Three young women apprentices smiling.

Finding the Right Candidates

Job performance and a positive attitude should dictate who is or isn’t on-site, and the most qualified person for the job should be the one hired. But in this labour shortage climate, hiring is more difficult than ever.

Employers must ensure that all qualified individuals are included in the potential candidate pool. The larger the pool, the greater the likelihood of finding a high-quality employee. By treating everyone fairly and with respect, you can ensure that you end up with high-performing crews.

A diverse group of workers in hard hats.

Recruiting and Hiring

These best practices can help you funnel optimal talent to your business while ensuring that you are targeting qualified candidates you may have not previously reached.

  • Include a job description and an overview of your business in job postings.
  • Consider using gender-neutral terms (like journeyperson rather than journeyman).
  • Consider recruiting through different channels to reach a wider group.
  • Contact local community college trades training programs to recruit graduates.
  • Ask candidates the same questions, including those about soft skills, transferable skills, experience, and training. For example, all candidates should be asked questions related to physical ability. “This job involves frequently lifting 20 pounds/work in enclosed spaces/climbing scaffolding. Are you able to do this comfortably?”
  • Have two or three people attend the interview, including the journeyperson who is responsible for on-site training.
  • In the interview, clarify the details of the position, including hours, pay, benefits, and overtime/travel requirements.
  • Do not ask about topics unrelated to the job such as marital status, number of children, daycare arrangements, age, ethnic background, or religion.
Myth versus Fact written in chalk on sand in front of work boots .

Myths That Hold Us Back

Some myths can prevent us from building a high-functioning, diverse team. These myths aren’t just damaging to those they target—they are also detrimental to the future growth and prosperity of an organization.

Of course, deep-seated biases can be hard to shake. But recognizing that they happen, and recognizing the damage they can do, is the first step to overcoming biases and healing a workplace that may not be welcoming to some.

Myth: Men are better cut out for physical work, like that in construction, than others.

Myth: It’s difficult to speak with some groups because it feels like there are so many rules as to what I can and can’t say.

Myth: In most families, women often take on the brunt of the childrearing, and therefore take off more time than men.

Myth: Site culture has always been this way—it’s unfair for “newcomers” to expect us to change our behaviour just to suit them.

Two hispanic men on a constructino site over lunch, having a  laugh,

Cultivating Workplace Culture

The moment a new hire steps onto the jobsite, they are building an opinion of the workplace and how things operate. Start all hires off on the right foot by providing them with information that will make their employment happier, healthier, and free from confusion. Clarity is your friend!

  • Begin with a well-planned workplace orientation. Introduce them to the journeyperson and employees they will be working with and management that they will interact with.
    o Take them on a physical tour of the site and highlight any safety expectations for the work they will be performing.
    o Always point out washrooms, muster points (i.e., emergency exits), and first aid stations.
  • Provide clear direction on whom to speak to, and when. Match new hires with a journeyperson trainer wherever possible.
  • Give all new hires a copy of your health and safety policies, employment policies, and procedure manual.
  • Make sure all employees have mandatory training certificates (employer-, industry-, or job/activity-specific, like WHMIS, fall protection, etc.)
  • Provide clear guidance and look for signs of understanding regarding safe work policies and practices.
  • Provide clear information about expected performance standards, required tools/PPE, clothing, and on-site conduct, including rules surrounding mobile device use.
  • Ensure you have communicated the company’s policy on bullying and harassment and the process to report incidents (a requirement in most provincial jurisdictions), including specific information about sexualized imagery and slurs.
  • Follow up with new hires, talk to their designated trainer at the end of the first week to address any items that weren’t covered, and allow the new hire time to address any concerns they may have.
  • Address any PPE fit issues as soon as they are raised. A proper fit means increased safety: in many cases, using ill-fitting PPE can be more dangerous than using none at all.
  • Ask for feedback on orientation materials to ensure they are meeting the needs of a diverse group of individuals.
  • Ensure work is evaluated fairly using objective tactics such as checklists of performance measures and standard rating scales. This will not only ensure everyone is on the same page, but it will provide employees with standards to work toward.
  • Provide ongoing training and development opportunities to supervisors so that they can better lead their crews. Right now, the Supervisor Micro-Certification Program is available to CASP agreement holders at no cost. Email to find out more.
  • If an individual is objectively falling short of their work expectations, offer them coaching, mentoring, and support; if they continue to struggle to meet the position’s needs, you may need to consider progressive disciplinary action. Keeping an individual on the job when they cannot perform the job well will ultimately create a negative work culture for not only that individual but for the rest of the crew. This will create or reinforce negative biases that impact future hires.
A minority construction worker scowling.

What is Bullying and Harassment?

It’s fair to say that, despite these terms being used often and interchangeably, there is still confusion as to how to apply them to the workplace. Here are some things to keep in mind when determining if a conversation, comment, or action is categorized as bullying or harassment.

  • Not every unpleasant interaction, instance of disrespectful behaviour, or workplace conflict is bullying and harassment. For example, WorkSafeBC defines bullying and harassment as “any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.”
  • Each provincial jurisdiction has its own approach and requirements to bullying and harassment in the workplace. Here are some examples of provincial regulations and resources that you should be aware of:
    o BC (WorkSafeBC)
    o Alberta (OHS Prevention)
    o Saskatchewan (Safety in the Workplace)
    o Manitoba (SAFE Work Manitoba)
    o Ontario (Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development)
    o For all other provinces, search your province and “bullying and harassment.”
  • Also be sure to check with your in-house leadership, human resources, legal council, or union for necessary interpretation and advice before taking action.

Harrasment and Bullying

What it is . . .
  • Verbal aggression or insults
  • Using derogatory terms
  • Vandalizing personal belongings
  • Sabotaging someone’s work
  • Spreading malicious gossip or rumours
  • Initiation or hazing practices
  • Physical or verbal threats
  • Making aggressive or threatening gestures
  • Making personal attacks, based on someone’s private life or traits
What it isn't . . .
  • Expressing differences of opinion (if undertaken appropriately)
  • Offering constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related behaviour and performance
  • Making a legitimate complaint about someone’s conduct through established procedures

  • This is not a complete list. Other, more subtle behaviours, such as patterns of targeted social isolation, might also be considered bullying and harassment if they are humiliating or intimidating. This type of bullying could be perceived as interpersonal conflict, but still needs to be addressed.
  • For all employees, it is the person being harassed that decides if they are feeling the effects of someone’s actions, even if the person doing the harassing doesn’t intend their behaviour to be offensive.
  • What isn’t bullying and harassment? WorkSafeBC’s definition specifically excludes “any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.”
A middle age white construction woman smiling on the jobsite.

The Bottom Line

Adding to a company’s diversity strengthens its workforce and therefore its end product—and that’s good for your workers, your company, and the country as a whole.

For more resources about equity, diversity, and inclusion, contact