Author Archives: Carolyn Courage

How can we maintain healthier lifestyles at work?

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

This blog post was written in response to the June 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can we maintain healthier lifestyles at work?”

This is a great topic to talk about especially getting closer to summer. I work at a Chocolate Factory and the question always is “how do you all remain slim?” My answer to this that the way our building is we have to do a lot of walking around and stair climbing, company sponsored active lifestyle options and, of course, great quality chocolate daily.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle at work is key to the success of a business and overall engagement levels. There are a few ideas I have seen over the years that seem to be successful.

Company sponsored physical activities are a great way to get involved in the community while living a healthy lifestyle. Paying for employees entry into the Sun Run or the BMO Marathon is one example. Creating a work team for events like these foster employee camaraderie excitement around the office and maybe some cross departmental team building too! There could be training sessions on their lunch break or running clubs after work or on the weekends.

A Company lunch program is another way to foster at healthy lifestyle. One company I visited recently had a great lunch program that most of their employees participate in it. A small fee comes off their pay check and it covers their daily lunches. The lunches are made in a cafeteria and are wonderfully healthy and are different every day. The cafeteria is also meeting place for employees to socialize.

Another company had a ‘biggest loser’ contest that lasted 6 months, complete with weigh-ins, healthy lunches and walking clubs. The employees formed teams and got points from the weight lost in the group. The winning team won a prize and notoriety!

There are lots of fun ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your work place, and create employee engagement and comradery at the same time.

Navigating the CHRP Recertification

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

I am in the process of applying for recertification of my CHRP, a BC HR designation which stands for Certified HR Professional. I thought I would share some insight into what can be a daunting process. If you are not a BC reader, you can relate to this with your own professional designation I’m sure.

Every three years we have to apply for recertification by accumulating points over this same time. The alternative is re-writing the final exam which is not the preferred option for me anyway!

I was cautioned by the BC HRMA site and my Boss to keep track of my developmental activities (aka points) over the three years and not compile everything at the last moment. Sounds like a great idea doesn’t it? Well, life happens and the busy HR world and evolving career left little time to focus on my recertification which seemed in the distant future.

Well, the time is here. I kept a hard copy file of the receipts and records of all the courses and workshops I attended over the last three years, and kept a tracker going on my computer. However, BC HRMA changed the recertification log last year so ensure you have the correct version!

How does one meet the daunting quota of 100 points? If you are lucky enough to attend workshops and conferences do so. You get 1 point per hour. You also get points for reading HR books. Any committees you sit on, as well as regular round tables or peer groups also count for points. I work in Training and Development which helps as I gain points for every new program I create and additional points for the first time I facilitated.

It is good to keep track as you go to avoid the panic of trying to gain points at the last minute! Also aim for more than the 100 points required just in case some don’t count. Also, keep those receipts and records of workshops attended in case BC HRMA audits you.

I hope this helps you on your journey to ensure a smooth recertification time.

How to Keep the BEST ones!

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

A training program called “keeping the good ones” advises Managers how to be Leaders to retain their employees. It focuses on the Managers as they are the biggest tool to keep the good ones.

The training speaks about checking in with your employees, talking about their goals and what is going well and what could go better, reinforcing good behaviour and showing appreciation. Good leadership is the key to retaining talent.

This philosophy is one I hold to be true as I have seen the effects of using it and the effects of not using it. People don’t quit jobs; they quit Managers.

This is especially true with the current generation entering the workforce; the trick is to understand what they want out of a job and how the Manager can meet those needs. The younger generation likes to be challenged, they like feedback and they like to be recognized. They also want opportunity.

How do we foster this as HR people? We coach Leaders on how to be good leaders! Have they checked in with their new hires? Are they training and working with them on opportunities? Leaders are so busy these days they forget to work on the “people side” of things, but if they don’t – they won’t have any people to work with.

How do we gauge if our people are happy?

There are three questions that according to Marcus Buckingham are the biggest indicators of employee engagement and why the Leader makes the difference.

1) At work do I have the chance to do what I do best everyday?
2) Do I know what is expected of me?
3) Are my colleagues committed to quality work?

Buckingham says that asking these three questions will help you gauge if your employees are happy or if a change has to be made. All three have to do with Leadership. Are the employees encouraged and given enough autonomy to do what they do best? Are they checked in with?

Creating a work environment that fosters learning and growth and great Leadership is key to retaining GREAT talent.

Keeping the good ones:
Marcus Buckingham: Heard him speak at the Art of Leadership

Related Pages

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Coffee Shop HR World Café: What Will it Take to Retain the Best Talent Over the Next Five Years?

Coffee Shop HR World Café

Accountability – Are You Working in OZ?

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey

One of my favourite business books is The OZ Principle by Tom Smith. I read it for the first time about 8 years ago and I still quote from the book today. It not only relates to work, but home life too. Accountability is a very important trait to possess and demonstrate. If you want to brush up on this principle, read on.

I am a big fan of the Wizard of OZ, so when this book came across my desk I thought it must be great because of the title. I soon discovered that I could relate to the analogies and that they made sense. The main principle of the book is: ‘Above the Line, Below the Line’. Simply put, if you are above the line you are Accountable and if you are below the line, you need to do some work!

When you are above the line you take action; you See the Problem, Own It, Solve It and Do It, enacting the solutions. Finger pointing and the blame game are common in any group or work place. When this happens, morale dips and so does productivity. Instead of seeing the problem and solving it, time is spent blaming others. If we would just pick up the garbage off the ground and stop walking over it, what a wonderful world it would be.

This does not mean we expect people to take the blame for others; it is more of a problem solving approach. This also separates the Leaders from the rest. Those who take action and see it, own it, solve it, do it are the individuals you want on your team.

Those who are ‘Below the Line’ demonstrate victim behaviors. As in the Wizard of Oz, the lion blames his setbacks on his lack of courage, and the tin man on his lack of a heart. When someone is Below the Line, they form excuses, rationalize, and justify, instead of doing something to alleviate the situation. Where I was working at the time, Below the Line also morphed into negative non-team orientated behavior that distracted from productivity.

I wrote a training program based on this book and we rolled it out at my previous work place. It became part of the culture – the terms ‘Above the Line’, ‘Below the Line’ became part of the vocabulary. Below the Line behavior was not tolerated by Management or Peers.

When I discuss Accountability, I still use examples from my years in the Retail world. If we saw a messy pile of clothes on the floor of a change room, we put them away, as the end goal was to sell the clothes and they wouldn’t get sold lying in a heap. If sales were low we were not allowed to sink into the blame game. Sure, mall traffic was light because there was a giant snow storm, but what did you do to welcome those who were currently in the mall into your Store? Were you solutions-oriented and did you think outside the box or did you remain helpless? This is the difference between an Above the Line company and a Below the Line company.

Another great book to read is, ‘Say it Right the First Time’ by Loretta Malandro. I heard the author speak at a conference and her book was a quick and easy read. She says that Accountable communication means being 100% responsible for how your words impact others.  No tolerance for, “I didn’t mean it” or “I was only joking!” It also means that people take on 100% responsibility for how their actions affect the business and others. This practical book is one that I make a habit of passing on to our company Leaders to read.

Two inspiring books to add to your list! There you go!

Article Source:

What three pieces of advice should post-secondary grads should take to heart?

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.  ~William Butler Yeats”

I loved school! I found it very inspiring. I recall the excitement of what was to come, meeting great people, networking and learning from inspiring teachers. Did you have similar memories and impressions?

But what happens next? You made it through the exams, you graduated and you are now excited to get into the job market and make your mark as an HR person.  Where do you start? Where will you apply all this great information that you gained in school?

My advice is as follows:

  1. Gain work experience any way you can
  2. Sit back, observe and build relationships
  3. Continue to learn and always apply at least one idea to your workplace from every workshop you attend. Why just one thing? Read on.

If you don’t have a HR position lined up and are finding it difficult to find your dream job, you are not alone. I used to work in recruiting and can’t tell you how many times new grads called asking to be placed in Management positions. After they let me know they had no real life work experience, I would suggest they gain experience any way they can. You’re saying, all this time at school for entry level? No worries there. The experience you gain at this point in your career is instrumental in creating the HR professional you will become. Gain work experience any way you can. Volunteer for an organization and do HR related tasks, work at a company for free and assist the HR department with anything they need, ask to do a job shadow for the HR person at your workplace. Soak up all the experience you can get.

So you’ve volunteered, put in your time and now you have a shiny brand new HR role. You see a million things you want to change and policies that need to be written. There is no on-boarding process and no job description. What is the first thing you should do?  Simple! Sit back and observe. Get to know the company and its history. At Purdy’s we call this ‘HP,’ historical perspective. Why? There is so much to learn about an organization and what happened before you arrived on the scene. Take time to explore what HR practices do exist, and build relationships with your co-workers at the same time. This works two fold. You will be prepared with information when you present a new idea to your boss, and your fellow employees will buy into you as an HR person. Respect and trust goes a long way in our profession.

Now that you’ve graduated, get back to school! The learning continues, and for good reason. You will attend many workshops, courses, conferences and webinars. What do you do with all this information? Always apply at least one learning tool from every educational event to your workplace environment. It is a good rule of thumb. Why only one thing you may ask? It is said that you only take away three things from every learning activity. Somewhere in all that information packed into one day or a few hours or a week, we grasp and remember a few points. From that, after everything is said and done, we should aim to implement one thing and make it a screaming success. Quality over quantity. I can count on one hand the initiatives I have implemented after learning them from workshops, and most were a great success and are still in place today. The best thing about continued education: Inspiration.

All advice aside, the most important thing of all is to have fun in your new role. And if you don’t find your dream job right off the bat, it will be out there for you one day and you will be armed with a goodie bag of work experience Good luck!

Related Pages:

1. It’s a Big World Out There, New Grad!

2. Coffee Shop HR World Café

3. What Three Pieces of Advice Should Post-Secondary Grads Take to Heart?

Sweetening up the Workplace: The Fight Against Bullying

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Strategies for anti-bullying have been at the forefront recently with the introduction of Bill 14. There are several formal ways to combat bullying in our work places such as policies, posters and training.  As HR people we have been attending workshops and doing research to ensure our workplaces comply with the new legislation.

The tools and guidelines are a good refresher of what should already be in place, but will they actually be effective in eradicating bullying and negative behaviour from our offices, shops or factory floors?

One of the workshops I attended regarding Bill 14 suggested being on the lookout for groups with high absenteeism, turnover, or low morale, stating that bullying could be a factor.

What if we look for the opposite? Departments or teams with low absenteeism, low turnover and high morale appear to have contented employees. Let’s figure out what the Manager or team leader is doing right and then formulate a plan to spread this harmony to the rest of the company.

If a characteristic of these positive work environments is great team work, we could direct the rest of the teams to create connections. This strategy could result in increased workplace engagement as a strategy to fight bullying.

In a workplace culture that is strong in mutual respect and teamwork, there is no room for disrespectful behaviour and negative attitudes. If problem solving, empowerment and teamwork are at the forefront, we may have an arsenal to fight bullying after all.

Easier said than done? Maybe not! What creates a positive culture? Engagement and FUN! What are some examples from your workplace?

Bullying in the workplace, Heenan Blaikie. October 28, 2011