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Reskilling for the future of now

In some industries, the wave of employees leaving their jobs has driven business leaders to distraction. But for many organizations, the solution is hiding in plain site: their existing workforce

WORKERS IN CANADA are aware that we’re in a time of economic change and are increasingly interested in reskilling opportunities, says a new report from Athabasca University.


In a cross-country survey, researchers found that three-quarters of all employed Canadians want to reskill to “keep up with their job’s changing needs,” while seven in ten want to deepen their existing expertise to advance their careers.


The most in-demand area for new skills is, unsurprisingly, in the digital sphere, which were a top priority for around 70 per cent of respondents. The total number of employees interested in learning new digital skills was close to the number who are also interested in soft skills, too, with just as many respondents saying they wanted to improve things like communication, conflict resolution and team-building.


“The data from this study is telling us that Canadians almost can’t keep up with the dizzying pace of technological growth in the workplace, yet our need to improve skills that support better human connections have never been greater,” said Dr. Alex Clark, Athabasca University president. “It’s almost like we need some post-pandemic interpersonal reskilling, hence our deep thirst to take more courses to improve our leadership-focused soft skills.”


That jives with what businesses are saying, too: back in 2021, Canadian business leaders reported that soft skills (like creativity) were a key reason why they were struggling to hire.


It’s an interesting data point to consider in light of longer-term economic trends. There’s clear demand among workers to get access to upward advancement, to put more skills to better use and to invest in themselves as workers ― all good news in a big-picture kind of sense, especially when you consider lagging productivity metrics.


And yet it will also take some buy-in from employers to grant their employees time and space to do this reskilling. The report found that 20 per cent of workers say they can’t find time to re-skill, while an additional 28 per cent say they can’t afford to pay the associated costs that often come along with re-skilling.


But this too might offer opportunity — as business struggle with talent retention, joint investment in an employee’s skills could be an easy way to boost morale, productivity and an employee’s sense of buy-in with their employer. Kieran Delamont


Take a break from the weekend

The latest TikTok work trend has you making a conscious choice to do the least on a Monday

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WHO AMONG US hasn’t woken up on a miserable Monday morning and instantly thought of the words of the pre-eminent scholar of Mondays, Garfield Arbuckle, when he said, simply, “I hate Mondays.”


That attitude is the germ at the heart of the latest viral TikTok work trend, which much like the other viral TikTok work trends, is about how to do as little as possible. This time, it’s Bare Minimum Mondays — which really needs no further explanation.


The trend started when Marisa Jo Mayes, a self-employed TikToker, made a video about her Monday routine, which involves…not a lot. A couple hours of reading, then some journaling, absolutely no meetings and maybe after lunch an hour or two of work.


“One day last March, I gave myself permission to do the absolute bare minimum for work, and it was like some magic spell came over me,” Mayes told Business Insider. “I felt better. I wasn’t overwhelmed, and I actually got more done than I expected. I’ve done Bare Minimum Monday every week since.”


If you’re growing a bit dizzy trying to keep track of all these work trends, we don’t blame you. But like rage applying, and quiet quitting before that, and the Great Resignation before that, all these things ping off the same basic problem: a workplace that no longer seems to work for everyone.

All of these trends, we suppose, are really just rogue attempts (in lieu of formalized ones) to rebalance the work environment in search of a better productivity balance.


Mayes is clear that this only works for her because she has the ideal schedule for it: self-employed, working from home and in a job where creativity and productivity go hand in hand. (And it’s not always easy, as one experimenter found out.)


But her belief in it also comes from the fact that it is a schedule that feels personally productive. “I get more done when easing the pressure, but I never meant for it to be a way to do more work,” she says. “It’s really a way to start the week prioritizing yourself as a person over yourself as an employee. It’s radically changed my life, not because of the productivity, but because of that self-compassion.” Kieran Delamont

Terry Talks: Why its time to rethink your employee value proposition

The EVP is a key differentiator in attracting and retaining top talent and ensuring that you build a progressive and modern workplace. But focusing on material needs alone is a trap and unlikely to be successful in the long run. Companies instead should focus on what workers need to thrive over the long term, balancing material offerings with such things as opportunities for growth and development and a connection to meaning and purpose. 



Is the work phone staging a comeback?

There may be a new ringtone in your life ― the urgent chime of a company-issued phone

THE WORK PHONE has fallen out of fashion in recent years — after all, if everyone already has mobile phone, what’s the point in carrying (and paying for) two?


But now, with concerns among business leaders and governments about TikTok and WhatsApp installed on work phones, some are asking if the humble company-issued phone is poised to make a comeback. (TikTok panic even hit the Forest City last week, with city employees now barred from having TikTok installed on city phones.)


“With TikTok addiction being a concern, and GroupMe, WhatsApp and Twitter holding a firm grip on our screen time, there’s a potential conflict between work and personal life being conducted on the same device,” wrote Scott Moritz of Bloomberg.


He noted that major American carriers have seen huge subscriber growth in the last year, which puzzled some as cell phones are thought to have more or less reached a saturation point. Work phone trends may offer a clue.


“The resurgence comes more than a decade after the need for work-dedicated devices started to fade. Once phones got smarter and new applications could cordon off work and play activities, having a second device was an unnecessary cost for big companies.”


Today’s TikTok fears are likely being stoked amidst broader concern over relations with China, but they are really just part of a larger, years-long process of working out how to manage work and home lives colliding on a single device.


“Employees are going to use whatever personal apps they desire,” observed CIO Dive’s associate editor Samantha Ann Schwartz. “And where those apps tap into on devices is extensive.”


But that then raises a question: if you can’t have TikTok on your phone due to fears about access to corporate data, shouldn’t corporate data be kept off your phone entirely? And if so, then what? “There’s a reason business professionals used to carry two phones,” said Schwartz’s colleague Naomi Eide.


Anecdotal data suggests this might be the new trend, and we may go back to the days of it being normal to carry a work-issued second phone. In some industries, that future is already here ― with one investment banker observing that “it seems like everyone has two phones now.” Kieran Delamont

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Eau DOffice

Workplace aroma: Can a signature scent boost office appeal?

YOU MAY NOT remember your office ― but there’s a good chance your nose does. As many know, scents and smells are one of the most powerful sense sensations we can have, with an unusual ability to trigger memories and emotions.


Well, now your office manager is hip to that, too, and an increasing number of office spaces and work common areas are being diffused with “signature scents” ― especially as employers try to squash the old stuffy connotations of the office and replace them with new, evocative associations.


“Scent has the power to transform the way we feel, think, work and play,” writes the scent marketing agency Air Aroma. “The right office scent can transform a commercial office or space, creating a more pleasant environment, encouraging employee efficiency and reducing stress.”


There is some science to this: essential oils have shown to have subtle cognitive effects on things like mood, anxiety and focus ― no surprise then that essential oil diffusers are often considered the best way to create an office scent. Air Aroma even suggests that their research found a 54 per cent reduction in clerical errors when working in an environment that smells of citrus.


The idea is borrowing, in part, from luxury real estate. High-end buildings have been infusing their spaces with scent for some time, even pumping it straight in through the air ducts. (This goes the other way, too ― with at least one company offering to bring the office enviro home via an office-scented candle line.)


This all comes with words of caution from workplace experts, though: don’t overdo it, and make sure your employees are on board, because many workers are scent-sensitive.


“Any companies considering introducing scents to the workplace should do so with inclusivity in mind,” media strategist Sarah Holland said. “Introducing luscious scents to an office seems like a harmless way to make the space more enticing in our hybrid working culture, but it could have a real impact on certain workers.” Kieran Delamont


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