Introducing the Accessible Customer Service standard: a part of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act
Written by: CPHR Manitoba
When you read the term “barrier”, what comes to mind?
[Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what a barrier means to you]
How about “types of barriers” – including negative, presumable or judgmental attitudes; lack of communication; physical challenges; technological issues; or systematic failures?
[Take another moment to think while observing your surroundings]
Barriers are all around us and affect all of us. Some individuals may be stronger communicators but may not understand certain advances in technology; others may be physically able to walk into a room but are held back by a negative attitude, filled with presumptions and judgements, that prevents them from meeting others.
Now take a moment to think, “what if I had a disability” – could you overcome those barriers the same way you would normally approach them? It depends – are you visually-impaired, suffer from a mental health condition, or physically disabled? There are many factors at play here, in this thought-process alone, and unfortunately over 200,000 Manitobans are living with some form of a disability and facing different types of barriers every single day.
The fact is: we need to remove the barriers and create accessibility for all Manitobans.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) provides a clear and proactive process for the identification, prevention and removal of barriers with respect to five key pillars, customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the built environment.
The first standard to be implemented under AMA is the Accessible Customer Service standard. This standard is built on the requirements of the Human Rights Code and addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service for people with disabilities.
Fred Dugdale, Board Treasurer at the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and Manitoba Brain Injury Association who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury, says that the hardest barrier to overcome is attitude.
“When learning about the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and reviewing your current workplace environment, you have to be realistic and find a way where this works for everyone. People that can work, will work – you just need to find a middle ground where your measures, practices and requirements to identify, prevent and remove barriers are a win-win for everyone,” says Dugdale. “The investment you make to remove barriers will bring long-term benefits and cater to all colleagues and clients in your workplace.”
The deadlines for compliance is structured under a three-year period – Manitoba Government (November 2016), large public sector organizations (November 2017), and companies/organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (November 2018).
To assist you in the review and development of your workplace policies and practices that will welcome and serve everyone, CPHR Manitoba and the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities have partnered to present the Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop.
The workshop will cover an overview of the AMA legislation with a focus on the Customer Service Standard, review and compare the AMA with the Manitoba Human Rights Code, identify your organizational responsibilities and learn the key principles to offering accessible customer service in your workplace.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 13, from 8:30 a.m. – noon at the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg. Registration fees are $150/CPHR Manitoba members and $200/non-members. To register, visit cphrmb.ca. Registration deadline is November 8.
On October 17, Canada will become the first G7 country to fully legalize recreational cannabis. Is your business ready?
Here are 5 impacts that the legalization of cannabis will have on the workplace:
1. Safety concerns
Despite cannabis legalization, adult cannabis use is not new. However, employers are concerned that with legalization a subsequent increased use will impact the workplace. Safety concerns include employees operating motor vehicles and employees using heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis.
2. Alcohol, drug policies and testing
Cannabis is already the most commonly encountered substance in workplace drug testing, but with legalization, its use is expected to grow. Employers have the right to regulate cannabis use at work, and employees have the right to a safe workplace. It’s important to communicate any changes made to alcohol and drug policies, and focus on treatment and recovery during disciplinary actions.
3. Drug use or dependence
Due to legalization, experts expect a rise in recreational cannabis use. Effects of cannabis on individuals vary widely depending on numerous factors, so it’s important to educate employees on its effects and any new workplace policies.
4. Medicinal cannabis use
Because many people use cannabis for medical reasons, it’s important to clearly outline your workplace policies on cannabis while being cognisant of those who require cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability. As an employer, you need to accommodate your employees’ needs and that may include the use of medicinal cannabis.
5. Problematic drug use or dependence
Just because cannabis is being legalized, it does not mean it’s a license for poor behaviour. Cannabis use can become problematic for many reasons, such as when workplace performance and attendance decreases. Employers should prepare for a potential rise in problematic cannabis use and dependence in the workplace.
Employee performance and engagement increases when employees feel safe and supported. I don’t mean safe as in comfortable, but rather that employees feel confident that their leader and team has their back and they know where they stand. Simon Sinek says it best in his TedTalk - when employees don’t feel safe, they spend all of their energy protecting themselves. They don’t take healthy risks, they do the bare minimum, they blame others when things go wrong, and they don’t share credit.
When employees feel safe within their team, they expend their energy in positive ways. They don’t have to worry about themselves and where they stand, which frees them to do what’s in the best interest of the organization and team. They look out for their co-workers and clients, they own up to their mistakes, and they share credit and recognition with others.
I often run into leaders who believe it is Human Resources’ job to make employees feel safe at work. HR has a role to play in ensuring organizational health and safety but ultimately personal and emotional safety and professional health comes from knowing your direct leader cares and has your back. It’s not enough to know that the nice HR team down the hall has your back. Approximately 84% of how people feel about their organization is driven by their relationship with their direct leader. HR’s role is to hold leaders accountable to lead and ensure that leaders have the support they need to do so effectively.
HR’s ROLE - For leaders to truly lead, HR must:
1. Hire stellar people leaders who understand their role and take the safety and engagement of employees seriously. You are responsible for hiring and developing leaders who understand that people leadership is their job – that leading people isn’t something they can push to the side of their desk for when they have time. They need to recognize it as their top priority.
2. Ensure that leaders have the leadership training and tools that allow them to lead effectively.
3. Ensure that leadership roles are structured in a way that allows leaders to focus on leading their team and that they are not entirely bogged down by day to day deliverables.
4. Coach leaders to handle the people and team issues themselves instead of HR solving these problems for them.
5. Hold leaders accountable when they aren’t leading.
LEADER’s ROLE - To make employees feel safe, Great Leaders must:
1. Be proactively transparent.
Share as much information with your team as you can. Don’t be afraid of over-communicating through times of change or stress. The more your team knows, the more they trust you and feel that you trust them.
2. Invest in one-on-one time with each member of your team.
Great teams are built by leading individuals. Be sure to check in with each member of your team regularly. Even if an employee doesn’t have much to share in one-on-ones initially, give them time to adjust and figure out how these sessions will work best for them. It may take a few meetings before they are comfortable being more open about the challenges they are having, sharing successes or letting you know what they need from you as a leader.
3. Say thank you.
A great way to make sure employees know where they stand is to give regular and positive feedback. When employees receive recognition, they feel valued and safe. They will realize that you, their leader, are paying attention to their good work (not just the problem areas!).
4. Ask questions and don’t make assumptions.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as a leader is assuming someone isn’t motivated and that they didn’t meet an expectation because they don’t care. Check your assumptions at the door and be sure to start every conversation that involves addressing a mistake or performance issue with an open ended ‘what’ question. This approach shows that you are open to hearing the employee and that you haven’t made any assumptions about who they are and how motivated they are.
5. Be open and collaborative.
Employees feel safe when they feel like they are a part of something. Be sure to get feedback from your team on key initiatives and even on the small things when you can. Everyone likes being leveraged as an expert, so be sure to use the expertise of your team by asking the group or individuals for their thoughts and feedback along the way.
6. Have the tough conversations.
Creating a safe environment isn’t about avoiding conflict. In fact, when there is a performance issue, part of making an employee feel safe is dealing with it early and before it becomes a bigger issue. Making employees feel safe also means dealing with employee conduct or behaviours that are negatively impacting the safety of the rest of the team.
The idea of safety is not about being ‘soft’; it’s about intentionally communicating when things are going well and when they aren’t, so that employees know where they stand, what the expectation is, and how you are going to support them in getting where they need to be.
The bottom line: employees are more effective and have increased performance when they feel safe. A leader may get short term bursts of great work by using fear tactics, but those tactics don’t foster long term commitment or energy. Employees need to feel a sense of safety to have the freedom to try creative solutions, make mistakes, own up to their mistakes and be open and free with their recognition of others. This is how great leaders increase performance and engagement within their teams.
Check out Simon Sinek’s TedTalk here:
Written by: Jane Helbrecht, Partner, Acuity HR Solutions
Manitoba Start offers a wide range of Diversity and Intercultural training for Manitoba businesses and organizations. As the leading provider of career services for newcomers to Manitoba, they address employers’ recruitment needs by matching the unique skill sets of qualified, job-ready newcomers with employers’ specific job requirements.
They offer customized diversity training for management to frontline staff to meet workplace needs and support organizations in building cultural competence. As a starting point for building cultural awareness, they offer 4 signature courses that build on diversity competency objectives.
Level 1: Defining and Achieving Workplace Cultural Awareness: This foundational course helps participants to become aware of cultural values that affect all workplace interactions. By explaining in detail the dynamics of culture and diversity and specific cultural aspects that affect the workplace, the course helps participants gain useful strategies that can be applied immediately in the workplace.
Level 2: Workplace Communication: The Impact of Culture
Taking the foundational knowledge about culture and diversity to the next level, this course explores the impacts of cultural filters to the process of communication. Barriers to effective Intercultural Communications are identified and strategies for overcoming them explored, allowing participants to start applying them to their own workplace situation thus improving their communication with colleagues, clients, and customers.
Level 3: Recognizing Cross-Cultural Conflict in the Workplace
This course focuses on learning to recognize conflicts that may arise within a culturally diverse environment. Building on the diversity awareness and communication skills courses, this session helps participants to recognize their own cultural ways of dealing with conflict and to examine cultural norms that affect how others see and deal with conflict. It provides take away strategies and tools that can be applied in the workplace.
Level 4: Engaging your Diverse Work Team (Supervisory)
Specifically designed for managers, team leaders and supervisory staff, this workshop provides essential tools to assist in supervising diverse employees. This course explores ways in which cultural values and perceptions affect the process of managing and overseeing employees, and strategies to lead a diverse talented workforce.
We also offer three free one-hour sessions on three different topics:
These free courses can be delivered at meetings or incorporated into ‘lunch-and-learn’ sessions.
To request a free session at your workplace or explore Manitoba Start's signature training programs, check out their Diversity and Intercultural Training website or contact Jaime Chinchilla (Coordinator, Diversity and Intercultural Training) at 204-944-8833 x 165 email@example.com.
The Winnipeg Chamber: What is "Return to Work" and why is it important?
Chris Poot: Return to Work, simply put, is when a worker goes back to work (or stays at work) following a workplace injury or illness.
The more complex answer is all of the effort and work behind the scenes by workers, employers, medical providers, unions and the Workers Compensation Board to ensure that Return to Work is safe, respectful and effective.
A workplace injury can have a significant impact to a worker - physical, financial, social and psychological. And that extends outwards to the worker's family, friends, co-workers and the employer. So it's critically important to do our best to keep that impact to a minimum and to help make the transition back to work as seamless and predictable as possible.
WC: The Return to Work Program Services Team is a relatively new department at the WCB. What are you offering to employers?
CP: While we've always supported Return to Work, our department was formed to create a focus on the Return to Work needs of large and medium-sized employers.
We offer employers training (Return to Work Basics and WCB Basics) designed to teach how the WCB claims system works, how their premium is calculated and, most importantly, how to build or improve their Return to Work Program. For larger companies with complex Return to Work issues, we also provide customized consulting services where we help develop or improve a company's Return to Work program. This includes a comprehensive assessment of current practices and processes as well as implementation assistance and on-site training. Both training and consulting services are offered at no charge. You can find more information on our website at www.wcb.mb.ca.
WC: What's surprised you the most in talking to businesses about Return to Work?
CP: I was surprised (and pleased) to learn that for the majority of employers, this isn't just about the money. I think it's safe to say that most employers just want to run a productive and profitable business and at the same time "do right" for their employees. And while most business owners have some basic understanding that Return to Work is good for business, they are surprised and happy to learn that Return to Work is also good for recovery. It's interesting to watch a company's HR person exchange looks with the Finance person when they realize a "win-win solution" is within reach - the kind of solution that management teams can support because it includes each of their areas of focus.
WC: What's the biggest misconception about Return to Work?
CP: There are still people out there who think that Return to Work is somehow punitive to injured workers, or that it is better to rest at home until they're fully recovered. But we know that Return to Work results in a faster and better recovery, helps avoid isolation, reconnects social networks and helps ease financial worries. I spend a lot of time speaking to employers, unions and other groups about how Return to Work is good for recovery AND it's good for business AND it's good for unions AND it's good for workers and their families. Medical professionals believe that Return to Work is a healthy and invaluable part of an injured worker's recovery as there is substantial evidence to support the positive link between work and physical, mental and social health - as you'll see in our upcoming awareness campaign.
WC: What one thing should a company do to get started with Return to Work?
CP: Take the WCB Basics and Return to Work Basics one day courses. Not only will you learn "Why" you should have a Return to Work program in your business, you also learn "How, Where and When". Class participants consistently rate their satisfaction level at about 95% with regard to the information provided, the class discussions, the quality of the instructors and the opportunity to ask real world questions. It's the kind of useful continuing education that you can (and many do) recommend to colleagues and others in their work network. There are elements in the training that you can take back to work and start using right away. It's important to talk to staff about the value of Return to Work before an injury occurs and build that trust so that the worker is confident that a Return to Work program is created with their best interests in mind.
WC: Can you tell us about some of the early results you've seen with some of the companies that your team has worked with?
CP: I attended a conference in March 2017 that we arranged in partnership with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce on Return to Work. I was thrilled to listen and watch as Shawn MacLellan of Federated Co-op Limited talked about the recent Return to Work consultation session he had with our Return to Work Program team. He explained that in the year after implementing recommended changes to the Return to Work program at their warehouse, they had a drop in their days lost by almost 90%, and a drop in direct costs of more than 78%. Days lost and direct costs are two of the major influences on your premium for the next year.
In another example, I started working with a medium-sized company a couple of years ago. I gave them three simple things to implement to help with their Return to Work program. Today they are paying 41% of the premium they paid five years ago.
I'm enough of a realist to know that a 90% drop is an unreasonable expectation in all cases, but improvements by more than 50% are regular occurrences. And this does not even factor in the faster and better recovery by workers, the reduced productivity loss and the potential improvement in employee retention.
The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) is always striving to make sure its system is efficient and cost effective for employers as they deal with compensation matters. WCB has significantly streamlined its processes and as a result it's now easier for businesses to do business with the WCB.
While steps have been taken, WCB is committed to continuously enhance its service and ensure the system is user friendly and easy to navigate for users.
"It's important to tailor the services we provide employers and not paint everyone with the same brush. It's all about options, not every employer has the same needs and we adjusted our services to reflect that," said Renzo Borgesa, Vice-President, Assessments, Innovation and Technology with WCB.
"Employers can pay premiums online and pick a payment scale that works better for them. Some want to pay monthly, some quarterly and others want to just pay once. Sixty four per cent of employers reported their payroll online last year."
The majority of services employers need to regularly access are already available online for their convenience, such as:
The WCB will continue its efforts to make the navigation of our system and reporting information as easy as possible for employers.
Every company, from the large organization to the small family owned business, has its own workplace culture. You see it when you walk into the building, you hear it through the words employees speak, you feel its energy (or sometimes, lack of energy) and you experience it as an employee, customer, partner, etc. every time you interact. Much like a human fingerprint, every culture is unique.
In cities like Winnipeg, where everybody knows everybody, your company’s culture and reputation is being passed along via “the word on the street.” If you have a great company culture you will be able to attract and retain top talent.
If you have a less than desirable company culture it may be difficult to attract, motivate and retain the right people.
Great company cultures create the foundation to become a top revenue-driving organization. These types of organizations often share characteristics that are akin to a beehive of activity - excitement, collaborative problem solving, respect, and a fun, productive place to work. Less than desirable cultures are fraught with employee and management disagreements, high absenteeism and presenteeism (people show up but you don’t know exactly what they produce all day!).
Who defines culture?
Leaders or company owners are the ones who should set the vision for the workplace culture. If you don’t set the thermostat for the desired culture, you will likely not like the temperature! In absence of leadership in this area, the most predominant person(s) will set it for you. A few negative employees at the water cooler can do a significant amount of damage to your company’s culture if there is no direction or guidance from the top.
How to set or re-set your Culture.
Start by examining your:
How CPRinc® can help.
We have a great reputation for achieving results and have partnered with many leading companies, across all industries from small business to large international corporations, and have extensive experience working with and/or volunteering for non-profit organizations and Indigenous communities and organizations. For us, it’s about building the workplaces of tomorrow, today! Check us out at www.cprinc.ca
A busy summer stretch of federal engagement continued for The Winnipeg Chamber last week as we were part of the consultations held by The Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship while he was in town.
Immigration has been a driving factor in Manitoba’s growth over the past several years. We currently welcome over 15,000 new immigrants each year. Nationwide, the current target is around 300,000 individuals a year. While that may seem like a lot, Canada’s immigration levels actually peaked over 100 years ago, right before the start of the first World War. In 1913, for example, Canada took in over 400,000 immigrants.
The Winnipeg Chamber is among the voices calling for higher levels of immigration. The Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth recently called for Canada to increase immigration levels to 450,000 a year by 2021. The focus is on the economic immigration stream, as we need more workers to keep our economy humming.
Over Canada’s history, our GDP growth has largely come from increases in employment growth, instead of increases in productivity. Our population growth is slowing down with the drop in birth rate and the baby boom moving into their retirement years. Without immigration, Statistics Canada figures Canada’s population growth will be close to zero in 20 years.
Other countries, on the other hand, are growing fast. Currently Canada is the 38th most populous country in the world, but if we maintain our current growth rates, some project we will slip to the 69th most populous country by the end of the century. The fear is not only will our economy be growing slower, but Canada could lose global clout and influence as other countries pass us population-wise.
It is encouraging to see the federal government take positive steps forward with their Global Skills Strategy which was announced in early June. A big part of the skills strategy is the new Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This new stream establishes for foreign high skilled workers a two week turnaround time for work permit applications. These changes should give employers faster access to skilled employees, which is critical as Manitoba is forecasted to have almost 170,000 job openings between 2016 and 2022, with over 60% of those jobs expected to require some post-secondary education. Our economy needs skilled workers to grow, and the faster we can get them the better.
The Winnipeg Chamber: What laws/rules exist in Manitoba around transgender employees?
Cynthia Lazar: The Manitoba Human Rights Act provides that employees cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, unless there is a genuine occupational requirement which impacts on this. For example, when you are patted down as part of security clearance in the airport, people presenting as male are patted down by a male agent, and people presenting as female are patted down by a female agent. There is a genuine occupational requirement for that, so an employer can post an opening for a security agent position requiring a particular gender.
WC: Washrooms keep coming up in disputes around transgender rights. What advice do you have for your clients and business owners around gender-specific washrooms and access?
CL: The general rule is to allow transgender employees to define themselves. They should be called by the name or pronoun of their choice, be allowed to wear "gender specific" clothing of their choice, provided it is appropriate for the workplace, and be allowed to use the washroom of the gender with which they identify. I have been asked what to do with respect to other employees who feel uncomfortable with sharing a washroom with a transgender coworker. My advice has always been to tell them to get over it. They can close the stall door.
WC: What is essential for employers to understand – and have their teams understand – about transgender coworkers and customers?
CL: The main point is that individuals should be allowed the dignity of defining themselves, and the gender identity expressed by the individual should be respected. Employers also need to understand that employees' needs may change over time, particularly as they move through different steps of transition. Employers need to go with the flow.
WC: If you had lawmakers' ears, what rules would you ask for clarity on?
CL: There are a lot of issues with respect to official documents and workplace forms which require a gender designation. More thought has to be put into determining whether there is an actual purpose to this in each example. There may be, but if there isn't, then it shouldn't be asked.
WC: Are employee forms that use a binary "male/female" compliant with current laws?
CL: There are no laws which specify the use of binary (or non-binary) designations on employee forms. However, that is always subject to change depending on the results of any challenges taken before the Human Rights Commission, the courts or labour arbitration.
WC: What similarities and differences do you see between the legal journey for other groups and transgender people?
CL: Extending human rights legislation or equality rights to new groups is often met with resistance, regardless of the group. The problems and accommodation requirements often seem insurmountable until they are accomplished. Looking back in the rear view mirror often results in a shrug of the shoulders and the thought of "what was the big deal?". Hopefully, we will achieve the same shrug for trans rights soon.