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.

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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.

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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

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

4 Really Clever Employee Referral Programs

4 Really Clever Employee Referral Programs

How have you found your top talent? Have you gone the traditional job board route, and sifted through countless resumes from a handful of job sites before finding that diamond in the rough? Were you introduced to a friend of a friend of a friend at a time when you weren’t looking to hire, only to realize that they would be a perfect fit for your team? Hiring the right individuals while in growth mode is always challenging, but as your team continues to scale you may want to look at a different approach.

Employee referral programs are not a new invention. Large organizations have for years offered their employees some sort of nominal employee bonus for helping to refer a friend who then lands the job. While the approach is a cost saving measure – LinkedIn for example found that each referral saved them roughly $7,500 per hire – the cash does not act as a significant incentive. Instead, several of our colleagues in the tech space have gotten creative with their employee referral programs, and the results have been as stellar as the new hires that they’ve found.

[Some] companies have found new methods of offering monetary rewards, such as a diversity bonus … or a tiered bonus for each successful stage of the hiring process.

ethnic female psychotherapist listening to black clients explanation
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

4 Really Clever Employee Referral Programs

InMobi

The Indian multinational mobile advertising company sought to design a rewards system that worked for their employees no matter where they were in the world. They displayed a new bicycle, a universal method of transportation, at the entrance of each of their offices to keep employees incentivized. For successful referrals, employees were given a choice. They could have a new bicycle, or a trip to Bali, Indonesia. Bali may be more enticing for those of us in colder climates, but employees in warmer countries may have certainly appreciated the bike.

Fiverr Team

Fiverr

The Israel-based online marketplace for freelancers turned their employee referral program into a game. Employees were allowed to collect points for each referral, and cash in those points on a quarterly and yearly basis for rewards or prizes of their choosing. If an employee was seeking a specific reward, the company could then help them achieve it. It effectively turned the company’s employee referral program into a continuous indoor arcade. 

4 Really Clever Employee Referral Programs

Segment

San Francisco’s consumer data platform company is still growing, but they have done so partially by using their referral system as an internal competition system. They’ve created a leaderboard, and the person to successfully refer the most candidates winds up naturally on top of the leaderboard. The company states that they are planning on introducing other incentives soon, but even without any monetary rewards Segment has found 40% of their newest hires through this system.

Salesforce Team

Salesforce

The tech giant offers its employees a traditional monetary rewards system for successful referrals, but they have added an extra element. Instead of receiving cold applications where it can be difficult to get a feel for a candidate on paper, the company has introduced Recruitment Happy Hours. Employees can bring potential candidates into the office, where they can meet directly with hiring managers in a less formal setting. Not only does this put both parties more at ease, but it offers hiring managers an early opportunity to see how a potential employee engages with their company culture. 


As more and more companies in the digital space look for unique solutions to age-old problems, they continue to invent new hiring solutions as well. Other companies have found new methods of offering monetary rewards, such as an additional diversity bonus for candidates hired from diverse backgrounds, or a tiered bonus for each successful stage of the hiring process. This way employees do not need to feel like referring a candidate into a seemingly large talent pool is an ‘all or nothing’ approach.

Referral bonus programs can be a huge credit to your organization, and can make you a more attractive workplace for future candidates. A recent survey by Career Builder showed that these programs have the strongest return on investment for employers, which is no surprise. Yet no two programs are identical, and no single structure has a one-size-fits-all approach. When designing your referral program, here are a couple tips to keep in mind:

  • Ask questions. Consider surveying your employees to see what may be of value to them, and consider your corporate culture as well. If your team is generally incentivized by earnings, then a monetary reward may be fruitful. Otherwise, see where else their priorities lie.
  • Set your budget. The average successful employee referral bonus is about $2,500, but some companies can go even 10 times that amount for the right hire. Find an amount, whether cash or some other reward of equal value which will motivate your team to support growth while still making the system a cost-effective endeavour. 
  • Be clear about your expectations. Your team needs to clearly understand your expectations for an ideal candidate if they have any hope of successfully finding that person. You would not hire a recruiter and then give them a vague notion of who you were looking for – do not treat your employees that way either.
  • Make the program interactive. A rewards program needs to be user-friendly in order for it to remain successful. Make your employees aware of exactly how the program works, and what needs to happen for them to qualify for a reward. Designate a person to answer any questions that they may have about the position so that they can narrow down their search. Also, provide feedback throughout the referral process so that employees can have an even clearer idea of your expectations in a candidate.
  • Celebrate the wins! Remember InMobi keeping a bicycle at the front of the office as a visible reminder, or Segment creating a very public leaderboard? A successful candidate referred by an employee is a win all-around. The business benefits from a great hire, and the employee is engaged by their resulting reward. Celebrate these wins publicly – it shows your team just how much you appreciate their involvement in your overall growth. 

We work regularly with our clients to design employee referral systems that align with their corporate culture and motivate their existing employees to take part. Our fractional HR consultants learn your corporate culture, and work with you to design a program that will incentivize employees without breaking your budget. Contact us today to learn more about our services, and how we can find unique and innovative ways to help your team grow.

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HR Termination Checklist: How to Terminate an Employee

Termination Planning: What You Need to Know

Terminating an employee can be like playing with fire. Whether an employee’s role has become redundant, or whether the employee is no longer meeting expectations (or even committing serious policy violations), sometimes employment relationships need to end. Just as in the end of a romantic break-up, termination is not a fun or pleasant process, but can definitely be the healthier choice for both parties.

Yet terminating employees has something else in common with playing with fire – taking advanced care and precaution can skillfully avoid a tremendous amount of pain. Otherwise, much like fire, a poorly-planned, or poorly-conducted termination meeting can go horribly awry. Most large employers have an arsenal of horror stories of employees becoming overly emotional, disruptive, or in horrible cases even violent. Even if an employee appears to take the news relatively well, employers must always be cautious that they are not met with a legal claim for wrongful dismissal soon after. 

“[T]aking advanced care and precaution can skillfully avoid a tremendous amount of pain. Otherwise…a poorly-planned or poorly-conducted termination meeting can go horribly awry.”

There are, however, right ways to conduct an employee’s termination meeting, and as HR professionals we are experts in doing so. We have a longer termination checklist available for those interested, but we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of our wisdom that we have collected over the years. 

Two Woman Dressed in Black Learn About Employee Termination | Castle HR
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Books on a Table With Other Office Clutter | Castle HR

Do your homework before the termination meeting

The worst thing you can do prior to terminating an employee is fail to do your homework. Gather and review all of the relevant documents pertaining to that employee, including their performance reviews, attendance records, and any other key documents that you may have on file. Calculate what sort of payment they will be owed, both at law and under the terms of their employment agreement. If they have no written employment agreement, remember that they are owed at least their legal minimums including any termination, severance, and outstanding vacation pay.

If their contract entitles them to more, then ensure that those terms are met. These are tricky calculations to make, and there is no precise formula for amounts above the minimum legal entitlements. Remember, if you are only offering their minimum amounts, nothing is in place to prevent them from suing for more money. Similarly, if you are offering more money than the employee is entitled to under their contract, remember that that can come in exchange for a release preventing them from making a legal claim.

Person Writing a Termination Letter on a Laptop | Castle HR

Write a thorough termination letter

One benefit of having policies is that you do not have to do the heavy lifting at every turn. Policies can assign duties and responsibilities to other managers within your team, especially when it comes to reporting or enforcement. Vacation requests, for example, can become the responsibility of a direct manager. As the team grows, other managers can take on additional responsibilities under these policies, taking some of the weight off of the C-Suite’s shoulders.

Your termination letter does not have to list the cause for their dismissal, as most dismissals in Ontario are without cause, and cause only matters in the most serious of cases. It should, though, outline exactly what you expect from the employee, and exactly what they should expect from you.

This includes items such as what date the employee can expect to receive their final payments, how long their benefits will continue to run, how they can submit any final expenses, when their Record of Employment will be completed, and any other items that they should know in writing. The termination letter can also include the employee’s responsibilities in this process, such as informing you when they become re-employed (if they are being paid out on a salary continuance option), and their responsibility in returning any company property. Remember, this is the letter that sets out your official position, and once it is provided to the employee there is no turning back. 

Listen, Think, Answer Scrabble Tiles | Castle HR

Handle the meeting with care

Termination meetings should be handled with extreme caution to avoid that risk of proverbial broken glass. There are varying schools of thought for the best time of day/day of the week to conduct a meeting, but there is no perfect time. They should though be done discretely, in a private room away from the prying eyes of colleagues. Be sure to have a second person present whenever possible. Stick to your planned agenda for the meeting, and take the time to go through the termination letter with the employee even though you will send them a copy via email or post.

Do not let them sign anything during the meeting – they should be reminded both verbally and in writing that they have the opportunity to review the situation with a lawyer before agreeing to your terms. 

Most importantly though, even though this is a business meeting, remember it might also be the worst day of someone’s life. Do not hesitate to bring kleenex, give the employee a few minutes to collect themselves, and if meeting in person ensure that they have a safe ride home.  

Man and Woman Inside Building After Successfully Terminating an Employee | Castle HR

Follow through on next steps

The termination process does not end as soon as the employee leaves the meeting. The Record of Employment must be completed 5 days after the last day of work and sent to Service Canada for processing. If there is an imposed deadline for an employee to respond to a termination offer, make sure that a line of communication (not through the business’ internal network) remains open until the end of that deadline. Lastly, remain tactful and professional when informing colleagues of the departure. Hurt feelings are often the motivator for claims of wrongful dismissal, and may be easily avoidable by keeping the employee’s dignity intact wherever possible.


This is just some of the wisdom that we have amassed over the years. There are several more technical aspects of termination meetings in our work, such as determining how to best structure an appropriate exit package to avoid litigation, or how to carefully draft a release that protects your business in exchange for an enhanced exit package. These are often challenging questions, and require both knowledge and skill to resolve with minimal noise. 

Our team of fractional HR professionals is only a phone call away. We are well-equipped to provide outsourced HR services such as termination strategy and planning so that you do not have to stumble through this process alone. Mistakes in this process can be costly, such as overpaying for termination pay, or setting yourself up for unwanted legal exposure. We provide our clients materials to educate them on their requirements, their risks, and the best practices that will help ensure success moving forward. Contact us today for a copy of our termination checklist and to learn more about our services. 

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