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Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island - Canada

Workplace Culture in Canada

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Canada is often called a country of immigrants -- its population, established and new, comes from all over the world. As new immigrants move to this country, they bring with them their culture, customs and habits, including those that apply to a workplace.

While employers across Canada are making efforts to get educated on different aspects of cultures of the world to better accommodate the diversity of the workforce, there are certain workplace standards to which new immigrants should adapt to better fit into their new environment. Here are some of the workplace standards which should be respected:

Time

Everyone should arrive to work on time. Punctuality and attendance are valued by employers in Canada. If you have to be late or miss a day at work, you have to contact the employer to announce the absence. This also applies to appointments and meetings.

Interaction among Coworkers

Canadian workplaces are usually very casual. People mostly address each other by first name, even when one addresses a manager or a supervisor. There are exceptions to this in formal settings or when addressing high-ranking officials.

While greeting each other, introducing themselves, or confirming an agreement, Canadians commonly exchange a firm handshake. Soft handshakes may be interpreted as a weakness.

While in some cultures it is not polite to make direct eye contact with other people, especially if they rank high, in Canada it is considered a sign of friendliness and sincerity.

In some cultures being quiet is considered a sign of respect. While this is OK when you need to listen and pay attention to what is communicated to you, in Canada it is also considered positive to express your own opinion and share your ideas when appropriate.

Note

Even though everyone will tell you how personal space is valued in Canada, you will soon learn that some Islanders like to greet each other with a hug. This happens when they become friendly with someone, even if they do not know the person very well. If for any reason you are not comfortable with people giving you hugs, you should politely explain that.

Canadians value their personal space, and rarely touch each other while communicating in the workplace. The unwritten rule is to maintain a two arms' length of space between people. Coming closer might cause a person to back away during conversation.

Teamwork is another aspect of the workplace that is valued in Canada. Employees are expected to help their coworkers if needed, even if this is not specified in the job description.

Respect for Self and Others

Everybody in a workplace, including managers and supervisors, has to treat everybody else with respect. Nobody should feel less valued, threatened or humiliated in any way. For example, it is not acceptable to tell jokes that are offensive to other people.

Employers must respect the dignity of their employees and must make sure that their actions and workplaces are free of harmful discrimination.

Official Policies and Written Rules

Many companies and organizations in Canada have official policies of conduct in the workplace. Those policies guide employees in performing their job and relating to their coworkers, supervisors and managers. If you are working and were not informed about such a document, ask your employer if one exists in your company or organization. It may be very helpful with your adjustment to the new environment.