DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – DOES YOUR WORKPLACE HAVE A PROACTIVE APPROACH?

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – DOES YOUR WORKPLACE HAVE A PROACTIVE APPROACH?

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain power and control over another person with whom he or she has had an intimate relationship.  This pattern of behavior may include physical violence, sexual, emotional and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking or the use of electronic devices to harass and control another person.

Domestic Violence becomes workplace violence or harassment when it occurs or spills over into the workplace.

Based on information published by the Conference Board of Canada in November 2015:

  • 71% of organizations surveyed reported situations where it was necessary to protect a victim of domestic abuse;
  • 37% reported they have not implemented a domestic violence policy, either stand-alone or as part of a broader workplace policy.

Other research shows:

  • 70% of domestic violence victims are also abused at work (Swanberg, J. & Logan, T.K. (2005));
  • 54% of domestic violence victims miss 3 or more days of work a month (Zachary, M. (2000)).

Why Do Employers Need to be Proactive?

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers must specifically take precautions to protect workers from domestic violence that may occur in the workplace.  While a significant number of workplaces have implemented a domestic violence policy, many employers acknowledge that more training and education is required for employees and managers.

Providing a safe environment for employees facing domestic violence and connecting them with the appropriate community resources can contribute to a more productive workplace.  Some of the effects and associated costs of domestic violence in the workplace include:

  • Reduced employee productivity;
  • Increased absenteeism;
  • Decreased employee morale – strained relations among co-workers;
  • Potential harm to employees, co-workers and/or customers when violent abusers enter the workplace; and
  • Increased liability costs if someone at the workplace is harmed.

Protecting Employees Who are Victims of Domestic Violence

Organizations have an important role to play in supporting their employees who are dealing with domestic violence.

Key elements of such a program should include:

  • Training for managers and employees;
  • Reporting potentially threatening situations based on clear guidelines, for both management and staff, on how to deal with such issues;
  • Reviewing leave of absence policies and guidelines;
  • Establishing alternative work arrangements protocols;
  • Assessing threats and risks;
  • Planning safety procedures and programs such as door security, installation of panic buttons, etc.; and
  • Providing access to support services, community resources or employee assistance programs.

Is your organization prepared to protect and support an employee who is the victim of domestic violence?

While it may not be an issue yet, taking a proactive approach will ensure you have clear policies and procedures in place that will allow you to act immediately should that be necessary.  It will also help increase awareness, manage and prevent the escalation of violence and encourage employees who are victims of domestic violence to reach out for help.

With amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, )  coming into force on September 8, 2016, this is the perfect time to review your existing policies and procedures to ensure they comply with all the requirements of the OHSA.

What Can Pesce & Associates Do For Your Organization?

We have the experience and expertise in creating customized policies, procedures and codes of conduct that are compliant with legislation and recognize the culture and values of an organization.   We can develop and deliver customized training and communications to inform and support managers and employees.  Please visit our website at www.pesceassociates.com, contact your Senior Consultant or call Angelo Pesce, Managing Partner, at 416- 491-1501 extension 22.

Sandi Johnson

Senior Consultant

July 2016

Respect in the Workplace: Now is the Time to Bring it Back and Keep It!

Respect in the Workplace: Now is the Time to Bring it Back and Keep It!

In a recent report by Craig Dowden, PhD, entitled “Civility Matters” prepared for APEX (The Association of Public Service Executives), the author reminded us of how important civility in the workplace is to a well functioning organization. It states:

The rising problem of workplace incivility warrants immediate attention because uncivil workplace behavior can affect the entire organization negatively by poisoning worker’s psychological and physical well-being, learning motivation and productivity. The unfortunate organizational climate this situation creates can contribute ultimately to an organization’s inability to remain competitive.

It is our view that while this report specifically refers to the Federal Public Service its reasoning and findings apply equally to any organization.

Over the past few years our workplace legislators and human resources departments have been focused on developing proper processes to handle complaints of harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace. While having such processes is absolutely necessary, we need to ask ourselves – would it not be a more desirable objective and outcome if we could prevent this type of behaviour from happening in the first place?

We at Pesce & Associates believe that the answer is a resounding yes. Creating a civil and respectful workplace that will prevent many of these undesirable occurrences from happening is the answer.  We can help you identify problem behaviour, find solutions and train your managers/supervisors and staff on how to create and maintain respect in the workplace.

To find out how we can help you create solutions that fit with your workplace and unique environment, please contact Angelo Pesce at 416-491-1501 extension 22 or e-mail him at apesce@pesceassociates.com. For more information on all our services, please visit our website at www.pesceassociates.com

Who is advocating for employees?

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Back in the 50’s through to the 70’s, the general workforce had steady jobs, benefits, and decent pensions. During this period, the union movement–especially in the private sector–was very strong and their influence was significant. It wasn’t unusual for gains made in the collective bargaining process for unionized staff to make their way into the terms and conditions for non-unionized staff and management ranks.

Since then with the rise of business friendly governments at all levels, the union movement has come under attack. Suddenly it has become accepted dogma that unions are bad for business. In the interest of competitiveness, society has bought into this idea and it has reduced union influence in creating good working conditions for all members of the workforce.

Both in the USA and Canada, the unionization rate has declined considerably in the private sector. In Canada, the unionization numbers overall look healthier because the public service sector remains highly unionized. Healthcare, education and municipal workers have very good working conditions and in large part it is because they are unionized.

Statistics show that unionized employees’ wages and benefits are considerably better than that of non-unionized employees. This demonstrates that unions can improve the working and personal lives of people. Businesses and governments have felt that the only way for them to remain competitive and cost effective is to confront the strength of unions and reduce the terms and conditions that unions fought so hard for. This has been done without regard for the impact this will have on the personal well being of their workforces, and ultimately on society and the economy as a whole when people’s spending power is reduced.

Hardnosed bargaining, back to work legislation, and zero wage increases have been going on for well over 6 years in most jurisdictions. As a result, the push has been to create a race to the bottom– that is, to reduce the wages and benefits for these employees–instead of striving to have other sectors and employers strive to achieve their level of compensation thereby enhancing the well being and spending power of all.

There is currently an ongoing discussion on income inequality; a lack of employer sponsored benefits; a workforce that is not saving for retirement; precarious jobs, and employers that notwithstanding sound profits are laying off workers by the thousands. Just today, CPR announced 1,000 lay-offs notwithstanding sound profits. It is as if the reward to employees for a company’s profitability is losing their jobs. Banks earlier this year announced job losses even though their profits are in the billions of dollars.

Organizations, notwithstanding their pronouncement about “people being their most important resource,” often don’t really mean it. The evidence shows that the first action they take whenever they need to solve an operational problem, or increase profits, is to cut back on workers either through layoffs or reduction in wages and benefits and by creating precarious work.

Unless unionization increases significantly in the near future, employees are at the mercy of the employers without anyone looking after their interests. Prime Minister Trudeau has been quoted from an interview last summer as saying “Canadians need to know that unions matter. They need to know that unions are essential in the fight for fair wages. Canadians need a government, which instead of attacking unions, works with them to ensure that every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.”

If the government succeeds in changing the negative perception of unions the answer to my question “who is advocating for employees” will once again be “the unions”. More workplaces will organize and the situation for its employees will improve. At best this is a long term solution.

In Ontario the government is now reviewing the Employment Standards Act (ESA) with the objective of modernizing it. While this is welcome it won’t solve the problem of creating fairness in the workplace. As evidence of this, MOL has released the findings of its latest inspection blitz and found that two-thirds of employers were found in violation of the act with hours of work, overtime and vacation leave being the most common. Employers were given insignificant fines which do not act as either a deterrent or encouragement in obeying the ESA. Nor is there any significant process to educate workers on their rights in the workplace.

This leads me to the question; why haven’t HR professionals taken up the task of ensuring that employees are well treated just like the Accounting professionals ensure that every financial transaction meets accounting principles? Or, like the IT professionals ensure that the investment in hardware and software is maintained and up-to-date. These professions look after their field well because it is critical to the success of the company they work for.

As stated by Richard Branson, “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” So why have HR professionals not sought and received the authority to take care of the employees? If they had that authority and were obliged to exercise it then perhaps everyone would not have stood by when people in powerful positions took advantage of their staff (CBC and the Canadian Olympic Committee). ESA inspections would not show two-thirds of companies with violations, and noncompliance would not be an acceptable practice until they are caught. And perhaps knee jerk reactions to any financial problem would not be to cut back, reduce staff or otherwise diminish the value of the workers contribution to the success of the organization.

I strongly urge all HR professionals to seek this authority and for the sake of competitiveness, and successful organizations, let HR be the ones who advocate for employees.

Pesce & Associates has experience and expertise in helping organizations deliver exceptional results and in strengthening employee performance and commitment to achieving organizational strategic goals and corporate objectives. For further information on the full range of human resources consulting services offered by Pesce & Associates, please visit our website at http://www.pesceassociates.com or call Angelo Pesce at 416-491-1501 extension 22.

Angelo Pesce
Managing Partner
January 2016

 

3 Things Organizations Can Learn From the Blue Jays

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3 Things Organizations Can Learn From the Blue Jays

Now that the Blue Jays have finished their incredible season, I have been thinking about the baseball year, how far the Toronto Blue Jays have come and what contributed to their success.

Consider that the team reached the playoffs for the first time since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time. Early in the season they showed signs of the team they would become but they were unable to sustain any significant wins. At the all-star break, the middle of the season, the Blue Jays record was 51 wins and 50 losses. They were barely winning half their games. In contrast, they finished the season with a record of 93 wins and 69 losses clinching first place for their division. What led to this major turn-around in the second half and what can organizations learn from it?

1. Don’t be afraid of change.

Faced with another year of not making the playoffs, the team decided after the all-star break that they were not going to roll over and play dead. Instead they took action. A number of players that were popular with fans but who were not gelling with the team inside the clubhouse were traded. New players were brought in – Donaldson, Tulowitski, Price – who would ultimately be significant contributors to the team’s success. It was a complete shake up on the field as the GM realized “you can’t expect different results if you are to keep doing the same thing over and over” (Albert Einstein). The GM was not afraid of change and knew that to be successful you have to make difficult decisions and bold moves to achieve your vision. When an organization is not on the right track there are times when you have to part ways with those that are hindering your success and bring in the talent you need.

2. It’s all about the fit.

Not only did the Blue Jays’ GM bring in the talent needed, he brought in the personalities that were needed in the clubhouse to help the players become a successful team. In the first half of the season it appeared there were players that did not fit with the group. They were seen off to the side and not mixing with other players. After the player changes were made, word got out that the team was not only exciting on the field but were having a great time off the field spending time together and eating meals together. The personal relationships that were developing led to a more cohesive team on the field. As many organizations have realized, it is not enough for an employee to have the skills an organization needs. They also have to be a person that will get along with the rest of the team and fit the culture of the organization.

3. Everyone has an important role.

This seasons Blue Jays also recognized that winning is not just about the nine players on the field. There is a whole team behind them of players, coaches, trainers and administration. Many people provided the support necessary for the players to be successful, and the organization’s leadership made the effort to recognize the value of these supporting roles. For instance, when the Blue Jays were clinching the division out of town, the GM took a number of front office personnel to sit in the front row of the stadium and watch the game. When the team entered the playoffs, suited up and on the bench were players like Kawasaki and Buerhle even though they were not on the roster and would not be playing. The GM recognized that they provided a positive impact to player morale just being there. Organizations know that there can be those people whose personalities offer more to the team then their actual skills and that there is great value in that.

So thank you Blue Jays for the wonderful year! And thank you for teaching organizations to not be afraid of making drastic changes, the importance of hiring the right fit and how to recognize the important role everyone plays on a successful team. See you next season!

Elizabeth Hill
Partner & Senior Consultant
November 2015

How Pesce & Associates Can Help
Our Consultants have decades of experience working with the Employment Standards Act and helping clients ensure they are compliant. We utilize a Compliance Assessment Review process to ensure organizations are compliant with all employment related legislation. To discuss how we can assist you, please contact Elizabeth Hill, Partner & Senior Consultant, at ehill@pesceassociates.com or 416-491-1501 ext. 23.

For further information on the full range of human resources consulting services offered by Pesce & Associates, please visit our website at http://www.pesceassociates.com.

Are Strikes Becoming Obsolete?

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Are Strikes Becoming Obsolete?

The latest teachers’ strike has brought forward a debate that goes back to the late 60’s and early 70’s. This was an era when public servants across Canada were earning the right to bargain collectively. The big debate was how bargaining disputes should be settled. Some argued for compulsory arbitration as the only civilized method of settling disputes. Even Jakob Finkelman who was the Chair of the Public Service Staff Relations Board stated that compulsory arbitration would become the norm in dispute resolution.

Strikes in the public service have a different impact than strikes in the private sector. In the private sector strikes primarily hurt the participants because the public has alternatives. For example, if Ford Motor Company is on strike the public can wait for the strike to end or purchase a different make of automobile. At best it is an inconvenience. In the public sector like the education sector there is no alternative to the service provided by School Boards and as such when they go on strike it is the public that is hurt much more than the participants. This always leads to the discussion there must be a way to solve disputes that does not involve withdrawal of services that seriously inconvenience or hurt the public.

So far the only alternative has been compulsory arbitration. Why is it that this has not become the norm as it was anticipated in the 60’s and 70’s? The answer is that the arbitration process as is now practiced has not been able to replicate effectively what strikes provide. There are two major issues that contribute to this situation. The first is that arbitrators are selected by the parties and are paid by them. They must be acceptable to both sides and it makes sense for them not to make rulings that really hurt one side or the other because they would quickly become unacceptable to one of the parties and their case load would decline. As such, most rulings are change averse. If one seeks significant change to the collective agreement it will seldom happen in an arbitration environment. The second reason is that although there often are criteria developed by legislation that arbitrators have to take into account when making a decision, the only real criteria that is used is replication.

The theory behind replication is to create an outcome that would have occurred had a strike taken place. However, there are many factors to consider when trying to replicate an agreement reached after a strike. The size of the organization, management structure, financial situation, and geography are some of the factors. None of the foregoing is considered, instead the only criteria being considered is what is happening in that particular industry. Replication, for example, in the Long Term Care industry only considers what is happening in the same industry. However, the biggest single factor that is seldom considered is the relative bargaining strength of the parties. This is one of the most significant factors in a strike outcome. A strike is after all, a power game.

Therefore, to the question of are strikes obsolete, the answer has to be in the negative. Until a more effective alternative solution arises, the strike is still relevant. Compulsory arbitration, which has often been mentioned as the alternative needs to be redesigned so that it can truly attempt to replicate the likely outcome if a withdrawal of services had occurred. As a first step the Government should establish an Arbitration Tribunal with appointed arbitrators much the same way as judges are appointed. They need to be totally independent from the parties and rules of procedures and criteria developed to truly replicate an outcome that likely would have been reached by way of a strike before they can be seen to be effective.

How Pesce & Associates Can Help

Our Consultants have decades of experience in negotiating and labour relations. To discuss how we can assist you, please contact Angelo Pesce, CHRP, CMC, Partner and Principal Consultant at apesce@pesceassociates.com or 416-491-1501 ext. 23.

For further information on the full range of human resources consulting services offered by Pesce & Associates, please visit our website at http://www.pesceassociates.com. Follow us on Linkedin, Twitter or Tumblr for regular updates, HR tips, helpful hints and HR news.

Employment Standards Act Changes

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Employment Standards Act Changes – What You Need To Do

As of May 20, 2015, changes to the Employment Standards Act have come into effect. The following provides you with specific details and access to the necessary resources so you can ensure you are compliant.

ESA Information Poster
A new ESA Information Poster has been developed and must be posted in all workplaces. The new obligation is that all existing employees must be provided with a copy of the poster before June 20, 2015. On an ongoing basis, all new employees must receive a copy of the poster within 30 days of their first day of work. It is recommended that you make the poster part of your new employee hiring package. Follow the link below to access the new poster.

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/poster.php

Self-Audits
With the new amendments, Employment Standards Officers (ESOs) may now require an employer to complete a self-audit to report on their compliance with the Act and identify any outstanding wages due to non-compliance. If you are required to do a self-audit, you will receive written notice (the notice must be in writing) from an ESO which must specify:
• The period to be reviewed;
• The provision(s) of the ESA that are to be covered in the self-audit;
• The date by which the employer must provide the results of the self-audit to the ESO.

If the self-audit indicates that one or more employees are owed outstanding wages, the employer must provide a list of names and amounts that are to be paid with proof that the wages were paid out once completed. As well the employer must provide details on how they will ensure ongoing compliance. Whatever the results of the self-audit, the ESO retains the right to conduct his/her own investigation.

How Pesce & Associates Can Help
Our Consultants have decades of experience working with the Employment Standards Act and helping clients ensure they are compliant. We utilize a Compliance Assessment Review process to ensure organizations are compliant with all employment related legislation. To discuss how we can assist you, please contact Elizabeth Hill, Partner & Senior Consultant, at ehill@pesceassociates.com or 416-491-1501 ext. 23.

For further information on the full range of human resources consulting services offered by Pesce & Associates, please visit our website at http://www.pesceassociates.com.

One of the Most Important Decisions Effective Leaders Make

I have read many books and articles on the topic of leadership. Most of them discuss how to lead staff to the achievement of outstanding results or the qualities of great leaders. Most of these writings seem to be making the assumption that the staff that they lead are all competent and fit in very nicely with the culture of the workplace needing only inspired leadership to achieve great results. The other day I was reading another list of leadership qualities that would create outstanding results and a thought occurred to me; What if some employees are not competent or don’t fit into the workplace culture, what happens to the results leaders are seeking? The easy answer is that the results will suffer and the obvious solution of terminating these employees is very expensive in both money and time. Correcting hiring errors are time consuming and prevent an organization from getting into a work flow that is productive. Inspired leadership will do little to overcome bad hires. This realization reminded me of what I have known for years that hiring the right people that fit your organization is the most important action to take along with sound leadership to achieve success. How do we determine what the right person looks like? Following are some important factors to consider: • Do you have a strategy for growing your business and does it include the skills and experience you are going to need? • Is your organizational structure efficient and effective especially the reporting relationships? • Are your job descriptions up to date? • In addition to education, skills and experience have you identified the personal qualities that an individual must possess to succeed in your organization? This will ensure a proper fit in the organization. Hiring the right person in today’s workforce environment requires great care to determine the skills, abilities and the qualities required for the individual to succeed. It takes time up front to complete the task but in my opinion it is worth it because the right person in a well organized enterprise is the necessary foundation for successful leadership. At Pesce & Associates we have the skills and experience to assist you in developing proper hiring processes and strategies. Visit our website http://www.pesceassociates.com for more information on our services. Angelo Pesce Partner and Principal Consultant March 19, 2015