Soft Skills – Essential in Today’s Workplaces

Working with hiring managers in several different industries including mining, safety, manufacturing, and health care the one common denominator for skills from the Executive Suite to the frontend office has been soft skills. Yes – soft skills – those skills that require having good to great people proficiencies. Most managers agree that technological skills are taught in higher education or learned on the job. Soft skills on the other hand are a learned behavior that is not typically taught in the workplace.

Soft skills in this case refer to interpersonal communication skills, relating to others, being approachable, having a good attitude, being pleasant to work with, having cognitive or emotional empathy, and having harmonious interactions with others. Mastery of these skills enables a person to engage and influence others. 

The person with great soft skills leads with confidence. They are also able to manage stress. Another attribute is patience. By that I mean knowing when to take action steps and when to slow things down until the timing for a change process is more fully aligned.

Having a work ethic in terms of being present to the situation, with a willingness to learn something new is part of having well developed soft skills. Lastly engaging in business behavior that mirrors truthfulness, has integrity, and is transparent are key aspects of the soft skills toolbox.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Business Consultant – Change & Transition, info@effectiveplacement.com.

Is Your Company Ready for Pay Equity

On August 31, 2021 the federal government’s Pay Equity Act takes effect. The model for the act is based on a complaint process under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Once a complaint is filed it is up to the employer to prove that compensation is equitable.

Employers who have 100 plus employees, as well as employers who have between 10 and 99 employees where some are unionized are required to establish a protocol in the form of a Pay Equity Committee that provides oversight to ensure equitable compensation is in place.

The Pay Equity Committee is responsible for developing and implementing a plan for pay equity. Employers have 60 days from the date the Act takes effect to establish the committee. Further to that the employer has three years to develop and implement a pay equity process.

The steps to establish a Pay Equity Committee and plan for the same are detailed and somewhat complex. Further details of the requirements may be found under the government of Canada Employment and Social Development website.

What steps has your company taken to ensure pay equity?

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

What is a “behaviour based office”?

The phrase “behaviour based” brings to mind the two prominent schools of psychology known as classical and operant conditioning. Classical refers to conditioned stimulus, operant refers to reinforcements and punishment.

Prior to 2020 the office was the main place for people to work. The past 18 months have proven that going to the office is not necessary for work to be accomplished. Behaviour based office space is a phrase used to describe offices that have collaboration and private spaces for use by employees depending on the area they work in. Sales may require more collaboration space. Finance and HR may require mor private space.

Many companies already provide the types of spaces described above. The question is “what are employers going to do to entice people back into an office environment after having them be away from that milieu for an extended period of time”?

Inclusiveness is a key factor in determining what next steps for employers will be. Offices may focus more on socialization than in the past.

What is happening with your employer? Do let me know as I am genuinely interested.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

Body Language Impacts Listening Skills

Now that many people are returning to work in an office it is good to be reminded of the importance of body language in listening and communications.  Pay attention to what your body is doing to improve your overall communication skills. 

  • Leaning Back

Leaning back signals that you are disinterested and day dreamy

  • Slouching

Having your body slouch has the appearance of lethargy or lack of energy.

  • Crossing Your Arms (Or Legs)

Crossing your arms has you appear closed off or unwilling to cooperate. Crossing your legs can be interpreted similarly so be aware if your legs are visible not to sit with crossed legs.

  • Feet Point Away

Your feet point to where you want to go. When someone is listening intently to another person, his or her feet will point towards them.

  • Turning Away

Your body will point to where it is focused. To make a strong impression, move your body slightly to angle toward whoever is speaking during a meeting.

The shifts you make in body language may or may not be noticed consciously. However, making the shifts will have others think you are a great listener. That realization even at an unconscious level is worth the effort of paying attention to your body language.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

Characteristics of Resilience

Resilience is the ability to absorb a shock, to quickly assess a situation, and to bring yourself back to a higher level of functioning. The ability to bounce quickly is a learned behaviour.

The world we live in can quickly overwhelm us as individuals and as a collective. Most days consist of multitasking, repetitive interruptions, and switching from task to task. To assist with staying on track and from becoming overwhelmed mindful attention to one thing at a time is recommended.

That includes making sure those around you know the following:

  • you do not wish to be distracted;
  • prioritize your tasks with the most challenging set for the time of day you have peak energy;
  • turn off pop-up notifications when possible.

The benefits of following a few simple steps mentioned include:

  • reduced stress;
  • improved cognitive function;
  • emotional stability;
  • behavioural consistency;
  • improved levels of sleeping and other physical benefits.

Try focusing on doing one thing at a time for a day or two and notice the benefits. You may be pleasantly surprised at the transformation that occurs.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

Authenticity – The Foundation

Promoting yourself involves being generous, trustworthy, present, open minded and adaptable. These traits are offshoots of the following 3 areas: clearing obstacles, acceptance of others and self, and genuine self expression.

The first focuses on clearing obstacles or embracing challenges in your life. Not taking the risks necessary to address the challenges in life is often what keeps people stuck. Being authentic means rising to the challenges faced.

The second area is to be accepting of yourself and others. Accepting people as they are rather than having the agenda of changing them is a huge step in authenticity.

The third is to express yourself genuinely. That does not give permission to cause a scene or be intentionally disruptive. It does mean to speak your opinion or feelings about a project or process respectfully.

Genuine self -expression takes practice.  Let me know how you are doing in that area.  I am genuinely interested.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

Returning to the Office Fulltime – Yes or No

Returning to the Office Fulltime – Yes or No

Employers are taking steps to have employee’s return to the office. While plans are underway to have workers return to their workplaces the other issue is that “Working From Home” is not going away any time soon if at all.

Women that are mothers are feeling the impact of working from home while juggling family responsibilities. That does not mean that they are whole heartedly embracing going back to the office full time.

Suggestions for employers to address the issue of returning to the office while maintaining employee satisfaction is to consider the following: The ability to setup preferred office hours; Employer paid costs for commuting to the office; Childcare paid for by the employer.

These suggestions are certainly within the financial means of mid-sized and large companies. For small businesses, the costs associated with providing additional perks such as the ones noted may be prohibitive. This would be especially true for those businesses in the service or entertainment sectors who have had to pair down or completely shut down their operations.

As an employee would you leave your job if it meant you had to go back to the office?

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

Lots of applications – no job interviews – could be your resume!

Does your resume pass the pre-screening test and generate job interviews? The truth is there are employment opportunities out there. As a Talent Acquisition Expert or Recruiter with over a decade of experience I know what employers are looking for. I also know what Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) screen for.

I work with you to ensure your recruitment documents (resume, cover letter) and LinkedIn profile is looked at by Recruiters and Hiring Managers.

Do you have an interview scheduled? Need some assistance acing the interview process?

Touch base with me between today through to March 31/21 for my “Spring is Coming” special pricing for resumes and interview prep.

The services offered will assist you in being selected as candidate for an interview in the roles you are applying for.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Canada’s Labour Force Survey for February 2021

The highlights of the report include an increase in jobs 259,000 in February 2021. Work increased at the parttime and fulltime levels. Self employed working numbers did not change and are at the same rate as they were a few months ago.

Employees working from locations other than home increased by more than 600,000 due to the reopening of schools and lessening of provincial restrictions. More good news is that the number of long-term unemployed people looking for work fell by 49,000. That is a decrease of 9.7 percent form January 2021. Retail trade jobs have increased.

Young women continue to be hit hard by unemployment with more than 14 percent looking for work. That is double the rate of young men who are also looking for work.

The increases for February employment were for jobs paying $17.50 per hour or less. That reflects the increase in retail and other low paying work.

The impact on women as a result of restrictions in the retail and food service sector remains huge. As the reports from previous months indicate the current restrictions continue to impact those who need the work the most.

The full report is available at Statistics Canada.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com

To be or not to be a Gig Worker

Having read a few article on the gig economy and the independent or gig worker – the scope covered by both terms is vast. The term gig economy refers to short term work that may or may not be paid for in terms of cash. Workers may be paid with gift cards for example. As a culture we want items faster and to be less expensive. That is where the gig economy comes in – it offers faster and less costly options, and it does so at a price.

Many gig workers are coming to work on short term assignments from lower streams of income. Another dynamic is that for many people doing gig work it is a side hustle or their only source of income. If you are wanting to make extra money on a side hustle – a gig economy may work for you. Or if you are content to be paid with gift cards that may also be of benefit.

It is difficult to live off of gift cards or low wages as a gig worker for companies that do not offer any type security. The competition for gig jobs is on the rise, and the proliferation of new apps in the marketplace requiring gig workers does not appear to be abating.

Is the gig economy impacting your workplace and is so how? Do let me know as I am genuinely interested.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Transformational Consultant, info@effectiveplacement.com