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5 Tips for Working in the Canadian Workplace

Posted by: NIC Online Date: June 28, 2022 Category: Blog
Professional co-workers together in an office.

New Canadians may have many questions about how to fit into the Canadian workplace. While diversity is a great asset to Canada, there are some things that newcomers can consider to better get along with their peers in the workplace. Continue reading to learn more about Canadian workplace culture. 

1. Give Personal Space

Everyone has their definition of how much personal space is acceptable. However, there is no definite rule regarding how far apart people should stand. However, standing at arm’s length when speaking with someone else at the workplace is generally sufficient. Look for signs from your counterpart when interacting with colleagues. If they are startled when you get too close, take a step back. On the other hand, you can also move back if you feel that another person is too close to you. Furthermore, it is alright to politely tell someone else that you would like a little more space. 

2. Use Body Language

How you carry yourself at work can influence how your colleagues act around you. Simple body language cues could be the difference between your coworkers getting along with you or being nervous around you. 

Consider the following body language tips that are acceptable in Canadian workplaces:

  • Eye contact: Make eye contact when speaking with someone. Avoiding eye contact can signify that you are trying to avoid someone. This may be different for newcomers from cultures that show respect by avoiding eye contact. However, in Canadian culture, it's important that you make eye contact.
  • Smile: A genuine smile is always a positive sign that demonstrates friendliness. Other people will feel more comfortable around you when smiling.
  • Physical contact: Besides introductory handshakes, touching your colleagues is generally avoided in the workplace. 
  • Gestures: Using hand gestures can help enhance the message you are trying to make and show interest when talking. However, avoid using overly large gestures as they may appear aggressive. 

Try studying how your peers interact with one another if you are still unsure about acceptable body language.

3. Understand that the Canadian Workplace is Egalitarian

Some newcomers may come from countries that value a hierarchical workforce. In these working cultures, the manager or leaders of a company will give direct orders to employees. However, the Canadian workplace tends to take an egalitarian approach wherein everyone’s opinion is valued. 

While Canadian employees still follow directions, there is also an expectation to demonstrate initiative in your work. For example, this could mean voicing your opinion, identifying problems, and suggesting solutions. Canadian managers are often available to guide employees but do not micromanage your daily activities. We encourage employees to take ownership of their work!

4. Improve Your Soft Skills

Interpersonal skills that make you better at communicating with other people are known as soft skills. These skills include being a team player, open-mindedness, tolerance, flexibility, and a positive attitude. 

Canadian employers may value soft skills over specific hard skills (technical skills). Soft skills allow you to work with others, regardless of cultural differences. As a result, employers usually emphasize the importance of having soft skills.

5. Network to Gaining Visibility 

Meeting relevant people in your desired industry is vital for finding a job and advancing your career in Canada. In fact, some experts believe that 80 percent of all jobs are not publicly advertised. Instead, employers find the right candidate through personal recommendations and introductions. Expanding your network and meeting people is highly effective and recommended for those seeking career success. Newcomers that do not have a vast professional network in Canada can greatly benefit from connecting with peers in their desired career field.

Want More Tips?

Are you looking to learn more about acceptable workplace behaviour in Canada? Join NIC Online on Tuesday, July 19 at 1:30 PM EST for a webinar about Canadian workplace culture. Click here to register for this free webinar today!

Newcomers to Ontario can contact the experts at NIC Online to receive more information and resources to help with employment and settlement. Click here to sign up for our free services today

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