5 Best Practices for Onboarding Seasonal Workers
Whether they need to increase capacity in their retail or online store, help tax filers submit returns on time, ensure that landscape crews are properly staffed — and the list of examples goes on — businesses of all sizes rely on seasonal workers to increase capacity, meet customer expectations and maximize revenues.
However, despite the fact that the tenure of seasonal workers is (obviously) temporary, businesses still need to implement a formal onboarding process to ensure they meet compliance obligations, achieve administrative standards, and just as importantly: ensure that the new people on their roster are orientated and engaged. Otherwise, performance problems and excessive turnover are likely to erupt, and businesses can earn a reputation of being a less-than-great employer (to put things mildly), which makes it even tougher and costlier to recruit and retain suitable seasonal workers in the future.
To avoid these pitfalls, here are five proven and practical best practices for onboarding seasonal workers:
- Have an Orientation Process
Typically, seasonal employees are expected to make a contribution quickly — in many cases, the same day that they’re hired. While there’s nothing wrong with a short ramp-up (provided that it’s justified for the role), there should nevertheless be an orientation process in place that includes health and safety overviews, compliance obligations, reporting requirements, and so on.
- Engage from the Outset
Since businesses tend to hire seasonal workers when things are very busy (or just about to become very busy), there’s often a tendency to skip over what some view as optional “nice-to-have” elements of the onboarding process, such as introductions and workplace tours. However, while this may seem pragmatic, it’s counter-productive — since it can trigger disengagement from the start, and lead to turnover down the road. Making the right first impression isn’t just good manners: it’s good business.
- Empower with Necessary Tools
Just like their full-time counterparts, seasonal workers need required tools to do their jobs. This may include safety equipment, technology devices (e.g. corporate-supplied tablet), login credentials to access software systems, and so on. It’s vital to have these tools in place and ready for seasonal workers to hit the ground running.
If this isn’t possible (e.g. VoIP phones are on back order) or appropriate (e.g. training needs to take place first) then that’s fine. In these cases, businesses simply need to explain this to their seasonal workers, so that they know where they stand and what’s in store.
- Assign Mentors
One of the most valuable strategies for optimizing seasonal worker onboarding — and minimizing risks and costs — is assigning mentors. While it’s ideal if mentors work on the same team as mentees, if this isn’t practical then the next best option is to assign the task to individuals who can point seasonal workers in the right direction. And of course, mentors must have the right personality for this task. If they’re cynical, arrogant, hostile or just plain uninterested in the role and responsibility, then instead of helping seasonal workers they’ll end up harming them — and by extension, the organization as-a-whole.
- Pay Attention to Offboarding
Seasonal workers should be interviewed or surveyed (or both) when they’re offboarding. In addition to generating valuable feedback to enhance how seasonal workers are onboarded and supported, businesses can likely improve other areas as well, such as workflows, branding, and so on.
What’s more, a legitimate and meaningful offboarding experience — complete with a thank you card signed by the CEO, gift certificate, corporate-branded item, or some other meaningful gift or gesture — can go a long way towards encouraging talented seasonal workers to re-apply in the future, and recommending the organization to their network (both as an employer to work for, and a business to buy from).
At PIVOTAL, we help businesses define, implement and optimize their seasonal worker onboarding strategy. In addition, our in-house recruiting experts can source and screen seasonal workers who are qualified, motivated and ready to make a contribution — whether their tenure is scheduled to last a few weeks, or several months. Indeed, many of the seasonal workers we’ve introduced to our clients are now valued full-time employees and key leaders.
To learn more, contact us today for your complimentary consultation.
What Employers Need to Know About Joint Health and Safety Committees
A joint health and safety committee (JHSC) is comprised of both worker and employer representatives, who work collaboratively to improve health and safety conditions across the work environment. Typical JHSC tasks include identifying health and safety issues (occuring, alleged and potential), inspecting the workplace, raising awareness of health and safety, facilitating training, and more.
When is a JHSC Mandatory?
In Ontario, a JHSC is required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in the following cases:
- The workplace regularly employs 20 or more workers. (Note: workplaces with 6-19 workers are required to have one worker-designated health and safety representative, but not a JHSC. However, if designated substance regulations apply, or if a Director’s order has been issued under Section 33 of the OHSA, then a JHSC is required regardless of the number of workers.)
- The workplace is a construction project at which 20 or more workers are regularly employed, and who are expected to work for at least three months.
- The Minister of Labour has ordered the employer to create a JHSC.
- The employer is a farming operator that regularly employs 20 or more workers who are engaged in activities related to any of the following: greenhouse duties, or the farming of poultry, cattle, hogs, dairy or mushrooms.
Key Employer JHSC Responsibilities
Employers that are required to establish a JHSC must commit to collaborating with workers, and playing an active and appropriate role in identifying, mitigating and/or eliminating workplace health and safety hazards. The Government of Ontario points out seven key ways that employers must demonstrate this commitment:
- Supporting the creation and maintenance of a JHSC where one is required under the OHSA.
- Choosing committee members to represent the employer on the JHSC. All such members must exercise managerial functions.
- Supporting and cooperating with all JHSC members to carry out designated functions.
- Providing the JHSC with any information related to real or potential hazards in the work environment, along with information regarding standards and practices implemented in similar industries.
- Promptly providing the committee with a copy of all reports or orders issued by the Ministry of Labor inspector, which arises from any work-related incident involving occupational illness, injury or death.
- Working closely and consulting with all JHSC members to develop and upgrade health and safety programs and policies, including those that involve training.
- Authorizing a JHSC member who represents workers the right to accompany a Ministry of Labour inspector during a workplace inspection.
Penalties for Breaching Violations
It is an offense for any employer, or any individual(s) acting on the employer’s behalf, to violate JHSC-related obligations. This includes giving false information, or attempting to hinder, interfere or in any other manner impede a committee member (or the committee as a whole) from carrying out appropriate duties. Note that the offending action does not necessarily need to be carried out. Merely attempting to do so may be sufficient to constitute a violation under the OHSA.
Penalties for such breaches, which can also include failing to comply with an order from the Ministry of Labour, may include fines of up to $25,000, and imprisonment of no more than 12 months. What’s more, employers may also be subject to additional criminal prosecution that can lead to longer jail sentences. For example, in 2016 the owner of a Toronto construction company was sentenced to 38 months in prison for a 2009 incident in which four workers died, and another was critically injured, after falling 13 stories from a scaffolding outside an apartment building.
Ensuring Your JHSC is Compliant & Effective
Obviously, ensuring worker and workplace health and safety is the right thing to do. However, many employers with good intentions nevertheless face criticisms, sanctions, fines, and in some cases more severe penalties for failing to understand all of their obligations (which constantly change), or overlooking key details (of which there are many). What’s more, the damage that a confrontational or fractured JHSC can have on management-worker relations is often severe, and may lead to a toxic workplace environment characterized by hostility and mistrust.
At PIVOTAL, our in-house human resource experts can help you launch a JHSC if you have recently become obligated to do so under the OHSA, or we can help you review and optimize your current JHSC so that it is fully compliant and demonstrably effective. Contact us today for your free consultation.
In the last few years, many businesses — including high profile enterprises like Google — have said goodbye to conventional offices, and replaced them with what is known in office design circles as an “open office” layout. This is where walls and barriers are eliminated (or kept to a minimum), so that cross-functional teams can co-locate, spontaneously interact, and organically collaborate.
However, something unfortunate has happened on the road to open office happiness: instead of enhancing productivity and performance, and rather than bringing people together, it is DRIVING. EMPLOYEES. CRAZY. In fact, the problem has become so stressful and dysfunctional, that some businesses are reverting back to traditional layouts — including a return to what researchers at the University of Sydney discovered was, is, and probably will always be the most employee-hated member of the office furniture kingdom: cubicles.
Surprisingly, the root cause of this open office counter-revolution isn’t an indictment of the approach itself — because some organizations are indeed enjoying significant results. Do they have a more flexible, creative or open-minded workforce? Do they have softer bean bags and better HVAC systems? Are they just luckier?
None of the above. The common denominator that connects organizations that are reaping the rewards of an open office — and what separates them from their counterparts that are wondering what went wrong — isn’t a question of layout decisions. It’s largely a matter of HR policies.
Considering this, here are three types of HR policies that organizations that have implemented — or are thinking about implementing — an open office should adopt. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before what should be a rewarding decision turns into a regretful dilemma:
- Privacy and Confidentiality Policies
Team that are used to openly discussing private or confidential matters (they are not always the same thing) sometimes struggle to adapt to open office environments, where anything and everything can be overheard — even by those doing their best to avoid eavesdropping. Implementing privacy and confidentiality policies can help bridge the gap long enough for a new version of “common sense” to take root.
- Acceptable Workplace Behavior Policies
Pen clickers. Whistlers. LOUD TALKERS. Knuckle crackers. “Who wants a bite of my sardine and garlic submarine?” eaters. These are just some of the people who need to make adjustments in an open office layout, because sounds and smells that were previously blocked or diminished by walls and partitions, are now much more amplified — and far more annoying. Without an appropriate policy in place, instead of resolving complaints appropriately and professionally, employees who’ve reached their breaking point may take matters into their own hands and do something they and everyone else regrets — like scream, throw a laptop through a window, or quit (or all perhaps all three).
- “Heads-Down” Times
One of the biggest complaints that many employees have about open office layouts, is that some folks engage in non-stop gab fests. And even if most of the conversation is work related (which isn’t usually the case), it’s simply not conducive to a concentrated, focused work experience. Yes, some employees can choose to wear ear plugs or headphones. But to be fair and practical, organizations should have designated “heads-down” times — such as between 1-3pm each day — where open dialogue should be the exception rather than the norm. Colleagues that want to chat and can’t wait can do so in meeting rooms or the lunch room, etc.
The Bottom Line
An open office design isn’t just an alternative or progressive type of space configuration. In some ways, it’s a fundamentally different way of working — which means that HR policies that worked in the past don’t necessarily translate into the new environment. Updating or introducing policies to support the “new normal” is vital to ensure that the open office is an asset, instead of a liability.
At PIVOTAL, our team of human resource experts will work closely with your leadership team to develop policies that support your people, and keep your organization stable and on the right track — not just in terms of productivity and performance, but also in terms of meeting all regulatory and compliance obligations. To learn more, contact us today.
PIVOTAL Integrated HR Solutions Expands Healthcare Recruitment Division with Acquisition of Brock Placement Group
Brock will operate alongside PIVOTAL’s Healthcare Recruitment Division as Part of a Larger and More Comprehensive Client-Focused Team
Mississauga, ON (July 17, 2017) —PIVOTAL Integrated HR Solutions announced today that it has acquired national recruitment firm Brock Placement Group. Brock’s founder and principal Eric Fobert has also joined PIVOTAL in a senior executive role.
The acquisition expands the knowledge capital, client and candidate networks, market presence and infrastructure of PIVOTAL’sHealthcare Recruitment Division, whichprovides healthcare organizations across the country with customized HR consulting and comprehensive permanent placement solutions.
Brock Placement Group, which has been a premier Canadian recruitment organization for nearly 20 years, will retain its brand name and operate alongside PIVOTAL’s Healthcare Recruitment Division as part of a larger and more comprehensive client-focused team.
“I have known Eric for several years and his acclaimed reputation as an expert andvisionary inthe recruiting and talent management space is well earned,” commented Byron Goodwin, Manager of PIVOTAL’s Healthcare Recruitment Division. “We are thrilled to welcome him to our team and look forward to a dynamic relationship that drives client value and consistently exceeds expectations.”
“This partnership between Pivotal and Brock enables us to provide broader and more comprehensive solutions for healthcare organizations,” commented Eric Fobert. “Few firms in the industry can say they offer scaled permanent placement, temporary staffing, HR consulting and payroll support to meet their clients’ needs.PIVOTAL has been an industry leader for decades, and now we are poised to take things to a whole new level.”
About PIVOTAL Integrated HR Solutions
PIVOTAL Integrated HR Solutions has over 30 years of experience as a leading provider of broad-based HR services to small and mid-sized organizations. We partner with clients to provide outsourced HR, Payroll, Staffing and Recruitment solutions to meet the Human Capital demands of today’s business environment. Our goal is to provide flexible people solutions that help organizations achieve a competitive advantage from their workforce. Learn more at http://www.pivotalsolutions.com.
The Government of Ontario has recently announced its intention to introduce a new piece of legislation called the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.” If passed, the legislation would represent broad and major changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, and impact hundreds of thousands of businesses across the province from small firms to large enterprises. Here is a summary of the proposed changes:
- The general minimum wage would increase to $14/hour on January 1/18, and to $15/hour on January 1/19.
- The special minimum wage for liquor servers, students under 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers would increase by the same percentage, and on the same dates, as the general minimum wage.
- Temporary Help Agency (THA) employees (a.k.a. assignment workers) would be paid the same as permanent employees of the THA employer when doing the same job.
- THA employees would be protected from penalties or repercussions if they inquire about the wage rate of a permanent employee of the THA employer who does the same job.
- THA employees would be entitled to receive at least one week’s notice when an assignment that is scheduled to last more than three months is terminated early. Without such notice, an affected THA employee would be paid the difference, unless he or she is offered at least one week’s worth of reasonable work during the notice period.
- Employees would be protected from repercussions if they ask for schedule and/or location changes after being employed for three months.
- Employees who routinely work more than three hours each day, but are given less than three hours on any particular day, would be paid three hours at their normal rate of pay.
- If an employer asks an employee to accept a shift with less than four days of notice, the employee would be able to refuse the request without repercussions.
- If an employee’s shift is cancelled within 48 hour of its schedule start, he or she would be paid three hours at their normal rate of pay.
- Employees who are on-call, but not called into work, would be paid three hours at their normal rate
* Note: If a collective agreement exists or is made between an employer and a union, the agreement would prevail in place of some of these proposed new rules.
- Employees who have more than one position with the same employer, and who are working overtime, would receive overtime pay at the rate of the position that they are working on during the overtime period.
- Employers that misclassify employees as independent contractors would be subject to penalties, including prosecution, public disclosure of a conviction, and fines.
- In the event of a dispute, the onus would be on the employer to prove that a worker is not an employee vs. the worker proving that he or she is an employee.
- It would no longer be necessary to establish that related businesses intended to circumvent the purpose of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. They could be held jointly and/or severally liable for monies owed under the Act.
- Employees would be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after five years of employment with the same employer.
Public Holiday Pay
- For the purposes of calculating public holiday pay, employees would receive their average daily wage rate.
Personal Emergency Leave (PEL)
- All employees would be entitled to PEL of up to 10 days per year, including two paid PEL days (currently, PEL only applies in workplaces with 50 or more employees).
- Employees who are experiencing sexual or domestic violence, or the threat of either, would be entitled to take PEL.
- Employers would be prohibited from asking or demanding that employees who take PEL provide a physician’s note.
Leave for the Death of a Child & for Crime-Related Disappearance
- An employee would be entitled to take leave for up to 104 weeks for the death of a child, caused by any cause.
- An employee would be entitled to take leave for up to 104 weeks for a crime-related child disappearance.
Family Medical Leave
- Family medical leave would increase from 8 weeks in a 26-week period, to 27 weeks in a 52-week period.
Investigations & Notices
- The Director of Employment Standards would no longer be allowed to refuse assigning an Employment Standards Officer to investigate an Employment Standards Act (ESA) claim due to insufficient information provided an aggrieved worker.
- An Employment Standards Officer would be allowed to order that money owed by an employer to an employee or THA client be paid to them directly.
- Employees would no longer be required to contact their employer prior to filing a claim under the ESA.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
- The maximum administrative penalty under the ESA levied against employers for non-compliance would increase from $250, $500, and $1000, to $350, $700, and $1500, respectively.
- Employment Standards Officers would be allowed to award interest on employees’ unpaid wages, and on fees that were unlawfully charged to employees.
- Electronic agreements between employers and employees would be considered as valid as an agreement in writing.
Unionizing (proposed changes to the Employee Relations Act)
- If 20% of employees in a bargaining unit support a union, employers would be required to provide it with a full list of names and contact information of employees in the bargaining unit.
- More occupations would be entitled to unionize, including domestic workers, hunters and trappers, along with architectural, dental, land surveying, legal and medical professionals.
- Bargaining units from different franchisees of the same company in a given region would be required to centrally bargain together.
Getting Ahead of Proposed Changes
All of the above are scheduled to come into force either on January 1, 2018, or with Royal Assent. And while there is the possibility that adjustments will be made as legislators engage in debate and witnesses from different stakeholder groups testify before committees, it is a foregone conclusion that major changes will happen. It is just a matter of how soon and to what extent.
To ensure that your organization and its various HR and labor management policies, processes and protocols are prepared for these imminent changes, contact the PIVOTAL team today. We will provide your executive, management and HR teams with the information and guidance required to safely move forward.