How to Prepare Your Workplace for the Unexpected

Don’t wait for an emergency, plan ahead! According to a Staples Business Advantage™ survey,* nearly half of all workers are unsure if their company has an emergency plan. Fifty percent of workers say they participate in safety drills only once every few years. It’s easy to put out of mind, but disasters are always a threat.

Learn how to prepare your employees, building and assets in the event of an emergency, from natural disasters, human-caused hazards to technology-related dangers.

 5 keys to emergency preparedness success.

  1. Leadership investment

A successful plan requires management leadership and financial support. Planning ahead for an emergency situation can help minimize corporate impacts in labour and services.

  1. Plan

Create a plan that details what everyone should do and where to go in the event of an emergency. Address top-line threats or hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact.

  1. Implement

You should implement the plan so that all building occupants are aware of what they need to do in an emergency situation. Identify resources, provide written plans and develop a system to help manage incidents and train employees.

  1. Test

Conduct testing and exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your preparedness program. Make sure employees know what to do and note any critical missed areas.

  1. Revise

Revising the plan is the key to success. A program is only as good as the last time it was tested. Periodically reassess the plan for weaknesses and new areas of interest, and revise plans accordingly.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 edition of Shop Talk. Order your copy today or visit to browse it online.

Staples Business Advantage™ can provide you with the tools and plans you need to help implement an emergency preparedness program for your business. Call your Account Manager today for more information.

*Source: “ Survey Shows Gaps in Office Health and Safety Preparedness” on Staples News Center (

Earth Hour: How Your Office Can Participate

Earth Hour is a global initiative that has seen as many as 172 countries come together to power down and bring awareness to climate change. This year Earth Hour will take place between 8:30pm and 9:30pm (local time) on Saturday March 25.

Since many of us leave the office on a Friday and don’t return until Monday morning, how can you ensure your business is doing what it can to participate? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Fully power down your laptop or computer
  2. Turn off your monitor
  3. Unplug any small appliances (kettle, toaster, microwave, etc).
  4. Power down printers and any other large office machines that won’t be in use
  5. Turn off any interior lights that are not required for safety or security
  6. Turn off or limit exterior lighting, again keeping in mind safety and security
  7. Spread the word! Communicate within your office so that everyone remembers to power down before they leave. It might be helpful to set a reminder in your email calendar or on your phone.

Is your office participating in Earth Hour? Tell us what you are doing around the office to promote energy efficiency.

To find out more about Earth Hour, visit: or get involved in the conversation on social media: #ChangeClimateChange

Women in Business: Tips & Guidance from Michelle Micuda

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we did a Q&A with one of Staples Business Advantage Canada’s top female influencers and leaders , Michelle Micuda, Vice President, Sales – Account Management.

Michelle joined Staples Business Advantage in 2006 and has held a variety of leadership roles at both the VP and Director levels including VP Commercial and Inside Sales, Line of Business Sales, Inside Sales, Commercial Sales and Warehouse/Delivery Operations. She has been instrumental in building teams, developing leaders, driving results and improving processes in each role she has held.

Here’s what Michelle had to say when we asked her for some advice and guidance on being a female leader in the business world.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

One piece of advice I received early in my career was that it was ok to “cheat yourself”.  The individual shared with me that you have a choice to do your job or do your job and more. For example, if you do your current job really well and show that you can handle more responsibility through special projects or showcase your business understanding by contributing to discussions or take the time to interact with other departments to understand the company, you will be the one that is the most prepared to take on the next promotion or inter-departmental move – if that is your goal. In a way, you have cheated yourself to doing more than your role requires, but you have prepared yourself for the next role more than others and you will be successful in landing that next role.

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership role?

I have the pleasure of interacting with a wide variety of people in my role – people from across the country, people in different roles and people with different backgrounds and views of our company.  First off, interacting with all these people is just plain fun… and unpredictable!

Second, the interaction keeps my thoughts fresh, helps me connect pieces of information to see business problems differently and reminds me that I have an important responsibility to use the feedback from all these people to solve business problems and make Staples the best place it can be for everyone.

What has been one of the most challenging obstacles in your career path, and what did you learn from it?

A few times in my career, I was ready for a promotion and the role I was hoping for opened up. I was excited and felt I was the best candidate for the role. However, the role was given to an out of country candidate.  Each time, this decision was challenging and frustrating for me. I felt that I had done everything that was asked of me and more, yet the decision was made outside the country, where I was perhaps less known. In each case, I had to move past my disappointment, dig in, do my job and help my new boss be successful. Ultimately, I did learn something from my new bosses, whether it be another style to understand, or another perspective, and it made me stronger as an individual and a leader. Success doesn’t always come at the time you are expecting it, but if you persevere, success will come your way.

Do you currently or have you ever encountered any gender-related obstacles in your profession? If so, how did you go about handling it?

I’m not sure if I can say I encountered gender-related obstacles, but I have certainly encountered gender related situations. Early in my career, I was always in male-dominated situations – as a math student at the University of Waterloo , as a Commercial Lender at TD Bank (the only female lender at the branch, and only a handful in Ontario), as an MBA student in the nineties; and  more recently, I was  definitely the only female VP, Operations. It was just a fact that there were many male dominated areas within school and business; however, I just went about my journey – learning and doing my job to the best of my ability. Gender doesn’t indicate who can do a job better. It’s up to you to find your leadership style and be the leader who can do a great job – connecting with people, solving business problems and leading the way in the good times and the challenging times.

What do you wish you would have done differently in your career?

My role at work is one part of my life and my role at home as a wife and mother of three is the most important role that I have. I have always ensured I found a balance between home and work – going to piano recitals, soccer games, dance competitions, helping with math homework and just being there for my girls. However, now I realize that I haven’t always kept my personal fitness/health high enough on my priority list. I’m reading a book right now called “Younger Next Year” and am coming to understand the concept that if your fitness/health isn’t improving then it’s declining – a bit of a scary thought! I don’t want my health to decline, so I have to make a commitment to improve it. Make sure you keep your fitness/health priorities high enough on your priority list throughout your career.

 What one thing do you think you did right in your career?

I’ve worked at three companies since graduating from university – each for 7 years or more. I think I spent a sufficient amount of time at each organization to really understand the organization. I also took the opportunity to move around each organization and experience different roles – branch office vs head office, personal lending vs commercial leading, human resources vs finance, operations vs sales. I was open to taking different roles within organizations even though they weren’t conventional career moves. Having a variety of perspectives within an organization has allowed me to have a distinct leadership perspective, which I believe helps me relate to people and make better decisions. Have an open mind to unconventional career moves – they just might be the best career move you’ll ever make.

What is your favourite business quote ?

Not sure I have a favourite quote .. but I like these:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison.  I grew up on a farm, so I get the overall reference!

Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. – John Maxwell

Employee Appreciation Part 3: Happiness at Work

As revealed in a recent blog post, job satisfaction is key to staff loyalty. Employers with high rates of employee dissatisfaction experience five times the level of employee turnover compared to companies with happier employees.

The motivation behind what creates happiness in the workplace was explored in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey. To get a better understanding of it, we asked Canadian workers and managers:

 What can your employer do to improve your happiness?

Responses varied, but we’ve narrowed it down here to the top five.

Top 5 Ways to Improve Happiness at Work

Increased Salary
67% of people said that getting a salary increase would make them happier at work.

Improved Morale
53% of employees noted that an improvement in workplace morale would help increase their overall happiness.

Recognition for Accomplishments
48% said that being recognized for their hard work would make a significant difference.

Feeling heard
42% noted that feeling heard in the workplace is important to their level of happiness.

Provide more flexibility
35% of employees said that having more flexibility at work (such as flexible working hours, telecommuting, etc.) would make them happier.

This concludes our three-part series on Employee Appreciation. You can click here to read Part 1 and Part 2. Explore the infographic below that contains a summary of details from the Employee Appreciation blog post series.

We’d love to know, what makes you happy at work? Comment below or tweet us at @StaplesBusAdv.



Employee Appreciation Part Two: 6 Ways Employees Stay Motivated

In the Employee Appreciation Part One post, we explored how important employee appreciation is to retaining your talented workforce. Now, to further understand what it is exactly that makes them feel appreciated, we’ll be looking into some of the factors that rated highest for what motivates people in the workplace.

Motivation in the workplace comes in many different forms. Some employees are motivated by a fast-paced environment and deadlines, others are motivated financially, and some are motivated through simple kind gestures like thank you notes and coffee.

To help us better understand some of the key factors that motivate the majority of workers, we asked the following question to Canadian employees and managers in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey:

What motivates you to do your best work?

The top responses help shed a lot of light on what truly motivates employees. While the responses range, the bottom line remains the same: appreciate your employees and in turn, they will be more motivated to work harder for you. Take a look at the top responses from the Workplace Index Survey.

Top 6 Motivating Factors for Employees At Work

36% of respondents rated salary as the number one motivating factor at work.
Put it into action:

  • While salary increases aren’t always possible, giving employees an idea of future job paths and growth opportunities can help keep them motivated.
  • Develop achievable goals for them to work towards, keep them aware of areas of improvement, and help them develop career growth plans.

Sense of Purpose
32% of employees feel that having a sense of purpose is what helps motivate them to do their best work.
Put it into action:

  • Keep employees involved – when your employees are aware of the overarching company goals it can help them have a better understanding of how their job and tasks fit into the bigger picture.
  • Open communication – keep communication from an executive level right down to department and management level open and honest.
  • Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, together. Working together will always give employees a greater sense of purpose.

27% said that having passion for what they do motivates them along the way.
Put it into action:

  • Praise your employees for a job well done. Instilling them with pride in the work they do can help fuel their passion and drive.
  • Give employees new projects to help them expand on their current skill set and helps them on their career growth path.

25% of respondents said that their coworkers are part of what motivates them at work.
Put it into action:

  • Some personalities work better together than others; be aware of this when planning out your overall office design and desk/seating arrangements.
  • When a project comes up, pair people up that you know work well together.
  • Organize team building events to help bring your team closer together.

Flexible Schedules
23% of employees are motivated when they are given flexibility in their workday schedules.
Put it into action:

  • Introduce a telecommuting plan. Allowing your employees to work from home a few times a week can help improve their motivation.
  • Allow your employees to work flexible schedules (i.e. 8am-4pm, 10am-6pm). Allowing workers to shift their schedules can help combat commuting frustration by avoiding the thick of rush hour. And some employees may operate more productively by a slight time shift in when they arrive to work.

Doing work that has a positive impact
23% of employees want to know that they are doing work that has a positive impact.
Put it into action:

  • Many companies have sustainability or corporate charity goals, so give your employees access to volunteer opportunities that can allow them give back.
  • Keep your employees up to date on donations that the company makes to help give them a further sense of purpose.

There are 10 other factors that made the list of top motivators in the workplace. Find out what they are, download the full Workplace Index Report here.

Do you agree with these motivating factors? Which one inspires you to do your best work?