Talent War: The Arrival of the Metaverse

Talent War: The Arrival of the Metaverse

Meta is coming…are you prepared to protect your team and defend your people?

Meta has announced that they have plans to open up a hub in downtown Toronto, and of course, this means they’ll bring with them about 2,500 job opportunities…

…this also means that the arrival of the Metaverse inevitably brings some business owners a sense of peril.

Those 2,500 hires will be talent drawn away from their pre-existing roles in Canadian companies and be propelled toward enticing new employment opportunities.

So, just as King Leonidas fearlessly led his Spartan army to the Battle of Thermopylae against Xerxes and the Persian army….Canadian business owners will soon have to suit up and be proactive to keep their team well trained, aligned, and dedicated. It’s the only way businesses can hold strong and retain their top talent during the Meta invasion.

How do I retain my best people?

You can retain your people by being prepared for the arrival of Meta; this means you need to implement the best modern HR strategies TODAY!

To retain your top tech talent during the Meta invasion, look to the Spartans for inspiration, and take a look at your current practices for:

Recruiting – Spartans were extremely picky about allowing the healthiest of offspring to join their ranks; they knew that they needed the best team in order to succeed, and understood what traits, skills, and qualities were necessary.

What we can learn – Know your Ideal Employee Profile…and stick to it! Having an IEP is just one of many recruiting game-changers that will help with your Talent Acquisition strategy. Whether you find them through a job posting or through an Employee Referral, you’ll know what traits and skills you’re looking for.

Training – Spartans were all about constant training, with clear promotions in their ranks and goals to be met…they were constantly advancing their ranks.

What we can learn – Upgrade your team constantly, encourage a growth mindset, and the development of new skills. Have clear tiers to help them achieve and have a plan in place to track their progress…this is why modern performance reviews and new hire onboarding playbooks are essential.

Culture – Spartans were always culturally aligned and strong. They were focused and had a code of conduct…most importantly, they stood by their values and their people and never surrendered. 
What we can learn – Ensure that your employees are all aligned and understand the company values and goals. Employees must all fit with your company culture, and if your culture is unclear to them, remember that they will define it for themselves…a fierce leader would never let that happen!

Our Takeaway

The Spartans didn’t give in to the demand of Xerxes, and they fought for what they believed in.

While we strongly discourage gory battles and kicking your opponents into a pit, we believe that the Spartans truly understood their culture, the importance of having the best people on their team, and constant training, and that is a key takeaway here.

The Spartans were the O.G’s of teamwork and preparedness. We highly recommend drawing inspiration from them when preparing your team for the arrival of Meta…and that means improving your modern HR strategies in order to attract and retain a force (team) to be reckoned with!

If your team is aligned, just like King Leonidas’ 300 army, they’ll conduct themselves well, share the same values, and make decisions based on what they know and believe in.

Think of your team organizing a Phalanx to defend your people when Meta arrives…if everybody is aligned and invested in what they’re fighting for, you’ll hold strong.

Book a Call

Remember: a small, intentionally built team of A-players with aligned values can achieve a LOT against an invading force.

And, if you’re like Castle HR, you don’t need a team of 300, so that’s the good news…however,  the challenge with that is you need to be exact on the hires you make now and fiercely defend them from being taken – an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of reaction.

If you need help aligning your team and preparing for Meta’s arrival, Castle HR is here to help.

For Sparta!


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

HR Trends 2022: 5 Human Resources Trends to Watch Out For

Employees resting hands on a table, listening to a teammate sharing an idea.

HR Trends 2022: 5 Human Resources Trends to Watch Out For

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, work and life have significantly changed in the last few years, bringing forth new HR trends. While many anticipated that 2021 would mark the ‘return to the workplace’, we’re now two years into the pandemic and we’ve learned to expect the unexpected; many workplaces have opted to have their staff work remotely indefinitely, or at least give them the option to do so!

With more employees working from home than ever before, the employee experience has drastically transformed. Employers continue to roll out plans to address the needs of their employees in 2022. 

Here are 5 biggest HR trends that will shape the workplace in 2022:

1. The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation refers to the 33 million Americans who quit their jobs amid the pandemic due to late shift changes, tough working conditions, or low wages. The growing popularity of anti-work has made it difficult for employers to recruit talent, but has shifted the focus to refreshing and improving how companies operated before.

With that said, attracting and retaining employees will be one of the biggest HR trends of 2022. Employers are adopting digital transformation in HR, improving working conditions, increasing communication, and compensating their employees for what they deserve. 

2. Employee Well-being Benefits

Mental health and wellness have become a top priority for most employees. A new HR trend in 2022 is that businesses are becoming more aware of the importance of relieving stress and assessing employee well-being, including mental, physical, and financial health.

Some companies are offering mental health seminars, yoga sessions, or meditation breaks to ensure their employees are well. Employers will continue to pay more attention to their workers and their human needs, which will in turn, improve performance and satisfaction in the workplace.

Book a Call

3. Hybrid and Remote Work

One of the biggest HR trends arising from the pandemic is more flexibility around where, how, and when people work. Since employees have made the transition to remote work, they have reported their physical and mental well-being has actually improved. Employees have enjoyed working from home so much that they would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office.

Moving forward, employers need to consider their employees’ interest in remote or hybrid work as they strive to offer better workplace experiences and understand how this can improve safety and productivity within their companies as well.

4. Four Day Workweek

The four-day workweek debate is back! Employees have learned to be extra productive while working from home by using their extra time to improve their work, spend time with family, and pursue their hobbies. Workers are asking for more flexibility, and many feel a four day workweek is adequate. Some companies may adopt this schedule to recruit talent during what continues to be a historic labor shortage, and this HR trend will continue throughout 2022. 

5. Diversity and Inclusion

Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have made heavier commitments to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. This HR transformation trend empowers employees to proudly be a part of their company. In 2022, and many more years to come, diversity and inclusion will be crucial factors for employees. Digital platforms also give employees the technology they need to tell their stories. 

Looking for a fractional HR team to help you recruit employees and build your dream company? Book a call today!


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

The 8 Culture Types

There are eight main culture types for organizations. This image is of an eight ball on a pool table.

The 8 Culture Types

When it comes to culture, no two companies are alike…understanding and defining your company culture will help your business function well across all areas of operation, and it will help your team be able to make decisions in their roles, and understand your company as a whole.

Simply put: your team should know who they are working for, what is expected of them and you should know who you are looking for to be a part of your team! 
Often, people mistake their company values as culture. Although your values and mission are certainly an element of your company culture, it goes beyond that. Your company culture encompasses how you, and your employees, interact and behave, what the workplace environment is like, how problems are handled, how changes are met, how internal and external relations and communications are managed and what goals you set.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to company culture, and that’s why, as a leader,  establishing your culture is an important task to tackle in the early stages of scaling your business.

Why is identifying your company culture so important?

As your business grows, you’ll want your team to be able to make daily decisions and actions on their own and have an understanding of the company they work for…not just their specific role and duties. Their ability to do this relies on their understanding of your specific company culture.

Today’s workforce wants (and expects) to know what a company culture is. And, they don’t want to piece it together when they are hired; people want to have a clear understanding of a company’s culture when they are interviewing, and especially before they sign a contract.

In other words, retention and talent acquisition are directly affiliated with your company culture. If you are facing issues with turnover, or find you cannot seem to attract an ideal candidate, there are many factors to consider, but your company culture could be one of them.

We previously wrote about the role of company values in hiring, and about creating a great interview process.

How does culture impact your business?

Without a clear understanding of your culture, you will not be able to create an effective strategy for managing and scaling your company.

Culture drives behavior; you want to attract, hire, and retain the best team of people whose values, attitudes, goals and ethics align with the company and other staff. Your staff should all be able to collaborate and be productive, and comfortable, in their workplace. In addition to this, if you don’t define what your company culture is, your staff will decide for themselves…which can lead to a lot of disconnect, and could potentially disrupt the flow of your business..

Culture is the glue that holds organizations together…you want your employees to be excited about coming to work, and have an in-depth understanding of the environment they work in and company they work for.

Book a Call

What are the culture types?

There are 8 culture types, each with its own set of strengths, weaknesses and unique identifiers, they are:

Caring

These companies pride themselves on taking care of their employees. They often have extensive benefits packages and are very focused on work/life balance, as well as employee collaboration. Employees of Caring Culture Workplaces often help one another and become invested in one another’s success.

The downside of these cultures is that they can be seen as “coddling” by some employees, and they may not be as driven to achieve results.

Example: Disney

Purpose

These companies exist to achieve a greater good, not just to make money. They are often mission-driven and values-based, and this extends to the mindset(s) of their employees, too! The purpose driving the company is often one that is highly important to employees and unites your entire team.

If there’s any potential ‘con’ to a purpose-driven culture, it’s that they can be overly idealistic and may have difficulty making tough decisions.

Example: Whole Foods

Learning:

These companies believe that learning is a lifelong process and invest heavily in employee development. They are often very open to new ideas and adapting new (or altering) practices.

The downside of these cultures is that they can be seen as “flighty” by some employees, and they may not be as focused on achieving results.

Example: Tesla

Enjoyment:

These companies are all about having fun while you work! They often prioritize comfortability and have a very informal structure; they typically encourage employee creativity, flexibility and collaboration.

Although a more playful work environment sounds appealing to some, note that they can be seen as unprofessional and employees may not take their work seriously if there aren’t clear boundaries and expectations set out…a well written, concise employee handbook can help with that!

Example: Twitter

Results:

These companies are focused on achieving results, and often have a very competitive environment. The upside of these cultures is that they are highly productive and achieve great results.

The downside is that they can be very stressful and may not be as conducive to employee development. Decisions may also be made unilaterally, as many results-oriented companies opt for a hierarchical structure.

Example: Netflix

Authority:

These companies believe in a top-down approach to management, and often have a very hierarchical structure as well. The benefit to an authority-style culture is that they are very efficient and decisions are made quickly.

Unfortunately, they have potential to be inflexible and may not be as open to new ideas or encouraging employees to think outside the box or ‘grow’ in their roles.

Example: Huawei

Safe or ‘Risk-Conscious’:

These companies prioritize safety and security, and often have very strict rules and regulations. The upside of these cultures is that they are very safe and employees feel secure.

The downside is that they can be seen as overly cautious and may not be as innovative.

Example: Public sector entities, Government agencies

Order, or ‘Structure’:

These companies are very organized and follow a set of strict procedures. Cultures with order and structure are efficient and employees know exactly what is expected of them.

Similar to authority cultures, they may not be as open to new ideas and things may run on a very strict schedule.

Example: Big Banks like TD, CIBC, RBC

I know which culture I want for my company. Now what?

It is important to note that defining your company culture isn’t always a ‘black and white’ scenario (it is possible that your company culture is a combination of two). But, defining what your primary and secondary cultures are is still vital!

If you want to learn more about company culture and how to improve it, or if you need help defining it, an HR professional can help you define and establish yours as your company grows.

Establishing a company culture that clearly aligns with your mission, values, goals and structure of operations will help ensure that you attract and retain the best team, and that your company operates well across all departments, and with a unified rhythm and understanding of workplace culture!


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

Best Practices for Employment Contracts

Copy of employment contract on a desk

Best Practices for Employment Contracts

When hiring a new member to the team, it is easy to get caught up in all the excitement and overlook the necessity of creating an employment contract. An employment contract is usually entered into between an employer and executives, physicians, engineers, or other highly skilled employees. Employment contracts are essential to protect your company and create secure, legal agreements. 

So, what should be included in employment contracts to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of their employment? Follow this employment contract template for your next hire.

Scope of Employment

The first thing you want to include in your employment contract is what the job entails. This includes the employee’s job title, responsibilities, and location of employment. If specific terms have been negotiated between the employer and employee, they will be mentioned here. For example, how many hours the employee can work from home a week or goals to be reached in a certain time frame. 

Compensation

Compensation terms need to be clearly stated, especially when the employee is being compensated by bonus pay or commission on top of base salary. The employment contract should also include conditions that need to be met for raises or bonuses.

Book a Call

Benefits

Health benefits such as health insurance or life insurance, 401k or other investment plans, stock options, and signing bonuses are additional key factors to include in the contract. You should also address time off, vacation, and sick day policies. For example, employment contracts should cover how time off is accrued and the number of vacation days employees can take per year, including sick leave.

Termination Conditions

Employment contracts are typically terminated upon some violation of the agreement between the employer and employee. In other cases, the agreement may have a set term of employment, meaning there is a set date where employment ends. The employment contract should also state what the employee or employer can do that will result in termination. For instance, can employees be fired if they commit a felony or misdemeanors such as theft or embezzlement? Or can the employee terminate the contract with the employer if the company violates any rules of the agreement or files for bankruptcy? Additionally, the contract should state terms of severance for wrongful termination. 

Confidentiality and Privacy

The employment agreement should include what the employer and employee can disclose to the public. Confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements require additional signatures that may be project-specific and prevent the employee from working with a competitor. You might also want to include terms on what employees can say about the company on social media. 

Are you an employer searching for help to draft an employment contract in Canada? Contact Castle HR to ramp up the onboarding process and protect your company!


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

What is an Employee Handbook and Why is it Important?

What is an Employee Handbook and why do we need one?

What is an Employee Handbook?

At its core, an employee handbook is a place to keep all of your official HR policies. It’s also so much more: it’s a document that describes and celebrates your company’s culture and values. 

An employee handbook should also include an acknowledgment form where employees sign off on all of its policies.

Why do we need an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook protects the business from legal exposure by defining what is—and is not—acceptable at your company. 

Employee handbooks also protect the people on your team by informing them of their legal rights, and by setting expectations from day 1.

Can I just keep a folder of our policies instead?

A loose collection of policies—even if they’re all in one convenient place—is not as good as having a full employee handbook. For one, tracking who has signed off on which policies becomes a logistical nightmare. Updating policies over time and tracking changes quickly becomes an issue as well.

Book a Call

How does Castle HR do Employee Handbooks?

We make fully-customized employee handbooks that shout your company culture from the rooftops. Your values are front and centre, and every policy is written to fit your exact needs.

A modern employee handbook is more than just a way to stay legally compliant; it’s a document that employees will refer back to time and again because it has answers.

Castle HR also proactively updates our clients’ employee handbooks when something changes. Companies often find the need for new policies as they grow. An employment bill passing into law also presents the need to adapt—often quickly.

Can I use a template to create my employee handbook?

Templates—whether for the overall document or for specific policies—will never do your company justice. While a template may provide some coverage, the gaps are critical when it comes to legal exposure. 

The presentation of a handbook also sends an important message to the team. What level of effort and care went into creating a document so central to the organization? They’ll know.

The bottom line:

An employee handbook is an important document for both new and tenured employees. It codifies your culture, and there’s power in writing things down.

It’s also critical to stay compliant with your legal responsibilities, both to protect your business and your people.


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

How to Build a Modern HR Strategy

photo of man holding a book

How to Build a Modern HR Strategy

Let me guess:

Maybe you had a top performer give their notice and filling that gap is now your top priority and now you need to scramble to meet product launch deadlines or sales targets…

Or maybe you’re not seeing results from your recruiting strategy, and if one more A+ candidate takes a role with another company you will throw your laptop out the window…

Or maybe you are tired of keeping up to date with the latest Bill and legal precedents that passed and understanding what policies you need to change…

Or maybe you have some underperforming employees and you are pulling out your hair to try and motivate them…

What gives? You have a leak in your HR strategy.

Something, somewhere, has gone awry, and it’s impacting your retention, performance and culture. This is where Modern HR strategies are game-changers.

They will help you find those leaks, seal them up, and get you back on track to smashing your growth goals for the year.

Ready to build your best team and become a talent magnet? Here’s how to implement a Modern HR strategy.

close up photography of yellow green red and brown plastic cones on white lined surface

Why Is Modern HR Important?

In the new world of work, the balance of power has shifted from companies to their people. Because of this shift, people expect more from the companies and leaders for whom they choose to work.

Your company’s success depends heavily on Modern HR Strategies that provide what employees have come to expect. 

A business must build a strong culture that attracts top-tier talent, provides a fast start for new hires, engages people by providing feedback and actively invests in their development. 

Book a Call

If your HR strategy is not up to what today’s workforce wants, you’ll most likely only attract B-Players or have underperforming A-Players – both will stunt your company’s growth.

Besides helping you attract your ideal candidates or ensuring you are compliant with the ever-changing employment law landscape, Modern HR strategies give you an in-depth understanding of your team.

As Gino Wickman says in Traction, knowing if you have the “Right People” in the “Right Seats” is paramount to success – this mentality drives our Modern HR strategy.

How we do Modern HR

OK, so now that we know why Modern HR is important, let’s dive into the steps required to increase results.

1. HR Foundation

A building can only be as tall as its foundation allows. Similarly, companies need strong HR Foundations or they will scale to the size they can.

Here are the key aspects to any Modern HR Foundation:

Company Values

Define your beliefs and vision so you can communicate them.

Employee Handbook

Set expectations for the team and protect the business you worked so hard to build.

Surveys

Reviewing core metrics regularly will validate if you’re on track or identify potential leaks in your strategy.

Some of the HR Data Points you’ll want to review include:

  • Turnover Rates
  • Engagement
  • Productivity

We regularly track these HR Data Points and offer comparisons against our portfolio as well as peer data if available. 

2. Modern Performance Reviews

Modern Performance Reviews are the backbone of any Retention Strategy and continually validate that you have the “Right People in the Right Seats” with quarterly conversations.

Old school Annual Performance Reviews that resemble a high school report card are not going to cut it with today’s workforce. It is imperative that you have multiple conversations a year to avoid the Santa Phenomenon:

Honest feedback increases your retention and identifies who should level up roles or are possibly exited from the company.

Two major aspects of a Modern Performance Review are:

Culture

Validate your team and company are living the compay’s values.

Growth

Having the conversation that asks the powerful sequence of questions: Where did you come from? Where are you now? and Where do you want to go?

Having these conversations tells your team that you care about them and their future at your organization.

Tracking Modern Performance Reviews is important and should be done in an HRIS.

group of people sitting inside room

3. Talent Acquisition

Raise your hand if you have ever said this after meeting a candidate:

“They were great, but let’s see what else is out there.”

This is what we refer to as “Interview Insecurity” and it is one of the enemies of building a team full of A+ talent.

You need to understand two key aspects, what is your Ideal Candidate Profile and what is their Ideal Company Profile. When those are aligned, it will make it 10x easier to identify and hire top-tier talent.

When starting a new hire search ask yourself these questions before you make a job posting:

What does success look like for this role?

This question is often overlooked and the Job Title is used. It is critical that you note how you will judge the success of the hire and they know this coming in too.

  1. What is the Ideal Candidate Profile?

Now you know what they need to do to be successful, what skills, traits, values and competencies will they need?

If you don’t Know EXACTLY who you are looking for, how will you know when you find them?

  1. Where will you find your Ideal Candidate?

We love sharing every new role with the team and use an Employee Referral Program as an incentive.

If nothing comes from asking the team, you need to create a Job Posting that speaks directly to your Ideal Candidate and post them where they look.

You can also amplify your sourcing strategy with Specialized Talent Networks — e.g. Women in Tech Sales

  1. What Interview Process should we use?

Having an Interview Scorecard will help provide clarity, reduce Interview Bias and expedite internal conversations.

When you have a clear vision of your Ideal Candidate, know where to find them, have an interview process that gives you confidence to make an offer you will build a dream team!

4. Onboarding Playbook

What should an Onboarding Playbook include?

An Onboarding Playbook should include a strategy from when a new hire signs an Offer Letter to their Probation Review. If done properly it will not give them a running start, but shoot them out of a cannon towards success!

We often joke that in fast growing companies an onboarding process usually amounts to handing over a laptop and giving them a high-five.

Onboarding plays a vital role in the success of your HR Strategy. It affects Turnover Rate, productivity, and culture.

We look at a few key milestones to create custom Onboarding Playbooks:

  • Day 0

Everything that happens from signing to their first day, this can include Swag Bags and Welcome Packages.

  • Orientation Week

The schedule for the first week that introduces new hires to the Values, Product/Service, Leadership and expectations (think Employee Handbook).

  • Ramp Up

You will define what success looks like for the first 90 days and put them on a clear path to get there – checking in at certain points.

  • Probation Review

This day 90 check-in should be to review how the new hire did against the agreed upon expectations and let them know if they passed their probation.

Having a positive and focused onboarding experience checks all the boxes leaders want: high performance and increased tenure at the company.

Frequently Asked Questions About Modern HR Strategies:

How often should I review my Modern HR Strategy plan?

You should review your Modern HR Strategy every quarter or 6 months to ensure no leaks have sprung and to adjust as your company grows.

What are Modern HR Strategies?

Modern HR strategies embrace empathy, make data-driven decisions and deploy strategies that resonate with today’s workforce.

What HR Tools can I use to improve Modern HR impact?

The best tool you can use to improve your HR strategy is having an HRIS (Human Resource Information System). This is because it enables data entry, tracking and provides a single source of truth about your team.

How does Modern HR Strategies impact Retention?

Modern HR Strategies contribute to increasing retention rate at a company, the largest contributor would be Modern Performance Reviews as they provide feedback loops and career growth plans.

Conclusion: Modern HR Strategies

HR is never a once-and-done thing. It’s something you need to nurture and constantly give attention to if you want to see sustainable, long-term growth.

Whether you’re just starting out, refreshing an existing strategy, or checking HR Data Points, you need to evaluate your Modern HR Strategy continually. 

Doing so will ensure you’re making progress and on track to meet your growth goals.


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

What You Need To Know About Bill 27

What You Need To Know About Bill 27

The Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) is changing. What does that mean for business owners?

Notably, the ESA is evolving – in light of how the pandemic affected workers – to include more worker-friendly measures. We’ll go through the highlights in this article, but if you’re curious to see the full content of the proposed Bill 27, you can find it here.

Although Bill 27 has not passed into law just yet, it’s good to be prepared. Better to have a plan in your back pocket and not need it, than to find yourself scrambling after the fact.

(We’ll update this space when new details emerge. Stay tuned!)


What is the Working for Workers Act?

The Working For Workers Act is the government’s newest legislation to amend the ESA, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), and other laws to make them more worker-friendly. Along with the changes to the ESA, the bill introduces new penalties when fees are illegally collected from foreign workers trying to come to Canada, and provides internationally-trained professionals easier access to obtain their certification to practice in Canada. 

Yet it is the amendments to the ESA that are garnering the most attention. As Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced in his press release, “Our government is working for workers. To do so, we must act swiftly and decisively to put workers in the driver’s seat and begin rebalancing the scales.”

Can any delivery driver now use our bathroom?

The first time Bill 27 made headlines was actually for a proposed change to OHSA. During the pandemic, food delivery drivers – many of whom operated through third-party apps such as UberEats and Skip The Dishes – became the lifeblood of the restaurant industry. Despite working long shifts for several hours, those drivers were often not allowed to use the washrooms in the restaurants where they picked up food for an app customer.

The new law states that “the owner of a workplace shall ensure that access to a washroom is provided, on request, to a worker who is present at the workplace to deliver anything to the workplace, or to collect anything from the workplace for delivery elsewhere.” The only exceptions are if there is a health and safety issue, if the washroom is in or can only be accessed through a home, or if it would be unreasonable or impractical to do so.

If your workers order lunch (or snacks!) to the office, this could be relevant for you.

Are non-competition clauses now illegal?

crop businessman signing contract in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Bill 27 states that “no employer shall enter into an employment contract or other agreement with an employee that is, or that includes a non-compete agreement.” So essentially – yes. It goes on to add that any non-competition agreements with employees already in place are void.

While that may come as a surprise to employers, it mostly solidifies what the courts have said for years: that in recent decades, employers have held significant power in the employment relationship and that they should not prohibit former employees from being free to make a living. 

For a non-competition clause in an employment contract to be enforceable before Bill 27, it must be very limited in the geographic area and duration in which it prevents a former employee from competing. After Bill 27 (if it passes into law) a non-competition agreement will be unenforceable except in rare circumstances involving the sale of an entire business.

Without non-compete clauses, what’s to stop former employees from poaching our business?

While non-competition clauses may be out, there are still ways that employers can protect their interests after employees decide to move on. 

An employer may not be able to stop a former employee from working with the competition, but they can stop them from poaching staff, clients, or stealing confidential information. Non-solicitation clauses in an employment contract can still prevent former employees from poaching any staff, key contacts, or existing clients.

These clauses should also be written carefully though, as something too broad may not hold up in litigation. For example, ‘any clients of the business’ may be impossible to enforce, but the more specific ‘any clients known to the employee within the previous 12 months’ provides that former employee a much clearer picture of what conduct will be offside. 

Employers can also use of confidentiality clauses. These too must be carefully written to ensure that an employer retains all rights to confidential information from within their workplace, and they can also mandate that the employer owns anything that the employee created during their term of employment. When that employee leaves, they are not allowed to take any confidential information with them, including trade secrets, customer lists, etc. 

If these contract topics are important to you, speak with an employment lawyer for specific advice.

 “This law is designed to protect employees from overwork and burnout. At first glance this might seem one-sided for employees, but preventing burnout benefits businesses in a big way too.”

What is the ‘Right To Disconnect?’

white apple iphone on wooden table
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

The other key feature of Bill 27 was also the biggest headline-grabber of all the proposed changes. The Bill introduces a ‘right to disconnect’ – similar to what currently exists in several European countries – where employers will be unable to communicate with employees outside of working hours. More specifically, this is defined as “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.”

So what does that mean? The law will require employers with 25 or more employees to draft a workplace policy outlining employees’ right to disconnect shortly after Bill 27 becomes law. This will mean that employers cannot expect employees to work all hours, or to be responsive when they are not on the clock.

For employees who have spent the better part of the last 2 years unexpectedly working from home, the news represents a welcome reprieve. Some employers have had high expectations of their teams, and employees have expressed a pressure to put in extra hours through the pandemic. This law is designed to protect employees from overwork and burnout. At first glance this might seem one-sided for employees, but preventing burnout benefits businesses in a big way too.

How will we implement “disconnecting” into our business?

On this point, we don’t have full details on what this right to disconnect will entail. Typically, the Ministry of Labour will put out a sample policy for HR experts to use as a guideline when designing customized policies for a workplace. We’ll be first in line when that happens!

This one is of particular interest to us at Castle HR, where we have built our business on offering our employees flexible working hours. We understood – even before the pandemic – that employees have lives, and may choose to do their work on their own schedule instead of 9-5.

Even with our flexible working hours, we remind our team regularly that they have no obligation to respond outside of their working hours unless it is an absolute emergency. We take our downtime seriously, and firmly believe that no one should have to interrupt it for something could have easily waited until the next business day.

We may have to alter some habits or policies to adjust, but the intent of this part of Bill 27 is certainly aligned with the spirit of our existing culture. If one person is doing their work in the evening and another prefers mornings, that gap might be well served by strategic “do not disturb” settings so that no one feels bad about what time of day they send an email.

Like with any major change in employment law, our job is to help you stay compliant. Our role as outsourced HR professionals is to help you both follow the law and stay ahead of the latest trends. Set up a time below to speak with one of our experts. 


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

Why Flexible Work Works

Why Flexible Work Works

A lot of the workforce has started to feel some form of malaise as the pandemic stretches on. Most of us have either felt this ourselves or know someone for whom daily work feels more like they’re going through the motions. In his popular New York Times article, organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls this “languishing.”

That word struck a chord with us at Castle HR. While the worst of the pandemic may be – thankfully – over, we see how severe the employee burnout has become. Especially so in small organizations that have spent the last two years just fighting to stay afloat. Employees across the country are exhausted from ongoing environmental stresses and health worries, continuously changing workplace protocols, and learning -often on the fly – how to do their work in entirely new ways. 

And with winter (and therefore fewer daylight hours) coming up, seasonal affective disorder (or “SAD”) is bound to compound these feelings for a lot of us. This kind of employee fatigue – that is, feelings rooted in persistent external factors – is not going to be solved with a quick fix like a holiday bonus or a week of office closure before the new year.

While the ‘Great Resignation’ is more visible in the US, reports everywhere from the pandemic have shown that it is very real in Canada too. A large number of employees did not plan to return to their old positions once work re-opened, many of whom citing burn out as the main reason. 

Business owners we’ve spoken to are feeling many of the same things, and have the added stressors of trying to replace talented team members that are leaving. We know how painful turnover is for your business, both from a cost perspective and the time investment required to find the right talent as replacement.

For the sake of both owners and employees, we wanted to share one of the strategies our team uses to help preserve our mental health, or “beat the blahs”: Flex Days.

“I am more productive when I work hours that make sense to my family, and I am not distracted by wondering what I am missing. It’s not about working less; it’s about making the time that I am working count more.” 

Robyn Leduc, hr lead at Castle hr

Flex Days Around The World

Flex days aren’t new; other companies have used various versions before us. Famously, Google had a widespread ‘80-20’ policy, which meant that 20% of the time (or one day a week) Google employees could work on whatever passion projects they liked. The company, especially in its earlier years, found that the policy boosted employee engagement and creativity, and even utilized some of the ideas generated by employees in their free time. 

In Japan, Microsoft recently implemented a four day work-week, similar to some European models. It allowed employees to collect their full paycheque while only working 80% of the time. The company found that not only were they saving money in electricity, saving on printing costs, and that meetings overall were running shorter and more efficiently.

Many larger North American companies rejected the idea of a four-day work week, fearing that it would lead to a disengaged and less productive workforce. But if Google and Microsoft were doing it, we figured there had to be something to it.

How Castle Does Flexible Work Days

In order to support our clients’ work weeks, we didn’t think we could go right into a 4-day week. Maybe we’ll get there, but that’s another conversation! What we landed on is 4 regular business days, and one “flex” day.

On our flex days, no one books client meetings. We’re still reachable in case of emergencies, but the flex day is the time to get a head start on all the planning and organizing we did on Monday. It also gives us time to reliably schedule professional development, knowing it won’t get bumped when something inevitably comes up.

We decided early on that it would be Tuesdays. Mondays are full of energy and teams love coming together to plan the week. Fridays are a busy day for us, making sure everything is wrapped up and delivered to clients.

We know that our team members have lives outside of work, and Tuesday is sometimes also a day to get stuff done that doesn’t work as part of a weekend: like appointments, or just being there after school to pick up your kids or attend their gymnastics class. Our CEO, Tom, likes to golf on Tuesdays.

Flex days also mean working on our own hours. Some of our team members pack more into the mornings so they can spend the afternoon with family. Or they prefer to sleep in and work late, knowing they won’t have any early calls.

Our HR Lead, Robyn, said it best: “Working a flexible schedule means I don’t have to choose between having a career I love and being there for my kids in the moments that are important. I am more productive when I work hours that make sense to my family, and I am not distracted by wondering what I am missing. It’s not about working less; it’s about making the time that I am working count more.”

Why flex days have worked for us

We’ve kept Tuesdays as flexible work days because we love how well it’s worked. We know that may not be a fit for every business, but the take-aways can be applied to most workplaces: design your work around life, not the other way around.

If you see some signs of employee burnout, we would love to chat further and see how we can help prevent it early on. Flex days – as one possible solution – offer the peace of mind that for one work day each week, they can be off-camera and work at their own pace.

And having some freedom to schedule work around family might be the gesture from leadership that re-energizes and re-engages someone who might consider leaving.

Flex days may or may not work for you, but our HR consultants are known for coming up with creative solutions to solve problems like this. Schedule time with us using the calendar below, and let’s explore together.


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

Why You Need to Modernize Your Performance Reviews

Why You Need to Modernize Your Performance Reviews

We see a lot of raised eyebrows when we speak about a modern approach to performance reviews. Historically, performance reviews are dreaded by both managers and employees. The anticipation of sitting down for an annual meeting is stressful and awkward, and when the conversations do finally take place they’re not as beneficial for either party as they could be.

The truth is that there is a better way to do performance reviews. 

At Castle we’ve created a modern approach to performance reviews that are beneficial for employers and helpful for employees as well. This does present something of a shift in thinking for employers; many came up as employees in workplaces that did things the old fashioned way. We recommend that as employers you cast aside that once-a-year port mortem mentality, stop focusing so much on salary, and really make sure that your employees are motivated and growing professionally. 

We get a lot of questions about how to handle performance reviews, and we wanted to share a few tips that highlight the benefit of modernizing your approach.

What is the goal of a performance review?

The ultimate goal of a performance review is to make sure that you have the right people in the right seats at your company. The old approach to performance reviews is a missed opportunity here. Instead of trying to rank employees by whatever metrics, we are better served making sure people have the skills to succeed in their role.

As workplace expert Jim Collins talks about in Good To Great, use performance reviews as an opportunity to make sure that you have “the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats.” A performance review is your best method for quality assurance when it comes to your employees. You’ll be able to ensure that your employees are performing exactly as you expect, and if there are any issues you can address them quickly before they escalate. 

Remember, when it’s your workplace you’re the one driving the bus. Not only do reviews make sure that everyone is sitting in the right seat, but you’ll be able to quickly recognize who needs to change seats, and who is ready for more responsibility. This level of familiarity with your team makes it easier to promote from within, which in turn can save both time and money instead of recruiting externally.

How often should we do performance reviews?

The old method is to do performance reviews annually, usually at the end of the calendar or fiscal year. Employees spend the weeks leading up to the review on their best behaviour, creating a recency bias that’s very real. Employers and managers running teams are also forced to try and remember what happened with each report for a full year – and that’s hard!

The modern approach is to run quarterly reviews. This frequency takes a lot of the pressure off of the meeting, and allows it to flow more like an ongoing conversation. We have found that this gives employers a greater degree of control in the process, too. Not only are they working with employees when they’re more relaxed, but they’re able to assess performance in real time instead of forgetting about incidents that have long passed – or waiting up to a year to address them. 

Quarterly reviews are beneficial when it comes to setting goals, too, by enabling shorter-term, practical goals alongside larger ones. Tracking and measuring progress is much more motivating this way. The continuous feedback keeps employees more engaged, and excited about their development.

Should performance reviews be tied to pay?

This question comes up all the time, because a direct link from review to compensation is very much the typical flow. Employees have been trained to enter the conversation as though they’re visiting a mall Santa: present a list of their good deeds and accomplishments over the past year, and then ask for the salary increase that they believe they deserve. This may have worked at a time when employees stayed with the same company for decades and salary increases were the greatest badge of honour for a job well done.

That is no longer the case. 

Employees are much more mobile across both companies and roles these days, so keeping the right people loyal to your team is going to require a new tactic. Regular performance reviews can become a dynamic conversation about growth, which is something modern employees value as a token of success. 

Salary increases are important, and of course there is still a place for them. Tying them instead to long-term growth and development changes the game: consistent hard work plus the drive to improve and learn leads to rewards. It’s not enough to just be great in Q4, hoping that’s all your manager remembers.

“Employees will recognize that performance reviews stop being an adversarial process and start being a conversation with a manager that’s invested in their success.” 

Can performance reviews increase employee retention?

Absolutely! One of the biggest problems with the old approach is that they effectively became an exercise in ranking employees. Once reviews were completed you could list your employees from best to worst by a numerical score, which doesn’t contribute to employee development and is not a useful way to look at human beings. If an employee feels like they’re just a line item on some ranking sheet, how likely are they to stay, knowing that everything they do is reduced to one number?

Employee retention is a huge problem in any sized company. We recently assisted with a benchmark study in the MaRS Discovery District, which showed that the average number of leaders who were promoted from within is roughly 20%, or 1 in 5 – and this was true for both larger and small companies. That’s really low! Imagine how a higher internal promotion rate could improve loyalty and morale, not to mention preserve your company culture and internal operating knowledge.

Modern performance reviews – done quarterly – show you who is really on your bus. You will gain a fuller understanding of your employee’s hopes and ambitions, and can spot opportunities for advancement far earlier. Not only is there a cost and time savings to promoting from within, but employees knowing that such opportunities exist motivates them to stick around for the long haul.  


Crowdlinker Logo
Client Testimonial - Crowdlinker

“Thanks to Marylisa and Alec, we now have a performance review system that creates a motivating and highly personalized experience that touches the lives of our people.”

COURTNEY ZORIO, COO CROWDLINKER

How do we run quarterly review conversations?

When employees are surveyed and asked about the best qualities in a manager, the universal answer every time is when employees believe that a manager truly cares about them and their success. Financial rewards are nice to a point, but there is no substitute for having a manager that is ultimately rooting for your success and offering whatever support they can along the way.

While old school reviews are top-down, modern performance reviews allow you to turn them into a conversation. Show employees you care by speaking openly about what is working, and what opportunities exist to improve – whether that’s for this role, or the next one. Ask them where they would like to go next, and discuss how you can help them get there. Our approach is to make the conversation centered on the person, not about a score or a number. Employees will recognize that performance reviews stop being an adversarial process and start being a conversation with a manager that’s invested in their success. 

It’s no secret that at Castle HR we see performance reviews differently. Our approach has helped our clients reinvent the way that they engage with their employees, and has ultimately led to greater retention and greater team development.

Our outsourced HR professionals work closely with our clients to help them change their performance review system top-down. Our approach is a unique one, and we will work with you step by step to implement it into your organization. Schedule a time below to set up an HR consultation and learn more about how we can help you do things differently.


Campbrain Logo
Client Testimonials - Castle HR

“My favourite part of working with Castle HR is that they systematically and methodically work through the various elements of one’s operation, from values to performance reviews to onboarding, and their talented team guides you to building processes and content that make a big impact.”

ROB CARMICHAEL, CEO CAMPBRAIN


Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable

Why Outsourced HR Should Be Your First Phone Call

Why Outsourced HR Should Be Your First Phone Call

As your business grows, so too grow the challenges and headaches you face. You may have initially run everything on your own or in a small team while trying to get the business off the ground, you have now begun to hire employees to take your vision to the next level. Where you may have once personally worn several hats – sales, marketing, and customer service – you’ve now had to hand off those duties so you can focus on strategy and growth.

Yet as an employer, it’s those staffing issues that can sometimes leave you wanting to tear your hair out. Hiring is a complex task, and not every dream candidate will turn out to be the right fit for your organization. Even the best employees will occasionally run into issues and conflicts that you may not know how to resolve. As your team grows it will be important to have systems, policies and procedures in place to help deal with difficult situations, and even prevent them from arising where possible.

Having an outsourced HR department is your best first line of defense. The term ‘HR business partner’ seems like it might be exclusive to the corporate world, but it paints a great picture – HR at its best should function as your business partner. Our primary goal is to protect your business, and our knowledge of people and of your workplace helps us put systems in place to make that happen. 

woman in black blazer sitting on black office chair

As outsourced HR experts, our business is people, and our fractional approach to HR consulting allows us to focus on your people. We understand employment law, but we also understand how it connects with behaviour, psychology, and even attitudes and beliefs to determine how the workplace should function best. We know what best practices look like in a situation, and the small, incremental steps that it can take to reach them.

HR professionals work to protect your workplace in two key ways. The first is from a lens of prevention. The last thing you want as an overworked business owner is to spend countless hours drafting a policy manual, which will then require further investments of time for tweaks and upgrades as law and best practices change. Leave that to us. We regularly draft the policies and procedures that tell your employees how you want your business to operate. We also understand employment law, and will make sure that your policies are compliant with crucial legal requirements, which can help defend you against any potential legal claims.


person stands on brown pathway

We also resolve difficult situations. When you need to have a difficult conversation with an employee you may not know how to proceed, but we do. We can take part in these conversations and guide them towards a resolution before a problem persists. When performance issues arise, we step in to help with performance management, and can lay out the framework for clear expectations of how to turn a bad situation around wherever possible.

When a situation cannot be resolved, we are the business partners who can guide you through how a termination should take place. Terminating employees is never enjoyable, and if done badly can even lead to employees making legal claims for bad faith. We walk you through every small step, from preparing the documentation and the terminating letter to how to notify the employee and what next steps should be taken afterwards. We recognize that employment lawyers may sometimes be required (especially if the employee responds with a lawyer’s letter or claim), and can help bring an employment lawyer into the picture where they are needed to handle any legal disputes. 

We tell our clients that there are ‘no bad questions,’ and we mean it. Our business model puts us on retainer, so that you can pick up the phone at any given time without having to worry about us billing by the minute. In fact you should never be afraid to call us – if you’re questioning how to handle a given situation it’s always better to ask then to make an error trying it on your own. 

We recognize as HR professionals that the legal landscape is always changing. Even when we think that we may have ‘heard it all before,’ new situations will always arise that require a fresh perspective, or a unique approach. Throughout the pandemic, for example, we helped our clients quickly pivot into effective work-from-home people management, even when they had no previous policy infrastructure for that setup. We are up to speed on some of the latest issues (see our recent resources on vaccine policies and return-to-office planning) and are able to provide a customized perspective tailored specifically to your organization.

smiling female manager talking during video conference via netbook in office

Our job as outsourced HR professionals is to protect your business. We do this by offering solutions that save you as an employer time, money, and headaches. Hiring us as your business partner means that we can take some of those headaches off your plate, and provide custom-tailored advice for your business that won’t break your budget. 

Looking to learn more? Book a time below to connect with a member of our team.


Start the Conversation:

Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage

less
turnover

21% - Castle HR

more
profitable