Canadian HR Reporter

February 22, 2016

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER February 22, 2016 NEWS 3 would provide greater insight and opportunity to connect with po- tential employees," he said. Manitoba Start, which helps newcomers to Canada, provides a paid work experience program, for example. e program financ- es eight weeks of employment for a refugee within a company. is lowers the risk for smaller organi- zations to onboard and train new employees. Ideally, said Angus, the workers would be hired on permanently. Cultural concerns While much of the focus is on the skill sets of these potential employees, employers should be conscious of the training they or existing workers may need to successfully integrate these new workers, said Angus "Cultural training is important for organizations so that they can provide an environment that is more conducive to newcomers feeling comfortable," he said. "at's often a part that's over- looked but it's critically impor- tant. ere's some work to do in companies to make sure they are creating the kind of environment where you can accept diversity and respect different cultures. We can't overlook the value of that kind of training." A focus on cultural training is paramount, said Andrew Stevens, assistant professor in the Univer- sity of Regina's faculty of business administration. e cultural land- scape in the province has changed significantly in the past decade, and these changes can create new opportunities for discrimination. "All of a sudden, organizations needed to be aware of diversity in the workplace and what that might look like. is could be an environment in which there is potential for new forms of racism and discrimination to manifest themselves between supervisors and employees or amongst the employees themselves," he said. "ere needs to be a focus here on anti-racism, anti-harassment and at looking at this as part of occupational health and safety, which — ultimately — is the duty and responsibility of an employer." Open channels of dialogue and information-sharing — as well as an effort to empathize and under- stand — are crucial in building successful employment relation- ships, said Stevens. Employers can't assume new employees will be familiar with or understand documents such as collective agreements, company policies or benefits packages. Training on these issues should be very hands-on, he said. "Employers also need to know about a variety of comprehensive challenges and issues that might face these refugees." Businesses need to be prepared to train employees on aspects of the workplace many Canadians take for granted, said Levon Afey- an, owner of the Montreal-based manufacturing business Seatply, which employs more than a dozen refugees, with some from Syria. "ey're really not aware of any of the rules," he said. "Sometimes you have to explain to them what a break is and why we take lunch breaks. We try to talk to them about carpooling to come to work, and we try to bring to their attention to things like working an evening shift so they can go to school in the morning." It's also important to discuss their lives outside work, said Afeyan. "We try to sit down with them, give them some direction and en- couragement to stay and work and adapt to this new lifestyle," he said. "It's very important for employers to take these steps. And I think it's important that we do this sooner rather than later. It's important be- cause these people need to have a good first experience. Not a perfect one, but a good first experience." New Canadians and refugees in particular tend to be the most exploited in societies and in work- places, said Stevens. "It's important that employers learn about labour law and about communicating labour law, em- ployment standards and occupa- tional health and safety standards to employees," he said. "People need to be vigilant of the rights of these workers." e recent influx of refugees has significantly increased pub- lic awareness about these issues, according to Margaret Eaton, executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). "e phone is ringing off the hook here, so we really want to take advantage of this opportu- nity to engage with employers on this issue of immigrants and refugees and we hope that this kind of outpouring of affection and interest for refugees will be spilled over into all immigrant communities, that people will see the real benefit of hiring im- migrants and working with them to better our city, our economy and our country." Cultural competency training is about understanding people are different and may react differently in a situation, she said. "In some cultures, people stand closer than in other cultures. Un- derstanding those funny, subtle differences when you bring differ- ent cultures together is necessary when you're trying to create an at- mosphere within your workplace that's inclusive," she said. "It's changing people's mindsets to be more open and understand- ing about those differences and also then realizing that difference is the thing that sparks creativity and productivity." Collaboration between em- ployers, agencies, associations, trade unions and communities is necessary to connect businesses with this emerging talent pool and also to provide both employers and employees with the supports they need, said Eaton. Differences 'spark creativity, productivity' REFUGEES < pg. 1

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