Humanity in the Workplace: How Great Companies Take Care of Their Employees

Involved in conversation. Pleasant delighted cheerful colleagues sitting at the table and talking while expressing joy

The cost of replacing employees is between $15 – 25,000. 60% of millennial’s will leave after three years either for more money or for a better work situation.

Think about it: when asked to do more with less, be accessible 24/7, and respond to emails the moment they hit our inboxes, we sacrifice our personal priorities. We’ll put healthy habits – exercising, eating healthily, getting enough sleep – on the back burner because we’re squeezed for time, overwhelmed, and stressed out. The result? A disconnected workforce that feels unappreciated, and can’t engage in the first place.

Large companies have finally woken up to the concept that creating a flexible, caring and inclusive environment is the way to keep their people working for them. They have realised that being kind, respectful, encouraging and supportive create happy employees – the key to a great business

 

Here is what makes people want to stay:

Freedom

Allowing employees to be individuals by setting overall guidelines and then allowing the employees to express their individuality from within those guidelines.

Setting Logical Expectations

The only thing worse than being criticized for doing something you were supposed to do is not knowing what is expected of you. Good companies are clear about their guidelines and take the time to explain what is expected of their employees.

Building a Great Sense of Team

People work more effectively with others than they do on their own. The key is to create a sense of value for each employee and how their efforts impact everyone else’s contribution. This includes building an environment of trust and effective communication. Relate to your employees, don’t be the big I Am.

Encouraging Unique Ideas and Input

The difference between employees who care and those that don’t is whether or not their ideas are taken seriously. Asking individuals what could be done to make something better or if they have suggestions for improving on an idea allows employees to feel their input is of value. When a proposition isn’t feasible explaining the reasons why it won’t work usually triggers a better idea. Employees who provide input care about the company and want to make ‘our company’ better.

Treating Employees Fairly

Each employee is different. Some come in late and do a stellar job while there while others come in on time but occasionally flounder. Sometimes a confidence boost is required, other times a reality check can do the trick. Recognizing that people are people and not machines are treating them so gets the best out of everyone.

Positive Feedback

Hearing that you have done a good job never gets tired. In fact it inspires employees to work harder so you can tell them again how great they did. Giving clear praise for a specific undertaking rather than a mere “nice job” goes a long way to foster great relations in the workplace.

Showing that you really care about your employees causes them to care about you and the company that they work for.

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What the Best Bosses Truly Care About

(6 Reasons Why the Best Bosses are the Best)

Two business colleagues shaking hands during meeting

 

 

 

Some bosses see themselves as Team Captains. They build a dynamic that works only as long as they are around to create the enthusiasm. But when they are not there the people under them drift aimlessly.

The truly great bosses create a business culture that focuses on an environment that allows their employees to thrive, take on responsibility and be less rigid. These are the best bosses in terms of success for their employees and for the workplace goals. Here is how they do it:

  1. Work Ethic

A good work ethic is all about actually accomplishing goals and not just talking about them. This involves self-motivation requiring little supervision and a desire to learn and improve. This positve attitude in a boss is passed to the employees in encouraging them to learn from mistakes, come up with alternative ideas and think outside the box.

  1. Accountability

A boss must be seen to be accountable and not just talk the talk. This filters down to create an environment of responsibility. Employees need to accomplish the tasks they are assigned, perform duties expected of them and fullfill or futher the goals of the organization. Accountablility aides in the success of the company through achievement making the workplace more productive and efficient.

  1. Structure

Our daily routines can make a huge difference to how healthy, happy and productive we are. Coming in on time, weekly meetings, scheduling calls and weekly reviews will put you in control of your day. The point of a routine or structure is to eliminate the “what do we do now?” question.

  1. Listening

Really good bosses don’t just tell everyone what to do. Taking the time to understand different perspectives and to address issues and concerns goes a long way to building a solid team. Language and listening is at the heart of being an exceptional boss. As the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar often said, “You don’t build a business, you build people, and then people build the business.”

  1. Trust

Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, employee retention, and employee motivation and contribution of discretionary energy, the extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work. Nothing will disable a team more than petty gossip and whispered comments. People need to feel that they can trust each other and a good boss sets this standard from the beginning. Clear communication is fundamental to trust as is creating a sense of value for each team member and goal completion.

  1. Positive Feedback

Telling people that they are doing a good job inspires them to work harder and smarter. Thanking individuals for doing a job well, encouraging them to continue putting in a great effort coaching employees on how to do better will create a mutual appreciation within the workplace.

The times have changed. Jobs are no longer just about the money or status – those are now a given. Today’s workplace must be an environment of mutual  advantages and fulfillment and create a life balance that makes people proud to be an employee of your company.

 

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How Human Resources Evaluates You

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When we meet someone we make a judgement about whether or not we like them. These flash judgements are based on two factors: Warmth and Competence. That’s pretty much it, not a lot of psychology involved.

So how do you represent yourself as a warm and competent person? The trick is not only in your answers to questions asked, but also the way in which you answer those questions. Warmth and competence are merely perceptions. For example, when asked the question, “Tell me about a time you influenced a team of people”. You could reply by telling the HR person about working with a group, some of whom were difficult but with effort you influenced them to do a better job. To the listener you come across cold as you seemingly throw the team members under the bus for being hard to manage and somewhat incompetent in that it was difficult to get them to come around. There is, of course, a lot more to this story but the hiring manager will be making a snap judgement about you based on your abbreviated content – and it won’t be glowing.

Here is a better way to tell the same story while making yourself sound warm and competent:

“I had an opportunity to work with a group of people on a new project. We were all nervous as we came from different departments within the company and didn’t know each other. I stepped up by getting everyone to introduce themselves and to explain what they saw as their role in the project. This broke the ice and gave everyone a clear idea of the objectives. As a result we hit the ground running and got the job done on time and had fun doing it.

This answer to the same question shows kindness, caring and innovation that resulted in fulfilling the objective. In other words – warmth and competence.

This second version turns incompetence into competence and cold into warm and fuzzy – and it’s all in how the story is told.

  1. Admit your own vulnerability to the start of the task – it makes you human.
  2. Focus on a specific incident rather than the project as a whole. The details bring the story to life.
  3. Don’t be afraid to elaborate on the story – taking it step-by-step rather than glossing over the incident as if it isn’t worth mentioning.

 

In an interview you have the power to shape the hiring manager’s opinion of you through perception. Taking the time to tweak your personal stories will make the difference to controlling your own career path.

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The High Cost of Replacing Employees

Job applicant having interview. Handshake while job interviewing

87% of companies spend from $15-25,000 to replace a single employee and over 200% replacing an executive. 60% of people in their 20’s and 30’s will leave after three years.

WHY? 1.  With every move to a new company an employee will increase their salary from 10-20%.                2. Job dissatisfaction.

Millennial employees are often bored, uninspired and feel left out of the company dynamic.Who is to blame? Well, as the HR department – you are. Your company may still be running antiquated tactics of giving raises based on salary percentage rather than merit and of fostering a lack of understanding in what could make your company employees want to come to work.

The cost of replacement: You have to consider all of the time-consuming angles from interviewing to hiring to training during which time there is reduced productivity and lost opportunity that comes with dropping the ball during the usual 7 weeks that it takes to actually replace a person. It works out, all told, to about 30-50% of the employees annual salary to be replaced. That is a lot more than advertising or recruitment costs.

Then there is the lack of understanding the candidates who apply for the job. You do realise that half of the current workforce is made up of Millennials? First of all their resumes are hard to believe – who can do all of that in just 10 years? Then there is what looks like disrespect when they come to interview, dressed in jeans and listening to their ipods or talking on their phones. And then they balk at the two weeks vacation and are unimpressed with the industry standard salary. Who do they think they are?

Well, they are smart, committed and focussed (even if it doesn’t look like it from your eyes) and they will raise the standards of your company if given a chance and some rope.

How To Do It Differently:

1. Allow some flexibility including time to work from home and a loosening of dress code.

2. Give more than the standard vacation and personal time. Some companies let the employee decide and find that less vacation time is taken.

3. Offer company perks such as free snacks, paid fitness memberships, a monthly draw for VIP parking.

4. Involve them in the company culture with sponsorships of employee sports teams, continuing education or training stipend, department retreats or catered monthly lunches to discuss progress and direction.

5. Ask for their opinion and listen to what they have to say.

You are no longer doing someone a favour by giving them a job. If you know what to look for and can offer benefits from a new box you just might make a huge difference to your company.

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What’s so Great About Being a Legal Assistant?

Happy excited woman portrait over office background.

Opportunity, Great Pay,  Prestige, and a  W ide Variety of Career Paths

1.  Great Employment Opportunities: A Paralegal or Legal Assistant is one of the fastest growing professions and is set to grow even further to an outstanding 28% by 2018. New regulations, economic growth, new industry and advances in technology have all combined to create a demand for talented legal professionals. Being a Legal Assistant or Paralegal is the top non-lawyer job in the legal industry.
2.  What’s the Pay Like?  Great. The average salary is around $50,000 but with bonuses and overtime it can add up to much more. As Legal Assistants perform more complex and broader tasks the pay will continue to rise.
3.  Respect and Prestige  Legal Assistants and Paralegals are no longer secretaries supporting a lawyer, they are assuming leadership roles in law firms and management roles in corporations. They have become respected members of the legal team. Because there is a huge need to stay on top of new legal trends and ideas, Paralegals and Legal Assistants have become masters in their specific area of expertise.
4. Fast Track to Success  Unlike lawyers who spend several years of formal education and then must pass the bar exam, a Paralegal/Legal Assistant can be accredited in just a few months. A certificate can be secured online, from a community college or from a business school.
5.  A Unique Opportunity to Help Others  A Paralegal.Legal Assistant will, on behalf of the lawyer, interview clients, prepare them for court and be a source of contact and comfort during a difficult time.
6.  Multiple Sources of Employment Opportunities   In addition to Law Firms, there are a huge variety of alternate professions in which to be a Legal Assistant/Paralegal such as corporations, hospitals, real estate, the entertainment industry, electronic discovery, government and jury consultant to name just a few.

Legal Assistants/Paralegals are a well paid, hot commodity with a wide choice of practise areas in a market that will continue to grow. It is an exciting, fulfilling and long-term career choice to make.

Positive Signs of Change in Toronto Law Firm Jobs

Positive changes in Canada's Law Firms

It has been a difficult period with the financial recession and the loss of significant firms like Heenan Blakie combined with significant firm mergers. This of course has had a critical effect on legal support jobs and particularly for Legal Assistants.
2016 seems to show some future stability and to some extent, growth. Some examples of this would be Cognition LLP, and the international labour and employment firm, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC, who have made a statement of intent with their first office in Toronto. Ogletree’s entry into the market is important as Ogletree’s is the second global labour and employment firm in the last six months to show faith in the Canadian market. Last August, 1,000-plus-lawyer firm Littler absorbed well-known Toronto boutique firm Kuretzky Vassos into its array of more than 60 worldwide offices.

There is also the interesting development of Axiom into Canada. This is perhaps more significant as it shows Cognition’s and others’ (such as Conduit Law’s) business plan is proving successful in Canada. Axiom is presenting a new image with ‘Law redefined’ and markets itself as “a leading provider of tech-enabled legal services”. With over 1,500-plus employees across three continents, we experience a nerdy excitement from improving the way legal, compliance, and contract work is done.” Put simply, it is law done differently.

So what does this mean to the thousands of legal assistants who rely on employment in this industry? It means it is no longer just about the big law firms but is a changing playing field with different opportunities. It also shows that investment in Canada is being made not just resulting in take-overs but showing development and expansion. This means new jobs
And the sun coming out from behind the clouds!

Self-Sabotage by Social Media

 

Smiling girl sitting at computer.

Spring is just around the corner and newly graduated Legal Assistants will be joining the job search with high hopes of landing a position of their dreams.

Social Media is the go-to place to find a job – job boards, online recruiters, direct response to Law Firms – most of your applying will be through the internet. However, it is also the place that employers will first look to see just what you are made of and whether you will be a good fit into their company environment. Hiring is a costly business and companies want to ensure that they make the correct choices in the people they hire.

It is time to clean up your act and that includes your online profile and information!

1. Houseclean
Firstly, get rid of those compromising photos. Sure they were fun when you were a student, but now you are supposed to be an adult with you eye firmly on your blossoming career. Don’t just take off recent incriminations – go back – human resource assistants will love to spend time digging into your past, looking for reasons not to hire you. In fact, look yourself up and see what a potential employer might be seeing.

2. Set a Tone
Start posting positive things that might appeal to a potential employer such as you working at a free legal clinic on weekends or attending a legal conference. You can also show yourself doing sports or being involved with other interests – as long as you come off as clean cut and professionally minded. Link yourself to others with similar interests. Do this will all of your social media whether it is Facebook, Twitter, etc. You want to create a “brand” for yourself that showcases your education, love of law, attention to detail and nice person to have around.

3. Your Resume
As a Recruiter, I can tell you that your resume is given a cursory 3 seconds. If anything about it looks confusing or difficult to read it goes into the garbage. No kidding. Look at samples of resumes – there are thousands online – and create a look that says “you”. It could be simple or graphic or classic, but it must always be clean, clear and easy to follow. Your photo is not required nor is your age, which brings us to the point of just what will go into your resume other than education. You need to present your job experience in a way that looks better than it probably was. Focus on how you made things better in the work environment or your attention to detail and your leadership qualities. Because there won’t be a lot of work experience you may need to add special things that you did at school that earned you merit points, debates you won or projects you were involved in. Always show how your participation was key.
Lastly, refine your resume each time to fit the job that you are applying to.

Social Media is a wonderful way to communicate and to present yourself to the world, however, you must change with the times in your life and rise to the occassion that you are trying to be part of. It takes a lot of thought and work, but it will make the difference between accepting a lowly position as a last resort or bagging the job of your dreams!


		

Motivate Yourself into a Win!

Get Motivated and Find a Job

Get Motivated and Find a Job

If I Ever Get Off This Couch I Will Be Unstoppable!

In today’s job market Canadians are hit with bad news on a daily basis and with little relief in sight. So many people face the grueling task of a job search in this economic uncertainty. It is difficult to keep that chin up, stay motivated and above all, keep alive the greatest motivator – hope – while still maintaining a belief in oneself and a better future to come.

The following, then, is a guide on how to keep yourself from falling into the sofa and that black hole of daytime television:

1. Get up at your normal time, shower and get dressed in reasonable attire – sweats will do nothing for your self image, it’s just depressing.
2. Keep to a routine and leave the building ie: go to a networking group, seminar, etc.
3. Mix with positive people who are helpful with mentor-like guidance. Remember, misery loves company and you don’t need to go there!
4. Update your qualifications and add to ones you do not have. You don’t have to sign up for a PHD, just something that keeps you moving forward. It can be part-time allowing you to be available for interviews.
5. Make sure that you have more than one resume on hand. You need to be able to sell different aspects of your skills and experience – one size does not fit all.
6. Have a positive, friendly voice mail and get back to people promptly. When returning calls be persistent, not annoying.
7. Joining a sports group or other club is a great way to network and to meet people that you would otherwise not meet. You never know what it can lead to and the networking will keep you positive and feeling that you are accomplishing something.
8. Maintain your personal presentation. There is nothing like a good haircut to feel attractive and more confident.
9. And finally, when you have been to 10 interviews with no success, dust yourself off and go for another 10 because as much as that couch might look in times of despair it is a dangerous place to get comfortable!

Why Legal Assistants Hate their Boss

the Bosses

The 7 Ways to be a Really Bad Boss
(According to the people who work for you)
Legal Assistants are the key support for a Lawyer. They are on the front line and they have earned certification to be a Legal Assistant Treating them as a secretary (if you are still stuck in the 70’s) will not help your working relationship. Legal Assistants are professional and dependable – it’s easy to take them for granted. Do so at your own peril.
Most Legal Assistants need their jobs and feel that they can’t complain. That’s why we surveyed some Legal assistants and let them rant and rave. Here are seven things about you that your assistant wants to change.

1. Don’t Expect a Mind Reader
Legal Assistants have to plan busy days and are trying to things the way you want and expect. But if what you want keeps changing, they are not going to figure it out by accident or mind reading.
Who do you want to speak to on the phone “Don’t keep changing the rules on client phone access. Do you want me to interrupt you no matter what you are doing when you get a phone call no matter who it is? Or do you want me to use my judgment and know there are certain people you don’t want to talk to or would prefer to call back later?” said one Legal Assistant.
The point is, be consistent. And if you do want to change the way you do things, let your Legal Assistant know. Because they are not telepathic and did not sign up for that.

2. I Am Not Your Punching Bag
Legal Assistants are part of your team and support you but my goodness did they have things to say about this! Lawyers are stressed – we get that – but your assistant is not an emotional punch bag who signed up you so you can let off steam. They get tired of it so if you are regularly looking for a new assistant on a regular basis you may want to have a look at yourself.
Case in point: One Legal Assistant with a major law firm in Toronto had to listen to her lawyer boss scream at her saying, “If this window opened I would throw you out of it!” This of course is an extreme example but nobody wants to work in a toxic and disrespectful environment
Another Legal Assistant agreed – she has to put up with moods depending on her lawyer’s love life and if its not going well then neither is her day

3. Let’s Have a Meeting
Professional Legal assistants like to be organised and to be able to schedule their day so that they can think ahead and help make the lawyers day go smoothly. Legal Assistants said just a short meeting once a week makes such a difference- they can plan and deliver the level of professionalism they and you would like.

4. The Lawyer Wears Prada
The feeling among the Legal Assistants is that it really matters that they are hard working professionals who take pride and are passionate about doing a great job for the lawyer.
Most Legal Assistants have more than enough work to handle on any given day. They don’t need the boss to think of extra ways to fill their time. It may have worked for Merrill Streep but get your own coffees and dry cleaning.
But of all the stories we heard, this one is impressive:
“Sending me out to get an anniversary present for your wife and making sure I use my lunch hour is unacceptable”

5. You had me at thank you
This was the biggest grip by Legal Assistants and it is a small thing to remember to say.
The interesting thing is, the Legal Assistants we talked to valued this over money and bonuses (although they obviously like the money too). They know they are paid to do a job but they work under pressure meet constant deadlines and have an eye for detail most computer software could not handle. So a little appreciation of doing this day after day goes a long way.
One Legal Assistant missed her son’s graduation which was an afternoon she had booked off 6 months in advance. An important document had to go out at short notice and her lawyer asked her to stay. She did not want to let him down and got it done for him but missed a once in a life time family moment. She was shocked when he said absolutely nothing in appreciation and left earlier than she did. “I have changed and only do my exact hours to the minute. He has destroyed my willingness to do anything more than is absolutely required!!”

6. Could You Trust me to have your back?
Your Legal assistant was interviewed several times, copious references were taken and you said “this is the one I trust to do the job”. And yet you oversee every little detail. If you are a micromanager this shows little trust in your Legal Assistant and takes way their ability to do their job. Micromanagers usually have an obsessive-compulsive behaviour and fear if they don’t monitor every thing their legal assistant does, then it will not be a good result.
Legal Assistants need to be able to work independently and its one of the reason they like the job. They will very quickly start to resent this close supervision.

7. Don’t Think I Plan to do Just this Forever
Do not assume your Legal Assistant is happy to do the same job for 20 years. They may want new challenges and to go to a more senior role such as a law clerk, team lead or supervisor. Ignoring their ambition will only get them to look else where for a new opportunity.
“My lawyer did not take any notice of two extra qualifications I did on my own time, even though I had told him about my evening classes. He made me feel my education and initiative would never be appreciated or rewarded. So I applied for a great new position and was successful”.

Rising From the Ashes of Failure

We all hate the idea of failing. Our rational brain knows that hugely successful people have had their share of failures and that failure is a means of growth, but emotionally we fear the pain and shame associated with it. Here are a few suggestions to help ease the pain, move on and let it go:

  • You cannot take it personally. The fact that your method of trying something did not achieve a win does not mean that you are a failure.
  • Pick yourself up and try it in a different way. Reflect on the outcome and figure out what you learned from it. Think: Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times to get the lightbulb to work!
  • Stop obsessing – it won’t make the outcome any different so move on! The faster you do, the quicker you can say goodbye to ‘Poor me’ and the closer you are to victory.
  • They’re All Talking About Me – good! They will talk even more when you succeed. People generally like to bring each other down to the lowest common denominator – don’t fall for it.
  • Shift Your Thought Process: We in North America have a very debilitating view of failure – “If I fail I am stupid, not good enough, weak“, etc. You need to change that soundtrack in your head to “If I fail I am one step closer to success and more knowledgable due to the experience I have just had“.

Whether you have already experience a failure in the workplace and feel that there is no gain to be had or whether you are afraid to express ideas in case “they aren’t good enough” know that failure is an important part of life. Welcome it and grow! Don’t be the person who was “too afraid to fly so he never did land” (Drops of Jupiter).