The purpose of this article it’s not to tell you what to do as a Manager nor is it intended to tell you how to manage you’re working environment and provide leadership to your people. It is more to help you identify and analyze some of the largest challenges that you might be facing as Managers in the workplace today.
The research provides specific examples to support the challenges and discuss the impact on organizations and employees. Information is based on qualitative approaches that involve the use of secondary data as well as data sources that include academic journals, research papers, credible online sources, client interviews and real life – real drama experiences.
In today’s ever changing business environment, Managers face numerous challenges that affect the success of their organizations. Effective management is critical to the growth and survival of business. Managers must be aware of the challenges they face in order to develop strategies to overcome them. This article aims to identify and analyze the five largest challenges facing Managers in the Canadian workplace today.
One of the largest challenges is the rapid pace of technological advancements. With the increasing adoption of technologies, Managers must keep up with the latest technological trends to remain competitive in the marketplace. The challenge for Managers is to find the right balance between technology and human resources. Technology can streamline processes, reduce costs and increase efficiency. It can also have a negative effect on employees. With the pace of technological change being so swift, Managers ought to be prepared to constantly adapt to new tools and systems. This can be particularly challenging in industries that are slower to adapt to new technologies and Managers need to work to convince stakeholders of the value of new tools in new processes.
Meanwhile, it is in the best interest of Managers to ensure than employees are not replaced by machines and that the introduction of technology is done in a way that promotes employee well-being and job satisfaction. According to a recent report by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, approximately 34 % of all jobs are at a high risk of being significantly altered due to automation in the next three years. This presents a significant challenge for Managers who must find ways to balance the benefits of technology with the needs of the workforce.
One example of this challenge can be seen in the retail industry where automation is increasingly being used to streamline operations and reduce cost. For example, some retailers are using robots to take inventory and restock shelves; thereby reducing the need for employees. While this technology can be beneficial in terms of reducing costs and increasing efficiency it also has the potential to displace workers. Managers in the retail industry are struggling to find ways to balance technology in a way that is beneficial to both the business and the employees
Example of the impact technological advances on the Canadian workplace can be seen in the growing demand for workers with digital skills as more and more businesses rely on technology to drive growth. The need for specialized workers with skills in areas such as data analysis, coding and cyber security has increased immensely over the past five years. This has created a skills gap with many businesses struggling to find workers with the necessary expertise. Managers must work to develop strategies to attract and retain workers with the skills such as offering training and development opportunities competitive salaries and a host of benefits.
The introduction of automated customer service chatbots in call centers is another example. While the technology can reduce wait times for customers and increase efficiency; it also leads to job losses for customer service representatives and that destroys employee motivation, engagement and talent retention efforts. According to the Brookfield Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, 17 % of all employee jobs have been replaced by customer service chatbots.
Managers must attract, develop and retain top talent in order to remain competitive in the workplace. The challenge for Managers is the find the right balance between meeting the needs of the organization and meeting the needs of the employees. In order for Managers to experience success in talent management they may wish to provide employees with opportunities for career development and growth, as well as work life balance.
The reality is that today’s employees are looking for more than just a steady pay cheque; they want to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution to the organization and that their work is helping them to achieve their long-term career goals with work life balance. Most management models now include Managers working to provide opportunities for employees to develop new skill sets and taking on new challenges through training programs and mentorship initiatives.
A negative example of talent management occurs in the tech industry every day. The high turnover rates in the tech industry (33 %) are a result of the high demand that that industry places on work life balance and the need to stay abreast of virtually all new tech innovations. With a steep learning curve and time demands Managers are consistently evaluating find ways to keep employees engaged and motivated well also meeting the needs of the business.
Employee engagement refers to the degree of which employees are emotionally invested in their work and committed to the goals of the organization. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive, innovative and committed to the overall success of the company. However, according to a 2021 report from the Conference Board of Canada, less than 30% of Canadian employees are engaged in their work. This low level of engagement can be attributed to a variety of factors including poor communication, lack of recognition and feedback, as well as inadequate opportunities for professional development.
To address this challenge Managers might like to take a proactive approach to employee engagement by:
- Building strong relationships with employees whereby Managers take time to get to know employees on a more personal level, understand their strengths and weaknesses and provide the necessary support and resources to help employees succeed.
- Provide regular feedback in recognition to employees because employees need to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated. By Managers providing regular feedback and recognition for a job well done, they increase their chances of understanding and addressing employee concerns and suggestions.
- Invest in professional development because employees crave the opportunity to grow and learn in their roles. When Managers provide opportunities for training and development – employees easily take on new challenges in responsibility.
A strong example of this is the Shopify engagement. A Canadian e-commerce company, Shopify has a strong culture of employee engagement with regular team building activities, a focus on employee wellness and a commitment to continuous learning and development. As a result, Shopify has been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers four years in a row with a talent retention rate of 97%.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:
Diversity, equity and inclusion, refers to the presence of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures and identities in the workplace and efforts made to create a work environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all.
Dr Taponeswa Chimbganda says that, “Canada is a diverse country with a population of over 36 million people including individuals from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. However, many organizations continue to struggle with creating an inclusive working environment that values diversity, equity and promotes inclusion”. According to a 2020 survey by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion – 56% of Canadian employees feel that their workplace is inclusive. This lack of inclusion can lead to low morale, increased turnover rates, decreased productivity and potential legal challenges.
To address this, Managers might like to take a proactive approach which includes:
- Managers striving to build teams that reflect the diversity their customer base and the wider community. This means recruiting from a wide range of sources, including underrepresented in groups and creating a work environment that is welcoming and supportive to all employees.
- Provide cultural competence training based on cultural competence, bias awareness and inclusion. Such a program can help create a more respectful and inclusive working culture where all employees feel valued and supported.
- Create a culture of inclusion whereby diversity, equity and inclusion are celebrated and valued. This would include promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in company policies and practices as well as, creating opportunities for employees to engage with each other and build relationships across different backgrounds.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do it’s also good for business. A diverse and inclusive workplace can lead to arrange of benefits which include increase innovation, improve decision making, better employee and gauge meant and a spectacular external reputation.
“Canada is a diverse country with a population of over 36 million people including individuals from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. However, many organizations continue to struggle with creating an inclusive working environment that values diversity, equity and promotes inclusion”.Dr. Taponeswa Chimbganda.,Associate and Corporate Advisor to the Pollice Management Consulting Group.
A good example of this is the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). A Canadian financial institution, RBC has made a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by designing a range of initiatives to create a more inclusive workplace including:
- Recruitment – RBC has implemented a range of strategies to attract and retain diverse talent including recruiting from a wide range of sources and promoting job opportunities to underrepresented groups.
- Training and Development – RBC provide training and development opportunities to employees on diversity, equity and inclusion in related topics including, unconscious bias, cultural competence and inclusive leadership.
- Employee Resource Groups – RBC has established employee resource groups that provide a platform for employees to connect with each other and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the company.
As a result of these initiatives RBC has been recognized as one of Canada’s best diversity employers for several years.
Mental health is an essential aspect of an individual’s overall health and well-being. It plays a critical role in the success of individuals, organizations and society at large. Mental health issues are becoming very common in the workplace and can have a significant impact an individual job performance and productivity. In Canada, mental health challenges account for 30% of disability claims and 21 % of lost time productivity in the workplace. Therefore, it is imperative for managers to be aware of the impact of mental health issues and take the necessary actions to address them.
Mental health issues can have a significant impact on the workplace including increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, increased conflict and increased healthcare costs. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental health issues account for over $50 billion in lost productivity each year in Canada. Mental health issues also lead to increased turnover rates, decreased employee morale and decrease job satisfaction.
My dark days made me stronger or, perhaps I already was strong and they made me prove it.Janice Arnoldi.
Associate, Pollice Management Consulting Group.
So, armed with this information, Janice Arnoldi, Mental Health Advocate in Niagara, suggests that managers might considering the following:
- Create a safe in support of environment: one of the most important actions managers can take to address mental health issues in the workplace is to create a safe and supportive environment. Managers ought to establish a culture that promotes open communication, empathy and support for employees. This can be achieved by providing training for managers and employees on mental health awareness, creating a mental health policy and implementing an employee assistance program that provides access to counselling and support services.
For example, the Canadian Mental Health Association offers a program called “Not Myself Today” that focuses on aiding organizations in the creation of a safe and supportive work environment by promoting mental health awareness and providing the tools and resources for employees and managers to support mental health.
- Promote work life balance: Managers can also help promote mental health in the workplace by promoting work life balance. This can be achieved by offering flexible work schedules, allowing employees to work from home and encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day. Managers should also encourage employees to take time off when required to address mental health needs.
For example, Shopify offers a flexible work schedule and allow supplies to work from home well offering mental health benefits including access to counselling and therapy.
- Address stigma: Mental health issues are often stigmatized and employees may feel ashamed or embarrass to see help. Managers can address is stigma by promoting mental health awareness, providing education on mental health and create an open supportive environment for employees to seek help. Imperative that managers ensure that they get an education add to the implications of mental health as well as understanding what mental health is.
An example of this is with Bell Canada. Bell Canada has a program called “LETS TALK” that aims to break down the stigma around mental health issues by promoting awareness promoting education and encouraging open communication about mental health.
There is no doubt that mental health issues in the workplace are a significant concern in Canada. Managers have an essential role to play in addressing this issue by creating a safe and supportive environment, promoting work life balance and addressing stigma. By taking these actions, managers can help promote mental health in the workplace and create a more productive and successful organization.
In conclusion this article has attempted to identify and analyze five of the largest challenges facing Managers in the Canadian workplace today. These challenges currently have a significant impact on organizations and employees. Managers ought to consider developing strategies to overcome them or at least minimize the negative effect associated by them. By providing employees with opportunities for career development and growth, promoting work life balance and creating a positive work culture; Managers can overcome these challenges and ensure the success of their organizations.
Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. An international facilitator, presenter and consultant, he is known as an operations management leader and coach. Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution and strategic planning. He has been an international consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top 10% throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG. Website at www.pollicemanagement.com