By Samantha Easter – HR Consultant, HR @ Your Service

In past practice, it was typical that ill, injured or employees with a disability were often expected to be away from their workplace until such time that they were fully recovered and able to return to work at their full capacity. However, studies show that the longer an employee is away from the workplace, the less likely they are to return, with only 20% of workers returning to their job after one year of absence.[1]

In 2012, it was found that absenteeism cost Canadian companies $16.6 billion in productivity, an average of 2.4% of each employers’ gross payroll.[2] Also worth considering are the costs of overtime, increased benefit premiums, the loss of employees’ organizational knowledge, the need to hire and train replacement employees, and the potential added workload to other employees, which can result in increased stress, lower morale, and as a result, further absences.

From an employee’s perspective, being away from work can be detrimental, contributing to a reduced or loss of income, a higher risk of mental illness, such as depression, and the increased chance of a chronic disability.

A worker earning $50,000 a year who becomes disabled at age 35 will lose almost $400,000 in the 30 years before retirement, based on 60% long-term disability coverage. If forced onto social assistance, the cost will rise to almost $800,000.

[1] Source [2] Source

Disability Management Programs

Disability management programs are designed to promote the health, safety and wellness of employees in the workplace, and to support employees who are or are at risk of missing work due to an illness, injury or disability to remain at or return to the workplace.

A comprehensive and successful disability management program is typically comprised of four components – prevention, early intervention, support for recovery and evaluation.

A cycle showing prevention, early intervention, support for recovery and evaluation


Prevention provides an opportunity to support employee health and prevent absenteeism.  We suggest organizations track the frequency and reasons for employee absenteeism in the workplace. Tracking absences related to personal reasons (specifically illness, disability, personal/family responsibilities, excluding maternity/parental leaves) allows employers to analyze patterns and health risks to identify and address root causes of absenteeism.

Employers can also look at utilizing data provided by their benefit providers (i.e., short-term and long-term disability, Employee Assistance Programs, drug costs, etc.) to gain further insight into the potential health issues employees may be experiencing.

Some employers have programs in place to prevent employees from missing work or support employees in the workplace. This may include group benefit programs that contribute to employee wellness (i.e., paramedical benefits or Employee Assistance Programs) and health and safety standards and programs to identify, prevent or eliminate hazards within the workplace.

Employers may also consider being proactive and implementing wellness programs and initiatives that, can, as an added benefit, increase employee engagement and promote employee health and well-being.  This can include developing awareness of mental, physical, and financial wellness, and offering fitness programs.

Early Intervention

Studies have demonstrated that, in cases where it is safe to do so, employees that remain at work or return to work as soon as possible have better health outcomes.

Collaboration is key to ensuring a successful disability management program. Employers need to consider all stakeholders that need to be involved and establish responsibilities; this may include but is not limited to the employee, their healthcare provider, the employee’s supervisor, and, where applicable, insurance providers and the union.

Employers should work with the employee and identified stakeholders to develop plans that help the employee remain at or return to work.

Remain-at-work and return-to-work plans have the same function – they are tools developed to proactively assist employees to remain at or return to the workplace in a safe and timely manner. There is no one size fits all approach for these plans; each workplace and employee’s set of circumstances will require different approaches and solutions. It is important that in determining these plans that the employer works closely with the healthcare provider to understand how the employee’s medical condition or injury impacts their ability to do their job, confirming if the restrictions/limitations are temporary or permanent and the prognosis for recovery. 

While a remain-at-work or return-to-work plan is typically transitional and temporary in nature, some employees may require permanent accommodations. 

Support for Recovery

The goal for organizations is to identify a plan to support the employee at work, preferably in the position they held prior to the absence occurring to ensure they can resume their work routines and be amongst their colleagues. However, there are instances where this isn’t safe or feasible, depending on an employee’s capabilities. In these cases, other alternatives should be considered such as:

  • A modified job in the same department
  • A different job in the same department
  • A similar job in a different department
  • A different job in a different department

All employers have the legal duty to accommodate their employees, up to the point of undue hardship. This requires organizations to identify and remove barriers to allow all workers to participate fully within the workplace.

37% of employees with disabilities aged 25-64 years in Canada required at least one accommodation in the workplace to be able to work. The most common workplace accommodations are flexible work arrangements (27%), workstation modifications (15%), and human or technical supports (6%).[1]

[1] Source

After a thorough review of the employee’s functional capabilities and limitations, the employer, the employee, and the stakeholders can identify options for accommodation. Once implemented, the employer should maintain ongoing communication with the employee and accommodation plans should be regularly monitored and reviewed to allow for adjustments and modifications, as needed, including upon reassessment by the employee’s healthcare provider.


Disability management programs should be regularly reviewed and evaluated to ensure they are meeting the goals and needs of the organization, with adjustments being made as necessary.

By implementing a holistic approach to disability management, employers can reduce the cost and impact of employee absenteeism while supporting the wellbeing of their employees and fostering a healthy organizational culture.

By Ainsley LaCroix – HR Consultant, HR @ Your Service

Recently, we talked about the power of feedback, its role in making teams stronger and strategies for how to make it a regular – and welcomed – part of interactions between leaders and employees. As essential as a less-structured approach to feedback can be to an organization’s success, having a solid and well-planned approach to managing performance is just as essential. A thorough performance management process aligns the goals and objectives of employees with those of the company, promotes continuous learning and development, and drives the ongoing improvement of individuals and teams.

What is performance management?

Performance management is a systematic approach to improving the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by evaluating the performance of employees and providing feedback, guidance, and support to help them reach their full potential.

Advantages of a performance management process

It’s not a secret that as a leader or business owner we want employees to perform well and, ideally, get a sense of satisfaction from succeeding in their role.

So, how does a structured performance management strategy help with this?

  1. Improving employee performance. When employees are provided with regular insight into their performance, they are able to identify both their strengths and areas for improvement. This helps employees to further develop the skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential in your organization.
  1. Aligning employee performance with company goals. By setting clear expectations and goals that are aligned with the objectives of the company, and regularly monitoring and reviewing performance, leaders ensure that employees are contributing to the overall success of the organization.
  1. Supporting employee development. Providing employees with regular feedback and coaching supports their professional development. This coaching guides learning and development opportunities and helps employees grow and progress in their career with the organization, contributing to talent management efforts.
  1. Increasing organizational efficiency. Performance management serves as a tool to measure results and employee productivity. When employees work towards the most important company goals and objectives, resources are used effectively, organizational efficiency increases and overall business results improve.
  1. Enhancing employee motivation. Regular recognition for achievements and celebrating successes helps with employee motivation and achieving a sense of satisfaction in their role.  When employees feel good about their work, it reinforces their commitment to their team, their leader, and to contributing to the success of the organization.
  1. Facilitating open communication. Open communication helps to build trust and improve the overall relationship between leaders and employees. A performance management process provides opportunities for leaders and employees to have honest and ongoing conversations about performance, and to discuss any challenges or obstacles they may be facing.

Knowing the process stages

Knowing the stages of performance management allows leaders to effectively implement a process with their teams. An effective performance management strategy defines performance expectations, creates opportunities for regular coaching, sets the stage for performance evaluation, and serves as a tool for issuing recognition and rewards.

Stage 1 – Planning

In this stage, leaders and employees work together to identify S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals that align with the expectations and overall team or business goals for the year ahead. Planning also includes discussing resources, support, and training that will be provided to help the employee achieve their individual goals.

From this stage, a development plan is created for the employee, to be reviewed at regular touchpoints throughout the year.

Stage 2 – Monitoring

This stage is focused on regularly checking in with employees to provide feedback on their performance and to help them stay on track toward achieving their goals.

Monitoring is an opportunity for leaders to provide guidance and support to employees, and to help them overcome obstacles they may be facing. Leaders can use this stage to address any performance issues and to provide coaching and mentoring to help employees improve and develop further.

Regular weekly or monthly check-ins provide opportunities for ongoing feedback and should serve as a foundation for a more formal performance evaluation.

Stage 3 – Reviewing

During this stage, leaders meet individually with employees and provide an overall evaluation of their performance, including feedback on both their strengths and areas for improvement. Employees are also given the opportunity to reflect on the progress made toward achieving their goals and to bring forth any of their observations about their performance over the past year.

The outcome of the reviewing stage is a formal performance evaluation, which should be documented and used to inform future performance management processes. This evaluation provides a clear understanding of an employee’s performance and should be used to guide future discussions and development plans.

Stage 4 – Rewarding

The final stage of performance management is an important part of the process, as it is key to motivating employees by recognizing their achievements. Recognition and rewards can be in the form of verbal praise, bonuses, promotions, or other incentives, and should be tied to specific performance goals.

Retain employees with a performance management strategy

Defining and implementing a performance management process in your organization helps to create a culture of continuous improvement and drives performance outcomes, as employees are motivated to achieve their goals and are then recognized for their efforts.

Employees who are given goals and a plan for achieving them – especially if it is a plan they helped create – are well poised to thrive in their roles, contribute to company success, and are far more likely to stay with an organization. And retaining employees, in our ever-evolving economy and job market, should be a goal every organization wishes to achieve.

Explore these other posts by People First HR

The Canada-Manitoba Job Grant program for 2023-24 is now accepting applications. The program provides Manitoba employers with funding to support learning and development initiatives for their employees.

Visit this page to download the CMJB application: Canada-Manitoba Job Grant program

Learn more about the Canada-Manitoba Job Grant program including eligibility and requirements by checking out the Employer Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions doc.

Progressive employers see the value of learning and development initiatives.

Employers that provide professional development opportunities to their employees are investing in:

  • Employee engagement
  • Attracting and retaining top talent
  • Improved employee performance
  • Addressing skill and/or resource gaps
  • Innovation and the future of their organization

People First HR is committed to supporting your organization’s learning and development efforts. Start today by exploring the wide range of customizable professional and leadership programs we offer or contact us to learn more.

The Power of Feedback: Providing clear, concise feedback is the making of a stronger leader

By Ardele Karaganis, Senior HR Consultant

Feedback is not your enemy. It’s actually a process that we should be very familiar with. As babies when we learned basic life functions — walking, talking, eating, playing with others —we received feedback on how to do these tasks better. We continued to receive feedback through school — comments on homework, scores on papers, coaching to play a sport better. Feedback follows us into the workplace and by this time, we should be experts in giving and receiving feedback. Yet, at some point, feedback has been given a negative connotation. You might even say we’ve become afraid of it.

Instead of offering valuable feedback as soon as the opportunity presents itself, too many leaders save their comments for annual reviews and water down the message with positive comments — making the feedback far less impactful. They let their fear of feedback stop them from giving direct, constructive, helpful feedback.

I repeat: feedback is not your enemy. It’s not something to be scared of or avoided, and it definitely isn’t fundamentally negative.

Feedback is a gift.

Carol Robin says to get better at giving feedback, you must change how you think about it. “It’s a gift. It’s data. It’s data I didn’t have before with which I can now make more informed choices.” (Carol Robin) Reframing how you perceive feedback makes it a tool you can use to strengthen your skills and your team.

When to give feedback

Annual reviews have their purpose and place in the workforce, but they are not meant to be a feedback dump session. Feedback should be given year-round, as required, so it can be actioned in a timely matter.

“Real-time feedback is a performance management strategy,” says Madeline Miles, Better Up. Miles adds that real-time feedback can help employees correct their mistakes, create behavioural changes, and perform tasks better in the future.

“Encouraging real-time feedback at your organization sends a signal to your people that you’re supporting them every step of the way,” says Miles.

Once it comes time for an annual review, Miles suggests addressing the feedback given throughout the year during the conversation. Rather than being new or surprising information, it’s a chance to review comments and suggestions you’ve already discussed. Leaders and their employees can talk about if the feedback helped, whether performance has improved or if there is still progress to make.

How to give better feedback

The Management Centre says great feedback is:

  • Based on observed behaviour
  • Specific to a given situation
  • Balanced 

To give better feedback, start by framing your comments with these three elements in mind. Focus on what really happened and not what you think happened, reference events or activities instead of vague or general statements, and provide a combination of what worked and what didn’t work.

Kim Scott, author and co-founder of Radical Candor®, says the key to giving feedback is to care personally while challenging directly. Scott used these two elements to create her feedback quadrant which serves as a guide for achieving ‘radical candor’. According to Scott, when you care personally and challenge directly, you give feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific and sincere.

Because of the fear of hurting people’s feelings, a lot of leaders give feedback that Scott calls ‘ruinous empathy’. This type of feedback shows they care, but is vague, leads to no real change and is ultimately unhelpful.

Kim Scott’s steps to better feedback.

  1. Get feedback. Get used to getting it, ask for it, and learn from it.
  2. Give feedback.
  3. Gauge reactions. How are the people you’re giving feedback to reacting? Hurt? Up your care. Not sinking in? Up the candor.
  4. Encourage others to give feedback. Stop the gossip mill, stop venting, and encourage your team and others to talk to the person they are frustrated with.

Practice makes perfect

Giving better feedback may take some practice but over time, just like walking and talking, it will become easier. Start by reframing how you view feedback — remember it’s not something to be feared, but a gift for improvement — and prepare your feedback with the steps above in mind. Then, make sure you’re sharing often, keeping it direct and delivering with care.

To help leaders in your organization develop their feedback and leadership skills, contact People First HR. We support leadership growth through a variety of solutions including leadership development training, assessments, and coaching.

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Talent Management: taking a holistic approach to address market challenges

By Deanna Lanoway, Executive Consultant

Changes to the Canadian employment landscape have been on the horizon for years and today are becoming a reality that businesses must manage.

Before the pandemic, we knew that by 2028 — just five years from now — 40% of Canada’s workforce population would be over 55 years. In 2008 that number was 31% (Employment & Social Development Canada, Canadian Occupational Projection System, 2019 Projections, Macroeconomic Outlook for 2019-2028).

We also knew that lower birth rates and an ageing population meant Canada’s continued growth would need to be powered by immigration. 

Then the pandemic happened and shifted demographic trends that were already significant, causing finding talent to be a leading business concern in 2022 (Stats Canada).

Our conversations with employers last year were focused on retention, including a focus on flexibility and rewards, however, ensuring your organization has enough skilled employees in this environment is a multi-faceted problem, so there won’t be a single solution.

When reading Harvard Business Review in January, we came across the article “Rethinking Your Employee Value Proposition” by Mark Mortensen and Amy C. Edmonson.

The authors highlighted the challenges employers face in deciding what actions to take when they said, “Leaders need to address the factors holistically to ensure that a focus on one doesn’t undermine another.”

HR leaders have been spinning to respond to the rapid changes in workplace priorities of late. To stabilize the availability of suitable workers for the future, your organization needs a systematic approach and a proactive plan, so you’re not always trying to respond to current fires.

Enter talent management.

Research examining the success of talent management has shown that the most successful firms tie talent management to their strategic priorities (Pamela Bethke-Langenegger, Philippe Mahler, and Bruno Staffelbach, Effectiveness of talent management strategies).

Organizations with a talent management strategy recognize that every aspect of the employee lifecycle impacts their ability to be fully staffed, productive, and proactive. HR leaders should ideally have input into the strategic priorities.

By ensuring they understand the labour market, HR leaders can inform the organization about things like where to expand and balancing revenue opportunities with the availability of talent.

What is talent management?

Talent management is a bit of an amorphous concept. We feel it includes the systematic approach to the following:

  • Attracting strong talent through employer brand and recruiting techniques.
  • Holistically identifying skills and aptitudes of employees.
  • Developing employee skills and competencies to meet their goals and the future objectives of the organization.
  • Determining how to best engage and reward employees to ensure productivity and a sense of belonging.
  • Retaining employees for an optimal period and deploying them through the organization in a way that provides the best value to the organization and keeps the employees the happiest.
  • Providing career development opportunities.
  • Providing an appropriate departure — whether that be an alumni program to keep your employer brand strong or flexible retirement options.

Talent management is really bringing several strategies together to support your organization and looking towards the future.

When you look at innovative firms, you see that product development is always forward-thinking. While the organizations may still respond to market trends, the strongest ones are leading the market and planning their offerings years before the market. Talent management offers organizations the same approach but instead, you are addressing one of the leading challenges that companies face today.

Looking to the future

The Canadian talent market will continue to change and challenge businesses. To attract and retain top talent, organizations must create inclusive and meaningful employee and work experiences. Organizations should consider taking a holistic, proactive approach to ensure priorities don’t compete, as Mortensen and Edmonson suggest. Top leaders in people and culture need to be at the table when strategy is being discussed and HR leaders should be willing to broaden their perspective from current challenges to the entire employee environment.

For support managing your talent needs, connect with People First HR. We focus on developing and nurturing deep, long-term relationships with clients by collaborating with our teams to bring the right industry, insight and knowledge to create customized solutions that allow your organization to thrive.

We’d love to learn about your organization’s unique people strategy and goals, to discover how we can best partner to support you.

Contact People First HR

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How creating a job evaluation tool can support internal equity and retention at your organization

By Emily Toth, HR Consultant

Salary is a significant aspect of compensation. People, rightly so, want to be paid a fair wage for the work they do and the skills they offer. It seems like a simple concept — pay your employees fairly for what they do. However, if there is no structure around pay decisions, inconsistent practices can cause feelings of confusion, inequity, and more.

A job evaluation tool helps to provide a structure to base pay decisions while supporting transparent decision-making and internal equity.

What is a job evaluation tool?

Job evaluation is a piece of a total rewards program strategy which aids in eliminating bias when making pay decisions and promoting internal equity. Job evaluation reduces subjectivity and enables leaders to make rational, consistent, and transparent decisions about roles.

A job evaluation tool helps organizations create a job worth hierarchy structured around their values, culture, and business strategy, which can support transparency, career progression and succession planning conversations. 

How to create a job evaluation tool?

When creating a job evaluation tool, there are a few things to remember:

  • The tool you implement needs to be clear, easy to administer, and updatable to reflect changes in org structure or business strategy.
  • You need to follow compensation best practices when building the tool.
  • Depending on the types of jobs in your organization and your level of comfort with administration, you may consider creating multiple tools to reflect the unique aspects of a specific job family/function.

When it comes to creating a job evaluation tool that meets your organization’s needs, there are several approaches you can use. People First HR specializes in the Point Factor Method of job evaluation, which “breaks down jobs into compensable factors identified during a job analysis. Points are assigned to the factors, and a pay structure is established for the position.” (SHRM)

Advantages of the point factor approach

  • Easy to evaluate new or revised jobs
  • Compensable factors can be tailored to your organization’s needs
  • Differences in degrees between jobs are apparent
  • Responsive to pay equity laws

Compensable factors

Compensable factors fall into four different categories:

  • Skill
  • Effort
  • Responsibility
  • Working conditions

Typical compensable factors frequently included in job evaluation tool development are:

  • education,
  • experience,
  • mental or physical effort,
  • independent judgment,
  • impact of decision-making,
  • travel requirements, and
  • adverse working conditions.

The factors your organization selects must be reflected in all jobs the tool is meant to evaluate.

Job worth hierarchy

From the job evaluation process, you will create a job worth hierarchy, which lists the jobs in your organization from the highest weighted to the least weighted.

Keep in mind, the job worth hierarchy is not a reflection of individual worth. Leaders need to remember this and communicate it to staff. Job evaluation looks at positions independent from the person fulfilling the role. Using a job evaluation process ensures objectivity and removes subjectivity/bias from pay decisions.

Transparency to support career planning and succession planning

A job evaluation tool and job worth hierarchy provide clear steps for an employee to follow to achieve their next career step, which in turn helps an organization retain talent.

To keep employees engaged, competitive compensation needs to be a priority. Compensation plays a major role in employee retention. It’s critical to do the research and work — both internally and externally — to ensure that your employees are competitively compensated.

Compensation is about more than wages. If you want to leverage compensation to improve employee retention, you need to look at all the elements of your employee compensation structure and make changes and improvements as necessary.

How job evaluation tools support internal equity

Equity is a buzzword impacting organizations across industries right now. Employees are looking for equity in their organization. Whether or not an organization is deemed equitable can affect candidate attraction and retention efforts.

Depending on the level of transparency your organization is comfortable with, a job evaluation tool (inclusive of the compensable factors and degrees associated) and job worth hierarchy can be shared with employees.

Sharing this information allows your organization to assert that you offer equal pay for work of equal value. The information can also reduce inaccurate conversations and speculation around pay decisions.

Tips for creating a job evaluation tool

Ready to start making structured and equitable pay decisions? Before you get started, we suggest:

  • Ensuring business and compensation strategies are current,
  • Creating/updating your compensation philosophy, and
  • Reviewing and updating job descriptions to include:
    • Job purpose
    • Reporting relationships
    • Responsibilities
    • Tasks
    • Education/designation minimum requirements
    • Experience minimum requirements

Ps. If your job descriptions are outdated or you don’t have a template for job descriptions you are confident in, contact us! People First HR can support the development of job information questionnaires, reviewing employee feedback, consulting with leadership on job purpose, and writing effective job descriptions.

Benefit from structured pay decisions

Every organization can benefit from making structured and consistent pay decisions.

To set your organization, and employees, up for success, contact us for strategic advice and support based on our extensive practical experience developing total rewards solutions.

Our consulting team strengthens your organization by providing customized total rewards solutions that align with your strategy and stakeholder interests.  

Contact People First HR

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Making a good first impression during your recruitment process

When you think about first impressions during the recruitment process, it’s easy to create a list of things that a candidate needs to do — dress professionally, make eye contact, arrive on time, spell check your resume, etc. It’s just as important for employers to make a good first impression — especially in a competitive recruitment market.

“From the moment that a potential employee engages with your organization, you provide them with a story of the type of relationship you will have with them. Will your story be about trust, inclusivity, and engagement? How you interact with candidates is important and the little things matter.”

– Shari Loewen, Manager, HR @ Your Service

Everything a candidate sees from and about your organization during the recruitment process influences their impression of the company and your employer brand.

Just like going to buy a new car, there are multiple touch points that will help you form an opinion and decide whether or not to make the purchase (or take the job). You’re going to do some research online first to learn about the car and its features. Then you may go to your chosen dealership for a test drive and gather more information. If things go well, you purchase the car and (depending on availability) you drive off with your new ride.

There is a chance at any of these touchpoints of things going offside.

  • The way the car is written about online might not be enticing.
  • During the test drive, the car might not feel like the right fit.
  • You might have a poor interaction with someone at the dealership.
  • After driving the vehicle for a bit, you might realize it does not fill the promises of the car you read about online.

Replace car with job and dealership with your company and we are back to talking about the hiring process.

Planning your recruitment strategy to ensure the touchpoints with your company are well thought out will make the process more efficient and leave candidates with a good feeling about your organization.

Make the best first impression possible with these tips!


Tip: Provide clear communications around hiring timelines. Candidates suffer from inevitable self-doubt while waiting for feedback from their interview. Being clear about hiring timelines can help to alleviate this.

Once you’ve shared timelines, commit to providing the candidate feedback in a reasonable timeframe. This can make the impression that you stick to your word and that your organization respects timelines.

“The transparency and contact that People First HR had with me throughout the process was very helpful,” shared Ainsley LaCroix, HR Consultant. “I had multiple phone calls with the recruiter and each time I was told what I could expect and where things were at in the process. It helped calm my nerves and gave me a feel-good feeling. It’s not often employers are transparent with their recruiting, and it was a positive experience for me with People First.”


“An employer can make a strong first impression by being prepared for the interview.”

– Tara Gousseau, Associate Recruiter Team Lead.

Tip: Review the resume beforehand, be prepared with relevant questions, be respectful of the candidates’ time (show up on time, utilize the time wisely), and be prepared to answer the candidates’ questions.

A candidate’s impression of you is going to be made during the interview process. It’s important to be and stay engaged — just like you’d expect the candidate to be. Make eye contact, show that you are interested in them and their interests, and work through the questions you have set, while trying to be as fluid and flexible as possible.

Also keep in mind that a candidate may be nervous. Attending an interview is a big commitment, so show appreciation and empathy to them.

Being open about candidate’s opportunities

“Talk about opportunities to enhance the employee experience. Applicants are often interested in project work outside of their day-to-day duties and other meaningful work.”

– Karin Pooley, VP Senior Management & Executive Search.

Tip: Talking about programs and opportunities that your organization offers to enhance the employee experience can both make a candidate more excited about the role and your organization in general.

Support for creating a good first impression

A lot goes into a recruitment strategy from understanding the ideal candidate for the role and creating the job posting to interviewing candidates. Don’t let this time and effort be a waste.

Remember to:

  • Consider your employer brand and the touch points candidates will have with your company
  • Be transparent with timelines
  • Prepare for each interview
  • Talk about candidates’ futures with your organization

For support with hiring or with creating recruitment strategies, contact us! We offer full-service recruitment services, as well as training on recruitment strategies that support businesses of all sizes. 

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Why experience matters when selecting a workplace investigation partner

By Deanna Lanoway, Executive HR Consultant

Every Canadian employee has the right to feel connected, safe, and comfortable at work. Not only is it the right thing to do, and the basis of Respectful Workplace policies and legislation in Canada, but it is also integral to productivity and making Canadian organizations competitive.

When employers learn of a situation that has impacted that feeling of safety and connection, resolving it with compassion and an eye to the future is critical for the workplace culture and their legal responsibility. Ideally, complaints and concerns are resolved informally, but when they cannot be, an investigation needs to happen. Choosing the right partner for your organization is vital to restoring organizational health.

Why you need a good partner to conduct workplace investigations

Thankfully, the need for investigations is uncommon in most workplaces. However, this also means they are an unfamiliar process for you and your organization to navigate. This is one of the main reasons employers bring in a third-party partner to conduct the investigation.

Working with a partner brings experience to the situation, which helps you minimize legal risk.

A good partner will:

  • Recognize what go could sideways
  • Draw on their experience and specialized training
  • Minimize disruption to your organization
  • Maintain a high level of confidentiality

In addition to experience, bringing in a neutral third party to conduct the investigation eliminates any potential conflicts of interest and can lead to better resolutions.

Ensures employee comfort

Employees participating in an investigation often feel a level of risk as they discuss the situation, whether they were directly involved or a witness. With a third party, employees tend to open up more, as they are speaking to someone who is only looking at what is in the scope of the investigation and is not part of the organization. Nothing an employee shares with the investigation partner can be held over their heads for the future of their career.

Removes conflict of interest

An investigation partner also removes the risk of a conflict of interest with organization reporting structures. In some organizations, reporting structures make it impossible to avoid at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. In smaller organizations, for example, HR will often report to a COO or CFO. Emotions run high during investigations, and employees may feel it is unfair for someone aligned with one area of the organization to be making decisions in an investigation. Federally regulated employers are required to ensure there are no reporting relationships that create a conflict with the investigator.

Selecting your investigation partner

The best time to choose an investigation partner is when you don’t need one.

Establishing a list of approved investigators and sharing it with your Health and Safety committee is best practice for all employers and one way that federally regulated employers can meet their requirements.

Partnering with People First HR for workplace investigations

At People First HR, our main concern is to conduct a thorough investigation that will ensure the health of your organization when the process is complete. We work with organizations and employees to come to a resolution that gets the workplace back to a healthy and safe place.

By working with People First, you will get a partner who:

  • Is fully trained in conducting investigations
  • Understands the need to commence investigations quickly and complete them in a timely manner
  • Completes dozens of investigations each year across private and public sectors and federal and provincial jurisdictions
  • Works across Canada with experience from BC to New Brunswick
  • Has a defined process that is up to date with current legislation

Trained consultants

As mentioned above, the need for investigations is rare, so choosing a partner that offers trained and experienced consultants is vital.

People First has a team of consultants specially trained in conducting workplace investigations who follow our defined process. They also continue to add to their skillset with professional development in areas most relevant to their areas of expertise. These specialized courses may include conflict resolution, handling challenging witnesses, cultural competence, trauma-informed practice, or diversity and inclusion.

This vast experience means you’ll be working with a consultant who knows how to expertly handle an investigation, and how to work with the employees involved in a compassionate and caring way.

Investigation timelines

Taking the appropriate time for an investigation is part of our process. Each situation we encounter is unique, making the timeline for each investigation different. We feel it’s important to give the parties involved time to say what they need, so they feel heard and are not rushed.

Maintaining workplace health and safety at your organization

Working through an investigation, and finding a resolution, is about maintaining a healthy workplace for all employees.

While we hope that you don’t need a workplace investigation partner in the future, if you happen to, remember to choose a partner with proven experience that provides consultants trained to conduct investigations in your area.

To learn more about partnering with People First HR on investigations, contact us.

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8 HR practices to keep top of mind in 2023

As we enter a new year, sometimes it feels like we should be able to open a new book and start fresh on January 1. But life doesn’t function that way — projects continue, work keeps moving forward, and unexpected changes are often just around the corner.

While you likely have projects mapped out for 2023, and work continuing from the fall, there are a few HR practices and projects we think you should keep top-of-mind through this coming year.

Disability Management

Disability management provides a coordinated effort to support an employee who is experiencing a mental health or physical medical condition or injury that impacts their ability to perform their role.

Disability Management provides an opportunity for the employee, employer, the union (if applicable) and their employee’s health care provider to work together so the employee can be successful in the workplace, while balancing the needs of the employer. This may include:

  • Writing the employee’s health care provider to understand any restrictions or limitations that may impact their ability to perform their role
  • Providing an accommodation that meets their restrictions and limitations,
  • Facilitating a return to work, and/or
  • Applying for short-term or long-term disability benefits.

The process should consider the needs of the employee, the organization, and legal obligations.

It is HR best practice to have a pro-active disability management policy and process in place to support employees in a structured, respectful way.

White text over blue semi-transparent background reads "Disability Management provides an opportunity for the employee, employer, union and the employee’s health care provider to work together so the employee can be successful in the workplace"


It may surprise you to learn that the need for workplace accommodations is a frequent occurrence, and one that’s rising in many industries.

Whether due to illness, family changes, or other factors, your employees may request temporary or permanent accommodations.

As an employer, you have a duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship. In many cases, accommodations are reasonable, fair, and promote a healthy work culture and fosters employee retention and inclusion.

Examples of accommodations

  • Person with anxiety – An accommodation may look like an employee working in a hybrid work arrangement, or the employer providing a quiet space for the employee to go to so that they can take care of themselves.  
  • Employee returning from surgery or illness – An accommodation may look like modified duties for a period, modified hours, or to restructure the job entirely.
  • Family related accommodation – An employee is caring for a family member may require flexibility for when they start and end work.

When accommodation is needed, you should work with the employee’s medical provider to understand the restrictions and limitation so that an appropriate accommodation can be developed. Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation, violates your employers’ obligations under the Employment Standards Code.

White text over blue semi-transparent background reads "Workplace Accommodations.  Employees may request temporary or permanent accommodations for a variety of reasons.

As an employer, you have a duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship."

The Right to Disconnect 

The right to disconnect supports the concept that workers should be able to disconnect from workplace communications channels outside of working hours to ensure a balance between work and their personal life.

By March 1, 2023, employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees will be required to have a written policy. 

Electronic Monitoring

Electronic Monitoring policies are about transparency.

As of October 2022, Ontario employers must create and maintain an electronic monitoring policy.

The law does not prohibit electronic monitoring, but employers must tell employees if they are being electronically monitored. In addition, if employees are being electronically monitored, employers must provide employees with information regarding the scope of the monitoring and the purposes for which the information can be used.

Hybrid Work

Hybrid work continues to be a valuable practice for 2023. Last year, Ladders predicted 25% of all jobs in North America would be remote by the end of 2022 and that number is expected to continue to rise through 2023.

Organizations that offer a hybrid work model can provide a better work-life balance to their employees and possibly use it to attract new talent. This drives productivity and employee engagement and decrease the overhead costs of an employer.

Stay Interviews

Staff retention is going to continue to be a focus for many employers and stay interviews can be a useful tool to support this. A stay interview provides the opportunity for an employee to share what they value and appreciate about the workplace, as well as what are some challenges they may be experiencing. Stay Interviews provide insight into employees satisfaction and engagement, increases trust, and provides the opportunity to reduce staff turnover.

Exit interviews can be a great way to collect feedback about why an employee is leaving, but that feedback can come too late to retain the staff.

To retain employees, consider holding stay interviews to find out what your top talent like about their roles and the company, and what is keeping them there. You can proactively use this information to support retention efforts.

White text over blue semi-transparent background reads "Stay interviews can help you discover what your top talent likes about their roles and the company, and what is keeping them there. 

You can proactively use this information to support retention efforts."

Pay equity programs (Federal legislation)

The federal government passed the Pay Equity Act which came into effect on August 31, 2021. The Act mandates federally regulated workplaces with ten or more employees to establish a pay equity plan to ensure equal pay to men and women doing work of equal value.

Pay equity programs are going to be top of mind throughout 2023, as federally legislated employers are required to have a formal plan in place by September 2024.

Even if you aren’t federally regulated, reviewing your compensation program, and testing its compliance to pay equity can benefit any organization. Creating a compensation program that is based in best practices ensures objectivity and fairness, and promotes a healthy workplace.

Change Management

Organizations must constantly evolve and adapt to meet a variety of challenges — from changes in technology or the rise of new competitors to a shift in laws, regulations, or underlying economic trends. To support employees and your organization through these challenges, it’s important to have good change management practices in place.

Change management is the process of guiding organizational change to fruition, from the earliest stages of conception and preparation, through implementation and, finally, to resolution. The purpose of change management is to implement strategies for effecting change, controlling change, and helping people to adapt to change. This may include company culture, internal processes, underlying technology or infrastructure, corporate hierarchy, or another critical aspect.

White text over blue semi-transparent background reads "Change Management. Organizations must constantly evolve and adapt to meet a variety of challenges.

 To support employees through these challenges, it’s important to have good change management practices in place. "

HR support through 2023

We wish your employees and organization a healthy and successful year.

We are here to support you with your HR needs. If your plans change or you find you need assistance with these or other HR projects on your list, call People First HR. Our consultants are here to partner with you to support your employees and organization.

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Talent Attraction Trends to Inform your Recruiting Strategy

People are the heart of any organization. They keep an organization moving toward a common goal, support its mission, vision, and values, and keep each other motivated along the way. This is why attracting top talent to join your team is so important.

Hiring new talent has been a challenge over the past couple of years. Looking forward to 2023, here are a few tips you can add to your recruitment strategy to attract, engage, and retain top talent.

Part 1: Attention to Detail on Job Postings

“A poorly or inaccurately written job posting could unintentionally be preventing the exact candidate you are seeking from ever entering your hiring funnel,” wrote Kristin Barry, Gallup.

When looking for a new hire, it’s important to craft a job post that will entice the right kind of talent and properly represent your organization. Job postings should address top motivators for individuals looking for work.

Consider covering the following points on your organization’s postings.

Remote and hybrid work

In December 2021, Ladders predicted 25% of all jobs in North America would be remote by the end of 2022. That number is expected to continue to rise through 2023.

If remote or hybrid work is available for a position, be sure to include it in the job posting, as flexible work arrangements can be a major selling point of your organization over a competitor.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

Focusing on DEI is not just the right step because it shows you are an accepting and progressive organization. An organization focused on DEI can be a draw for exceptional talent. As well, there are many studies to prove organizations that anchor their recruitment program with clear DEI practices are more effective.

Career development within your organization

A LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report states 94% of surveyed employees said they would stay at a job longer if they had opportunities for career development offered to them. Highlighting how people have grown or moved within your organization is a way to demonstrate longevity and development opportunities to potential employees, should they choose a career with your organization.


Making a position’s compensation clear, including highlighting the type of compensation package you offer (benefits, bonus, commission, etc.) or including a salary range on the job posting is a practice on the rise.

Salary transparency is trending up and being in front of this trend may save you trouble in the future. In 2022, California passed a law to increase salary transparency on job listings. This may be the first of many governments making similar changes.

“Compensation is one of many motivators that influence a job seeker’s decision when considering taking on a new role,” says Emily Toth, HR Consultant at People First HR. “However, if the compensation rate is not assessed as ‘competitive,’ job seekers may not look past the number to see what other offerings the organization provides. Ensuring that your organization is confident that their compensation rates are competitive within their defined labour market (sector, industry, size, geographic region) is imperative to ensure that you are able to attract and retain quality employees.”

Part 2: Employer branding

By the time you are interviewing, candidates will already have formed an opinion about your organization — thanks to social media, the company website, the job posting, their own network, and the interactions they had with employees leading up to the interview.

Well before the interview phase, it’s vital to consider your employer brand. TalentLyft reported that “83% of employers say that employer brand plays a significant role in their ability to hire talent.”

Through the job posting and any interactions a candidate has with your organization, ensure you are communicating what makes your organization unique and how joining the company can benefit them and their career.

“Leaders who use their power to invest and build a premium employment brand continue to attract top talent to their brand, even in difficult times,” said Barry, Gallup.

How you market your brand can heavily impact your recruitment efforts.

Part 3: Interviewing  

Job seekers have seen your job posting and applied, and you have interviews lined up with the top candidates. Prior to the first interview, you need to have a plan to align the first impression made online with the in-person impression to draw in your top pick.

“An employer can make a strong first impression by being prepared for the interview,” says Tara Gousseau, Senior Consultant & Associate Recruiter Team Lead at People First HR. “Review the resume beforehand, be prepared with relevant behavioural questions, be respectful of the candidates’ time (show up on time, utilize the time wisely), and be prepared to answer the candidates’ questions.”

Preparing your interview questions in advance will help to keep you on track and focused on your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ for the role. Behavioural questions will help to draw out hands-on experience and provide insight into how the candidate approaches their work and interacts with peers and leadership.

Part 4: The Goal = Retention

Developing and enhancing retention strategies will be a key focus for 2023, as organizations look to retain the top talent they have worked hard to recruit. There are key factors to consider when building your retention strategy.

(For a deeper look at the importance of employee engagement in regard to retention, see Dr. Thomas Hammond’s article on Understanding Engagement.)


You may not think of onboarding as part of a recruitment strategy, but it is a necessary step to ensure you retain the employees you worked hard to find.

“Recruitment efforts are optimized by strong onboarding programs that result in engaged employees who feel a strong connection with the team and are much less likely to leave,” says Ed Gapate, Senior HR Consultant at People First HR. “Overall, it is less costly to invest in onboarding a current employee than it is to find and hire a new one, so it is wise to treat onboarding as a priority and not just a routine orientation.”

Without proper onboarding your new employee may end up feeling a lack of connection to your organization, making all your recruitment efforts a waste if your new employee decides they made the wrong decision for their career.

Research by Gallup found that “70% of employees who had exceptional onboarding experiences say they have ‘the best possible job.’ These employees are also 2.6 times as likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace — and consequently, far more likely to stay.”

Looking forward

Being aware of recruiting trends, and having a strong recruitment process in place, can help you attract strong talent. As you move into 2023, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Ensure your job postings are well thought out and up to date
  • Keep your employer branding clear and consistent, demonstrating value to candidates
  • Prepare for interviews to support a solid first impression
  • Make sure your recruiting efforts build toward a great retention strategy

If you are interested in learning more about how People First HR can support your recruitment efforts, connect with us to learn more.

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