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Canadian Work Culture

Many Canadians commute to their place of work. This means they do not live in the same area they work. In Simcoe County many people commute by car. For more information on purchasing a car and public transit, see Transportation.

You may find some differences from how business and work is done in Canada, compared to what you have previously experienced. These differences will vary for different people, for different reasons. Every workplace has its own culture. Watching and asking questions are the easiest ways to understand the culture of the work environment. For example, you will want to learn how the work environment deals with taking breaks, celebrations (such as birthdays), scheduled dentist/doctor appointments, and personal use of the photocopier. You do not want to stand out by doing what the company or other employees find unacceptable. Conformity is not always necessary but you may want to establish yourself first before you break away from existing practices.

How people are greeted, who shakes hands with whom, who stands up when they are introduced, and holding doors are just some of the everyday behaviours that may vary from culture to culture. While there is no consensus on what is Canadian culture, there are some common expectations in the work environment. A "standard work week" is Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; however, some workplaces may adjust the workday to either begin or end earlier or later. Some occupations/job positions may require you to work evenings or weekends. Dress attire for work is often described in one of three ways: casual, business casual, or business attire. These three descriptions range from everyday clothing, such as denim jeans, to formal business attire, such as a business suit and tie. Most workplaces have a formal dress code employees are expected to follow. If you are unsure of the acceptable attire, you can ask for a copy of the dress code from the Human Resources department.

In a recent local study, titled "Digging Deeper: Learning from the Local Labour Market in Simcoe and Muskoka" (2012) (available from the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board website), Simcoe County employers said teamwork, fit within the organization, and interpersonal skills are most important. Employees are expected to collaborate with each other, and often have different responsibilities within the "team". Employees are supposed to be treated as equal; this means that those who work under you in a company hierarchy should not be treated as inferior. Canadian workers greet and include people with different job titles and levels.

In Ontario, most workers have the right to join or form a labour union.  When applying for a position or accepting a job offer, you may be interested to know whether or not the position is a part of a labour union.  A union is an organization of workers that bargains with employers to set conditions of employment, such as wages. This process is called collective bargaining.  Most unions collect a portion of each member's paycheque as dues to the union.

Most Canadian organizations act as a team and all employees try to help the team succeed. How you are asked to help will depend on the type of job and organization you are working for. Some work environments require that you follow your job description closely and you may be restricted to only completing work that has been assigned to you. This is common in unionized environments. By completing your work well and quickly, you will be helping your team succeed. In other work environments, you may be assigned tasks that are not technically in your job description. Sharing work can help to make help ensure deadlines are met and the quality work is being completed. This is common in small companies.

As a condition of your employment, you may be required to produce a police records check and/or a vulnerable sector check. This is not uncommon, especially for positions that require you to work with children, the public or confidential information.

Once you get a job, there are things you can do to ensure you will stay employed and progress in your career. Three things to focus on are doing your job well, developing yourself professionally, and maintaining a good relationship with your co-workers. The easiest way to keep your job is by doing it well. For example, you can be on time, meet deadlines, submit high-quality work, accept constructive criticism, show initiative, and ask questions if you do not understand something. Updating your professional skills keeps you employable because you have current knowledge of your field. Take advantage of learning opportunities offered at your work. You can also take courses or attend workshops on your own time. Having a good relationship with co-workers and supervisors contributes to a positive work environment; this is something most employers value. You can maintain your relationship with your colleagues by focusing on respectful communication and avoiding workplace gossip.

Explore the Simcoe County Immigration Portal to learn more about:

in Simcoe County.

To learn more about local programs and services in Simcoe County, dial 211
or visit .

211 is a free, 24/7 information line with interpretation services in over 150 languages. TTY service is available at 1-888-435-6086.
To have your organization added to the 211 database, contact Community Connection 211 .