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Workplace Pandemic Plans: What Employers Should Know

Originally posted on February 27, 2020 by  at Global HR Lawyers – In A Flash – Matthews Dinsdale

With COVID-19 appearing prominently in news headlines these days, both federal and provincial governments are encouraging preparedness. What is an employer’s responsibility to employees in the event of wide-scale infection? What steps can an employer take in advance to ensure preparedness? While specific guidelines and responsibilities exist for those working in health care, an employer in any industry can benefit from having a workplace pandemic plan in place.

A pandemic is an epidemic crossing international boundaries. While the decision that a pandemic exists is made by the WHO, a high incidence of infection in Canada or a region of Canada could still lead to the need for extraordinary measures. In such circumstances, the responsible authority would be the Chief Public Health Officer and/or local authorities in affected provinces or territories.

In the event COVID19 spreads widely within Canada, employers have the same legal duties under occupational health and safety, employment standards and human rights legislation as they would with any other illness impacting employees. One of the primary considerations will be whether employees can reasonably refuse to attend work for safety reasons if and when COVID19 is present in the workplace.

Employers may also be subject to additional duties in the event that an outbreak of illness rises to the level of “emergency”. Every jurisdiction in Canada has legislation in place for emergency measures and some specifically contemplate public health emergencies (e.g. Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act and Alberta’s Public Health Act). B.C.’s Public Health Act confers upon the provincial health officer special emergency powers regarding the reporting of personal information, which would apply in the event an emergency is declared. During an emergency, those powers would apply notwithstanding any applicable privacy legislation.

A comprehensive workplace pandemic plan should include the following elements, tailored to the particular needs of your organization, and developed in consultation with the joint occupational health and safety committee or worker’s representative, and union representative, where appropriate:

  • Leadership
    Ensure your organization is prepared to address the issue. Designate key employees who will manage the employer’s response to any pandemic. Make an actual plan to respond to the risk of a pandemic impacting the workplace.
  • Communication
    Consider what types of information you will need to obtain in the event of a pandemic and the information you will need to disseminate. Identify in advance where you will be able to find up-to-date and reliable information about a disease outbreak, including its current status, symptoms and prevention strategies, and where to receive medical care. Develop a strategy for communicating the necessary information to employees in a format that is easily accessible from home.
  • Risk Management and Containment
    Consider workplace strategies for reducing the spread of illness. Ensure basic supplies such as hand-hygiene products, tissues and receptacles are available in all locations.Consider policies that would be implemented in the event of a pandemic to limit the opportunities for disease transmission, such as employee “work from home” strategies, staggering shift starts and breaks to reduce the number of people in the workplace at a time, and arranging work stations to maintain distance between individuals.
  • Continuity
    Consider the potential impact of a pandemic on your business. Is demand for your products or services likely to increase or decrease? Identify the essential employees to meet the change in demand. Consider how a pandemic might affect your ability to obtain other critical inputs (e.g. shipping of raw materials). What if your employees are subject to a quarantine?  Does the business need to operate every day? Can it sustain a shutdown?Employee absenteeism is likely to be one of the biggest concerns. Employees may be sick themselves, may need leave to care for sick family members, or may wish to remain home due to fear of contracting illness. Predictions for absenteeism during a local outbreak vary by industry, but a general recommendation for employers is to plan for an absenteeism rate of between 20 to 25% during a peak two-week period of an outbreak in a specific area, with lower absenteeism in the weeks before and after.Refer to occupational health and safety legislation, employment standards legislation, as well as your organization’s own policies and collective agreement (if applicable), to determine what types of leave are available to employees, including the issue of work refusals.
  • Recovery
    The return to “business as usual” will likely take place gradually as the pandemic draws to an end. Consider phases of recovery in your workplace pandemic plan. Which aspects of your business are likely to return to normal first?

While this article provides the basics of developing a workplace pandemic plan, the World Health Organization has just published specific guidance on how to prevent the spread of COVID19 in the workplace and encourages employers to adopt these measures presently.

Additional planning tools are available to employers from federal and provincial governments in Canada. Once you and your team have developed your plan, set dates for its review. Consider testing some aspects of the plan as needed.

Though workplace pandemic plans, by design, contemplate the worst scenarios of disease outbreaks, employers can play a role in preventing the everyday spread of illness by encouraging good health practices among employees. For example, posters and employee handouts can be used for education and awareness at the workplace. Even in the absence of pandemic or severe outbreak, employee illness can have an impact on an employer’s business and operations. Efforts at preventing the spread of illness at the workplace may benefit employers before any extraordinary measures are required.

If you have any questions about this topic or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

 

This editorial is not intended as legal advice.  Any employer or organization seeking assistance should feel free to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer for assistance.

 

Why It’s More Important than Ever to Connect With Candidates Online

It’s common knowledge that employers need a web-presence and a digital strategy to promote their jobs and attract young talent. However, simply having a career website that posts job descriptions is no longer enough.

The first component of being online is indeed having a career website with compelling job descriptions and robust employer branding content. This is where you can showcase your eggs-ceptional culture, the benefits of working at your company, and your company’s competitive distinctions as an employer of choice. Your web presence is the primary tool for you to attract and engage young candidates and the go-to place where they will launch their job search. In our 2019 survey, 86% of post-secondary students stated that they look for jobs online (which includes social media as well as websites), which indicates that your online presence is vital to attracting young candidates.

“Having just the right amount of information on the website and it being easy to navigate makes the user’s life much easier and makes the website itself easier on the eyes.” – Saisurutyi Sridaran, Ryerson University, 2021

“In 2019 you definitely need to have a website that is optimized for mobile.” – Mallory Thompson, Western University, 2019

The second component is, of course, social media. It is a highly preferred method of job search and employer research among young professionals (1 to 5 years after graduation). 87% of early career professionals surveyed also prefer to look for jobs online, including social media, and there is a good reason for that. Employers who excel at finding the best candidates tend to have strong social media engagement by having authentic conversations with job seekers beyond the static one way posts. Employers with a strong social media strategy have a human voice and communicate their employer value proposition in a demonstrative way through their employees Instead of telling candidates, “working for us is awesome”, make sure to show candidates what a fun, inclusive workplace culture you have, as experienced by recent hires, who candidates can relate to, in video, Instagram Stories and testimonials, creating a compelling and authentic reflection of work life within your organization.

But each social media platform resonates with a different audience, and matching the content to the best platform for the right candidates can be difficult. Where exactly do students and recent grads spend their time? Our 2019 survey proved once again that Instagram is still king with 59% of high school students, 41% of post-secondary students and 49% of early career professionals preferring that social media platform over the others for employer branding content.

What type of content should employers post to attract maximum attention? You might have guessed it already, but video is still king as the medium of choice, and it’s popularity is only increasing. 82% of high school and 69% of post-secondary respondents prefer to engage with videos for career-related information on all platforms and media channels.

TalentEgg Talks: Live with Mercedes-Benz
Financial Services (Instagram and Facebook Live)

The main area of concern when it comes to social media is getting around tricky social media algorithms to ensure your audience is seeing your content. While we can’t fully predict algorithms, which are constantly evolving, we know that the more your audience engages with your content, the better it performs. Moreover, Facebook and Instagram are well known to favour video content and showcase it to more users on their platforms, so it’s truly a win-win. With our less text-focused content for those who like getting visual information, we are shifting how we deliver your brand messaging. We communicate your values by producing videos, hosting live Q&As with representatives of your organization in a simulcast video on Facebook and Instagram (TalentEgg Talks LIVE) and creating Instagram Stories. In other words, we’re bringing your employer messaging straight to the target candidate! Be exactly where your young talent pool is – on Instagram, and engage in an authentic way through Instagram Takeovers and TalentEgg Talks LIVE Events. The great value-add is that if your existing social media followers aren’t Gen Y and Z, we can help you build out that audience on your own social media channels. The video recording also makes great content for your Employer Profile on TalentEgg and can be repurposed and re-edited by TalentEgg for short video clips on social media to continually refresh your feed with snappy, well packaged video shorts.

Even though video is king and social media is rising, direct email remains a strong medium for the delivery of career-related information among students and recent grads. The convenience of receiving targeted job alerts in the candidates’ inboxes, the ability to customize which content reaches them, and the ease with which the job seekers can find emails tailored to their needs, all attribute to email’s continued popularity. Our research indicated that 60% of post-secondary and 52% of early career professionals prefer email communication for job postings, indicating that while candidates like learning about employers on their smartphones and social media, they still prefer to actually apply to jobs from their laptop. With our ability to personalize and create custom email blasts for our clients, we’re targeting your employer brand message directly to students and grads.

Year after year, our Incubator blog is an invaluable resource for students and grads who are hatching their careers. Our custom editorials highlight various features of your organization to amplify your employer brand and connect with our audience. In our 2019 TalentEgg Survey, we asked what type of content students and grads wanted to read about and they overwhelmingly connected to editorials that were easy to read in Q and A format, enjoy resume and interview tips, day-in-the-life stories about young relatable employees and appreciate interviews with recruiters, interns and co-op students from your organization. Many of these topics provide an inside look into the company’s culture – exactly what our respondents care about the most. Every demographic we surveyed said that the most important thing they look for in an employer is positive and friendly company culture (92% of all respondents, including high school students, post secondary students and grads, and early career professionals).

Managing a company’s reputation is another important task. 68% of post-secondary students state that negative company culture or workplace, bad online reputation and negative candidate experience are the most important factors when turning down an employer. That is exactly why it is so important for companies to tune into the social conversation about their brand, create a positive candidate experience, and highlight their engaged and inclusive employee culture!

94% of students believe that it’s somewhat to very important for employers to have a strong online presence. This includes your social media presence and website usability. If students can’t find what they are looking for easily and in an engaging way, they are on to the next thing. We know that students are busy with school, work and social lives, and if they need to search in multiple areas or click through multiple pages, you’ll likely lose their attention. That’s why our custom employer profiles are a one-stop place for job seekers to learn more about your company, as well as explore jobs and events. It’s also a great place to post your employer branding videos, social media clips and editorials.  

Testimonial from a student: TalentEgg helped me obtained numerous information regarding the internship opportunities with your all-in-one platform.

 

Keeping all of these factors in mind can be very overwhelming, especially during a busy hiring season. TalentEgg is here to help. With our trusted and talented team of writers and account managers, we can help you craft and execute your employer branding strategies to attract the best of the best in campus recruitment and beyond. Visit talentegg.ca and keep reading this guide to find out how eggs-actly we can assist you on this journey.

Custom Client Videos: Walmart Dare

Client Custom Editorial: Chang School

Custom Client Videos: EF Tours

TalentEgg Newsletter

Client Custom Editorial: Sysco

Email Blast BMO

TalentEgg Talks: Live with Career Connections (Instagram and Facebook Live)

How Are You Helping to Build the Workplace Critical Skills Pipeline?

When describing what differentiates top talent amongst students and new graduate candidates, we often find ourselves referencing their ‘soft’ or workplace critical skills.  Things like creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership.

As employers, we seemingly all want these skills to be a part of the candidate profile for our new graduate programs, summer internships, or open positions on campus.  And, if the expectation is that students come prepared with these skills when they arrive in the workplace, I wonder how can we as career educators and campus recruiters help students to identify, acquire, and nurture them before they land their first job?

For me, the approach is two-fold:

I think it starts with helping students to become fluent in the art of articulation, reflection, and offering up evidence.

Let’s work an example – communication skills. We know that having a student simply state they are a good communicator is not enough.  Rather, it’s how they demonstrate they are a good communicator through examples or description that sets them apart.

Fellow campus recruiters, I am offering up a challenge to you here.  Let’s commit to trying to better articulate our needs. Continuing with the ‘good communication skills’ example, what if we said something like this in our postings:

‘Persuasive business writing, active listening, comfort delivering critical or difficult messages, and strong presentation skills are essential for successful communication in our organization’.

The more specific or articulate we are, the more a student has got to work with and reflect on.  They can start to assess whether they have demonstrated these skills and attributes in their studies or work to date, come up with evidence to support it, and if a gap exists, have a clearer goal to work towards.  If  Year 1 students knew what you were truly looking for in terms of workplace critical skills when they embarked on their program, think about where they might be by the time they graduate.  Perhaps ‘top talent’ would be more plentiful?

While these notions are by no means new, it stands to reason that by providing students with ample opportunity to reflect on and to talk about their skills in meaningful ways (whether it is a part of their experiential learning, course work, co-op, or even workshops) the more comfortable and confident they will become in talking about their workplace critical skills as potential candidates.

The second piece is all about providing additional opportunities to develop and nurture workplace critical skills while in school.  Case competitions, challenges, portfolios or workplace critical skills passports, skills badging, and experiential learning are all great ways to achieve this.  Think about how you can get more involved in these types of initiatives.  While yes, the time investment does need to be there to make it most effective, you will be doing wonders for your credibility, brand, and building up of the pipeline of the skills you’re ultimately wanting students to have in their toolkit.

Challenge yourself.  In your next round of engaging students – how will you help them to get really good at articulating, reflecting, and evidencing their workplace critical skills?  What opportunities will you provide to develop and nurture them?  Happy skill building!

 


Trevor Buttrum is an award-winning career education and campus recruitment leader with 15+ years of experience in the space.  He is currently the manager of a national program focused on building the talent pipeline for the next generation of the property and casualty insurance workforce.

 

The Finalists for the Employee Recommended Workplace Award Have Been Announced!

TalentEgg, CharityVillage, and Bmeaningful are proud to be the Recruitment Community Partners with The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell to recognize the best workplaces in Canada in the National Employee Recommended Workplace Award. The Employee Recommended Workplace Award recognizes excellence in achieving a healthy, engaged and productive workforce. It is the only award of its kind that is based entirely on feedback from employees, because when you put in the effort to make your workplace amazing, your people notice!

We would like to congratulate the 2019 Finalists for their accomplishment. To view the full list of finalists see the Morneau Shepell and The Globe and Mail announcement here.

From 75 Finalists, winners in 12 business categories, including not-for-profit, will be announced at The Globe and Mail Solving Workplace Challenges Summit at the Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto on March 19, 2019!

Whether you are a small, medium or large enterprise company or nonprofit organization or government, there’s an Award category specially designed for you. Find out more about the awards. The 2020 Employee Recommended Award Program will launch in April 2019. For more information on the awards and to register online, please visit employeerecommended.com.

Don’t miss this chance to engage with your employees and celebrate your successes in improving your organization’s workplace. Show off your efforts and apply for this innovative Award today!

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