Monthly Archives

July 2011

The many monikers of Canada’s August long weekend

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Most Canadians are well versed in the stories of Christmas and Easter, and we all know that Canada Day recognizes the birthday of our nation. But for many, the first-Monday-of-August long weekend (often referred to on calendars as “Civic Holiday”) is shrouded in mystery and, at times, confusion.

Let us clear the air on this one.

A long time ago there was a lengthy and dreary gap between Canada Day and Labour Day where no holiday occurred. The first Monday of August, occurring right in the middle between the two, seemed like the perfect place for a summer holiday.

But there is more to it than that. Few know that what is most widely known as “Civic Holiday” actually has ties to the abolition of slavery which officially took place on August 1, 1834. Some communities across Canada call this “Emancipation Day.”

Many Ontarians would be surprised to learn that “Civic Holiday” is not the official name of our optional Monday off, and that it is only a statutory holiday in Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

Across Canada, the day is known as “British Columbia Day,” “New Brunswick Day” or “Saskatchewan Day,” depending on where you are. Alberta calls it “Heritage Day,” and in Nova Scotia and PEI, they celebrate “Natal Day.”

In Ontario, the holiday has many aliases. It began in 1869 when Toronto City Council marked it as a “day of recreation.” Later on, Burlington recognized the Monday as “Joseph Brant Day,” while Brantford, Oshawa, Ottawa and Sarnia all followed suit with names of their own (Founders’ Day, McLaughlin Day, Colonel By Day, and Alexander Mackenzie Day, respectively). Municipalities across Ontario have a range of local names for the holiday honouring different historical figures, yet most Ontario workplaces simply go with “Civic Holiday”.

Today, Toronto’s official name for the first-Monday-of-August long weekend is “Simcoe Day,” and it coincides with Toronto’s annual Caribana festival. And although many organizations give employees the day off (Career Edge Organization included), this Monday is not a “statutory holiday” nor is it recognized or mentioned in Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

So this Monday, as you enjoy your “freedom” from the office, take a moment to reflect on what it means to have freedom in Canada. Remember that, contrary to popular belief, this holiday is more than just an extra day in cottage country.

Will Google Plus (Google+) revolutionize Social Media in the Workplace?

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If you haven’t heard of Google+ by now, well… you should really Google it!

After several failed attempts to get in the social media game (R.I.P. Google Buzz and Google Wave), they may finally have gotten it right. Rather than replicate models already kicking butt, they have created something completely different – not necessarily replacing FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, but giving us new tools to digitize the natural, social behaviors that we exhibit In Real Life (IRL).

First of all, in real life, we’re all a lot more similar to Batman than we think, in that we all – to some extent – have “alter egos.” By day, we’re Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and Diana Prince but after hours, we lead private lives that most of us like to keep safely compartmentalized. That’s why most people have both a LinkedIn and a Facebook account. That’s why your LinkedIn profile picture is a headshot of you in a suit and your Facebook profile picture is you holding your kids, or your dog (or maybe a pint). We all have different “circles,” and Google has picked up on that.

Google+ has a feature called “Circles” which they describe as a way to “share different things with different people.”

“Sharing the right things with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another and your boss in a circle all on his own – just like in real life.”

This is key for professionals at all ages and stages of life, because it offers a way to easily compartmentalize without suffering an identity crisis.

Beyond this, Google+ just might shape up to be an incredible business tool to suit the modern, social workplace – a welcome compromise between LinkedIn and Facebook.

Of particular interest is a feature they’re calling “Hangouts.” It’s Google’s social answer to the conference call. Meant to be a quick and easy way for unplanned meet-ups, this could easily be used to replace face-to-face business meetings in times when both environmental and economical concerns call for less travel and more efficiency.

Designed with group chats in mind, the coolest thing about Hangouts is that it picks up on whoever is speaking and gives them “centre stage,” displaying the speaker on screen for all to see.

Other great features include “Huddle” for mobile group chat, “Instant Upload” (which is pretty self-explanatory but neat, nonetheless) and “Sparks” which acts as a syndicator and filter, channeling relevant information based on interests defined by you. The Google+ website uses food, fashion and music as examples, but this can easily translate into a business environment where one has to monitor information that impacts their field of work or industry – one could enter “Human Resources” or “Banking” or “Telecommunications” or any other topics of interest.

With their interactive tours, Google does a much better job of explaining all this and conveying the “cool” factor. Check it out!

The real question is, will this change the way we view “social” at work? Will HR professionals cringe at the sight of it, or will they embrace it? Will employers block the site, or encourage its use? Will it transcend the airtight barriers we place between Work and Real Life? Only time will tell… but I think this has some real potential.

Tell us what you think – leave a comment below!

Compliance Manual: Accessibility Standards for Customer Service in Ontario

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Career Edge Organization prides itself on being informed and up-to-date on important issues pertaining to Human Resources, employment, diversity and inclusion. The more we know, the better we can help the hundreds of host employers we work with create meaningful work opportunities for recent grads, grads with disabilities and internationally qualified professionals.

This is why our Market Development and Client Relations Specialist, Jessica Kudlats, recently attended a session on AODA (an acronym for Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act)  legislation held at the Toronto Board of Trade.

The purpose of the session was to explain the Act, specifically Customer service standard and compliance obligations. Most employers are already up to speed, but still there are many who are surprised to learn that as of January 1, 2012, all businesses in Ontario will be required to comply.

While this piece of legislation focuses on customers, employers are finding that by making their businesses more accessible and accommodating, they are able to attract more top talent than ever before.

Through our blog and online resources, we will do our part to ensure that employers are informed of what is required, but we will also share stories of success from both employers and persons with disabilities. In the mean time, here is a link to the Government of Ontario’s Compliance Manual on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service.

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