Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 18, 2017

Isn’t It Time To End Age Discrimination In The Workplace?

Retirement is our reward after decades of hard work. It’s an opportunity to spend time doing the things we want to do when we want to do them. Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, travelling, volunteering for causes that we believe in or finally sitting down to write our memoires most of us expect to retire and enjoy a long and healthy retirement.

But how many people can actually afford to retire? For people in developing countries around the world retirement is still a luxury. Even for those of us lucky enough to live in countries that have “social safety nets” retirement is not always possible or desirable.

Take Jean for example, who after working for years as a health care manager finally took the plunge and retired at age 64. Now she has discovered that the condo unit she bought needs major repair work and she will have to return to work to make enough money to cover her costs. Or Sarah, who changed jobs throughout her career, completed her master’s degree at age 55, landed a great paying job and has plans to work until she is at least 70, maybe longer.

Dr. Suzanne Cook, adjunct professor at York University and Faculty Fellow at the Trent Centre for Aging & Society has been studying the phenomenon of later life careers for almost 10 years. In fact, through her ground-breaking research Dr. Cook discovered that “a new stage of career is emerging. Redirection is an alternative to retirement as working life is extended.” Her research has resulted in something she’s calling The Redirection Project which includes a newly released documentary.

In Canada, mandatory retirement was abolished years ago. But, age discrimination is still an issue and makes it difficult for job seekers over 50 years of age to find work.

Workplaces need older workers to fill existing and emerging jobs but the following are persistent beliefs about older workers that act as barriers for older job seekers:

  • If old people keep working they will take jobs away from younger people in need of work.
  • Older workers miss more days of work than younger workers.
  • Older workers can’t keep up with technology.
  • Older workers resent having to report to younger supervisors.
  • It’s not work training older workers because they will soon leave the workforce.

In fact, all of the above “myths” have been proven to be false.

“The over 50’s are a major untapped resource—a hidden talent pool that can boost output, employment and living standards now and in the future.” Dr. Ros Altmann, Business Champion for Older Workers in the UK.

In future posts I will cover some of the interesting approaches being used around the world by governments and organizations seeking to decrease age discrimination and encourage the recruitment and engagement of older workers.

Lesley Taylor


Posted by: healingtheworkplace | August 27, 2016

Big Data in the Workplace

Big Data Straight Ahead

Privacy has been a hot topic in the workplace for years. Questions abound: Should employees be monitored and, if so, how?

My youngest brother is a long distance truck driver and someone in his company knows where he is at all times during the workday. Sometimes this type of monitoring is helpful as in the Work Safe requirements for certain types of occupations—specifically for those people who work alone at night or in dangerous situations.

Recently I came across an interesting article in the fall 2015 issue of the Rotman Management School’s magazine. The article, written by Mihnea Moldoveanu, head of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Institute (MBBH), focuses on “harnessing brain science and wearable devices” for personal learning.

The implications go far beyond the classroom and will impact all of us to some degree!

According to Moldoveanu,

“The technological revolution in wearable computing devices and brain-body sensing is well underway; there are already 500 companies with $50 billion invested in this area.” He notes that, “Sensing the right data at the right time and displaying it in the right format for the right purpose will enable wearable devises to turn Big Data into the Smart Data revolution”

Big Data refers to large amounts of data or information that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends and associations as they relate to human behavior and interactions. In other words Big Data is about collecting information about what people are doing (e g what they are purchasing online) and, in the case of e-commerce, using this information to increase the financial bottom line of businesses that sell products on the internet.

I’ll use Google’s search function to explain how Big Data works. When you enter a request into Google’s search box you will quickly end up with millions of responses. I entered “smart data definition” and received 96,200,000 results in 56 seconds. That amount of data or info is mind boggling. Fortunately the people at Google, who are the leading experts on collecting and using data, have created some tools to help me refine my search by country and there is even an advanced search option that allows me to narrow my search even further. And Google is analyzing my searches looking for patterns so that it can sell ads to businesses that are located near where I live and who would like my business. Fair enough!

Now, let’s get back to Moldoveanu’s innovative work at Rotman University. I must confess that my initial reaction to the idea of harnessing brain science to improve our ability to learn was mixed. On the one hand we can use this technology to monitor our own behavioural responses to events and decide if and/or when we will use this information.

But with this new technology there will be the temptation for some businesses to mandate that their employees wear monitoring devices so that their personal data can be collected and analyzed. The type of data that can be collected includes, but is not limited to, the following: brain activity, visual activity, heart rate, blood volume and pulse, body temperature and muscle tension. Think about having to wear the equivalent of a lie detector all day long knowing that your employer can monitor your vital signs as you move throughout the day.

The question becomes, what data is collected, by whom, and for what purpose?

“Big Brother” is not far away!

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 24, 2016

Succeeding at Change Management by Lesley Taylor

Succeeding at Change Management

Change Ahead

I’ve been purging! No, I’m not on a diet but I am determined to clear my office of old files and papers.

In one of my filing cabinets I found tax returns dating back to the early 1990s. Of course, amidst all of the useless clutter I did find a few gems, including some notes on change management that I made in 2001.

In those days I worked as part of an interdisciplinary Change Initiatives Team at Providence Health Care (PHC). At that time PHC was well ahead of most organizations in its approach to change management and our team provided change management leadership and support throughout the organization.

Reflecting back on those earlier experiences with organizational change got me curious about the state of change management today.

A quick look on Google produced a Harvard Business Review article written in 2013 by Ron Ashkenas. Ashkenas noted that, in 2013, there were over 83,000 books on change management for sale on Amazon but that most studies showed a 60 – 70% failure rate for change management projects. He went on to say that this statistic hadn’t really changed since the 1970s.

Based on his experience as a change consultant Ashkenas recommended the following as being necessary for successful organizational change:

  1. Integrate the change into the organization’s overall strategic plan.
  2. Provide a common framework for employees to use; including a common language and tool box for managing change.
  3. Ensure that leadership and management, not Human Resources, nor outside consultants, are held accountable for the outcomes.

I believe that successful organizations will take these suggestions one step further and make leading change an essential component of everyone’s job. But in order for this to work businesses and non-profits will need to provide leadership development opportunities for all employees at all levels.

Some of the early experts in the change management field were interested in the question of how people experience change in their organizations. Later on writers such as William Bridges provided models and tools to help people deal with the psychological and emotional roller coaster that comes with organizational change.

If you contemplating introducing new changes to your team or entire organization here are 5 Critical Questions to ask at the outset. These were part of the notes that I found in my filing cabinet and they are as relevant today as they were back in 2001:

  1. Who needs to be involved?
  2. What would be different as a result of this change?
  3. What are the conversations that we need to have?
  4. What is the best way to have these conversations?
  5. How do we ensure that everyone has a voice?



Posted by: healingtheworkplace | June 7, 2016

Reverse Mentoring: An Old Story with a New Twist

 Mentor Cloud

The earliest examples of mentoring can be found in ancient Greece. Traditionally mentors were seen as being “older and wiser” than their mentees. But, today, reverse mentoring is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. Young people, especially millennials, have a lot to offer and want to be respected for their knowledge and skills.

Younger members of staff who are just entering the workplace often have new skills and expertise, and they can provide fresh perspectives and ways of working that can benefit their more established colleagues.

 Writing about mentoring for the Vancouver Sun in 2012, Chelsea Emery had this to say about how our understanding of mentoring is changing:

“In a modern twist mentors are also relying on their protégés. Older employees often depend on younger staff for technology guidance. As employment security wanes, laid-off bosses may need to turn to former subordinates for job leads.”

The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, is credited with inventing the concept of reverse mentoring. He recognized his lack of technology skills in the late 1990s, and believed that the youngest people joining the company were far more knowledgeable about new technologies than their managers. So, he asked 500 of his top executives to seek out mentors from among these new joiners.

If the organization you work for doesn’t have a formal mentoring program and there are no mentors available on an informal basis, then you may have to seek out a mentor on your own. Peer Resources is a Canadian company that provides links to well over 100 mentoring sites around the world as well as mentoring training and tips for locating a mentor. Some of the resources are general in nature but many focus on special interest groups.

Here are some tips for seasoned workers on how to get your mentoring process off to a great start:

  1. If you are looking for a mentor, be specific about what you want help with. Seek out a mentor with an impressive set of skills and who appears interested in learning and helping others.
  2. Once you’ve “found” a potential mentor meet them for coffee and see if you will be able to work with him or her.
  3. Expect to feel vulnerable when you first ask a younger person for help with something that is completely new to you, such as social media.
  4. Think about what you can offer your mentor. Be prepared to share some of your wisdom and experience and if possible connect your mentor with people in your network.

And, if you are a younger employee being asked to engage in a mentoring relationship, here are some of the ways you might benefit from helping your more seasoned colleagues:

  • Developing your leadership skills
  • Understanding and dealing with conflict
  • Navigating organizational politics
  • Exploring work-life balance and dealing stress



Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 21, 2016

7 Reasons You Should Be Passionate About Wellness Leadership

Boulders Lynn Creek July 27th

What is Wellness Leadership and why should you be passionate about it? By providing this type of leadership you will not only improve your financial bottom line but the health and wellbeing of your employees as well.

I was recently introduced to the concept of Wellness Leadership by author Renee Moorefield. I’ve known for a long time that organizational health and wellbeing are dependent on having the “right” type of leadership in place. There are lots of statistics to support this claim and according to Moorefield there is a world-wide shift toward a wellbeing-centered way of operating.

Here Are 7 Reasons You Should Be Passionate About Wellness Leadership:

  1. It will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line

Although not the only reason that employees take time off work, stress can lower productivity and increase short and long-term absences and this can result in huge financial costs for your company.

    2. Leadership is the key to creating a wellness culture in your workplace

As a leader you are responsible for creating a vision of what your organization plans to achieve. As a leader you also have the power to make this vision a reality by allocating resources and rewarding people when they take the initiative to change their behaviors.

3. You will be providing leadership not only in your organization but in the larger community

Renee believes that thriving is a right of every person and leaders who make organizational wellbeing a priority are also concerned about the health of the planet.

4. As a leader, you personally, will benefit from working in a healthy organization

Most leaders struggle to maintain a healthy work/life balance but if your organization’s culture is one that supports a healthy and caring workplace it makes sense that you will also be healthier and more productive.

5. It will be easier to recruit and engage your employees and volunteers

The most successful companies know that providing wellness related benefits will help them attract the type of employees that they need and want. Each year a list of the best places to work is announced in Canada and the USA and many of these organizations are on the list because they care about their employees.

6. Your employees will thrive in a wellness culture

Many large organizations provide wellness programs for their employees but smaller businesses might not have the resources to implement formal wellness programs. If you operate a small business, don’t despair, according to Renee Moorefield even the smallest business can create a culture in which people can thrive.

7. It will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line

I’m going to repeat this point twice because it is probably the one that will most likely motivate you to take action.

In a report released in February 2016 The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) stated that unhealthy workplaces result in “2.2 trillion dollars in annual losses in the United States alone”. But if you don’t work in the United States, take heart, the GWI monitors and reports on the state of un-wellness in workplaces across the globe and you will find information about how other countries are faring by going to their website.

I’ll leave the last word to Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute:

In describing the impact of “caring companies” Susie Ellis said, “And we found that caring companies tackle not just ‘tangibles’ like healthy food and workspaces, they address emotional, relational, organizational, intellectual and financial ‘wellness’ at work (whether it’s giving workers more work flexibility or encouraging socializing and friendships).”

“She went on to note that being a company that “cares” is easier than management may think. And while intangible “work culture” components may seem elusive, the research shows that they are the true drivers of health and productivity – according to employees. Both studies reach the same conclusion: the current, compartmentalized “programmatic” approaches to workplace wellness will disappear in the future, and companies will reorient their wellness strategies around culture-wide “caring,” paying close attention to what that means for their particular workforce.“


Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 5, 2016

Do You Deserve to be Happy…at Work? by Lesley Taylor

Do You Deserve to be Happy…at Work?

 I really do believe that we deserve to be happy and so, apparently, does the United Nations. In fact that the UN has declared March 20th as International Happiness Day.

Since we spend so much of our lives working it makes sense that we should also be happy at work, but is this realistic? Thousands of people can’t find any work at all and many more are forced to work for horrible bosses in work that is mind-numbingly boring or worse, unsafe.

In my parent’s generation and for generations before theirs the only real purpose of work was to put a roof over one’s head and food on the table. I don’t think people thought much about finding happiness at work. If they did it was probably a “bi-product” and not something that they intentionally set out to achieve.

There are a seemingly endless amount of resources that you can tap into in your quest to become happier. These provide an anecdote to the daily messages that we receive about how much the world is in trouble. Can we really be happy in a world in which terrorists attack innocent people, global warming threatens us with increasing floods, wild fires, and rising air and water temperatures? What about the millions of displaced people who can never go back to their homes and communities?

Neil Pasricha believes we can!

Pasricha, a Canadian author, recently released his newest book. It’s called the Happiness Equation and you will find details on his website. He was also featured in a TED talk in 2010 which has amassed over 2.5 million viewers. It seems as if many of us want to be happy.

When it comes to being happy at work it might just boil down to finding work that enables you to use your gifts and talents (those things that you are naturally good at). We often feel more engaged and passionate when doing things that we enjoy.

Think of a time when you were involved in work that you felt passionate about. Did you lose track of time? Did it feel like work?

The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider is one of the best books I have read on the subject of discovering one’s purpose in life. Leider describes purpose as “your reason for being and your reason for getting up in the morning”.

He also states that, “Each life has a natural reason for being and this purpose is the reason we are born into this world”.

Happiness at work might be as simple as connecting with what you feel passionate about and makes you feel alive and finding work that allows you to do just that. You will not only be a happier person but you will have a positive impact on other people in your life.



The Dynamic Introvert



Posted by: healingtheworkplace | January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus the god of beginnings, endings, doors and gates. Janus, who had two heads, was able to look in opposite directions at the same time. His ability to look backward at the year that had just passed and forward to the year that was just beginning made him a natural “poster boy” for the month of January.

Guess what? It’s that time again. It’s a brand new year and time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished in 2015, and to think about opening new doors for ourselves in 2016. We typically think about making changes in our lives on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve and birthdays.  Something about those dates causes us to pause and reflect on our lives.

But, lots of people I’ve talked to have given up on making New Year’s resolutions because they’ve become discouraged with not achieving their goals year after year. They work hard to complete strong but at some point they falter. The weight goes back on, smoking starts again, exercising stops etc. etc. It can be very frustrating!

To help you succeed at making changes in 2016 this post focuses on some positive things you can do to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

According to “the experts” most of us will make a New Year’s resolution this year but only about 10% of us will succeed at keeping it.

We can increase the chances of success by understanding the process of change. There are a number of steps that are involved in moving from thinking about changing something in our lives to taking concrete action and moving forward successfully.   

James O. Prochaska the lead author of the book, Changing for Good, tells us that the journey of change is not a linear one. Very few of us can set a goal and then achieve it the first time we try. Most of us will try more than once and find that the “journey of change” has many ups and downs.

It’s no wonder that people give up almost as soon as they start.

What can you do? Well, you can increase your chances of succeeding, and keep your resolutions once and for all by recognizing that there are FIVE stages that people commonly go through. These stages are as follows:

Stage 1:  Pre-contemplation—in other words you are NOT interested in making any changes and are probably resisting change.

Stage  2:  Contemplation—at this stage you have a desire to change but are afraid that you might fail. You can spend a few weeks or a few years in the contemplation stage. This is the time to visualize yourself succeeding and to make an emotional connection to the results you want to achieve.

Stage 3:  Preparation—now you are ready to take action and you are developing a plan to handle any unexpected challenges. The steps you take during the preparation stage will naturally lead you into stage 4.

Stage 4: Action—be prepared to continue with your action plan for at least SIX MONTHS. This speaks to the importance of making your resolution a priority. You need to commit time, energy and resources to making this happen.

Stage 5: Maintenance—Congratulations you’ve succeeded in changing your behavior. Take credit for your accomplishments.

10 Ways to Keep Your Resolutions

1.   Pick one thing that you want to change.

2.   Get specific about what you plan to do and what you want to achieve.

3.    Develop a plan and write it down.

4.   Think about possible obstacles or barriers to success and plan how you will overcome them.

5.   Break large goals into smaller more manageable steps.

6.   Make your change a priority and focus your attention on it.

7.   Go public! Tell your friends, family members and/or co-workers.

8.    Remember, there is no failure only feedback. Look at each challenge as an opportunity to learn something that will help you succeed in the future.

9.   Find a supportive person to check-in with on a regular basis.

10.  Celebrate small successes as you go.

And remember You need a plan AND you need to remain flexible and open.

“The secret of success in life is for people to be ready for their opportunities when they come.” Benjamin Disraeli


This article was originally posted on my coaching website as an e-Newsletter in January, 2009.

Wishing you lots of success in 2016! Cheers, Lesley




Posted by: healingtheworkplace | December 28, 2015

We All Need Solitude

Can Solitude Be Learned?

 Recently I came across a beautiful quote on The Aging Introvert website:

“Solitude is the ground you clear to plant the seeds of the person you want to become.”

The author also stated that “Solitude is not something that can be taught. It is not an acquired skill that can be transferred from one person to another.”

What exactly is solitude and can we learn to, if not enjoy, then, at least feel comfortable in solitude?

It may be easier if you grew up in a family that encouraged you to spend time alone. And this may be less challenging for introverts than for extroverts as extroverts need other people in order to feel contented while introverts are usually happy with their own company and need to spend time alone in order to recharge.

As an introvert I understand the desire for solitude and I certainly don’t feel lonely when I’m by myself. In fact I crave time alone. How else can I become self-aware in a world of constant noise and connectivity if I don’t stop and spend time on my own?

Here’s another quote from psychologist and author Hara Estroff Marano,

“Solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.”

Why do we need solitude to discover who we really are?

Author, Patricia Fisher reminds us that it is only too easy to become disengaged from ourselves and that this disengagement leads to a loss of meaning and purpose. If this goes on for too long we may find ourselves in despair or feeling anxious, stressed and unhappy.

By spending time alone we can focus on what’s important to us: our values, expectations, dreams, concerns, etc. And we can use the time wisely by asking ourselves questions that help us to gain some clarity into what is happening in our lives. There are potentially hundreds of questions that you can use to do this –far too many for me to list here!

I used to think that mindfulness and solitude where one and the same but upon reflection I realize now that being mindful can happen in a room full of people as long as we are aware of our thoughts and feelings and what is going on around us.

Finally, solitude is something that you can choose so make sure you find time to be by yourself as you review the past year and make plans for 2016.


The Dynamic Introvert!

PS Watch for my new website coming early in the New Year!

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 30, 2015

Do You Set Boundaries At Work?

Do You Set Boundaries At Work?

Healthy Boundaries I

 I’ve struggled with setting boundaries all of my working life. It doesn’t help that I am a 5.1” female, an introvert and “soft-spoken”. So, when Charity Village sent me an invitation to a webinar on how to create healthy boundaries my curiosity was piqued. It seems that I am not alone in my ongoing struggle to set and maintain my personal boundaries. What I hadn’t thought of before, but I learned from presenter Sheena Greer, is that many of the problems we face in the modern workplace could be resolved if only we would all manage our boundaries.

What are personal boundaries and how do we go about setting them?

Personal boundaries are guidelines that we create to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used or violated by others. These boundaries (which are invisible) also allow us to separate who we are from the other people in our lives, when we need to set limits.

8 Reasons to Learn How to Set Limits at Work:

  1. Helps build strong, respectful relationships
  2. Increases productivity 
  3.  Builds accountability within the team
  4. Helps create shared goals and expectations
  5. Sets people at ease
  6.  Improves communication
  7.  Prevents workplace bullying
  8.  Minimizes misunderstandings

In addition to the 8 reasons above, which Sheena Greer provided in the webinar, I would like to add three more:

  1. Alleviates individual stress
  2. Reduces time off due to illness
  3. Increases confidence

All of us have boundary issues at some point in life. Saying yes when you really mean to say no, acting against your beliefs or values or staying quiet to keep the peace are just three examples.

In the workplace issues related to poor “boundary management” could be caused by,

  • Unclear job descriptions
  • Useless or unproductive meetings that waste people’s time
  • Poor leadership
  • Workplace bullying

This is a BIG topic so I’ll continue on in the next post and talk about what we can do to create our own personal boundaries and how we can maintain them in the long run.

The Dynamic Introvert

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 13, 2015

Do You Need A Career Detox? Part II

Do You Need A Career Detox? Part II

 “Twice a year, I get out of the office, breaking from my normal routine, for much needed “Think Weeks.” By actively disconnecting and looking at everything from 50,000 feet, I am able to effectively reflect, reset, and clearly rethink my goals and aspirations….For each “Think Week,” I create a life to-do list, do a lot of research, and think through big ideas and challenges deeply. Going through this process has been enlightening” Bill Gates

In my last post I introduced the idea of taking a career detox or retreat. Today I’d like to explore five things that you can do to make your detox a success:

  1. Identifying your detox goals
  2. Preparation
  3. The Right Environment
  4. What to do while on your detox
  5. Post Detox

1.Goals: What do you want to achieve? Are you looking for more energy? Do you need to rethink your career goals? Are you in need of a complete career overhaul? Perhaps you like the company that you work for but the job isn’t doing it for you anymore. Or, you may feel like you are just going through the motions and you really need to rethink your life.

2. Preparation: It’s not likely that you will find many places specializing in career detoxes so you will probably have to create your own retreats. There are a great many retreat centres all over the world, many of these offer spiritual retreats or business oriented retreats that specialize in leadership development, team building or coaching. I suspect that the latter include daily programs that are non-negotiable and that do not allow much time for to be on your own…which is what you want in a detox program. As you prepare to go away let people know you won’t be available for a day or a few days. Decide what to take with you: paper, pens, a tablet or computer, books, art supplies, etc. Perhaps more importantly decide how long and for how often you want to be “unplugged” and honor this commitment to yourself.

3. Environment: Make sure that you select your location and environment very carefully based on the outcomes you want to achieve. If you live in a city you might want to find a place in the country or vice versa. Even if you can’t leave the city I recommend that you spend some time outdoors. Walking is a great way to unleash your creative juices.

4. What to do? Engaging in some form of exercise and eating healthy foods are the foundation of the Herbal Detox program and provide a strong foundation for a personal retreat. This will make it easier for you to reflect on your life and your work. We get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we lose our objectivity—we can no longer accurately assess our situations. Self-reflection is an underrated activity that we can learn how to do.

5. Post detox: First off congratulate yourself for taking time to focus on your life and your career. Keep your new vision and plans close by and refer to them regularly.

The last word on this subject goes to author Laurie Helgoe, who writes, “Whatever retreats you design for yourself, do them regularly. Protect them. Put them on your calendar and tell others you will not be available during these times. Turn off your phone.”


The Dynamic Introvert

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