Workplace Culture

Every workplace has its own culture, and they all fit within the Canadian expectations of work. Here are a few general tips to help you fit in at work.

  • Canadians value teamwork. Assisting your co-workers, offering to help with complex tasks and being willing to help out when asked are highly valued.
  • In group discussions, try to participate, even if only to ask a few questions. If you do not speak up, your co-workers or employer may think you have no ideas of your own.
  • When meeting new business associates or co-workers, it is polite to shake hands. Superiors are usually addressed formally unless you are asked to use their first name, for example Mr. Smith, Mrs. Wilson or Ms Jones. Co-workers are usually addressed by their first names.
  • When meeting new people, it is best to keep conversation general. Canadians are comfortable talking about their jobs and families, but do not discuss more personal aspects of their lives such as their age, how much they are paid, religion and politics.
  • Canadians are very interested in culture. You may be asked where you are from, what the weather and culture is like and what foods you eat. Feel free to share this and ask about the same things in Canada.
  • Watch your co-workers’ body language and adapt yours to fit in. For instance, Canadians are most comfortable with 18 inches between each other when meeting or talking. Standing closer is considered rude and invasive; standing further away appears that you are not interested in the other person, or that you are too shy.
  • In conversation, direct eye contact shows a Canadian that you are interested and paying attention. You do not need to maintain eye contact constantly, but averting your eyes can imply dishonesty or discomfort.
  • Do not interrupt; wait for your turn to speak. Also, do not point or wave your finger when giving your opinion. In Canada, this gesture is most often used to correct a child’s behaviour.
  • Punctuality is very important.Try to be five or ten minutes early, as being late is considered rude. If something happens to cause lateness, be sure to phone ahead and let your employer know.
  • It is against the law in Canada to not hire someone because of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or class. If you feel you are being discriminated against at work, call your Skills Connect employment counsellor for help. This is nothing to be ashamed of and we are here to help you.
  • If you are having a conflict with a co-worker, a private, direct conversation can usually solve your problem. Often things arise due to misunderstandings and most Canadians prefer to solve it directly. If this doesn’t solve the issue, contact your Skills Connect employment counsellor for assistance.

For more information, go to Intercultural Effectiveness.

Program participants receive an average salary increase of 70% through Skills Connect over their previous Canadian wage.