Canada 150: 8 Ways to Celebrate at the Office

If you live in Canada, you are likely very aware of the big milestone that will be celebrated in just a few weeks as Canada turns 150! As the excitement builds, and plans are being made for parties and celebrations over the long weekend, it’s worth noting that not all the fun has to wait until the weekend. This is a perfect time for workplaces to get involved and plan something special for your employees to get excited about.

Workplace celebrations increase employee engagement and happiness, which in turn is known to increase productivity. So it’s worth it to treat your employees to a little fun every now and then, and Canada 150 is the perfect occasion to throw a little fun into business day.

We’ve come up with a few fun Canadian-inspired ways of how you can celebrate Canada 150 at the office:

  1. Invite your team out to the park for a picnic lunch
  2. Run a photo contest where employees can submit their favourite photos of Canada
  3. Red and White Day – encourage employees to wear red, white or Canadian themed gear
  4. Host Canada Trivia at lunch
  5. Surprise your employees with maple candies on their desks one morning
  6. Host a Canada-themed pot luck lunch
  7. Run a poutine snack bar for a mid-afternoon treat
  8. Raffle off a Team Canada jersey and donate proceeds to a local charity

We’d love to hear how your team or workplace is celebrating this special occasion. Comment below or tweet us @StaplesBusAdv to let us know.

Canada 150 Contest
Tell us how Canada inspires you and you could enter to win* a $1,000 Canadian prize pack! To enter and for contest details visit the Canada 150 contest page. And don’t forget to tweet us to let us know how this beautiful country inspires you using #HowCanadaInspiresYou.

 

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Sustainability In The Workplace

Happy Earth Week! As a company, this is a great opportunity to set some time aside to evaluate your current sustainability activities and practices and perhaps introduce some new policies.

In the 2016 Workplace Index Survey, 43% of people said that their company does not make an effort to be eco-friendly. That means almost half of those surveyed were working for companies that don’t have environmental policies in place, or perhaps, the employees just weren’t aware of the sustainability policies and efforts. As a company, it’s important to communicate your efforts to your employees so they too can participate and support the efforts. An annual update, such as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, can help communicate with both your employees and stakeholders and help promote all the good you’re doing in your workplace.

So what can you do to encourage sustainable business practices? Check out some of the results on the importance of Sustainability in the Workplace from the 2016 Workplace Index Survey.

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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: https://www.earthhour.org/ 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

4 Tech Gadgets For A More Productive Business in 2016

The Tech Gift Guide is out, and this year’s tech trends are sure to make navigating through your daily work routine a little bit easier. From the desk to the boardroom and every stop in between, these tech gadgets make being productive on the go a breeze!

Surface Pro 3

surfaceproThe Surface Pro 3 is the tablet that can replace your laptop. The portable tablet provides the perfect balance between performance and value. With the ability to run desktop software, a full-size USB 3.0 port, and an integrated Kickstand, Surface 3 is the perfect productivity device for school, home, and on the go. With a 12” display, Surface Pro 3 has the power of a laptop in a lightweight, versatile form. Plus, work anywhere with the multi-position Kickstand. The integrated Kickstand now features multiple positions so you can work comfortably whether you’re on the plane, at your desk, or in front of the television.

3M™ Dual-Swivel Monitor Arm

MonitorThinking of a sit-stand workstation for 2016? Known to improve productivity, a standing workstation could be the perfect addition to your workplace. This adjustable dual-swivel monitor arm allows for several height options for placing your monitor in the best ergonomic position, while offering more desk space. This highly adjustable monitor arm moves up, down, forward and back. The height adjusts up and down through an 8″ range, swivels 180° and tilts forward and back +15°/-90° for optimal ergonomic positioning. Plus the monitor can rotate portrait or landscape.

CS540 Wireless Office Headset System

HeadsetPlantronics legendary CS family is setting a new wireless standard for desk phone communication with the CS500™ Series. The streamlined design and improved performance adds reliability for hands-free productivity and has made the CS family a best-seller for nearly a decade. With up to a 300′ range, voice dedicated 1.9 GHz DECT Techology, and up to six hours of talk time. It’s convertible with three wearing styles and noise-canceling microphone on extended boom makes for clear conversations.

WeMo Switch

wemoThe Belkin Wi-Fi enabled WeMo Switch lets you turn electronic devices on or off from anywhere. The WeMo Switch uses your existing home Wi-Fi network to provide wireless control of TVs, lamps, stereos, heaters, fans and more. Simply download the free WeMo App, plug the switch into an outlet in your home, and plug any device into the switch. You’ll be able to turn that device on or off using your smartphone or tablet. You can set schedules for your devices and control them remotely using a mobile internet connection. You can also add additional switches to your home to control more devices. Whether you want to turn on a light from your kitchen, front yard, or office, WeMo Switch has you covered.

Shop for these great tech gifts and many others in the 2015 Tech Gift Guide.

Make Office Gift Giving Fun – Not Awkward

Gift gifting at the office around the holidays can sometimes be a bit awkward. Does a boss buy for the employee? Or does an employee buy for the boss? Should you buy for all your coworkers? And how much should you spend? You want to give a good gift, but don’t want to go over your own personal budget..
Bottom line: sometimes there’s no right or wrong answer. It comes down to each company, and sometimes each department, and the policies or traditions already established.

If you’re unsure of what to give this year, or you want to start a new gift giving trend to ensure everyone can get involved, here are a few ways to go about it that won’t make the season too uncomfortable for anyone.

Make it a Group Activity.
Eliminate the awkwardness of people not knowing who to buy for and make gift giving at your workplace a group activity. Set an affordable spending limit and rather than drawing names, set up a gift swap/steal game.

Make it Delicious.
Everyone loves food, especially gift baskets around the holiday season as they are easy to share with customers or clients that pop by the office, and can come in handy for entertaining guests at home. If you want to get personal, select a themed gift basket based on something the person enjoys – like chocolate, coffee or candy. A nice bottle wine or festive bubbles can also be a useful gift, however alcohol can sometimes be an inappropriate office present – just make sure you know your company policies as well as the person you’re gifting it to.

Make it Colourful.
Plants and flowers make great gifts as they can really brighten up an office or someone’s desk. Poinsettias are a popular choice over the holidays; in fact they are the most popular selling flowering potted plant. Other bouquets and flower arrangements can be made to look extra festive by adding in winter greenery and pops of red and white flowers. Plants that will last throughout the year also make excellent workplace gifts as plant life in an office is known to reduce stress while enhancing productivity – the gift that keeps on giving!

Make it a Donation.
Rather than exchanging gifts as a team or department, collect items for a local charity – canned foods, new unwrapped toys, useful household items and new clothing are all in great need over the holidays. Choose a charity to work with and ask them for a list of their most needed items so your team can work through the list to cover off some of the essentials. Or collect anonymous financial contributions and donate it to your company’s charity of choice.

Looking to make gift giving easy this season? Shop a selection of gift baskets, poinsettias, bouquets and floral arrangements through your eway account and have them delivered right to your office.

 

A Guide to Surviving the Office Holiday Party

Holiday party season is upon us! While this can be a fun and enjoyable time to interact with your colleagues in a casual and festive atmosphere, it’s also important to keep a sense of professionalism in your celebrations. After all, everyone wants to make it through the holidays safe and sound.

Our guide to surviving the holiday office party contains some simple do’s and don’ts of enjoying the celebrations. Whether you’re at an in-office gathering or an off-site company party, these are a few things to keep in mind.

Do:

  • Attend the party and have a little fun – this can be a great team building opportunity.
  • If you’re hosting the gathering, ensure you arrange for plenty of food for everyone (especially when serving alcohol).
  • Make sure the menu outlines any items that contain common allergens, like nuts, and where possible provide vegetarian or free-from menu alternatives (like gluten-free, dairy-free, etc).
  • Choose healthy snack options. Nutrition plays a big part in keeping you healthy and will help get you through the holidays feeling more energized.
  • Keep well hydrated throughout the day and get plenty of sleep at night – both efforts will help to keep you alert and prepared through the holidays.
  • Keep a first-aid kit close by, especially at events where activities will take place.
  • Remind guests to take a safe mode of transportation home. Encourage guests to have a designated driver, provide signage with taxi phone numbers and display directions for alternative modes of transportation like public transit.

Don’t:

  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t RSVP that you’ll attend and then not show up. If you can’t make it, let the host know as soon as possible so they can arrange to let the caterer know.
  • Don’t pack your holiday schedule so full that you exhaust yourself. Consider all your commitments and turn down invites if you need to take a break.
  • Don’t use this as an opportunity to talk about personal issues or gossip about your colleagues. And don’t talk about work too much. Find the right balance so that everyone can enjoy the conversation.

These are just a few tips on how to make the most of holiday celebrations at work. Do you have any other pieces of advice? Share below in the comments section.