Part C – Understanding the Business of Managing

Chapter 11 – Managing Human Resources and Union Relations

Learning Objectives

By the end of the chapter, you should be able to:

  1. define human resource management and explain how managers develop and implement a human resource plan;
  2. explain how companies train and develop employees, and discuss the importance of a diverse workforce;
  3. identify factors that make an organization a good place to work, including competitive compensation and benefits packages;
  4. explain how managers evaluate employee performance and retain qualified employees;
  5. explain why workers unionize and how unions are structured, and describe the collective-bargaining process;
  6. discuss key terms associated with union/management issues, such as mediation and arbitration;
  7. identify the tactics used by each side to support its negotiating position: strikes, picketing, boycotting, and lockouts; and
  8. explain key terms in the chapter.


 Show What You Know

The Grounds of a Great Work Environment

Howard Schultz has vivid memories of his father slumped on the couch with his leg in a cast.1 The ankle would heal, but his father had lost another job—this time as a driver for a diaper service. It was a crummy job; still, it put food on the table, and if his father couldn’t work, there wouldn’t be any money. Howard was seven, but he understood the gravity of the situation, particularly because his mother was seven months pregnant, and the family had no insurance.

Headshot of a man in his 50-60s wearing a black blazer and a white shirt
Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz

This was just one of the many setbacks that plagued Schultz’s father throughout his life — an honest, hard-working man frustrated by a system that wasn’t designed to cater to the needs of common workers. He’d held a series of blue-collar jobs (cab driver, truck driver, factory worker), sometimes holding two or three at a time. Despite his willingness to work, he never earned enough money to move his family out of Brooklyn’s federally-subsidized housing projects. Schultz’s father died never having found fulfillment in his work life — or even a meaningful job. It was the saddest day of Howard’s life.

As a kid, did Schultz ever imagine that one day he’d be the founder and chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company? Of course not. But he did decide that if he was ever in a position to make a difference in the lives of people like his father, he’d do what he could. Remembering his father’s struggles and disappointments, Schultz has tried to make Starbucks the kind of company where he wished his father had worked. “Without even a high school diploma,” Schultz admits, “my father probably could never have been an executive. But if he had landed a job in one of our stores or roasting plants, he wouldn’t have quit in frustration because the company didn’t value him. He would have had good health benefits, stock options, and an atmosphere in which his suggestions or complaints would receive a prompt, respectful response.”2

 Schultz is motivated by both personal and business considerations: “When employees have self-esteem and self-respect,” he argues, “they can contribute so much more: to their company, to their family, to the world.”3 His commitment to his employees is embedded in Starbucks’s mission statement, whose first objective is to “provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.”4 Those working at Starbucks are called partners because Schultz believes working for his company is not just a job, it’s a passion.5

Point to Ponder

In April 2018, two black men were arrested for trespassing in a Philadelphia Starbucks. They hadn’t ordered anything as they were waiting on a friend. Employees asked them to leave and when they did not, the police were called. Starbucks refrained from pressing charges and the men were released.

However, the incident sparked debate and criticism of Starbucks. Starbucks issued apologies and closed all stores nationwide on May 29th for all employees to experience diversity training. What do you think of Starbucks’s reaction?

Human Resource Management

Employees at Starbucks are vital to the company’s success. They are its public face, and every dollar of sales passes through their hands.6 According to Howard Schultz, they can make or break the company. If a customer has a positive interaction with an employee, the customer will come back. If an encounter is negative, the customer is probably gone for good. That’s why it’s crucial for Starbucks to recruit and hire the right people, train them properly, motivate them to do their best, and encourage them to stay with the company. Thus, the company works to provide satisfying jobs, a positive work environment, appropriate work schedules, and fair compensation and benefits. These activities are part of Starbucks’s strategy to deploy human resources in order to gain competitive advantage. The process is called human resource management (HRM), which consists of all actions that an organization takes to attract, develop, and retain quality employees. Each of these activities is complex. Attracting talented employees involves the recruitment of qualified candidates and the selection of those who best fit the organization’s needs. Development encompasses both new employee orientation and the training and development of current workers. Retaining good employees means motivating them to excel, appraising their performance, compensating them appropriately, and doing what’s possible to keep them.

Human Resource Planning

How does Starbucks make sure that its worldwide retail locations are staffed with just the right number of committed employees? How does Norwegian Cruise Lines make certain that when the Norwegian Dawn pulls out of New York harbor, it has a complete, fully trained crew on board to feed, entertain, and care for its passengers? Managing these tasks is a matter of strategic human resource planning — the process of developing a plan for satisfying an organization’s human resources (HR) needs.

A strategic HR plan lays out the steps that an organization will take to ensure that it has the right number of employees with the right skills in the right places at the right times. HR managers begin by analyzing the company’s mission, objectives, and strategies. Starbucks’s objectives, for example, include the desire to “develop enthusiastically satisfied customers” as well as to foster an environment in which employees treat both customers and each other with respect.7 Thus, the firm’s HR managers look for people who are “adaptable, self-motivated, passionate, creative team members”.8 The main goal of Norwegian Cruise Lines — to lavish passengers with personal attention — determines not only the type of employee desired (one with exceptionally good customer-relation skills and a strong work ethic) but also the number needed (one for every two passengers on the Norwegian Dawn).9

Job Analysis

To develop an HR plan, HR managers must be knowledgeable about the jobs that the organization needs performed. They organize information about a given job by performing a job analysis to identify the tasks, responsibilities, and skills that it entails, as well as the knowledge and abilities needed to perform it. Managers also use the information collected for the job analysis to prepare two documents:

  • a job description, which lists the duties and responsibilities of a position; and
  • a job specification, which lists the qualifications — skills, knowledge, and abilities — needed to perform the job.

HR Supply and Demand Forecasting

Once they’ve analyzed the jobs within the organization, HR managers must forecast future hiring (or firing) needs. This is the three-step process summarized below.

Starbucks, for instance, might find that it needs three hundred new employees to work at stores scheduled to open in the next few months. Disney might determine that it needs two thousand new cast members to handle an anticipated surge in visitors. The Norwegian Dawn might be short two dozen restaurant workers because of an unexpected increase in reservations.

Simple graphic with three steps to consider in the performance appraisal process. The first step is to set goals and performance expectations and specify criteria that will be used to measure performance. The second step is to complete a written evaluation that raters performance according to the stipulated criteria. The third step is to meet with the employee to discuss the evaluation and suggest means of improving performance.
How to Forecast Hiring (and Firing) Needs

After calculating the disparity between supply and future demand, HR managers must draw up plans for bringing the two numbers into balance. If the demand for labour is going to outstrip the supply, they may hire more workers, encourage current workers to put in extra hours, subcontract work to other suppliers, or introduce labour-saving initiatives. If the supply is greater than the demand, they may deal with overstaffing by not replacing workers who leave, encouraging early retirements, laying off workers, or (as a last resort) firing workers.

Recruiting Qualified Employees

Armed with information on the number of new employees to be hired and the types of positions to be filled, the HR manager then develops a strategy for recruiting potential employees. Recruiting is the process of identifying suitable candidates and encouraging them to apply for openings in the organization.

Before going any further, we should point out that in recruiting and hiring, managers must comply with anti-discrimination laws; violations can have legal consequences. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly on the basis of a characteristic unrelated to ability. Under Section 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered”.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects and enforces a number of federal employment laws and protects each Canadian’s right to equal treatment under the law, including the following:

Equal Pay: Section 11 of the CHRA protects male and female employees who do substantially equal work from a difference in wages.

Other Factors: Section 15(1) of the Charter protects every Canadian’s right to equal treatment with respect to employment regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability 

In Canada, each jurisdiction (3 territories and 10 provinces) is governed by its own Human Rights Code or a version of it which, that offers its citizens an additional layer of protection against discriminatory practices. For example, in Ontario it is the Ontario Human Rights Act.

The Employment Equity Act of 1986 identifies specific populations which are protected from discrimination (women, visible minorities, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities). Individuals who feel that they have been discriminated against can take their case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Other legislation includes the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Labour code.

Where to Find Candidates

The first step in recruiting is to find qualified candidates. Where do you look for them, and how do you decide whether they’re qualified? Companies must assess not only the ability of a candidate to perform the duties of a job, but also whether he or she is a good “fit” for the company, i.e., how well the candidate’s values and interpersonal style match the company’s values and culture.

Internal Versus External Recruiting

Where do you find people who satisfy so many criteria? Basically, you can look in two places: inside and outside your own organization. Both options have pluses and minuses. Hiring internally sends a positive signal to employees that they can move up in the company — a strong motivation tool and a reward for good performance. In addition, because an internal candidate is a known quantity, it’s easier to predict his or her success in a new position. Finally, it’s cheaper to recruit internally. On the other hand, you’ll probably have to fill the promoted employee’s position. Going outside gives you an opportunity to bring fresh ideas and skills into the company. In any case, it’s often the only alternative, especially if no one inside the company has just the right combination of skills and experience. Entry-level jobs are usually filled from the outside.

How to Find Candidates

Whether you search inside or outside the organization, you need to publicize the opening. If you’re looking internally in a small organization, you can alert employees informally. In larger organizations, HR managers generally post openings on bulletin boards (often online) or announce them in newsletters. They can also seek direct recommendations from various supervisors.

College job fair

Recruiting people from outside is more complicated. It’s a lot like marketing a product to buyers: in effect, you’re marketing the virtues of working for your company. Starbucks uses the following outlets to advertise openings:

  • a dedicated section of the corporate web site (“Job Centre,” which lists openings, provides information about the Starbucks experience, and facilitates the submission of online applications);
  • college and university campus recruiting (holding on-campus interviews and information sessions and participating in career fairs);
  • internships designed to identify future talent among college students;
  • announcements on employment web sites like LinkedIn, Workopolis, Indeed, LeapOut, JobBank, Eluta;
  • social media;
  • local job fairs;
  • in-store recruiting posters; and
  • informative “business cards” for distribution to customers10.

When asked what it takes to attract the best people, Starbucks’s senior executive Dave Olsen replied, “Everything matters.” Everything Starbucks does as a company bears on its ability to attract talent. Accordingly, everyone is responsible for recruiting, not just HR specialists. In fact, the best source of quality applicants is often the company’s own labour force.11

The Selection Process

Recruiting gets people to apply for positions, but once you’ve received applications, you still have to select the best candidate — another complicated process.

The selection process entails gathering information on candidates, evaluating their qualifications, and choosing the right one. At the very least, the process can be time-consuming — particularly when you’re filling a high-level position — and often involves several members of an organization.

Let’s examine the selection process more closely by describing the steps that you’d take to work for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service .12 Most business students don’t generally aspire to become CSIS agents, but CSIS is quite interested in business graduates — especially if you have a major in accounting or finance. With one of these backgrounds, you’ll be given priority in hiring. Why?

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of white-collar crime that needs to be investigated, and people who know how to follow the money are well suited for the task. 

Contingent Workers

Though most people prefer to hold permanent, full-time positions, there’s a growing number of individuals who work at temporary or part-time jobs, either by choice or as the only available option. Many of these are contingent workers hired to supplement a company’s permanent workforce. Most of them are independent contractors, consultants, or freelancers who are paid by the firms that hire them. Others are on-call workers who work only when needed, such as substitute teachers. Still others are temporary workers (or “temps”) who are employed and paid by outside agencies or contract firms that charge fees to client companies.

Take 10 minutes to learn more about the likely future of work; watch “The gig economy: when algorithms decide your pay”. During the pandemic the gig economy grew, where workers are paid by tech platforms like Uber and Lyft. How is the new platform-driven economy affecting the people who do the jobs?


The Positives and Negatives of Temp Work

The use of contingent workers provides companies with a number of benefits. Because they can be hired and fired easily, employers can better control labour costs. When things are busy, they can add temps, and when business is slow, they can release unneeded workers. Temps are often cheaper than permanent workers, particularly because they rarely receive costly benefits. Employers can also bring in people with specialized skills and talents to work on special projects without entering into long-term employment relationships. Finally, companies can “try out” temps: if someone does well, the company can offer permanent employment; if the fit is less than perfect, the employer can easily terminate the relationship. There are downsides to the use of contingent workers, including increased training costs and decreased loyalty to the company. Also, many employers believe that because temps are usually less committed to company goals than permanent workers, productivity suffers.

Developing Employees

Because companies can’t survive unless employees do their jobs well, it makes economic sense to train them and develop their skills. This type of support begins when an individual enters the organization and continues as long as he or she stays there.

New Employee Orientation

Have you ever started your first day at a new job feeling upbeat and optimistic only to walk out at the end of the day thinking that maybe you’ve taken the wrong job? If this happens too often within a company, your employer may need to revise its approach to orientation — the way it introduces new employees to the organization and their jobs. Starting a new job is a little like beginning college; at the outset, you may be experiencing any of the following feelings:

  • somewhat nervous but enthusiastic;
  • eager to impress but not wanting to attract too much attention;
  • interested in learning but fearful of being overwhelmed with information; and
  • hoping to fit in and worried about looking new or inexperienced13.

The employer who understands how common such feelings are is more likely not only to help newcomers get over them but also to avoid the pitfalls often associated with new employee orientation:

  • failing to have a workspace set up for you;
  • ignoring you or failing to supervise you;
  • neglecting to introduce you to coworkers; and
  • swamping you with facts about the company14.

A good employer will take things slowly, providing you with information about the company and your job on a need-to-know basis while making you feel as comfortable as possible. You’ll get to know the company’s history, traditions, policies, and culture over time. You’ll learn more about salary and benefits and how your performance will be evaluated. Most importantly, you’ll find out how your job fits into overall operations and what’s expected of you.

Training and Development

It would be nice if employees came with all the skills they need to do their jobs. It would also be nice if job requirements stayed the same; once you’ve learned how to do a job, you’d know how to do it forever. In reality, new employees must be trained; moreover, as they grow in their jobs or as their jobs change, they’ll need additional training. Unfortunately, training is costly and time-consuming. How costly? The Conference Board of Canada reported that Canadian companies spent $688 per employee for training in 2010. Training, mentoring and coaching can benefit everyone in the work environment. Mentoring means having a more experienced manager sponsor and teach a lesser manager. Reverse mentoring is a term used to describe a system where new employees (usually much younger) can help train more experienced workers in areas such as social media and technology applications. 

Many Canadian companies focus much of their training on diversity skills. What’s the payoff? They create a more inclusive workplace and bring new voices and ideas to their way of doing business. Some of these companies also get additional rewards by being recognized as being Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.15 At Booz Allen Hamilton, consultants specialize in finding innovative solutions to client problems, and their employer makes sure that they’re up-to-date on all the new technologies by maintaining a “technology petting zoo” at its training headquarters. It’s called a “petting zoo” because employees get to see, touch, and interact with new and emerging technologies. For example, a Washington Post reporter visiting the “petting zoo” in 2007 saw fabric that could instantly harden if struck by a knife or bullet, and “smart” clothing that could monitor a wearer’s health or environment.16

At Booz Allen Hamilton’s technology “petting zoo”, employees are receiving off-the-job training. This approach allows them to focus on learning without the distractions that would occur in the office. More common, however, is informal on-the-job training, which may be supplemented with formal training programs. This is the method, for example, by which you’d move up from mere coffee maker to a full-fledged “barista” if you worked at Starbucks.17 You’d begin by reading a large spiral book (entitled Starbucks University) on the responsibilities of the barista, pass a series of tests on the reading, then get hands-on experience in making drinks, mastering one at a time.18 Doing more complex jobs in business will likely require even more training than is required to be a barista.

Equity,  Inclusion, and Diversity in the Workplace

The makeup of the Canadian workforce has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. In the 1950s, more than 70 percent was composed of males.19 Today’s workforce reflects the broad range of differences in the population — differences in gender, race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, religion, education, and lifestyle. As you can see below, more women have entered the workforce.20

Simple table showing recent statistics from StatsCan on woman and men’s participation rate in the workforce. Population overall is 50.7% female and 49.3% male, The workforce consists of 47.4% female and 52.6% male, and the relative participation rate is 0.93 for females and 1.06 for males.
Employment by GenderGroup, 2017

Most companies today strive for diverse workforces. HR managers work hard to recruit, hire, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. In part, these efforts are motivated by legal concerns: discrimination in recruiting, hiring, advancement, and firing is illegal under federal law and is prosecuted by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.21 Companies that violate anti-discrimination laws are subject to severe financial penalties and also risk reputational damage.       

Reasons for building a diverse workforce go well beyond mere compliance with legal standards. It even goes beyond commitment to ethical standards. It’s good business. People with diverse backgrounds bring fresh points of view that can be invaluable in generating ideas and solving problems. In addition, they can be the key to connecting with an ethnically diverse customer base. In short, capitalizing on the benefits of a diverse workforce means that employers should view differences as assets rather than liabilities.

Addressing Myths About Hiring People with Disabilities

Although there are many well-educated, skilled people with disabilities in Canada and in other countries around the world, they continue to be unemployed, or underemployed at a rate more than twice that of the general adult population. In fact according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, more than 50% of people with disabilities have high school diplomas, and over one third of these have completed a post-secondary program.

In Ontario, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is about 8% higher than the general population, as reported by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). According to the OCC, this is in part due to systemic and cultural discrimination based on misperceptions of people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often perceived as less productive, more likely to take time off, too costly to accommodate, and more likely to be a burden on employees who do not have disabilities. In fact the opposite is true for all these points. Because people with disabilities have more difficulty finding work, they are likely to value employment more than typical fully abled workers.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has put together a list of eight myths about hiring people with disabilities, and the OCC challenges those myths with facts. Take a few moments to read through  “8 Myths About Hiring People with Disabilities”.


What Makes a Great Place to Work?

Every year, Great Place to Work Canada analyzes comments from thousands of employees and compiles a list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work for in Canada,” which is published in Fortune magazine. Having compiled its list for more than twenty years, the institute concludes that the defining characteristic of a great company to work for is trust between managers and employees. Employees overwhelmingly say that they want to work at a place where employees “trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.”22 They report that they’re motivated to perform well because they’re challenged, respected, treated fairly, and appreciated. They take pride in what they do, are made to feel that they make a difference, and are given opportunities for advancement.23 The most effective motivators, it would seem, are closely aligned with Maslow’s higher-level needs and Herzberg’s motivating factors. The top ten companies are listed below:

  1. Google
  2. Kruger Products
  3. Hydro-Québec
  4. SAP
  5. Vitalité Health Network
  6. Queen’s University
  7. Concordia University
  8. Siemens
  9. SaskTel
  10. Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Job Redesign

The average employee spends more than two thousand hours a year at work. If the job is tedious, unpleasant, or otherwise unfulfilling, the employee probably won’t be motivated to perform at a very high level. Many companies practice a policy of job redesign to make jobs more interesting and challenging. Common strategies include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment.

Job Rotation

Specialization promotes efficiency because workers get very good at doing particular tasks. The drawback is the tedium of repeating the same task day in and day out. The practice of job rotation allows employees to rotate from one job to another on a systematic basis, often but not necessarily cycling back to their original tasks. A computer maker, for example, might rotate a technician into the sales department to increase the employee’s awareness of customer needs and to give the employee a broader understanding of the company’s goals and operations. A hotel might rotate an accounting clerk to the check-in desk for a few hours each day to add variety to the daily workload. Through job rotation, employees develop new skills and gain experience that increases their value to the company. So great is the benefit of this practice that many companies have established rotational training programs that include scheduled rotations during the first 2-3 years of employment. Companies benefit because cross-trained employees can fill in for absentees, thus providing greater flexibility in scheduling, offer fresh ideas on work practices, and become promotion-ready more quickly.

Job Enlargement

Instead of a job in which you performed just one or two tasks, wouldn’t you prefer a job that gave you many different tasks? In theory, you’d be less bored and more highly motivated if you had a chance at job enlargement — the policy of enhancing a job by adding tasks at similar skill levels. The job of sales clerk, for example, might be expanded to include gift-wrapping and packaging items for shipment. The additional duties would add variety without entailing higher skill levels.

Job Enrichment

Merely expanding a job by adding similar tasks won’t necessarily “enrich” it by making it more challenging and rewarding. Job enrichment is the practice of adding tasks that increase both responsibility and opportunity for growth. It provides the kinds of benefits that, according to Maslow and Herzberg, contribute to job satisfaction: stimulating work, sense of personal achievement, self-esteem, recognition, and a chance to reach your potential.

Consider, for example, the evolving role of support staff in the contemporary office. Today, employees who used to be called “secretaries” assume many duties previously in the domain of management, such as project coordination and public relations. Information technology has enriched their jobs because they can now apply such skills as word processing, desktop publishing, creating spreadsheets, and managing databases. That’s why we now use a term such as administrative assistant instead of secretary.24

Life | Work Quality

Building a career requires a substantial commitment in time and energy, and most people find that they aren’t left with much time for non-work activities. Fortunately, many organizations recognize the need to help employees strike a balance between their work and home lives.25 By helping employees combine satisfying careers and fulfilling personal lives, companies tend to end up with a happier, less-stressed, and more productive workforce. The financial benefits include lower absenteeism, turnover, and health care costs.

Alternative Work Arrangements

The accounting firm KPMG LLP has consistently made the list of “Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers”26 and is committed to help “employees balance work and their personal lives through a variety of flexible work options”.27


Employers who provide for flextime set guidelines that allow employees to designate starting and quitting times. Guidelines, for example, might specify that all employees must work eight hours a day (with an hour for lunch) and that four of those hours must be between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thus, you could come in at 7 a.m. and leave at 4 p.m., while coworkers arrive at 10 a.m. and leave at 7 p.m. With permission you could even choose to work from 8 a.m to 2 p.m., take two hours for lunch, and then work from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Compressed Workweeks

Rather than work eight hours a day for five days a week, you might elect to earn a three-day weekend by working ten hours a day for four days a week.

Job Sharing

Under job sharing, two people share one full-time position, splitting the salary and benefits of the position as each handles half the job. Often they arrange their schedules to include at least an hour of shared time during which they can communicate about the job.


Telecommuting means that you regularly work from home (or from some other non-work location). You’re connected to the office by computer and cell phone. You save on commuting time, enjoy more flexible work hours, and have more opportunity to spend time with your family. A study of 5,500 IBM employees (one-fifth of whom telecommute) found that those who worked at home not only had a better balance between work and home life but also were more highly motivated and less likely to leave the organization.28

Though it’s hard to count telecommuters accurately, Statistics Canada estimates that, in 2008, 11% of employees work from home.29 Telecommuting isn’t for everyone. Working at home means that you have to discipline yourself to avoid distractions, such as TV, personal phone calls, and home chores and also not be impacted by feeling isolated from the social interaction in the workplace.

Family-Friendly Programs

In addition to alternative work arrangements, many employers, including KPMG LLP and BASF Canada, offer programs and benefits designed to help employees meet family and home obligations while maintaining busy careers. As exemplary companies, they offer the following benefits.30

Dependent Care

Caring for dependents — young children and elderly parents — is of utmost importance to some employees, but combining dependent-care responsibilities with a busy job can be particularly difficult. Through its Personal Care program, KPMG LLP provides employees with up to 50 hours of paid time off annually to help with a range of personal matters. They also offer emergency backup dependent care all year round, either at a provider’s facility or in the employee’s home. KPMG LLP also has a Working Parents Network, Special Parents Network (virtual support group for parents raising children with physical, emotional and behavioural issues). Meanwhile, BASF Canada offers its employees a privately-run on-site child care facility.

Parental Leave and Support

New parents in Canada are guaranteed paid leave via Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits. BASF Canada tops-up these payments for new parents to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks. KPMG LLP further supports new parents by providing those on leave support with their transition back to work.

Caring for Yourself

Both KPMG LLP and BASF Canada offer employees comprehensive health and dental benefit coverage programs. The also provide employees with generous vacation allowances and personal days for employees to use in any way they want. Both organizations also offer an Employee Assistance Program for employees experiencing personal and/or work-related problems that may negatively affect their job performance and overall well-being. If staying fit makes you happier and more productive, BASF Canada offers a $400 fitness club subsidy and KPMG LLP offers the equivalent of 1.25% of an employee’s salary for home gym equipment.31

Unmarried Without Children

You have undoubtedly noticed by now that many programs for balancing work and personal lives target married people, particularly those with children. Single individuals also have trouble striking a satisfactory balance between work and non-work activities, but many single workers feel that they aren’t getting equal consideration from employers.32 They report that they’re often expected to work longer hours, travel more, and take on difficult assignments to compensate for married employees with family commitments.

Needless to say, requiring singles to take on additional responsibilities can make it harder for them to balance their work and personal lives. It’s harder to plan and keep personal commitments while meeting heavy work responsibilities. Frustration can lead to increased stress and job dissatisfaction. In several studies of stress in the accounting profession, unmarried workers reported higher levels of stress than any other group, including married people with children.33

With singles, as with married people, companies can reap substantial benefits from programs that help employees balance their work and non-work lives. PepsiCo, for example, offers a “concierge service,” which maintains a dry cleaner, travel agency, convenience store, and fitness centre on the premises of its national office in Somers, New York.34 Single employees seem to find these services helpful, but what they value most of all is control over their time. In particular, they want predictable schedules that allow them to plan social and personal activities. They don’t want employers assuming that being single means that they can change plans at the last minute. It’s often more difficult for singles to deal with last-minute changes because, unlike married coworkers, they don’t have the at-home support structure to handle such tasks as tending to elderly parents or caring for pets.

Compensation and Benefits

Though paychecks and benefits packages aren’t the only reasons why people work, they do matter. Competitive pay and benefits also help organizations attract and retain qualified employees. Companies that pay their employees more than their competitors generally have lower turnover. Consider, for example, The Container Store, which regularly appears on Fortune magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.”35 The U.S. retail chain staffs its stores with fewer employees than its competitors but pays them more — in some cases, three times the industry average for retail workers. This strategy allows the company to attract extremely talented workers who, moreover, aren’t likely to leave the company. Low turnover is particularly valuable in the retail industry because it depends on service-oriented personnel to generate repeat business. In addition to salary and wages, compensation packages often include other financial incentives, such as bonuses and profit-sharing plans, as well as benefits, such as medical insurance, vacation time, sick leave, and retirement accounts.

Wages and Salaries

The largest, and most important, component of a compensation package is the payment of wages or salary. If you’re paid according to the number of hours you work, you’re earning wages. Counter personnel at McDonald’s, for instance, get wages, which are determined by multiplying an employee’s hourly wage rate by the number of hours worked during the pay period. On the other hand, if you’re paid for fulfilling the responsibilities of a position — regardless of the number of hours required to do it — you’re earning a salary. The McDonald’s manager gets a salary for overseeing the operations of the restaurant. He or she is expected to work as long as it takes to get the job done, without any adjustment in compensation.

Piecework and Commissions

Sometimes it makes more sense to pay workers according to the quantity of product that they produce or sell. North Nova Seafoods Ltd., a seafood processing plant in Pictou, Nova Scotia, pays workers on piecework; workers’ pay is based on the amount of fish they have cut, cleaned and trimmed, or the number of lobsters they have disjointed and picked meat from. If you’re working on commission, you’re probably getting paid a percentage of the total dollar amount you sell. If you were a sales representative for an insurance company, like The Co-operators, you’d get a certain amount of money for each automobile or homeowner policy you sold.

Incentive Programs

In addition to regular paychecks, many people receive financial rewards based on performance, whether their own, their employer’s, or both. Other incentive programs designed to reward employees for good performance include bonus plans and stock options.

Bonus Plans

Cisco Systems Canada’s year-end bonuses — annual income given in addition to salary — are based on individual and company-wide performance. If the company has a profitable year, and if you contributed to that success, you’ll get a bonus. They refer to it as “rewarding people for their performance, not their seniority”.36

Bonus plans have become quite common, and the range of employees eligible for bonuses has widened in recent years. In the past, bonus plans were usually reserved for managers above a certain level. Today, companies have realized the value of extending plans to include employees at virtually every level. The magnitude of bonuses still favors those at the top.

Profit-Sharing Plans

Nature’s Path Foods 37 and Canadian Tire38 both have profit-sharing arrangements with employees. Today, many Canadian companies offer some type of profit-sharing program.

Canadian Tire’s plan has long been part of its operating principles — having been around since the late 1960’s.  Here’s how it works. An employee’s profit share is paid annually as a percentage of the employee’s earnings and is based on the company’s net profit. Profits in the most recent years have averaged to be about 10%. Interestingly, because this profit share is part of an employee’s retirement savings, it is put into a deferred profit-sharing account. 39

Stock-Option Plans

WestJet’s compensation plan also gives employees the right to participate in their Employee Share Purchase Plan. This enables employees to purchase WestJet shares amounting to up to 20 per cent of their gross salary and the company will match their contributions.  This is used as an incentive to attract and retain good people.

U.S.-based Starbucks, by contrast, isn’t nearly as selective in awarding stock options. At Starbucks, all employees can earn “Bean Stock” — the Starbucks employee stock-option plan. Both full- and part-time employees get Starbucks shares based on their earnings and their time with the company. If the company does well and its stock goes up, employees make a profit. CEO Howard Schultz believes that Bean Stock pays off because employees are rewarded when the company does well, and they have a stronger incentive to add value to the company (and so drive up its stock price). Starbucks has a video explaining their employee stock option program on this webpage.40


Another major component of an employee’s compensation package is benefits — compensation other than salaries, hourly wages, or financial incentives. Types of benefits include the following:

  • legally required benefits (Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, Workplace Safety and Insurance Boards);
  • paid time off (vacations, holidays, sick leave);
  • insurance (health benefits, life insurance, disability insurance); and
  • retirement benefits.

The cost of providing benefits is staggering. According to a 2015 survey by the Conference Board of Canada, it costs employers an average of $8,330 to provide benefits for each full-time employee. More than half of the employers surveyed indicated a rise in benefit costs, with an average 6.2 percent increase between 2013 and 2014.41

Many workers received benefits in addition to those required by law, including vision care, semi-private hospital stays and out-of-country medical coverage.42 Plus the majority of companies surveyed indicated that they provided benefits to permanent part-time employees who work a minimum number of hours per week. Part-timers often receive no benefits at all.43

Performance Appraisal

Employees generally want their managers to tell them three things: what they should be doing, how well they’re doing it, and how they can improve their performance. Good managers address these issues on an ongoing basis. On a semiannual or annual basis, they also conduct formal performance appraisals to discuss and evaluate employees’ work performance.

The Basic Three-Step Process

Appraisal systems vary both by organization and by the level of the employee being evaluated, but as you can see in Figure 11.8, it’s generally a three-step process:

  1. Before managers can measure performance, they must set goals and performance expectations and specify the criteria (such as quality of work, quantity of work, dependability, and initiative) that they’ll use to measure performance.
  2. At the end of a specified time period, managers complete written evaluations that rate employee performance according to the predetermined criteria.
  3. Managers then meet with each employee to discuss the evaluation. Jointly, they suggest ways in which the employee can improve performance, which might include further training and development.

It sounds fairly simple, but why do so many managers report that, except for firing people, giving performance appraisals is their least favorite task?44 To get some perspective on this question, we’ll look at performance appraisals from both sides, explaining the benefits and identifying potential problems with some of the most common practices.

Simple graphic with three steps to consider in the performance appraisal process. The first step is to set goals and performance expectations and specify criteria that will be used to measure performance. The second step is to complete a written evaluation that raters performance according to the stipulated criteria. The third step is to meet with the employee to discuss the evaluation and suggest means of improving performance.
The Performance Appraisal Process

Among other benefits, formal appraisals provide the following:

  • an opportunity for managers and employees to discuss an employee’s performance and to set future goals and performance expectations;
  • a chance to identify and discuss appropriate training and career-development opportunities for an employee;
  • formal documentation of the evaluation that can be used for salary, promotion, demotion, or dismissal purposes45.

As for disadvantages, most stem from the fact that appraisals are often used to determine salaries for the upcoming year. Consequently, meetings to discuss performance tend to take on an entirely different dimension: the manager may appear judgmental (rather than supportive), and the employee may get defensive. This adversarial atmosphere can make many managers not only uncomfortable with the task but also less likely to give honest feedback. (They may give higher marks in order to avoid delving into critical evaluations.) HR professionals disagree about whether performance appraisals should be linked to pay increases. Some experts argue that the connection eliminates the manager’s opportunity to use the appraisal to improve an employee’s performance. Others maintain that it increases employee satisfaction with the process and distributes raises on the basis of effort and results.46

360-Degree and Upward Feedback

Instead of being evaluated by one person, how would you like to be evaluated by several people—not only those above you in the organization but those below and beside you? The approach is called 360-degree feedback, and the purpose is to ensure that employees (mostly managers) get feedback from all directions — from supervisors, reporting subordinates, coworkers, and even customers. If it’s conducted correctly, this technique furnishes managers with a range of insights into their performance in a number of roles.

Some experts, however, regard the 360-degree approach as too cumbersome. An alternative technique, called upward feedback, requires only the manager’s subordinates to provide feedback. Computer maker Dell uses this approach as part of its manager development plan. Every year, forty thousand Dell employees complete a survey in which they rate their supervisors on a number of dimensions, such as practising ethical business principles and providing support in balancing work and personal life. Dell uses survey results for development purposes only, not as direct input into decisions on pay increases or promotions.47

Retaining Valuable Employees

When a valued employee quits, the loss to the employer can be serious. Not only will the firm incur substantial costs to recruit and train a replacement, but it also may suffer temporary declines in productivity and lower morale among remaining employees who have to take on heavier workloads. Given the negative impact of turnover — the permanent separation of an employee from a company — most organizations do whatever they can to retain qualified employees. Compensation plays a key role in this effort: companies that don’t offer competitive compensation packages tend to lose employees. Other factors also come into play, such as providing training and development, and helping employees achieve a satisfying work/non-work balance. In the following sections, we’ll look at a few other strategies for reducing turnover and increasing productivity.48

Creating a Positive Work Environment

Employees who are happy at work are more productive, provide better customer service, and are more likely to stay with the company. Vancouver-based Telus Corp. tracks their employee engagement with the help of a human resources consulting firm, and registered a 31% increase from 2007 to 2014. This increase was shown to have an impact on higher customer satisfaction, in addition to low turnover rates, as well as an increase in job applications and Telus stock price.49  Take a few moments and watch the RSA Shorts “Drive” video from Daniel Pink, which summarizes recent research on motivation and comes to some interesting conclusions.

The Employee-Friendly Workplace

What sorts of things improve employee attitudes? The 12,000 employees of software maker SAS Institute fall into the category of “happy workers”. They choose the furniture and equipment in their offices, eat subsidized meals at one of three on-site restaurants, and enjoy other amenities like a 77,000 square-foot fitness centre. They also have job security; no one’s ever been laid off because of an economic downturn. The employee-friendly work environment helps SAS employees focus on their jobs and contribute to the attainment of company goals.50 Not surprisingly, it also results in a very low (3 percent) turnover rate.

Recognizing Employee Contributions

Thanking people for work done well is a powerful motivator. People who feel appreciated are more likely to stay with a company than those who don’t.51 While a personal thank you is always helpful, many companies also formal programs for identifying and rewarding good performers. The U.S.-based Container Store rewards employee accomplishments in a variety of ways. For example, employees with 20 years of service are given a “dream trip” — one employee went on a seven day Hawaiian cruise.52 The company is known for its supportive environment, and in 2016 celebrated its seventeenth year on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For®.53

Involving Employees in Decision Making

Companies have found that involving employees in decisions saves money, makes workers feel better about their jobs, and reduces turnover. Some have found that it pays to take their advice. When General Motors asked workers for ideas on improving manufacturing operations, management was deluged with more than forty-four thousand suggestions during one quarter. Implementing a few of them cut production time on certain vehicles by 15 percent and resulted in sizable savings.54

Similarly, in 2001, Edward Jones, a personal investment company, faced a difficult situation during the stock-market downturn. Costs had to be cut, and laying off employees was one option. Instead, however, the company turned to its workforce for solutions. As a group, employees identified cost savings of more than $38 million. At the same time, the company convinced experienced employees to stay with it by assuring them that they’d have a role in managing it.55

Why People Quit

As important as such initiatives can be, one bad boss can spoil everything. The way a person is treated by his or her boss may be the primary factor in determining whether an employee stays or goes. People who have quit their jobs cite the following behavior by superiors:

  • making unreasonable work demands;
  • refusing to value their opinions;
  • failing to be clear about what’s expected of subordinates; and
  • showing favoritism in compensation, rewards, or promotions56.

Holding managers accountable for excessive turnover can help alleviate the “bad-boss” problem, at least in the long run. In any case, whenever an employee quits, it’s a good idea for someone — other than the individual’s immediate supervisor — to conduct an exit interview to find out why. Knowing why people are quitting gives an organization the opportunity to correct problems that are causing high turnover rates.

Involuntary Termination

Before we leave this section, we should say a word or two about termination — getting fired. Though turnover — voluntary separations — can create problems for employers, it is not nearly as devastating as the effects of involuntary termination on employees. Losing your job is what psychologists call a “significant life change,” and it’s high on the list of “stressful life events” regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes, employers lay off workers because revenues are down and they must resort to downsizing — cutting costs by eliminating jobs. Sometimes a particular job is being phased out, and sometimes an employee has simply failed to meet performance requirements.

Employment at Will

Is it possible for you to get fired even if you are doing a good job and there is no economic justification for your being laid off? In some cases, yes — especially if you’re not working under a contract. Without a formal contract, you’re considered to be employed at will, which means that both you and your employer have the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time. You can quit whenever you want, but your employer can also fire you whenever they want.

Fortunately for employees, over the past several decades, the courts have made several decisions that created exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.57 Since managers generally prefer to avoid the expense of fighting wrongful discharge claims in court, many no longer fire employees at will. A good practice in managing terminations is to maintain written documentation so that employers can demonstrate just cause when terminating an employee. If it’s a case of poor performance, the employee would be warned in advance that his or her current level of performance could result in termination and then be permitted an opportunity to improve performance. When termination is necessary, communication should be handled in a private conversation, with the manager explaining precisely why the action is being taken.

The ‘Great Resignation’? It’s not happening in Canada

According to the Globe and Mail Nov 2, 2021, the economic recovery from COVID-19 has produced many tales of people quitting jobs or switching careers as part of a broader re-evaluation of work and what’s truly important amid a deadly pandemic.

Stories abound of workers who have simply had enoughsay, the stressed-out waiter who turned a passion project into a small business, or the overworked lawyer who quit to recharge, indulge in hobbies and spend time with family. Some commentators have dubbed it the “Great Resignation,” a collective rush for the workplace exits.

But those anecdotes, while true, don’t add up to much of a trend in Canadaat least, not yet. There is little evidence to suggest that people here are resigning en masse. Instead, it appears that Canadians are exercising some caution as the economy recovers from the worst shock in generations.


In “Motivating Employees”, Maslow believed that individuals are motivated to satisfy five levels of unmet needs (physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization). From this perspective, employees hope that full-time work will satisfy at least the two lowest-level needs: they want to be paid wages that are sufficient for them to feed, house, and clothe themselves and their families, and they expect safe working conditions and hope for some degree of job security.

Organizations also have needs: they need to earn profits that will satisfy their owners. They need to keep other stakeholders satisfied as well, which can cost money. Consider a metal-plating business that uses dangerous chemicals in its manufacturing processes; wastewater treatment is essential and expensive. Sometimes, the needs of employees and employers are consistent: the organization can pay decent wages and provide workers with safe working conditions and job security while still making a satisfactory profit. At other times, there is a conflict — real, perceived, or a little bit of both — between the needs of employees and those of employers. In such cases, workers may be motivated to join a labour union — an organized group of workers that bargains with employers to improve its members’ pay, job security, and working conditions.

The following chart demonstrates that there has been an overall decrease in the percentage of workers in Canada who are union members from 1981 to 2012. It is interesting to note that this trend is not true for women in the workforce, where the participation rate has been fairly steady over that same 30 year period. The overall decrease is due to a number of factors. First, there has been a shift away from traditional manufacturing industries towards service industries, which are not as likely to be unionized. Some large multinational corporations have a strong anti-union stance, making it more difficult for employees to form unions in those companies.

Graph with 3 trajectories - one for men, one for women, and one for both sexes showing the overall decrease in unionized individuals aged 17-64 from 1984-2012. Women's union representation has remained relatively consistent with men's and both sexes's dropping.

Source: Statistics Canada

Union Structure

Unions have a pyramidal structure much like that of large corporations. At the bottom are locals that serve workers in a particular geographical area. Certain members are designated as stewards to serve as go-betweens in disputes between workers and supervisors. Locals are usually organized into national unions that assist with local contract negotiations, organize new locals, negotiate contracts for entire industries, and lobby government bodies on issues of importance to organized labour. In turn, national unions may be linked by a labour federation, such as the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which provides assistance to member unions and serves as a principal political organ for organized labour.

Collective Bargaining

In a non-union environment, the employer makes largely unilateral, i.e., one-sided, decisions on issues affecting its labour force, such as salary and benefits. Typically, employees are in no position to bargain for better deals. At the same time, however, employers have a vested interest in treating workers fairly. A reputation for treating employees well, for example, is a key factor in attracting talented people. Most employers want to avoid the costs involved in managing a unionized workforce; as a result, many offer generous pay and benefit packages in the hopes of keeping their workers happy — and un-unionized.

The process of setting pay and benefit levels is a lot different in a unionized environment. Union workers operate on a contract which usually covers some agreed-upon, multi-year period. When a given contract period begins to approach expiration, union representatives determine with members what they want in terms of salary increases, benefits, working conditions, and job security in their next contract. Union officials then tell the employer what its workers want and ask what they’re willing to offer. When there’s a discrepancy between what workers want and what management is willing to give — as there usually is — union officials serve as negotiators on behalf of their workforce, with the objective of extracting the best package of salary, benefits, and other conditions possible. The process of settling differences and establishing mutually agreeable conditions under which employees will work is called collective bargaining.

The Negotiation Process

Negotiations start when each side states its position and presents its demands. As in most negotiations, these opening demands simply stake out starting positions. Both parties usually expect some give-and-take and realize that the final agreement will fall somewhere between the two positions. If everything goes smoothly, a tentative agreement can be reached and then voted on by union members. If they accept the agreement, the process is complete and a contract is put into place to govern labour-management relations for a stated period. If workers reject the agreement, negotiators from both sides must go back to the bargaining table.

Mediation and Arbitration

If negotiations stall, the sides may call in outsiders. One option for engaging outside parties is called mediation, under which an impartial third party assesses the situation and makes recommendations for reaching an agreement. A mediator’s advice can be accepted or rejected by either side. If mediation does not result in an agreement, because one or both sides are unwilling to accept the decision of the third party, they may opt instead for arbitration, under which the third party studies the situation and arrives at a binding agreement. The key difference between mediation and arbitration is the word “binding” — whatever the third party says goes, because both the union and management have agreed to accept the decision of the third party as a condition of entering into the arbitration process.

Grievance Procedures

Another difference between union and non-union environments is the handling of grievances — worker complaints on contract-related matters. When non-union workers feel that they’ve been treated unfairly, they can take up the matter with supervisors, who may or may not satisfy their complaints. When unionized workers have complaints (such as being asked to work more hours than stipulated under their contract), they can call on union representatives to resolve the problem, in conjunction with supervisory personnel, who are part of company management. If the outcome isn’t satisfactory to the worker, the union can choose to take the problem to higher-level management on his or her behalf. If there is still no resolution, the union may submit the grievance to an arbitrator.

At times, labour and management can’t resolve their differences through collective bargaining or formal grievance procedures. When this happens, each side may resort to a variety of tactics to win support for its positions and force the opposition to agree to its demands.

Union Tactics

Unions have several options at their disposal to pressure company management into accepting the terms and conditions union members are demanding. The tactics available to the union include striking, picketing, and boycotting. When they go on strike, workers walk away from their jobs and refuse to return until the issue at hand has been resolved. As undergraduates at York University discovered when they arrived on campus in 2007, the effects of a strike can engulf parties other than employers and strikers: with two-hundred food services workers on strike, students had to scramble to find food at local mini-markets. The strike lasted from February 2nd to March 7th, and in the end, the workers got what they wanted: fairer wages, work protection and improvements to their health and dental plans.58

Close up on a group of protester holding banners and sandwich board signs. They are at Queen's Park to show support for striking Ontario faculty.
Ontario College Faculty picketing during a strike in October 2017.

Though a strike sends a strong message to management, it also has consequences for workers, who don’t get paid when they’re on strike. Unions often ease the financial pressure on strikers by providing cash payments, which are funded from the dues members pay to the unions. It is important to note that some unionized workers may not have the right to strike. For example, strikes by federal employees, such as air-traffic controllers, can be declared illegal if they jeopardize the public interest.

When you see workers parading with signs outside a factory or an office building (or even a school), they’re probably using the tactic known as picketing (see Figure above). The purpose of picketing is informative — to tell people that a workforce is on strike or to publicize some management practice that is unacceptable to the union. In addition, because other union workers typically won’t cross picket lines, marchers can sometimes interrupt the daily activities of the targeted organization. In 2009, approximately 24,000 City of Toronto Municipal Workers, unhappy about wages and the loss of the right to bank and cash out unused sick leave, went on a five-week strike. At first, many citizen supported this right, but some of the most noticeable effects of the strike, including the halting of waste collection and the cancellation of summer recreation programming, created widespread concern and negative reactions from the Toronto population.59

The final tactic available to unions is boycotting, in which union workers refuse to buy a company’s products and try to get other people to follow suit. The tactic is often used by the Canadian Labour Congress, who often endorse national boycotts. In 2009, for example, they called for a boycott of Old Dutch snack products in support of 170 locked out union workers at their Calgary plant.

Management Tactics

Management doesn’t typically sit by passively, especially if the company has a position to defend or a message to get out. One available tactic is the lockout — closing the workplace to workers — though it’s rarely used because it’s legal only when unionized workers pose a credible threat to the employer’s financial viability. If you are a fan of professional basketball, you may remember the NBA lockout in 2011 (older fans may remember a similar scenario that took place in 1999) which took place because of a dispute regarding the division of revenues and the structure of the salary cap.

Lockout tactics were also used in the 2011 labour dispute between the National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League Players Association when club owners and players failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Prior to the 2011 season, the owners imposed a lockout, which prevented the players from practising in team training facilities. Both sides had their demands. The players wanted a greater percentage of the revenues, which the owners were against; the owners wanted the players to play two additional regular season games, which the players were against. With the season drawing closer, an agreement was finally reached in July 2011, bringing the 130-day lockout to an end and ensuring that the 2011 football season would begin on time.60

Two football referees conversing

Another management tactic is replacing striking workers with strikebreakers — non-union workers who are willing to cross picket lines to replace strikers. Though the law prohibits companies from permanently replacing striking workers, it’s often possible for a company to get a court injunction that allows it to bring in replacement workers. For example, the NFL employed replacement referees in 2012, a move which led to a number of very questionable calls on the field.61

Why Managers Often Resist Unionization Efforts

No union organizing campaign ever started with the premise that by unionizing, employees would receive lower wages or weaker benefit programs. To the contrary, unions approach prospective members with promises like higher pay, better health insurance, and more vacation time. Not surprisingly, then, business managers resist unions because they generally add to the cost of doing business. Higher costs can be addressed in several ways. Managers could accept lower profits, though such an outcome is unlikely given that owners/shareholders benefit from higher profits. They could raise prices and pass the higher costs along to customers, but doing so could hurt their competitiveness in the marketplace. Alternatively. they could find other ways to offset the increase in costs, but since managers are already supposed to be paying attention to costs, finding offsets can be quite difficult.

Another reason managers sometimes resist unionization is that unions often attempt to negotiate work rules that are to the benefit of their members. Business people who have worked in union environments have often complained of the lack of flexibility and the difficulty unions sometimes create in dealing with poorly performing union employees. The grievance process can sometimes be long, cumbersome, and costly to administer.

Some companies find working with unions to be so unpleasant that they decide to voluntarily increase pay and benefits to preempt unions in advertising these benefits.

The History of Unions

Excerpted from CBC’s Highlights in Canadian Labour History, P. Philips writes:

Celebrated across the country, the holiday is often thought of as the last hurrah before kids head back to school and the long, hot days of summer give way to the crisp, fading days of autumn.

But Labour Day is more than just the unofficial end to summer — a fact many Canadians tend to forget.

The Labour Day holiday, however, was established to recognize the contribution that ordinary working people have made to the Canadian way of life, said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

This includes the right to fair wages, safe working conditions and compensation for injury, and equitable labour relations.

“Lots of people lost their lives in order to establish the right to refuse unsafe work and the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination,” said Georgetti. “We’ve done a lot and we’re very proud of it.”

The Future of Unions

Union membership in Canada and the United States has been declining for some time. In Canada, the unionization rate fell from 37.6% in 1981 to 28.8% in 2014. So will membership continue to decline, causing unions to lose even more power? The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) is optimistic about union membership, pointing out recent gains in membership among women and immigrants, as well as health care workers, graduate students, and professionals.62

Convincing workers to unionize is still more difficult than it used to be and could become even harder in the future. Given their resistance to being unionized, employers have developed strategies for dissuading workers from unionizing — in particular, tactics for withholding job security. If unionization threatens higher costs for wages and benefits, management can resort to part-time or contract workers. They can also outsource work, eliminating jobs entirely. Many employers are now investing in technology designed to reduce the amount of human labour needed to produce goods or offer services. While it is impossible to predict the future, it is likely that unions and managers will remain adversaries for the foreseeable future. 

Comprehension Check

Use the Internet to research a company that has an excellent reward and incentive system. Identify some of this company’s main financial and non-financial benefits.

Key Takeaways

Important terms and concepts:

  1. The process of human resource management consists of actions that an organization takes to attract, develop, and retain quality employees.
  2. Human resource managers engage in strategic human resource planning — the process of developing a plan for satisfying the organization’s human resource needs.
  3. The HR manager forecasts future hiring needs and begins the recruiting process to fill those needs.
  4. In recruiting and hiring, managers must comply with antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They cannot treat people unfairly on the basis of a characteristic unrelated to ability, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
  5. HR managers also oversee employee training, from the first orientation to continuing on- or off-the-job training. Attracting a diverse workforce goes beyond legal compliance and ethical commitments, because a diverse group of employees can offer perspectives that may be valuable in generating ideas, solving problems, and connecting with an ethnically diverse customer base.
  6. Employees are motivated to perform well when they’re challenged, respected, treated fairly, and appreciated. Some other factors that contribute to employee satisfaction include job redesign to make jobs more interesting and challenging, job rotation, which allows employees to rotate from one job to another, job enlargement, which enhances a job by adding tasks at similar skill levels, and job enrichment, which adds tasks that increase both responsibility and opportunity for growth.
  7. Many organizations recognize the need to help employees strike a balance between their work and home lives, and offer a variety of work arrangements to accommodate different employee needs, such as flextime (flexible scheduling), job sharing (when two people share a job), and telecommuting (working from outside the office).
  8. Compensation includes pay and benefits. Workers who are paid by the hour earn wages, while those who are paid to fulfill the responsibilities of the job earn salaries. Some people receive commissions based on sales or are paid for output, based on a piecework approach.
  9. In addition, employees may receive year-end bonuses, participate in profit-sharing plans, or receive stock options. Managers conduct performance appraisals to evaluate work performance.
  10. Turnover is the permanent separation of an employee from a company, and may happen if an employee is unsatisfied with their job, or because the organization is not satisfied with the employee. Sometimes, firms lay off workers, or downsize, to cut costs.
  11. Labour unions are organized groups of workers that bargain with employers to improve members’ pay, job security, and working conditions.
  12. When there’s a discrepancy between what unionized workers want in terms of salary increases, benefits, working conditions, and job security, and what management is willing to give, the two sides engage in a process called collective bargaining.
  13. If negotiations break down, the sides may resort to mediation (in which an impartial third party makes recommendations for reaching an agreement) or arbitration (in which the third party imposes a binding agreement).
  14. When unionized workers feel that they’ve been treated unfairly, they can file grievances — complaints over contract-related matters that are resolved by union representatives and employee supervisors.
  15. If labour differences can’t be resolved through collective bargaining or formal grievance procedures, each side may resort to a variety of tactics. The union can do the following:
    • call a strike (in which workers leave their jobs until the issue is settled);
    • organize picketing (in which workers congregate outside the workplace to publicize their position); or
    • arrange for boycotting (in which workers and other consumers are urged to refrain from buying an employer’s products).
  16. Management may resort to a lockout — closing the workplace to workers — or call in strikebreakers (non-union workers who are willing to cross picket lines to replace strikers).


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