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Monthly Archives

June 2010

“Chief Happiness Officer” introduces the “Happiness at Work” newsletter

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Heidi Bedore, Happy Worker

Aside from the CEO blog, there are some pretty awesome HR Blogs out there.

One of my favourites is Alexander Kjerulf’s blog, www.positivesharing.com

Author, speaker and consultant, Alexander calls himself the “Chief Happiness Officer” and is “the world’s leading expert on happiness at work.”

The premise of his site is simply that work doesn’t have to be hard and unpleasant. In his own words, “work can be energizing, meaningful, inspiring and plain old fun.” These are values that Career Edge Organization and our host employers share.

Regular features includes Monday tips and “Ask the CHO” where Alexander answers real questions from real people about all things HR and work-related.

Today, the Chief Happiness Officer introduced a newsletter which promises to deliver inspiration, information and fun on a monthly basis. You can visit his sight and sign up for the newsletter here:  http://positivesharing.com/2010/06/introducing-the-happiness-at-work-newsletter/

One Career Edge Organization host employer who truly embraces happiness at work is a company called “Happy Worker,” whom we featured in our quarterly newsletter last year.

In the article, Heidi Bedore describes her experience as an intern at Happy Worker, where “being happy is a job requirement.” Following her internship, Heidi, a naturally happy person who exudes positive energy (as you can see here in our photo shoot with Heidi) landed a permanent role at Happy Worker as Director of Business Development. Not bad for a recent grad!

According to Heidi, a key part of her work happiness and subsequent success in her internship was her “cultural fit with Happy Worker.”

Speaking of “fit” and newsletters…

Fit – an individuals alignment with the organization’s value and culture – will be the focus of our upcoming issue of CareerBulletin, Career Edge Organization’s quarterly e-Newsletter.

The issue will explore the importance of fit in a recovering economy, key elements of fit, challenges employers may face and most importantly tips on how to attract and hire the right people for your organization.

Don’t miss out! Click here to sign up and receive our e-Newsletter.

Working from home for G20? Why telecommuting and managing remote teams is not such a bad thing

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The scene in the city of Toronto’s downtown core this afternoon is like something from apocalyptic fiction. Three meter high fencing encloses the G20 zone of the city-turned-fortress where many Career Edge Organization employers and inters currently work.

Within the fenced area, police on foot, bicycles and even horses have taken up post at almost every street corner, providing a mixed sense of both security and heightened awareness of the potential chaos looming ahead as the world’s most powerful leaders come together.

It is a significant departure from the typical scene on a beautiful Thursday afternoon when the streets would normally be pulsating with activity. Instead the streets are eerily quiet and deserted, leaving one to ask – where is everybody?

And most importantly, who is doing the work?

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Bill 168 and workplace violence: Who cares?

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We care. And it’s not just about “compliance.”

At Career Edge Organization, the health and safety of our employees is first and foremost. Our concern extends beyond the bodies in our National head office and includes the hundreds of interns that are working in our working for host employers across Canada at any given time.

So, when Bill 168 came into effect yesterday, we were ready.

Working in an office environment, it’s not an uncommon reaction for employees to brush the topic of workplace violence aside. You look around the room at your surrounding team and you cannot even fathom a risky situation taking place. I wondered – is violence in the workplace even an issue in Canada?

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Career Edge talks Generation Y research at the CACEE National On-Campus Recruiting Conference

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By Guest Contributor, Marcia Dunbar, Client Relations Manager, Career Edge Organization

As in previous years, Career Edge Organization was invitied by the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) to deliver a presentation at their annual national conference. Last week I had the pleasure of representing Career Edge in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and took the opportunity to share some of the insights derived from our recent National Gen Y study which we conducted in partnership with Angus Reid Strategies.

The workshop built upon the information we delivered at CACEE’s regional conference this past December – you might recall our blog post, “What motivates the next generation of leaders.” To the surprise of many, our findings debunked many of the (often negative) myths and stereotypes about today’s youth in the workplace.

Many of the seminars at last week’s CACEE conference provided some of the same old fodder that feeds pre-existing notions of what this newest entrant to our post-secondary institutions and workplaces, the Gen Y’er, is all about. But there were some discussions that challenged the attendees to think differently.

Let’s face it, every generation has brought their dreams and aspirations for themselves and this world to bear on the society they live in; inevitably creating some dissonance everywhere – including the workplace.

There is general acceptance that this generation is the best-equipped group of new grads ever to come out of our colleges and universities. The deliverable, from an academic perspective, is high quality. Where most gen X’ers and Boomers sought self-actualization through their work, the Gen Y cohort is bringing a heightened awareness of themselves and their place in the broader world to the workplace.

This generation is born into a world where all their needs have been met. After all, they aren’t struggling to feed themselves like the Greatest Generation or challenged to bring order, love and safety into a chaotic world like the Boomers and unlike Gen X before them, Millennials know they are valued and why.

How then will Gen Y respond to the call to action heard by every new grad since the beginning of time – In what way will they change the world? This certainly poses some interesting recruitment and retention challenges for today’s employers, but with the challenges also come new possibilities and most importantly, opportunities.

Measuring diversity moves the needle forward

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By Guest Blogger: Janice Rudkowski, Director, Marketing & Communications, Career Edge Organization

Two timely pieces of research on the topic of Diversity were released today from the Toronto Board of Trade and Ryerson University.

The first one, a discussion paper called Lifting All Boats: Promoting Social Cohesion and Economic Inclusion in the Toronto Region, by the Toronto Board of Trade, concludes that even though Toronto attracts the best international talent, the numbers continue to show that overall foreign-trained professionals in the region remain underemployed and their skills and experience untapped. The second study, A Snapshot of Diverse Leadership in the GTA, by DiverseCity (an initiative of the Toronto City Summit Alliance) and The Diversity Institute at Ryerson University, concludes that visible minority leadership in the GTA is in fact moving in the right direction, but change is happening at a slow rate.

The stats around the presence of diversity in the GTA are impressive. For instance, the GTA is one of the most diverse regions in the world with 44% of our residents born outside of Canada. Back in 2008 The Conference Board of Canada predicted that by 2011 Canada’s net labour force growth would be entirely dependent on immigration; with Toronto region leading the way in this respect. Well, since we’re now less than 7 months away from this prediction becoming a reality why are our numbers still lagging? As the DiverseCity research points out, there are organizational trailblazers and there are laggards in each sector.

After having attended this morning’s release event of the second DiverseCity Counts Report, it was inspiring and hopeful to see about 100 of the region’s top corporate, public and voluntary sector leaders in attendance to show their support on this issue. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, spoke eloquently about the social and economic benefits of local bridging programs that welcome, prepare and integrate newcomers into the Canadian workforce. In the true sense of the word, the purpose of bridging programs is to create a bridge between a newcomer and a potential employer. Clearly, this is not a one sided equation. It takes lots of work as a newcomer to navigate through the job search process, not to mention honing language skills while understanding a new culture. From an employer perspective, there also has to be an existing organizational culture in place to welcome, prepare and integrate an internationally qualified individual into their organization. As Dr. Hoskins stressed, bridging programs really do work. He cited the Ontario Government’s leadership in hiring internationally trained individuals (ITI) through their ITI Internship program (operated by Career Edge Organization’s Career Bridge Paid Internship Program) as just one example of a successful bridging program that has launched the careers of hundreds of ITI’s while achieving a key goal of the Ontario Public Service which is to be an inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible organization.

Since measuring business results is not a new concept and the reality is that there is a strong business case for embracing social cohesion, economic inclusion and diverse leadership – let’s all commit to ensuring the diversity needle moves forward to ensure the future prosperity and competitiveness of the GTA.

Why now is the perfect time for recruiting, hiring and training recent graduates

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Picture this: amidst a skills and talent crunch, an organization’s most senior leaders and top-performers retire, taking with them much more than a gold watch – 30 or more years of experience and intimate knowledge of the company. As middle managers move up to fill the gaps, new gaps will appear, until the entire organization from top to bottom is riddled with vacancies – and customers hanging in the balance.

Suddenly recent grads of the Y generation will be at the forefront of the battle for top talent, and companies will have to compete for honour roll students and campus superstars.

Why not hire them now?

Recruiting recent grads is something some employers are making a priority – not just to fill entry-level roles, but as a strategic component of succession planning and sustainability. It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive, as some would say.

As the Globe and Mail recently rolled out their list of “Top 50 Employers for Young People” (with the editors of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers”), Career Edge was profiled in a timely feature in the Globe today, entitled “Keeping a Generation from Getting Lost.”

The article by Randy Ray highlighted the challenges faced by the large number of unemployed youth in today’s tough job market, particularly those who graduated at the height of the recession and have remained unemployed since.

The article, featuring an interview with our own Janice Rudkowski, Director, Marketing & Communications, raises the question – what will become of this cohort, and what will happen when employers need fresh talent? Will they be “passed over in favour of the next crop of fresh graduates,” as Janice postulates in the article. Will they lose some of the skills and knowledge they graduated with months, or in some cases, over a year ago?

Fortunately there are some excellent companies out there that recognize the value of recruiting and training new talent now. Loblaw and Kraft – both host employers to our Career Edge program for recent grads – both appeared in the article as examples of excellent programs that are “kick-starting careers” and enjoying the benefits of new talent.

As the economy recovers, now is a great time to build a “talent pipeline,” because before we know it, we’ll be facing a talent drought.

New Study: CEOs identify creativity as the single most important trait among leadership competencies

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Chief executives want to know how you would use this brick

Chief executives want to know how you would use this brick.

I just stumbled upon a great article written for Bloomberg Businessweek by Frank Kern, senior vice-president of IBM Global Business Services.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value conducted a survey of 1,500 C-level execs to answer the question, “What do chief executive officers really want?”

Apparently, executives want creativity.

IBM put creativity at the top of the list of leadership qualities desired by organization leaders. The surprising results represent a significant paradigm shift. Creativity is seldom cited as one of the key traits of leaders. More common leadership traits, as Kern says, include “operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication.”

According to the article (click here to read it), the study’s other key finding was that “global complexity” is emerging front and centre among issues faced by today’s enterprise leaders, so it’s easy to see why creativity is a trait held in high regard.

Kern goes on to say that creative leaders disrupt the status quo, challenge existing business models and make decisions quickly, avoiding “organizational paralysis.”

Creativity – once viewed as a nice-to-have-but-not-necessary trait, often over looked in intelligence testing – is becoming the most sought-after trait in corner offices everywhere.

This begs the question – how do employers test for creativity?

Many organizations require job applicants to write tests throughout the recruitment process but often these tests are designed to assess competency in the “3 R’s” (reading, writing and arithmetic) or software.

Behaviour-based interviewing can reveal a lot about one’s creativity if candidates provide examples that demonstrate their outside-the-box thinking to solve problems and address workplace challenges. But often, the opportunity to truly demonstrate one’s creativity is neither presented nor encouraged in the interview process.

A classic test of creativity often cited in university Psych courses is “Guilford’s Alternative Uses Task” dating back to 1967. Examinees are asked to list as many possible uses for a common item such as a brick, paperclip, string, etc.

Maybe one day, in the near future, this will be a standard test in interviews and leadership exercises – who knows?

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