Ripples Are Great for Chips, but Not for Employees



Many enjoy the salty, crunchy taste of a rippled chip. Ripple chips are just a little more dynamic than regular chips. While many relish this “ripple effect” in the world of potato chips, the ripple effect caused by workplace stress is much less desirable.

With the publication of numerous research studies on the negative effects of workplace stress on employee health, productivity, and motivation, there is now even more reason to reduce it and its knock-on effects. A current HRM online piece expands on the concept of workplace stress and how it spills over into an employee’s home life.

Click here to read the article.

The HRM online piece is derived from a study done by the University of Central Florida, which showed that, “employees who are mistreated at work are likely to engage in similar behaviors at home”.

This study goes on to state some simple ways to counteract this ripple effect. For example, it suggests that employees should engage in moderate daily exercise and develop a better sleep pattern.

Click here to read a brief summary of the research.

10,000 daily steps and 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night may reduce the risk of negative emotional reactions at home, but do these measures really get to the heart of the problem? Perhaps an organization should also look at the root causes of workplace stress in an effort to eliminate the ripple effect altogether, rather than applying the Band-Aid solutions of additional exercise and sleep. HR professionals must lead the charge in understanding the full range of effects of workplace stress, and in creating lasting solutions by decreasing stressors at their source.


Discussion questions:

  1. Research and identify the most common ways organizations attempt to reduce workplace stressors. Create a list of five of the most helpful interventions.
  2. Using this list, create a five-minute presentation to convince your VP of HR that your organization should implement a workplace stress reduction program.






To Test or Not to Test?

279photo Studio/Shutterstock

With the upcoming legalization of marijuana in Canada, the increasing use of opioids, and the pervasive use of alcohol in our society, Canadian employers are intent on doing their due diligence to ensure workers are not impaired at work.

HR practitioners must keep abreast of changes happening in the Canadian employment-law arena. This is easier said than done—nothing is more confusing, or changing more rapidly, than rulings around the employer’s right to test employees for drugs and alcohol. Drug testing, workplace safety, and employee rights have been in at the centre of a number of legal battles for many years.

There are two competing principles in play in an ongoing legal battle between Suncor Energy and Unifor, the union that represents many of Suncor’s employees. Suncor believes it has a legal safety obligation to test employees for drugs and alcohol, saying that they have had 2200 safety incidents involving drugs and alcohol.

Suncor certainly does have a legal and moral duty to ensure the workplace is safe and free of hazards, including impaired employees. However, the union’s position, which is also valid, is that employees have the right to privacy, and that random drug testing violates that right.

Suncor won a September 2017 ruling that allows them to test employees for drugs and alcohol randomly.

Click here to learn more about the Suncor case.

However, in December 2017, just over two months after the ruling in Suncor’s favour, an Alberta Judge placed a temporary injunction preventing Suncor from carrying out random drug testingz

So, where do we stand on random drug testing in Canada now? It is very unclear. Currently, in Alberta, employers don’t seem to have the right to use random drug testing, even for safety-sensitive jobs. The story is different in Ontario, however, with the Ontario Superior Court ruling that random drug testing is legal.

Ontario Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco declared, in his decision concerning the Toronto Transit Commission, that, “public safety outweighs privacy concerns.”

Click here to read more about Chief Justice Marrocco’s decision.

So, there you have it, HR Professionals — there is no clear answer to the question concerning the conflict between rights of the employer   against the rights of the employee. What is the HR Professional to do, you ask? Stay aware, stay concerned, and keep up to date on employment court rulings.  These ruling can change rapidly.


Discussion Question:

Research policies in Canadian workplace and analyze them with respect to drug and alcohol testing. Is it a workplace requirement? When can the employer ask for drug/alcohol testing? Do any policies have a requirement for random drug and alcohol testing?

What Is All the Hype about Jazz?


A defining characteristic of many Jazz musicians is their ability to innovate, and to deliver sounds in unique and diverse ways. Jazz Aviation in Halifax is apparently very aptly named.

Jazz is delivering an HR environment for its employees that is both unique and innovative. Thus far, its HR practices have garnered a number of accolades and awards, including:

  • Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers 2017
  • Nova Scotia’s Top Employers 2017
  • Canada’s top employers for young people 2017
  • Canada’s best diversity employers 2017

Click here to read a full list of Jazz Aviation’s awards

In addition to the above awards, Jazz also has some interesting employee programs, such as:

  • Jazz Aviation’s volunteer program, “Jazz Lends a Hand”
  • “Jazz After Hours Club”, a social club for employees

Recently Jazz Aviation has added the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award to its list of accolades.

So what is the value of all this focus on comprehensive leading-edge employee programs? Well, they seem to be paying off for Jazz Aviation. Chorus Aviation, Jazz’s parent company, saw their 2017 second-quarter profits rise 72.5% over 2016 earnings, up from $23.7 million in 2016 to $40.8 million in 2017.

Click here to read greater detail of Jazz Aviation’s financial earnings.

Jazz music may not be loved by everyone, but you have to love what Jazz Aviation is doing in the HR world.

It is no longer good enough to just have an employee of the month program to promote employee engagement. As the world of business becomes more complex an organization’s HR program must evolve and touch on all aspects of employee engagement.


Discussion Questions:

Research two companies that have introduced employee-focused programs such as wellness, diversity, and flexible work hours. What have their successes been with those programs?

Your VP of HR has asked you to rate the potential value of several employee engagement programs.  Create a presentation on the programs you would recommend be implemented, and the benefits of each program.


Hurry Sickness

You may be burning yourself out. How do you know if you are burning yourself out? Reflect on these activities, how many do you do on a regular basis?

Stressed woman in a office setting.
  1. Checking emails while talking to someone in person
  2. Checking emails while talking to someone on the phone
  3. Frustration at checkout lineups
  4. Other activities while brushing your teeth
  5. Eating standing up, driving or on the move
  6. Push the elevator button more than once
  7. Walked into someone while texting
  8. On your smartphone while on the toilet
  9. Forgot where you parked your car (which happened to me today)
  10. Or the dreaded, “I forgot to pick up my child from……..”

How many of the above activities resonate with your daily behaviour at work or at home? Well, if you are experiencing many of above activities on a regular basis, you, my friend have got it: “Hurry Sickness.”

Hurry Sickness is fast becoming an epidemic. I believe it started with the invention of the fax machine and has spread exponentially with smartphones, social media and working couples with financial pressures.

Click here to read a fortune 500 article on the topic.

According to Richard Jolly, Adjunct Professor of Organizational Behaviour at London Business School (LBS) 95% of all people suffer from “Hurry Sickness.”

But here’s the rub: when everyone is infected, society accepts it as the norm and the behaviours reinforce themselves and infect the remaining members of society. Richard Jolly recommends three things to stop the spread and negative effects of Hurry Sickness:

  1. Stop
  2. Think
  3. Sleep

First of all stop and slow down. We are very proud of being busy. We have to stop being busy and start being more effective. Next, we need to start planning time for just thinking instead of just reacting to the most obvious problem that has caught our attention. Lastly, according to Professor Jolley, we all need more sleep in order for us to think and process information more effectively.

Perhaps it is time to fight the Hurry Sickness that has infected our daily home and work lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Your VP of HR has asked you to research and review some wellness program initiatives. Which wellness programs would you recommend to reduce the concept of Hurry Sickness?
  2. Research and review the benefits of having use of a mobile device/smartphone policy in all companies that expect employees to communicate with mobile devices.