You can also learn more about supporting the wellness needs of baby boomers, staying compliant and avoiding age discrimination, by downloading our whitepaper. Retaining and Supporting Mature Workers: Sustain and Grow your Business as Baby Boomers Retire…and Beyond.
If you are looking for resources to help pay, recruit, screen or train employees, please visit www.CeridianforSmallBusiness.ca
This week’s Ceridian Small Business blogpost is an adaptation of a recent branding article published in our HR KnowHow e-newsletter. If you’re a small business owner, I imagine you’ll find the tips and insight invaluable. And, if you haven’t already subscribed to our free e-newsletter, I encourage you to do so now at the link below. Enjoy!
How does a small business owner stand out in a competitive market? Does a strong brand really increase return on investment? What is a brand exactly?
Renowned advertising executive, David Ogilvy defines ‘brand’ as: The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, reputation, and the way it’s advertised.
According to Donna Teggart, Ceridian Canada’s Director, External Communications & Brand, a company’s brand is more than a logo, name or tagline — “it’s the entire experience a company’s prospects and customers have with a company, product or service.” She continues, “while the brand includes your logo, color palette and tagline, those are creative elements that convey your brand. Your brand grows and lives through the experiences and interactions that people have with your employees, products, and services every day.”
The relationship between a strong brand and ROI
A strong brand strategy can be a big competitive advantage. Donna believes successful branding creates “brand equity” – or put simply, the amount of money that customers are willing to pay, which directly affects return-on-investment. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company more valuable over the long term. Donna says this is because:
- When prospects and customers know exactly what you deliver, it’s easy to begin dialogue because they quickly understand what you stand for.
- You close deals more quickly because your prospects’ experience supports everything you say.
- You can charge a premium because your market knows why you’re better and is willing to pay for it.
More reasons a strong brand matters to a small business
- It’s part of messages you deliver on your website, proposals and campaigns.
- It affects the way your employees interact with customers.
- It affects a customer’s opinion of you. Your brand consistently and repeatedly tells your prospects and customers why they should buy from you.
- Competitive advantage: Branding is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. It’s also important in business-to-business because it helps you stand out from your competition.
Advice to small business owners creating a brand
Donna was recently involved in the creation of a brand for a new Ceridian e-commerce site, “Ceridian for Small Business,” designed to provide small businesses with easy access to the services required to significantly reduce people-related administration and get small business owners back to what they do best.
As part of the launch, the Ceridian team created caricature “Dan” a cartoon spokesperson that characterizes the brand personality of Ceridian for Small Business. Donna explained, “Dan represents your typical small business owner trying to manage the multitude of tasks from payroll, to HR, to legal matters, on top of running his business.” She continues, “the small business owner should be able to relate to the many business issues that Dan faces in a single day.”
Ceridian created a video to showcase Dan’s challenges as a small business owner; at the end of the story, Dan’s relieved because he’s now using Ceridian for Small Business services to simplify his business day. The message is delivered in a humorous, entertaining yet informative way.
Donna’s top branding tips
- Stay relevant & be flexible: A well-managed brand is always making adjustments. Branding is a process, not a race, not an event, so expect to constantly tweak your message and refresh your image.
- Define your brand: It starts with authenticity and requires self-assessment and definition – your core purpose, vision, mission, position, values and character. Focus on what you do best then communicate your inimitable strengths consistently.
- Tell a story: Write a positioning statement and a story about your brand; use them throughout your company materials. When developing a brand strategy, poll your customers, employees and vendors. Are their impressions consistent with your strategy? Determine how your employees will interact with prospects and customers to convey the brand personality and make sure your brand “lives” within your company.
- Develop your brand around emotional benefits: List the features and benefits of your product/service. A feature is an attribute – a colour, a configuration; a benefit is what that feature does for the customer. Identify which benefits are emotional – the most powerful brand strategies tap into emotions, boil them down to one thing that your customers should think of when they think of you. That’s what your brand should represent.
- Trademarks: Brands are usually protected from use by others by securing a trademark or service mark from an authorized agency, usually a government agency. Before applying for a trademark or service mark, you need to establish that someone else hasn’t already obtained one for that same name. It is common to hire a law firm that specializes in doing trademark searches and managing the application process. Once you’ve learned that no one else is using it, you can begin to use your brand name and logo/wordmark as a trademark simply by stating it is a trademark (using the “TM” where it first appears in a publication or web site). After you receive the trademark, you can use the registered symbol after your trademark.
We wish you luck if you’re about to embark on a branding exercise!
In Canada, terminating employees is never as easy as it appears to be for Donald Trump. In fact, terminations made in anger, or a poorly planned, cavalier termination could be a costly mistake for employers.
Devising an action plan to carry through with the otherwise messy business of employee terminations is the perfect way to avoid such errors.
STEP 1: The Decision to Terminate
If you’re an employer facing the need to terminate an employee, you must first decide how to characterize the termination. Generally stated, the options are to terminate “with cause” or “without cause”. With cause terminations disentitle an employee to notice of her termination, or pay in lieu of notice. This type of termination is typically reserved for situations of egregious employee misconduct, including theft, or gross insubordination. Terminating with cause is difficult to establish, therefore, I recommend that you obtain legal advice before proceeding in this manner. Without cause terminations do not require the establishment of employee misconduct, but still require proper planning to execute.
In all jurisdictions, employers can terminate an employee at any time as long as the employee is provided with proper notice of the termination, or pay in lieu of notice and in some jurisdictions, severance pay. In the vast majority of circumstances, you would be required to exceed minimum statutory requirements in complying with your obligation to provide employees with reasonable notice of termination. Relevant factors in the determination of reasonable notice include the employee’s age, length of service, position and the current economic climate. Regardless of the type of termination you choose, you must prepare a termination letter, which depending on the circumstances, may incorporate a Release to be signed by the employee.
STEP 2: The Termination Meeting
There are four essential components to a termination meeting.
- Timing Given that terminations are, for the most part, a traumatic event for employees, the timing of the “exit meeting” is critical. With a view to minimizing the poor “optics” associated with any post-employment claim advanced by an employee, avoid scheduling termination meetings immediately before religious or statutory holidays, employees’ birthdays, during or just prior to bereavement leave, or when there is a sick immediate family member.
- Venue Termination meetings should be conducted in private, preferably in an area set apart from other employees. Do not conduct termination meetings in a public place, such as a coffee shop. Possible meeting venues would include a private office, boardroom or a private off-site location.
- Attendees The only people who should attend a termination meeting, other than the employee, are the employee’s direct manager and a second representative, preferably someone from human resources, to verify the events that transpire at this meeting. The meeting should be no longer than five minutes.
- Communication during the Interview Do not mince words, but rather get straight to the point by advising the employee that he/she is being terminated, and typically in general terms, explain why. Respond to protestations from the employee or requests for further clarification as to the reasons for termination with, “This is not the purpose of the meeting. The decision is final.” In the event a termination package includes a Release, do not accept the employee’s acceptance of the Release at the termination meeting. Insist that the employee take five to seven days to consider the package, and ensure the letter of termination confirms this.
STEP 3: Post Termination Issues
Issue a Record of Employment to the employee within five calendar days. I also recommend that you have a script prepared to help you communicate the employee’s departure to other employees and/or people who may try to contact the employee at the company.
If you’re an employer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that social media websites are playing a more significant role in the employment relationship than ever before. Just as companies and employers are making increased use of these tools for sales prospecting, customer engagement and recruitment, employees have similarly adapted by increasing privacy settings on websites such as Facebook in order to limit what information prospective employers can glean about them. The struggle lies in how far an employer can go to make use of social media sites in order to obtain information about prospective or current employees.
Can Employers Make a Request for a Password?
In an effort to get around a prospective employee’s privacy settings and gain direct access to the information, some employers have requested Facebook passwords from prospective employees. While this raises potential questions about ethics and privacy, there technically isn’t any legislation in any province in Canada which prevents an employer from requesting a current or prospective employee’s password.
The Toronto Star recently looked at one example from Ontario, involving an employee who was asked by a prospective employer during a job interview with a local police force for his Facebook password. The employee had a personal policy of not sharing his password with others, however, instead offered to log into his Facebook account and leave the room so that the interviewer could browse his page. The interviewer insisted that he obtain the employee’s password and, after feeling that he would not get the job as a result of his denial, the employee eventually gave in and shared his password.
Many similar examples have been cited in the United States and in fact the states of Illinois and Maryland have both proposed legislation that would forbid public agencies from requesting such information.
In response to this growing practice, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer issued a statement threatening employers with legal action if they continued to ask for individuals’ Facebook passwords. Their message to employers was: “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do” and “As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job… we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password”.
Despite Facebook’s comments, it’s clear that employers are not currently legally prohibited from asking for an employee’s Facebook or other social media password. However, we would still caution employers to think carefully before doing so. There are various legal considerations that should be kept in mind when using social media sites for work-related purposes. These considerations include (i) this practice may result in human rights complaints advanced by current or prospective employees if an employer becomes exposed to personal information relating to any of the protected grounds under human rights legislation such as disability or age. Even if this information is not the basis for any employment decision, simply having access to this information can raise the presumption of misuse; and (ii) employers should be aware that personal information which is obtained by viewing an employee’s Facebook page must be treated and safeguarded in the same manner as any other personal information collected by the employer and must be managed in accordance with applicable privacy legislation across Canada.
Finally, given the fact that a couple of U.S. jurisdictions are considering implementing legislation dealing with social media websites, it may simply be a matter of time before Canada follows suit.