How Do You Determine the Best Work Model for Your Organization or Team?

Many organizations that implemented post-COVID-19 work models (remote, hybrid or in office) should be evaluating their choice regularly, to ensure that they retain their competitive advantage and continue to attract the right human resources. It is my recommendation that a review be conducted after the first six months to ensure that the model continues to support the strategic direction of the organization.

61% of Canadian organizations have moved to a hybrid work environment because this was the preferred model by many employees.[1] We know that a hybrid work environment assisted with employee engagement and made some jobs more appealing to individuals who preferred to work from home some of the time.

Fully remote work (or working from home) provides organizations with a greater geographical human resources pool to harness. Remote workers can live far away from the office, and as long as their IT systems are intact and they have high speed internet, they are productive. There is a very limited requirement to return to the office for work.[2]

When re-evaluating your model, organizations need to review several steps to determine the best model prior to making any changes. These steps must consider the organizational philosophy/ culture, rules of work including collective agreements and employee relations, and ongoing productivity.

Download PDF: How Do You Determine the Best Work Model for Your Organization or Team?



[1] Benefits Canada Staff. (2022, August 3). 61% of Canadian employers using Hybrid Work Model: Survey. Benefits Retrieved November 23, 2022, from

[2] Wigert, B. (2022, March 15). The future of hybrid work: 5 key questions answered with data. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from

How to Lead Your Life with Resilience

Are you feeling tired or frustrated chasing elusive happiness? A full life does come with setbacks. This is a reality we all face. The better able you are at handling these setbacks, the more stable your level of happiness will be. This is why learning how to move through life’s many adversities is important. You can experience consistent happiness while overcoming your life’s challenges by leading your life with resilience. Below are the six holistic essentials from the Circle of LITE[1] personal leadership framework to help you do so.

1. Self-esteem is at the center of the Circle of LITE, and your work and life. This area of your life can run very deep and require some inner healing. Your beliefs have been shaped and formed from a very young age based on the life experiences you’ve had. Some of your beliefs may be serving you and your potential, and others not so much. Breakthrough moments in life coaching are co-created by transforming your self-limiting beliefs. While healing can be an outcome of life coaching, it is important to note that life coaching is not therapy. Life coaching can help rebuild and maintain a healthy level of self-esteem that is fundamental to leading a life of resilience, by bringing out your strengths, passions, interests and innate gifts. Revisit every milestone in your life, every obstacle you overcame, and every mentor you admire to discover what you are made of and what more you want to develop in yourself. By knowing who you are in essence and your life purpose, you can then begin to envision your possibilities and potential, and lead the way.

A powerful question for self-reflection
How do the circumstances in your work and life affect your level of self-esteem? Notice and describe the triggers and your self-talk in these circumstances. Self-awareness is the first step in creating positive change.

2. Leadership starts with an inspiring vision that you believe in and is reflective of your purposeful life, values and essence. Knowing your personal life vision will enable you to make choices that are in alignment with who you are and what matters to you. Aligning with yourself first helps you align with other like-minded people, cultures, and opportunities. Shared visions are what guide and mobilize people to synergistically co-create exceptional outcomes. When a stressful problem arises, finding the common ground in a shared vision can also be a healthy and effective way to solve it and keep moving forward with clear focus.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What is your work/life vision five to ten years from now? Journal how your future self will be living life, what your future self’s surroundings and community will be like, and the meaningfulness of it.

3. Intellect is a medium with which you can lead effectively and creatively. How you use your mind in your leadership can elevate or stagnate your growth and performance. A mindset that is open to learning from experiences (including failures), integrating new knowledge and information, and listening to shared wisdom, will outperform a closed mindset. Cultivating an open mindset begins by noticing and transforming your self-limiting beliefs. Your self-talk is a good indicator of the transformation called for. Journaling your negative self-talk can point out the underlying feelings and beliefs that drive your habitual patterns in certain situations and block your progress. Exposing yourself to new situations with different habits can help renew your feelings and beliefs, liberate your mind, and propel your progress.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What changes to your self-talk, if any, do you need to make? Journal your daily self-talk to notice its impact on your work and life’s outcomes, and the underlying beliefs that need renewal.

4. Teamwork will sustain the unity you need to fulfill your vision. No matter what your endeavour is in your work and/or life, the people you surround yourself with can help you drive its manifestation. To sustain unity, keep your eyes on the big picture, seek the higher ground, and honor your mutual values. When conflict arises, return to these basics to get back on track. Keep in mind, that as each member of the team evolves, a misalignment can surface that makes it difficult to sustain unity and get back on track. Every relationship has its arch. Progressive leaders accept this and normalize parting ways amicably as a viable and dignified option.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What values do you share with the people in your work and life? Write down your top 10 values. Notice the ones that are shared with others in your life and how they support your vision.

5. Expression that is a real reflection of who you are and who you want to become takes courage and confidence. There are many forms in which to express oneself authentically, responsibly, and respectfully; speaking, writing, and drawing are just a few. The form you choose can be an extension of who you are and a stretch into who you want to become. The most important step you can take is to stop holding yourself back. Every voice counts and has a positive ripple effect when expressed constructively in an encouraging environment. Often, it is where many coaching clients hold themselves back, out of fear of rejection from any tense discourse. Yet, the best ideas and solutions to problems come from open and healthy communication. Revisiting some of the learnings from the previous four essentials of the Circle of LITE and asking for support or facilitation can help foster greater expression.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What would you need to do differently to fully express yourself in your work or life? Think of a time you held yourself back and wish you hadn’t. What would you do differently today?

6. Work-life balance and stress management support the entire Circle of LITE. To experience balance, priorities need to be set. Priorities are best set when you have worked through all of the other essentials in the Circle of LITE and gained the clarity you need. Clear priorities can then help shape your calendar meaningfully and hold your focus on the key milestones that need to be completed with renewed determination. Having a better handle on your time also helps reduce your stress. Other stress reducing activities include breathwork, yoga, massage therapy, exercise, a good night’s sleep, healthy nutrition and positive social interactions. Including such self-care activities in your daily, weekly and monthly routines can help you recharge and increase your productivity. Improving your work-life balance and better managing your stress will enable you to respond proactively to your life circumstances instead of reacting to them.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What personal habits can you incorporate into your life with consistency to maintain your vitality? Schedule them in your calendar.

You can experience unwavering happiness when you know how to coach yourself through any of life’s circumstances. The Circle of LITE is a personal leadership framework you can lean on at any time. When faced with a challenge, crisis or change, you can revisit the above six essentials to determine the shift you need to make to move through it. You can also revisit it to monitor your own progress and celebrate your successes. With it, you will be able to tap into your inner resources and transform your well-being.

About the Author

Helen Roditis

Working with progressive business leaders for over 15 years, Helen Roditis helps co-create sustainable high-performance, and retain top talent by delivering customized, blended, and holistic leadership development programs that engage team members and their customers. She also brings forward her diverse experience in finance, marketing, talent management, and consumer experience best practices to offer a balanced approach that links people and business strategies. Wellness practices for stress relief and high-performance are also integrated throughout her coaching programs. Helen is the author of LITE Up Your Work and Life, and the creator of the Circle of LITE personal leadership framework.


[1] For more information on the framework, check out this video: “LITE Up to Express Your Full Potential” at

The Power of Cognitive Behavioural Techniques in the Workplace

For many years I have been interested in, and excited by, the strong evidence of the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat a host of symptoms and behaviours commonly associated with depression and anxiety disorders. These symptoms include lack of motivation, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of inadequacy, and loss of interest in activities and relationships that used to bring joy and fulfillment to a person.

These symptoms can have tragic results to an individual’s personal and professional life. As someone who has worked in the field of labour relations for the past 25 years, I have often observed how these symptoms impact individuals in the workplace, and the rate of that impact appears to be increasing in recent years. I believe that a basic understanding of CBT, and its practical application, is valuable to union representatives, HR professionals, and anyone who is handling mental health or mental illness issues in the workplace.

In this article, I will discuss the application of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to both return to work and performance improvement plans, for individuals whose work life has been impacted by these issues.

Download PDF: The Power of Cognitive Behavioural Techniques in the Workplace

Queen’s University IRC 2015 Workplace in Motion Summit Proceedings

The world of work is changing, and the most successful organizations and practitioners are those that understand how these changes impact the way they do business. To help them do so, and to foster further dialogue, Queen’s IRC hosted the Workplace in Motion Summit in Toronto on April 16th, 2015. Over 100 human resource, labour relations, and organizational development professionals from across Canada attended the Summit. Chaired by IRC facilitator Brenda Barker Scott, the Summit provided a forum to stimulate new ideas and new perspectives on the dynamic new world of work.

The Summit focused on a variety of questions of interest to today’s human resource, labour relations, and organizational development professionals. More specifically, it helped participants:

  • Identify issues and best practices related to current trends and practices in human resource manage­ment, labour relations, and organizational development.
  • Explore how rapidly emerging technologies are shaping and re-shaping modern workplaces and the way we work.
  • Investigate the impact of changing demographics on contemporary organizations.

This was all done with the intent of identifying how they can better lead change and promote excellence within and beyond their organizations and professional networks.

Over the course of the Summit, several themes emerged that were particularly critical to today’s human resource, labour relations, and organizational development professionals. These included the need to:

  • Manage change and transformation in order to advance organizational and professional interests with as little disruption as possible.
  • Create the physical space, infrastructure, technologies, and systems necessary to support a collaborative, open, and innovative workplace and work culture.
  • Engage, retain, and motivate the new generation of employees and to bridge inter-generational gaps in the workplace.
  • Think outside the box in order to appropriately encourage risk-taking and innovation.

This report elaborates on the most important questions, issues, and themes identified by Summit participants going forward.

Download Summit Proceedings

Managing Emotional Reactions to Organizational Change

Can you recall a time when you experienced a major change in your organization?  Perhaps like others around you, you experienced a roller coaster of emotions:  excitement that at long last something was going to happen to change the status quo, confusion about the specifics of the intended changes, and anxiety about what it could mean for you, your team, and even your family.  Change can be disruptive, both professionally and personally.  Change can affect the nature of our work, where we work, when we work, how we make decisions, and how we communicate. Change can impact our identity, our sense of belonging, and our relationships with coworkers, clients, and customers.

Emotional reactions to change are a normal reaction to the real and perceived disruption that accompanies organizational change.  Successful change leaders know that understanding and addressing the mixed emotions that employees may experience can help employees feel motivated and committed to achieving their goals, implementing change, and realizing a new vision for the organization.

Emotions are psychological and biological responses that affect our minds, our bodies, and our motivation. Emotions colour our perception of events and influence how we make sense of the world around us.  Emotions are useful.  They help us evaluate the significance of events and assess the consequences.  If people assess the consequences as beneficial, positive emotions result.  If the consequences are perceived as potentially harmful, negative emotions may result.  Barbara Fredrickson’s research on emotions helps us understand and appreciate the role of emotions.  Negative emotions such as fear and anger narrow our focus, and limit how well we are able to be creative, interact with others, deal with complexity, and take risks.  Positive emotions broaden our focus and enable us to interact with others, experiment with new things, and be creative.

Yet some organizations believe that expressing emotions should be actively discouraged.  It can be tempting to interpret the mixed feelings that people express as resistance to change, and to view resistance as something negative, to be ‘dealt with.’ Employees may be expected to hide their emotions.  Employees who feel the need to hide their emotions for fear of being labeled a ‘resistor’ may end up pretending to comply with intended changes.

Managers may be advised to keep supervisor-employee relationships task-oriented and unemotional, but is this the best strategy?  Huy (2002) conducted a study of a large information technology company that was suddenly threatened by major global competition.  Responding to this challenge necessitated a major restructuring over a three year period that involved a shift to a market-customization focus from a universal service focus, turnover of the executive team, changes in the organization structure,  a 25% reduction in the workforce, elimination of seniority entitlements, and greater financial accountability.  The chief operating officer, sensing potential negativity just as a change project was reaching a crucial mid-point, sent out a memo to all managers stating that any expression of cynicism about the change would not be tolerated.  These managers were reminded that as they held leadership positions that they must display enthusiasm at all times. However, the middle managers who were most successful in managing change ignored this advice, and paid attention to the psychological well-being of company employees and their families.  These managers encouraged their employees to express their emotions. Some managers held one-on-one meetings with employees, while others met with employees in small groups.  Allowing employees to share stories—and feelings— helped them to develop a greater sense of control over the changes, improved morale, reduced absenteeism, and built trust between managers and employees.

Learning to address emotional reactions during change is crucial to individual, team, and organizational performance.  The managers who did attend to the emotional reactions of employees during the change implementation achieved greater employee commitment to change, higher levels of customer service, fewer cost overruns for overtime, and shorter time to implementation compared to managers who did not attend to employees’ emotions or who did so after the changes took place.

Whether your role is leading a team, or supporting others to manage change successfully, here are five tips to help you and your team as you embark on your change initiatives.

1.  Listen and legitimize.  Accept that capable and committed people will experience confusion, anxiety, and doubt, as well as enthusiasm for the change. Don’t try to talk people out of their emotions. Make it safe for people to express their emotions.  Provide safe opportunities for people to vent, one-on-one, and in small groups.  Allow people to say goodbye to the past and cherish their memories.  Provide support that enables people to move forward and embrace the future.  Encourage thoughtful reflection on, and discussion of, the emotional dimension of work.  When emotions are acknowledged, and people are treated with respect, people are more likely to engage with change.

2.  Create hope for the future.  Focus on the change vision and create a sense of hope for the future. In doing so, you can help people shift out of anxiety, and turn their concerns into curiosity.  Conversations about possibilities can inspire positive emotions of excitement, confidence, team spirit, and a sense of accomplishment.  Being open to new possibilities creates enthusiasm for what the future holds. Change requires a tremendous amount of energy. Sustaining change over the long term means tapping into the power of positive emotions.

3.  Encourage employee voice.  It’s a trap to dampen any negative feedback from people by insisting that everyone ‘be positive.’  Engaging employees in frank conversations about real and potential operational risks and problems can be very useful.  Frontline employees may have deep insight into the technical and logistical challenges that lie ahead.  Anticipating and identifying real and potential barriers before change is implemented enables people to engage in problem solving that could avert costly mistakes.  Encouraging employees to share their ideas and their feelings builds commitment to interim goals and the longer range vision.

4. Maintain a sense of humour.  Even during difficult times, maintaining a sense of humour can help both you and others to put things into perspective and avoid getting caught up in anger or anxiety.

5.  Understand diverse perspectives.  Empathizing with others helps us to understand different points of view and demonstrate caring.  While we don’t necessarily need to agree with these different perspectives, we do need to understand and acknowledge them. Ask yourself, If this was happening to me, what would I want to happen? How would I like to be treated?  Different groups in the organization may be reacting to change very differently.  Different emotional needs must be recognized and addressed according to the situation.

People who are fully engaged at work contribute with their heads, hearts, and hands.  Managers, team leaders, and human resources professionals who understand that emotional reactions to change can be anticipated and acknowledged are in a better position to harness the energy of emotions in productive ways.  Organizations with healthy cultures that support emotional expression are more likely to build employee commitment to change and implement change successfully.


About the Author

Kate Sikerbol

Kate Sikerbol, M.Ed, MA, is a facilitator with the Queens IRC Change Management program and an organizational consultant and coach who has worked in business, industry, government, and higher education.  As a scholar-practitioner she is interested bringing theory to practice, especially in the areas of organizational change and communication. Kate holds an Honours BA (Psychology) from the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Education from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Arts in Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University.  She is currently completing her doctorate in Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University.



Selected References

Duck, Jeanie D.  (1993).  Managing change:  The art of balancing.  Harvard Business Review, November-December.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001).  The role of positive emotions in positive psychology:  The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.  American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.

Huy, Q. N. (2002).  Emotional balancing of organizational continuity and radical change:  The contribution of middle managers.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 47(03), 31-69.

Sala, F. (2003).  Laughing all the way to the bank.  Harvard Business Review, September.

Smollan, R. K. (2009).  Organizational culture, organizational change, and emotions:  A qualitative study.  Journal of Change Management, 9(4), 435-457.



Professional Commitment Guilt and the 24 Hour a Day Workplace

Twenty years ago we used to call him or her a “workaholic.”  This is someone who compulsively works long and hard hours, not being able to leave the work at work, but instead fixates over uncompleted tasks throughout the evening.  Today it would be difficult to find a professional that does not fit into this category.  Some might blame technology for this world pandemic of workaholism.  Our work is simply a click away – waiting for us – tempting us to answer that one last email, or complete that one last task.

However, increased access to the workplace from home is only part of underlying cause.  Just as important is the culture of professionalism that has developed in the last 50 years.  This culture places expectations upon people who act in a professional capacity to put their best foot forward at work.1  This has led to many positive work dynamics such as proactive decision-making, and team-based approaches that focus on taking responsibility for outcomes and upholding corporate values.

Despite all of its positive attributes, professional commitment, also contains a dark side – something we call “professional commitment guilt.”  We define professional commitment guilt as “negative self-identification resulting from increasingly unrealistic work demands associated with modern workplaces that impact upon work-life balance.”

This phenomenon is most clearly visible in workplaces where professionals are unionized.  These professionals often have formally defined hours of work – in some cases even lighter formal workloads than the average workplaces in Canada.  Many of these professionals are entitled to a 35 – 37.5 hour work week.

Despite the entitlement to a balanced work week, many unionized professionals have reported excessive work demands and expectations that have led them to forgo their entitlements in order to fulfill their obligations.2  This increased expectation is the result of the changing nature of work and access to the tools of work on a 24 hour a day basis.  Twenty years ago, to fulfill the requirements of work it was necessary to attend the workplace.  If there were computer programs, they could only be housed in large computers at the workplace.  And there was no such thing as remote access.  Now the workplace is accessible to professionals virtually 24 hours a day via email, texting, VPN and other remote access technology.  Expectations related to response time have changed drastically over the last few years.

This has created a culture of immediacy and urgency in the workplace.  Professionals are responding to questions at all hours of the day and night, because that is their growing expectation of themselves.  Failure to respond immediately becomes interpreted as failing to respond in a timely manner – something that most regard as unprofessional.

The dangerous intermingling of professional commitment guilt with external pressures to be accessible on an ongoing basis through the 24 hour day has led to significant challenges for modern workplaces and professions.

Consequences of Poor Work-Life Balance

In our observations concerning various workplaces across the country, the concept of “professional commitment guilt” results in making personal sacrifices that often lead to diminished life satisfaction.  According to a recent study3 a large majority of the respondents (77%) agree that they are under pressure to fulfill other’s expectations.  This has led to the following results:

High levels of stress and anxiety

The majority (78%) of the respondents agree that they experience high levels of stress and anxiety due to poor work-life balance.  Many experience frustration and guilt in compromising on the time to be spent with family.

Disharmony at home

Sixty-eight percent of the respondents agree that the consequence of poor work-life balance is disharmony at home.

Job burnout

The majority of the respondents fall in the age bracket of 35 to 55 years of age, with more than 10 years of work experience. Therefore, they are likely to be in the middle management cadre, having to lead teams and fulfill higher level responsibilities. At this stage of their lives, they are also likely to be engaged in the upbringing of teenage children and caring for elderly dependents. All this exerts tremendous strain.  A large majority of the respondents agree that one of the consequences of poor work-life balance is job burnout. The analysis clearly indicates that excess work and the resultant imbalance leads to job burnout.

So What Can We Do to Moderate the Impact of Technology and Professional Commitment Guilt on our Lives?

Here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” for employers who are concerned about the work-life balance of their professional employees.

Don’t Limit Access to Technology

As employers this intermingling creates many complications in our desire to have happy, healthy, productive employees.  Access to technology may have a positive impact upon work-life balance if used responsibly.  It allows for more flexible working arrangements that may account for child and elder care responsibilities.  So limiting access to the technology itself is not the answer.  This can have a positive impact on work-life balance if expectations are properly managed.

Set Reasonable Work Expectations and Rewards for Performance

While we all want increased productivity from our staff, there is a point of diminishing returns, and in fact negative consequences, from having increasingly unrealistic expectations.  Make sure that the work productivity expectations are clearly communicated.

Create Meaningful Rewards that Encourage Work-Life Balance

Up to this point, many employers have directly or indirectly been promoting professional commitment guilt by rewarding those who sacrifice work-life balance for productivity.  Different metrics for success will have to be developed and encouraged if employers wish to help employees moderate the exigencies of professional commitment guilt.  It is not enough to set expectations – these must be fortified with appropriate rewards.

Involve Professionals in the Setting of Work Expectations and Rewards

Make sure that the employees themselves have significant input into the setting of those expectations.  Often employers do not fully appreciate the demands associated with the particular specialties that professionals have.  So open and clear communications about the nature of the work and specific resource requirements is essential.

Understand and Look for Professional Commitment Guilt

An employer that takes work-life balance seriously will seek to understand that professional commitment guilt may lead workers to take on more than is healthy for them.  Individuals often do not understand what is happening to them, as they go to extremes to please their employer.  Education is key.  Make sure that professionals are made aware of the symptoms of professional commitment guilt, so that they can recognize the trap they are falling into.


Professional commitment forms the foundation of most workplaces.  Our greatest challenge is in distinguishing between commitment and guilt. Those employers who understand and account for the difference will have healthier, happier, more engaged and more productive professionals.


About the Authors

Blaine Donais (B.A., LL.B., LL.M., RPDR, C. Med.) is President and Founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute. Blaine is a labour lawyer and an expert in labour/management facilitations, mediation, and investigation. He teaches human resources professionals, labour leaders and others in areas such as human rights, labour and employment law, human resources, collective bargaining and conflict resolution.  Blaine is author of Workplaces That Work: A Guide to Conflict Management in Union and Non-Union Work Environments (Carswell, 2006), and of Engaging Unionized Employees (Carswell, 2010) and The Art and Science of Workplace Mediation (Carswell, 2014). Blaine is an Adjunct Professor of Workplace Conflict Management, and Advanced Mediation Academic Director at York University. He also teaches at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto and at Royal Roads University.

Dr. Joel Moody (MD, PhD, MPH) is the Director of Safety, Risk, Policy and Innovation with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).  He leads a diverse group of scientists, engineers and analysts that provide leadership in regulatory best practice, compliance, public risk, and harm reduction related to electrical safety.  Prior to joining ESA in 2011, Joel used his experience and expertise in applying clinical and epidemiological principles to investigate and design prevention activities for environmental and occupational health, and chronic disease at local, national, and international levels.  Joel holds a Ph. D. from the University of Toronto, a Doctor of Medicine from George Washington University, a Master of Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University.


1 van Rensburg, F. J. (2010). What is Professional Commitments? Retrieved October 7, 2015, from [website no longer available]

2 Based on various surveys conducted by the Society of Energy Professionals between 1995-2015. Unpublished.

3 Subramanian, R. (2014). Work-life Balance. HRM Review (Sept 2014). The ICFAI University Press.

A Closer Look at Resistance to Change

Introductory Case Study: Transition to a Flexible Work Environment

In 2001, all non-computer products and services of the Ottawa branch of Hewlett-Packard were grouped into a new company called “Agilant” and moved out of the existing branch office. The remaining one hundred employees at the Ottawa branch office were solely responsible for the sales and servicing of Hewlett-Packard’s latest computer systems and software programs. At the same time, those at the Ottawa branch embarked upon a change initiative called “New Generation Workplace” (NGW), whose objectives were to reduce fixed office space costs by significantly reducing the number of desks and at the same time to move from a traditional to a flexible work environment. These changes had been mandated by headquarters in the United States. After these two changes, the size of the physical office was reduced by 35 percent and employees were encouraged to spend less time in the office by working from home.

Effective in March 2001, the majority of employees in the sales, servicing and marketing departments were no longer entitled to a designated desk space. In exchange, they were offered a choice between two drawers or space in a filing cabinet. A reduced number of workstations were made available by a reservation for a period of one to three days at a time. When they had not reserved a desk, employees were expected to work from home or out of a client’s office.

Initially, this initiative was met with skepticism. As one employee said: “We’ve lost the privilege of calling a certain desk our own, but the whole project hasn’t changed things all that much. I’m not sure if they’ll be getting rid of more desks in the future or not. For the time being, for all the hype there are still just as many people in the office as ever.” Sales members whose quotas were dependent upon team performance were also skeptical of the new approach. One sales employee stated: “By nature, sales people require high affiliation, so it won’t work.”

>> This paper is one chapter from Dr. Carol A. Beatty’s e-book, The Easy, Hard & Tough Work of Managing Change. The complete e-book is now available on our website at no charge: Download


Getting Ahead of the Shift: Summit Inspires Thoughtful Conversations About the Changing World of Work

With an impressive line-up of guest speakers and facilitators, the Queen’s IRC 2015 Workplace in Motion Summit brought together over 100 leaders in HR, OD and LR from across the country to engage in conversations about the workplace of the future, and the trends that are driving new models for organizational planning.

The Summit, held on April 16, 2015 in Toronto, featured a number of themes, including:

  • Talent: How do we engage, retain and motivate a new generation of workers?
  • Transformation:  How can organizations transform without trauma?
  • Making the shift: What do organizations need to do to shift to new models?
  • Managing overload: How do we keep up with evolving technology and trends?

What Matters in Today’s Workplace?

Summit Chair Brenda Barker Scott shared the characteristics of the new employee and introduced Courtney Jolliffe from Free the Children and James Prince from Me to We to talk about millennials at work. “Passion trumps choosing a location. We’re following what we’re passionate about,” said Jolliffe.  Jolliffe and Prince discussed what makes their jobs attractive, how they want to work, career expectations, and where in the world they want to work. They joked that, in true millennial fashion, they surveyed their teams to get input before their presentation – they prefer to work collaboratively and learn by interacting with their peer group.

“We don’t want our career to be limited by our job,” said Prince. He noted millennials have a flexible and fluid work-life balance and are seeking variation in their jobs.  Technology gives them the mobility to work anywhere in the world.

Brittany Forsyth, Vice President of Human Relations at Shopify, talked about the importance of culture in her organization.

“When we interview, we look at potential. Are they going to push their boundaries? Are they going to challenge other people? Are they ok with being challenged?” They want employees to fit their culture of innovation and resourcefulness.

The highlight of Forsyth’s presentation was the concept of Hack Days.  Every three months, Shopify employees are given two days to work on a special project that will improve the Shopify platform. They stop their day-to-day work and do something outside of their regular role. “It’s about creating the right environment for people to grow, learn, experiment and innovate,” Forsyth said. Many of the products and features created at Hack Days actually make it to market.

Hugh Ritchie from OpenText shared how technology is changing the world of work. “It has never been so disruptive,” he said. He discussed the impact of big data, the cloud, mobile, security, digital and the internet of things. He shared a number of facts and statistics:

  • There are generations that have ONLY known life with the internet.
  • Today more information is created every 2 days, than from 0 AD to 2003
  • 90% of world’s data was generated over the last 2 years
  • Mobile data traffic will grow 13X by 2017
  • 15 of 17 U.S. sectors have more data per company than the Library of Congress

A Deep Dive into HR, OD and LR

The afternoon featured break-out sessions with OD Leader Françoise Morissette, HR Leader Diane Locke, and LR Leader Anne Grant. Participants were able to choose two of the three sessions to attend, and then all attendees returned to the plenary for a large-group debrief.

Human Resources

Facilitator Diane Locke led a discussion around HR practices in a new work model, and introduced guest speakers from Telus and Samsung to share their best practices for attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent.

Bryan Acker, Culture Change Ambassador with TELUS, discussed their Work Styles® program, which gives employees the flexibility to work when and where they are most effective, so they can focus on supporting an exceptional customer experience. He said this supports work-life balance, improves employee retention and delivers consistent productivity.  According to their new hire survey, work-life flexibility is shown to consistently be a talent attractor for TELUS.

Christine Greco, Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at Samsung Canada, shared her company’s philosophy to have highly engaged, innovative “brand ambassadors” breaking boundaries in order to achieve long term success. Samsung’s work environment includes collaboration spaces, creativity rooms and a lounge/café. Their recognition program offers unique employee perks, and they are heavily involved within their communities.

Strategies and themes from the HR deep dive:

  • Creating organizations that are employee-centric
  • Encouraging collaborative connections
  • Mapping out varied career paths
  • Taking advantage of millennial strengths
  • Releasing collective leadership capacity

Organizational Development

Françoise Morissette opened the OD Session by talking about how the world is changing and organizations have to transform in order to remain relevant, sustainable, effective and successful. She introduced John Wilson, Corporate Culture Strategist with the City of Edmonton, to share how the City is strategically building a better city and changing their corporate culture.

The City of Edmonton’s long-term strategic plan, called The Way Ahead, establishes six 10-year strategic goals to achieve the City’s vision for Edmonton in 2040 and to direct long-term planning. Wilson shared the Citizen Dashboard, which provides performance information to the public about municipal services that support the City’s strategic plan.

Strategies and themes from the OD deep dive:

  • Culture shift needs leadership
  • Engage employees and clients to create solutions
  • Goals must be regularly measured, evaluated and adjusted
  • Build engagement and involvement through transparency and accountability
  • Find a vision, commit to the vision, and stay with the vision

Labour Relations

In the Labour Relations session, Anne Grant noted that, by 2031, it’s expected that one in three Canadian workers will be born in a different country, and that there will be roughly three people in the labour force for each retiree. Grant shared stories of unions cultivating strategic allies and partnerships, rather than adversarial rivalries in order to succeed in the global world.

Crystal Scott, past-president of CUPE Local 3521, told the group about turning around a fairly inactive local by increasing engagement, providing training to members (who hadn’t had training in almost 20 years), and working with management to create better processes and policies for her members. The session revealed that unions and employers deal with many of the same kinds of issues.

Strategies and themes from the LR deep dive:

  • We must develop partnerships and increase communication between unions across Canada, North America and internationally
  • Social technologies can increase membership and engagement
  • Bargain for more than monetary benefits
  • Honour seniority but embrace new talents and contributions
  • Form partnerships with employers to forge more collaborative, less adversarial relationships

What’s your one thing?

At the end of the day, participants were asked what “one thing” they would take action on when they returned to the workplace. The most common theme was a determination to increase collaboration – between colleagues, across teams, in change, in long-term strategies, and with senior leaders.

Other action items included:

  • Have the courage to search and advocate for best practices not just accept the status quo
  • Look for solutions not problems
  • Help to foster an environment where new ideas, innovation, improved processes, creativity and fun are all encouraged
  • Share at least 1 positive/optimistic thought with coworkers everyday
  • Think about what’s next and not get caught up in what’s right now
  • Invite and create more opportunities to hear other perspectives outside of my immediate team
  • Look to find commonalities across groups of employees, rather than focus on our differences (ie: age, gender, department)
  • Update outdated key messaging on job descriptions and ensure that we are selecting the appropriate staff to fit our culture
  • Integrate the considerations for millennial workforce into the senior leadership HR and OD strategies
  • Promote client and leader reflection with thought-provoking questions
  • Build strategies to engage youth in organized labour


Pictures from the Summit are available on Facebook

Infographics from the Summit are available on Facebook

Summit Proceedings can be downloaded here

Random Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

In modern society, safety and privacy interests frequently seem to conflict, particularly in the workplace. Random drug and alcohol testing is one instance when these interests may conflict. Employers are obligated under occupational safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for employees. The risk of workplace accidents increases if employees are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To mitigate that risk, some employers have implemented policies of random drug or alcohol testing. Employees and unions often object to such policies on the basis that random drug or alcohol testing infringes employee privacy interests.

Several months ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that employee privacy interests outweighed employer safety concerns in Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 30 v Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd., 2013 SCC 34 (“Irving”). Irving marks the first time the Supreme Court of Canada has considered workplace drug or alcohol testing. Further, Irving is a departure from some of the earlier appellate court decisions on drug and alcohol testing, which focused on the legality of such policies under human rights legislation, as opposed to privacy considerations.

Download PDF: Random Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

Family Status Accommodations: A Review of the Legal Obligations for Employers and Employees in the Canadian Workplace

The sons and daughters of “baby boomers” are sometimes called “the sandwich generation”. This cohort has the unenviable task of both raising their own families while often also taking on financial and caregiving responsibilities in respect of their aging parents. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to be faced with scenarios which require its consideration of an employee’s entitlement to accommodation under the ground of “family status”. This enumerated ground under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and under the Canadian Human Rights Act has resulted in recent decisions relating to the balance between work and family obligations and accommodation requirements. The Ontario Employment Standards Act also provides protection to families under its Personal Emergency Leave provisions.

This paper canvasses the existing legislation in respect of “family status” accommodation obligations and provides an overview of a number of recent cases that shed some light on how “family status” accommodation situations are playing out in Canadian workplaces.

Download PDF: Family Status Accommodations: A Review of the Legal Obligations for Employers and Employees in the Canadian Workplace

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