Canadian Payroll and Human Resource News and Articles - February 2016Canadian Payroll and Human Resource News and Articles - February 2016

Payroll News Canada - February 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of The Payroll News! As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates who are interested in keeping up with the latest changes in the Canadian Payroll industry. Federal and Provincial news are listed immediately below followed by our Featured Article and other useful topics.

Tip of the Month Federal News Provincial News
Featured Article Software Updates Newsletter Archive

Tip of the Month

February 2016 - Periodic Taxable Benefits Reporting - If you are providing your employees with taxable benefits (such as employer-provided life insurance), care should be taken at year end when assessing the benefit portion, especially if you have waited until the end of the year to calculate the value of the benefit and the related taxes. If you have performed these calculations periodically for each payroll cycle, the amounts should balance accordingly. If you have waited until year end to do so, the employee may face income tax liabilities when filing their personal income tax return. your business may also incur non-compliance penalties and potential audits from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec (RQ).

Looking for past tips? Please visit our Tip of the Month archive for historical tips other useful information that will assist with your payroll and HR tasks.

Canadian Federal Payroll and HR News

January 29, 2016 - CRA Revised Forms and Publications - The CRA has revised and posted numerous forms and publications that are relevant to your business. These include updates to: T4001 Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances, RC473 Application for Non-Resident Employer Certification, RC381 Inter-Provincial Calculation for CPP and QPP Contributions and Overpayments for 2015, T4044 Employment Expenses 2015, and many more. Visit the following link to view a complete list. (Full Story)

January 22, 2016 - Changes to T4001 Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances - The CRA has made a number of revision to the T4001 Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances. Some of the changes include: starting in 2016, eligible new small employers who pay remuneration for the first time can choose to remit their payroll deductions quarterly instead of monthly; you can now authorize the CRA to withdraw an amount from your bank account on date(s) that you choose; and enrol for direct deposit, or update the banking information. Visit the following link to view a complete list of changes and to download an updated copy of the guide. (Full Story)

January 4, 2016 - Government of Canada increases duration of Employment Insurance compassionate care benefit - The government has highlighted the coming into force of a previously announced increase in the duration of the Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefit, which will provide additional financial security to Canadian workers and their families in times of need. Effective January 3, 2016, the enhanced benefit, announced in 2015, allows claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current 6 weeks. Further, the period during which benefits can be taken is expanded to 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks). Benefits can be shared between family members. Eligibility for compassionate care benefits remains the same, including the requirement for a medical certificate signed by a doctor attesting to the family member’s condition. (Full Story)

January 2016 - Revised Payroll Deductions Online Calculator (PDOC) - The January 1, 2016 edition of the Payroll Deductions Online Calculator (PDOC) is now available on the CRA Web site. The PDOC is an interactive web application that calculates payroll deductions for all pay periods, provinces (except for Quebec), and territories. It will help you to confirm the deductions you include on your official statement of earnings. (Full Story)

December 30, 2016 - Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefit rates effective January 1, 2016 - Employment and Social Development Canada today announced the benefit rates for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) effective January 1, 2016. CPP benefits will increase by 0.9 percent for those already receiving CPP benefits. The maximum CPP retirement benefit for new recipients will increase from $1,012.50 to $1,038.33 per month. This increase is calculated on the average yearly maximum pensionable earnings for the last five years. (Full Story)

December 24, 2015 - Government Announces the 2016 Automobile Deduction Limits and Expense Benefit Rates for Business - The government has announced the income tax deduction limits and expense benefit rates that will apply in 2016 when using an automobile for business purposes. Although most of the limits and rates that applied in 2015 will continue to apply in 2016, there are two changes taking effect as of 2016. The first is that the limit on the deduction of tax-exempt allowances that are paid by employers to employees who use their personal vehicle for business purposes will be reduced by 1 cent to 54 cents per kilometre for the first 5,000 kilometres driven, and to 48 cents per kilometre for each additional kilometre. The second change in 2016 is that the general prescribed rate that is used to determine the taxable benefit of employees relating to the personal portion of automobile operating expenses paid by their employers will be reduced by 1 cent to 26 cents per kilometre. (Full Story)

Provincial Payroll and HR News

(Click a Province to expand the articles)

January 28, 2016 - Revised Payroll Information for Alberta - CanPay has posted the 2016 revisions for payroll and HR-related data in its free online database. This page provides current provincial payroll information for the province of Alberta that includes such topics as Minimum Wage, Hours of work, Worker's Compensation, Leaves, Statutory Holidays, Minimum Working Age, Termination Notices Requirements and much more. Revised payroll information for all of Canadian provinces and territories is also available. (Full Story)

January 7, 2016 - Reporting annual payroll - The Alberta Workers' Compensation Board is reminding employers that their annual return must be submitted before the last day in February each year - February 29, 2016. Each year employers are required to report their workers' insurable earnings paid in the current year along with an estimate of what earnings they expect to pay in the upcoming year. This information is vital to ensure the correct WCB-Alberta coverage is in place. (Full Story)

January 6, 2016 - Increase to claims cost threshold - The Alberta Workers' Compensation Board has announced that there will be an increase to the claims cost threshold. The claim cost threshold for no time loss claims used in experience rating is reviewed annually and will increase to $1,300 effective for claims occurring in 2016. Costs are totaled and compared with the average costs of an employer's size and industry. Employers with less than average costs receive discounts; employers with higher costs receive surcharges. (Full Story)

January 28, 2016 - Supporting Aboriginal skills training - A new skills training program gets underway this month that will provide training to members of First Nations to meet the anticipated demand for skilled workers for the developing LNG industry. Participants will be trained in essential and transferable skills such as computer literacy, math, English, personal development, safety training and work experience preparation. Completion of the program will give participants a head start in their employment readiness as well as a sound understanding of which jobs are in demand. Funding for the new program comes from the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund, created earlier this year as part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - New Skilled Immigration System helps meet B.C.’s economic needs - The Province has launched a new intake system for the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Applicants are assessed on a number of factors that reflect an individual’s ability to succeed in the labour market and contribute to the provincial economy such as level of education, years of direct work experience and a B.C. employment offer. The new system more closely aligns with the federal government’s immigration process for skilled labour. For example, B.C.'s tech sector is consistently growing faster than the overall economy, thus PNP will allow employers to access skilled labour quickly to bring highly skilled newcomers into the province. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Roundtable on access to skilled labour for the forestry sector - Forestry sector representatives met with the federal and provincial governments today to discuss skilled-labour initiatives and human-resource planning, as part of a series of roundtables being held over coming months with sectors highlighted in the BC Jobs Plan. Close to 3,600 job openings are projected in the forest industry through to 2024, according to the Labour Market Outlook. Through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, the Province is helping British Columbians get the skills they need to be first in line for these job openings. (Full Story)

January 18, 2016 - New funding program helps technology-sector employees upgrade their skills - The BC government has announced that a new stream of funding under the Canada-B.C. Job Grant (CJG) has been created to help employees in the technology sector get the training they need to succeed in the future. A total of $4.5 million under the CJG over the next five years will be provided to employers and organizations in the technology sector to help their current and future workers upgrade their skills. The CJG is a partnership between the federal and provincial governments as well as employers. Government provides two-thirds of the total training cost for an employee up to $10,000 per person, while the employer is responsible for the remaining one-third of the training cost. (Full Story)

January 13, 2016 - Factsheet: B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint - On April 29, 2014, the Government of British Columbia launched B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, a plan to align funding and programs to a data-driven system where training dollars and programs target in-demand occupations. Among the accomplishments to date are: $86 million in provincial funding towards skills and training infrastructure, $7.4 million to support more than 540 Aboriginal people in 2014 to get the skills and training they need in community for jobs, and almost $2.8 million to support the success of persons with disabilities to access and succeed in training aligned with in-demand jobs. (Full Story)

January 19, 2016 - Manitoba Government To Launch Comprehensive Review Of Workers Compensation Act - The province will launch a comprehensive review of the Workers Compensation Act this year as required by the act. A committee has also been formed to review workers compensation legislation to ensure it continues to meet the needs of both workers and employers in Manitoba’s changing workplaces. The committee will include a representative from business, labour and the public interest, and its mandate will be to conduct a complete review of the act with input from all stakeholder groups, the minister said.  The last major review of the act, in 2005, generated 100 recommendations for improvements to the system. (Full Story)

January 18, 2016 - Province Investing In Job Readiness, Work Experience Opportunities For Youth - As part of its First Jobs Strategy, the Manitoba government will award $1.35 million under the First Jobs Fund to 13 organizations offering job-readiness programming for youth ages 15 to 29 facing barriers to employment. Programs supported by the First Jobs Fund will assist more than 400 youth and include; career development workshops, work placements, job coaching, literacy and numeracy training, employment assistance for newcomers and refugees, and industry-specific training in areas like food services, hospitality and recreation. (Full Story)

January 14, 2016 - Province Invests $30 Million To Create Employment, Training Opportunities For Young People - More students will benefit from new or renovated shops classes and the opportunity to train on state-of-the-art equipment thanks to an investment of $30 million in Manitoba’s Skill Build Shops Fund. The first phase of the Skill Build Shops Fund, announced in 2014, resulted in a total of 19 new projects at 17 schools that are now providing industry standard vocational programming to students eligible for apprenticeship certification. The plumbing trades program will prepare students for employment and further training, and will meet existing labour demands from industry. (Full Story)

December 21, 2015 - Minimum wage to increase on April 1 - Premier Brian Gallant announced today that the minimum wage in New Brunswick will increase from $10.30 per hour to $10.65 per hour on April 1, 2016. The Regulatory Accountability and Reporting Act was tabled in the legislative assembly. This legislation reflects an agreement reached in recent months by the three Maritime provinces to align their respective minimum wage increases. "An increase in minimum wage will provide support to those most in need," said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry. "It will also lead to strengthening and stimulating the economy, which will benefit small businesses in all regions of the province." (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Job fair to help workers laid-off from potash mine - The provincial government is holding a job fair on Tuesday, Feb. 2 to help workers laid-off by the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. This job fair will be an opportunity for workers and their families to evaluate employment opportunities in the Sussex area and throughout the province. The department will offer services in the areas of education, employment, employment counseling and support at the fair. The event will provide an economically-feasible way for employers to recruit workers and for job seekers to establish a network of possible employers. (Full Story)

January 18, 2016 - WorkSafeNB warns employers about misleading sales calls - WorkSafeNB advises New Brunswick employers to be wary of misleading calls regarding Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training. WorkSafeNB has learned firms are contacting New Brunswick employers and suggesting that their “employees must be retrained immediately” because of new regulations or changes to WHMIS. WHMIS is Canada’s hazard communication system, providing vital information about hazardous workplace materials. WHMIS requires suppliers of potentially hazardous materials convey specific information to employers, and that employers share that hazard information to their workers for their protection. (Full Story)

January 26, 2016 - Fourth quarter client service satisfaction surveys - Beginning the week of February 1, WorkplaceNL will conduct its 2015 fourth quarter client service satisfaction survey. This is part of WorkplaceNL's strategy to further improve client service. A random sample of injured workers and employers will be contacted.  In the event a client is selected for surveys, they assure their clients that they will only be called once per year. The surveys will gauge satisfaction levels among clients. The outcomes of the surveys will be made public annually, and used to develop action plans and enhancements to programs affecting client services. (Full Story)

January 2016 - WorkplaceNL Annual Employer Statements - The Newfoundland WCB has announced that the Annual Employers Statement web service is now open for Employers, Accountants and Bookkeepers. Employers can submit their Annual Employer Statements (AES) online through connect. An online service is also available for accounting and bookkeeping companies for submitting these statements. (Full Story)

January 28 / 2016 - WSCC Releases Video on Assessment Rates - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) has released a video that discusses the topic of Assessment Rates. The WSCC’s first video for YouTube is narrated by President and CEO Dave Grundy. The video contains several sections including; a basic explanation of assessment rates, how the annual rates are determined, and also a frequently asked questions portion. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Launch Safety Forum for Employers - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) announced the release of Safety Share, a new online safety forum for employers operating in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Safety Share is an online forum for employers to share important safety information among themselves, to ask each other questions, and to collaborate. It is a go-to place for employers to support each other and gain easy access to important safety information. The forum groups discussions into six categories to help employers easily identify the topics that interest them. The categories are: Important Safety Notices, Safety Resources, Practices Worth Sharing, Looking for Assistance, In the News, and General Discussion. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Minimum Wage Increasing April 1 - Nova Scotia's minimum wage is increasing in line with the cost of living. The Government accepted the Minimum Wage Review Committee's recommendation to increase the minimum wage by 10 cents, to $10.70 an hour on April 1. The minimum wage for someone who has less than three months' experience will also increase by 10 cents an hour, to $10.20. Minimum wage rates are adjusted annually, and are based on the previous year's national Consumer Price Index. (Full Story)

January 18, 2016 - Apprentices Across the Country Can Now Train More Easily - Apprentices can now move between provinces and territories more easily to complete their training. As of Jan. 1, apprentices' technical training, work experience and examination results will be recognized across the country. Students graduating from approved pre-apprenticeship training programs will also get full credit for their training. Nova Scotia currently has mobility agreements with Alberta and the other Atlantic provinces. This agreement expands the recognition to the remaining provinces and territories. (Full Story)

January 15, 2016 - WSIS 2016 Annual General Meeting - The Workplace Safety and Insurance System has announced that their Annual Meeting will take place from 1pm to 3pm on Tuesday, May 3rd. The Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia and the Deputy Minister of Labour and Advanced Education will host the meeting. Representatives from WCB Nova Scotia, Workers’ Advisers Program, Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education will be in attendance. (Full Story)

January 6, 2016 - New Policy Provides More Training Opportunities for Apprentices - Government is launching a procurement pilot to encourage businesses to hire apprentices in Nova Scotia. The pilot program was developed in partnership with the Construction Association of Nova Scotia. It requires contractors bidding on provincially funded construction projects in Nova Scotia to take part in the province's apprenticeship program. The pilot will focus on current school construction projects only and applies to contractors whose portion of the bid equals or exceeds $100,000. Exceptions will be made for smaller companies and those whose work doesn't fall within a designated trade. (Full Story)

January 5, 2016 - Payroll Rebate Approved - Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) has approved a business development incentive in the form of a payroll rebate for Entreprise Castle Hall Alternatives, Inc. (Castle Hall), headquartered in Montreal, PQ. Castle Hall is a provider of operational due diligence to the investment industry with the potential to create up to a maximum of 40 new jobs under the payroll rebate agreement. Payroll rebates are designed in a way that the tax revenue generated for the province by the new jobs in Nova Scotia is always more than the amount spent on the rebate. When a company submits an annual rebate claim, it must send NSBI audited information that confirms the number of jobs it created that year. (Full Story)

January 29, 2016 - Training on the Job (TOJ) - The Training on the Job program provides a wage subsidy to small and medium sized employers to help them hire and train unemployed or under-skilled workers. The training, which can be up to 52 weeks in length, may be delivered on the job site, at an institution or training provider or as a combination of both. The expectation is that the employer hires the trainee at the end of the training period. The TOJ program is available to public sector, private sector, non-governmental, charitable or voluntary organizations. Private sector employers should have fewer than 50 employees. The trainee should be training to fill a full-time, part-time (minimum of 20 hours per week) or a seasonal job. Trainees may be unemployed, underemployed or apprentices. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Launch Safety Forum for Employers - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) announced the release of Safety Share, a new online safety forum for employers operating in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Safety Share is an online forum for employers to share important safety information among themselves, to ask each other questions, and to collaborate. It is a go-to place for employers to support each other and gain easy access to important safety information. The forum groups discussions into six categories to help employers easily identify the topics that interest them. The categories are: Important Safety Notices, Safety Resources, Practices Worth Sharing, Looking for Assistance, In the News, and General Discussion. (Full Story)

January 26, 2016 - Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Additional Design Details - Ontario is moving forward with its commitment to strengthen retirement income security for Ontarians by announcing further design details of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), modelled on the strengths and principles of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). By 2020, every eligible worker in Ontario will be part of either the ORPP or a comparable workplace pension plan. The ORPP is designed to provide plan members a 15 per cent income replacement rate after they contribute to the plan over 40 years. When a plan member retires, their pension benefit would be calculated using their average earnings over the years they contributed to the plan. The ORPP would begin paying benefits in 2022. (Full Story)

January 26, 2016 - Province Completes Design of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan - Ontario has announced new decisions on the proposed design of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) - another step in delivering on its commitment to strengthen retirement income security for the two-thirds of Ontario workers without a secure workplace pension plan. A range of decisions were made, including the structure of ORPP benefits, compliance and enforcement, plan comparability and member participation. The details released today, combined with details released last August, will help employers prepare for the implementation of the ORPP, beginning on January 1, 2017. (Full Story)

January 25, 2016 - Applications Open for Summer Company Program - Ontario is now accepting applications for the Summer Company program, which helps youth start their own business and gain the skills they need to succeed. Summer Company offers mentorship, training and awards of up to $3,000 to students aged 15 to 29. Students can apply online until May 6. Almost 7,000 students across the province have launched a summer business through Summer Company since 2001. Summer Company is part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy. (Full Story)

January 22, 2016 - Ontario Increasing Wages For Early Childhood Educators - For a second straight year, Ontario is increasing wages for early childhood educators and other child care professionals in licensed child care settings. Ontario is providing a $1 per hour wage increase for eligible child care workers who qualify in the licensed child care sector, bringing the total wage increase up to $2 per hour, plus benefits. The province is also providing an additional $10 per day increase to home child care providers who qualify, bringing the total increase up to $20 per day. Both increases are effective January 2016. (Full Story)

January 8, 2016 - Ontario Adds 34,900 Jobs in December - Ontario's economy continues to create jobs and grow, with 34,900 jobs added in December. This brings the total increase in employment since the recessionary low in June 2009 to 588,100. Ontario experienced employment growth in a number of key sectors, including manufacturing, finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Ontario's unemployment rate also dropped to 6.7 per cent, outpacing the national average. Creating jobs and opportunities is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. (Full Story)

December 22, 2015 - Regulation and Fee Changes Coming Into Force January 1, 2016 - A number of legislative and regulation changes came come into effect on January 1, 2016. Notable for employers was the new requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Organizations must meet certain standards by January 1, 2016 including: large private/non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees must be in compliance with the accessibility standard for employment by making hiring and employee support practices accessible; they must also make public information accessible when asked. (Full Story)

January 27, 2016 - Minister reminds Islanders of Adult Education learning opportunities - Islanders looking to improve their career opportunities and gain new skills to maintain employment in the labour market are encouraged to explore the adult education program, said Minister Richard Brown, Workforce and Advanced Learning. In 2014–15, the Province supported approximately 650 adult learners on Prince Edward Island. There is no tuition cost for Islanders to attend adult education as funding is provided through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Development Agreement through the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning. (Full Story)

January 22, 2016 - Trade HERizons promotes trades and technology occupations to women - Women on Prince Edward Island who are unemployed or underemployed and have been seeking a new career opportunity, are gaining exposure to trades and industrial technology careers, says Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning Richard Brown. Trade HERizons has been made possible by funding from the Province through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Development Agreement and the Canada-PEI Job Fund Agreement and the participation of community partners. (Full Story)

January 19, 2016 - Commitment to apprentices in Canada ensured through Apprentice Mobility Agreement - Apprentices in Canada will now have seamless mobility, enabling provinces to better meet labour demands of businesses, and allow apprentices to capitalize on employment opportunities. Provincial and territorial ministers responsible for apprenticeship and labour markets officially announced the Apprentice Mobility Agreement, which allows apprentices to work temporarily, or transfer permanently, to another jurisdiction and receive recognition for their work experience, skills acquired, and in-school training completed in any jurisdiction in Canada. (Full Story)

January 15, 2016 - Prince Edward Island introduces apprenticeship pilot program to assist Islanders seeking employment - Prince Edward Island is introducing a one-year pilot program to assist Island apprentices who have begun the in-school training process, but have not been able to obtain or maintain an employer connection. The pilot program is the first of its kind in Canada. The program, effective immediately, will allow registered apprentices in any province to enrol in one block of in-school training offered through the PEI Apprenticeship Section, without needing an employer connection. The one-year pilot program, approved by the PEI Apprenticeship Board, will be monitored and evaluated by program staff over the next year. (Full Story)

January 08, 2016 - WCB PEI recognized as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers - The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of Prince Edward Island has been selected as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 25 Employers for 2016 – a special designation recognizing employers in Atlantic Canada that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition using eight criteria: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and, community involvement. (Full Story)

January 8, 2016 - Lowest Unemployment Rate in Canada - In December 2015, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent (seasonally adjusted), the lowest rate among provinces and well below the national average of 7.1 per cent. Saskatchewan has maintained the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for 26 of the last 27 months. There were 570,900 people employed.  Full-time employment increased by 1,500 and part-time decreased by 2,500. Regina's employment was up 1,700 (+1.2 per cent), and Saskatoon's employment was up 300 (0.2 per cent) compared to December 2014. (Full Story)

December 31, 2015 - New Essential Services Legislation Takes Effect January 1, 2016 - Starting New Year’s Day, amendments to essential service legislation (Part VII of The Saskatchewan Employment Act) will take effect. Key changes to the legislation include: establishing an independent third-party dispute resolution body that will render decisions on what services are essential. The amendments to the essential services legislation will ensure that alternative methods are available to settle workplace disputes. The amendments will also foster on-going, productive and effective relationships between workers and employers while protecting the public. The ruling recognized essential services must be maintained while respecting workers’ rights to take job action. (Full Story)

January 29, 2016 - Yukon WorkFutures Foreign Credential Recognition - To assist skilled workers with landing a job in the territory, Yukon offers Foreign Credential Recognition. It is a process of verifying that the education and job experience obtained in another country are equal to the standards established for Canadian workers. The Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO) or CIC provides information, tools, path-finding and referral services on foreign credential recognition to help foreign-trained workers succeed and put their skills to work in Canada more quickly. (Full Story)

Featured Article

Warm & fuzzy the workplace?

A few ways managers can make it happen

February is Valentine month, the time when we traditionally celebrate romance and intimate spousal/partnership relationships.

As well, February has become the time when the issue of workplace romance becomes the annual topic of hot debate. "Should you or shouldn't you" is always the question. Yet we all know that since people are spending most of their time at work, the opportunity for romance is naturally there. However, from an organizational perspective, so is the threat of potential repercussions.

While many workplace romances end in marriage success, many do not, and so organizational leaders are always very concerned about potential fallout. These include damage to team morale and productivity and the creation of a sense of unfairness or perceived favouritism.

At the same time, many managers are not only reluctant to intervene, they are genuinely confused about how to handle the situation. As a result, most organizations have created guidelines and policies on how to deal with the matter.

On the other hand, organizational leaders want their employees to develop strong bonds and have good relationships. They want employees to have common interests and a focus on a common mission. They want a strong, harmonious workplace that fosters improved collaboration and stimulates innovation for profitability and success. In other words, what these leaders are referring to is the importance of building a strong, positive workplace culture.

At the same time, in my view, organizational culture must be designed, developed and nurtured rather than left to a life of its own. If that's the case, what are some steps a leader can take to develop a positive work culture where in-depth, non-intimate relationships dominate? The following 10 steps will provide helpful guidance.

  1. Build on values and purpose. Helping employees understand your organizational values and mission is critical to motivating them to align their personal behaviour with your overall goals. Individuals want to understand why they are doing something and what's in it for them. Understanding purpose gives focus and motivates people to succeed. Define your purpose and communicate it at every turn.
  2. Integrate culture into training. Take advantage of internal training programs, particularly those in leadership and team-building. Use them as a prime opportunity to teach and reinforce the various elements of your workplace culture. This helps participants talk about formal and informal ways in which the culture can be implemented through everything thing employees say and do.
  3. Apply effective human resource policies. Employees are very cognizant of fair and equitable treatment, whether it's related to salary and benefits, access to promotion, equal opportunity and/or reward and recognition. Train managers and supervisors to understand and effectively implement these policies. Create handbooks for employees and review the policies with them. When an employee raises an issue about the inadequacy of a policy and/or issues surrounding a misunderstanding, immediately investigate their concern and keep them informed.
  4. Facilitate team spirit. Employees want to feel valued and want to feel a true part of their peer group. Take every opportunity to foster team feeling. Create some fun by engaging in periodic team activities. Involve everyone in group discussions. Ask for feedback and encourage input while developing respect for diverse opinions. Help team members effectively present their ideas.
  5. Reward and recognize. While there are many opportunities for informal recognition, it's wise to develop a formal reward and recognition program. Whereas monthly employee recognition programs are still effective, there's no need to go to any large expense. Use social media and the Internet to boast about employee accomplishments.
  6. Keep the communication door open. While many managers suggest they have an open-door policy, they have to really demonstrate they are indeed accessible. Get out there and mingle with employees, join in conversations, get close to the action. If someone does drop by the office, be sure you know their name and take a moment to listen to their concern and/or their idea. Sit down with groups of employees on a periodic basis and continually communicate your vision and goals.
  7. Provide the resources. It's very disturbing to encounter an employee who is hampered in their work because a boss won't provide the resources to do their job. It just doesn't make sense. Go the proverbial extra mile to make sure your team's work-related resource needs are looked after. After all, when you care, they'll care.
  8. Overcome procrastination. Many managers fear conflict and therefore do not effectively deal with either employee and/or customer problems when they arise. Employees spot this failure a mile away and when issues are continually not dealt with, they stop raising issues and simply hunker down into career survival. So much for a positive workplace culture, and once gone, it is terribly difficult to win back.
  9. Hire for cultural fit and attitude. An employee can have all the technical skills in the world, but if he/she doesn't have the right attitude or live by the same values, they will simply not fit your culture. Typically, this misalignment can be seen within three months of employment, but it's often ignored until it's too late. Focus on hiring for attitude and cultural fit to avoid the risk of damaging morale.
  10. Be a role model. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing all the clichés about teamwork and employee value in the workplace and then running headlong into a boss who doesn't live up to the corporate standards. Morale and productivity will plummet and employees will adopt a care-less attitude. Being a positive role model in the workplace has the same value as at home -- people learn and follow the behaviour they see and experience.

In my view, a better focus for the month of February would be ensuring strategies are in place to develop and sustain positive and harmonious relationships. It is this type of relationship between workers that not only creates individual career success but is one of the critical keys to employee productivity, high morale and ultimately, organizational

Article presented by permission from Barbara J. Bowes, President of Legacy Bowes Group and president of Career Partners International, Manitoba. She can be reached at

Software Updates

GrandMaster Suite v8.05 (Current Release)

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GrandMaster II v10.02

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eNETEmployer (Current Release)

  • 2016 Tax Changes - Recent changes include the new 2016 Federal and Provincial tax changes.
  • Employee Profile Report - If you use accumulators in your payroll, each accumulator's balance will now appear in the employee profile report.

eNETPayroll (Current Release)

  • 2016 Tax Changes - Recent changes include the new 2016 Federal and Provincial tax changes.

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