Canadian workplace culture do’s and don’ts

Skip to:

Here are 10 of the most common qualities valued in the Canadian workplace. The following do’s and don’ts are suggested ways by which you can display these traits. As you gradually immerse yourself in the Canadian corporate culture, you will learn more ways to practice these qualities. It will become second nature to you.

Interacting positively with others

DO’s:

  • Greet everyone warmly; acknowledge their presence
  • Smile! Be approachable
  • Maintain eye contact when interacting with someone

DON’Ts:

  • Interrupt when someone is speaking
  • Shy away from social situations
  • Be paranoid and think that everyone is judging you

Competence

DO’s:

  • Understand work requirements and job expectations completely
  • Aim to make a solid contribution to your team/company
  • Manage your time and resources at work wisely

DON’Ts:

  • Depend on your boss or co-workers all the time
  • Waste time on complaining or gossiping
  • Say yes when you don’t understand completely

Punctuality & Attendance

DO’s:

  • Come 10-15 minutes early for work
  • Submit assigned work on or before the deadline
  • Report for duty regularly and give advance notice if you will be absent

DON’Ts:

  • Come late or too early for an interview or a meeting. Coming late is rude while being too early may place undue pressure on the person/people you are meeting.
  • Be absent without informing your supervisor or co-workers
  • Leave during office hours without informing your boss or co-workers. If an emergency comes up, they will know where you are.

Initiative

DO’s:

  • Suggest ways to improve your work/workplace
  • Offer to help out others when you have time
  • Volunteer information that may help others in the team

DON’Ts:

  • Always depend on your boss or co-workers for direction
  • Make major decisions that will impact the company without consultation
  • Do the work of others sacrificing your own

Respect

DO’s:

  • Listen to the ideas and opinions of others
  • Ask for suggestions whenever appropriate
  • Put your phone on silent mode during meetings

DON’Ts:

  • Always consider your ideas to be the best
  • Abuse company resources
  • Receive calls during an interview or a meeting

Cross-cultural communication

DO’s:

  • Learn about customs of other cultures
  • Share elements of your own culture
  • Be careful about body language and tone of voice

DON’Ts:

  • Stereotype people
  • Crack “risky” jokes (your humor may not be understood by everyone)
  • Use your native language when in a group with people of other nationalities

Continuous learning

DO’s:

  • Read the latest articles and journals about your profession
  • Enroll in short courses to learn new skills
  • Join professional associations and attend conferences

DON’Ts:

  • Make lack of finances or time (or your age) as excuses
  • Be complacent about your skills
  • Be discouraged when you have trouble picking up new skills

Conflict management

DO’s:

  • Be a team player
  • Always seek solutions at the earliest possible time
  • Seek additional support when needed

DON’Ts:

  • Keep silent when something is bothering you
  • Always go straight to management for every little concern
  • Blow problems out of proportion

Workplace involvement

DO’s:

  • Participate in company events
  • Volunteer for company activities outside of your duties
  • Suggest ways by which the company can improve or save money

DON’Ts:

  • Limit yourself to only doing tasks that are in your job description
  • Feel bad when your suggestions are not picked up
  • Spread yourself thin by volunteering in all activities

Personal and professional management

DO’s:

  • Know when to say no to tasks when you have too much on your plate
  • Balance your time for work and for leisure
  • Have a long-term career goal

DON’Ts:

  • Come to work distraught or stressed
  • Stop developing your skills
  • Be a workaholic

Want to know more?

Watch this an 18-part video series that talks about cultural differences in the Canadian workplace and how to manage them: Developing Cultural Dexterity in your Organization. The presentor is Lionel Laroche, HR expert and cross- cultural consultant of MultiCultural Business Solutions.

Back to top

Community Resources

Manitoba Start has workshops for newcomers on Canadian workplace culture. For more information visit the Manitoba Start website.

The Canadian Workplace from Engineers Canada is a short video where working immigrants share the most striking characteristics of Canadian workplace culture as well as cultural and environmental conditions to which they had to adapt:

Back to top

Quiz

Canadian Workplace Culture

Read the following statements and determine if they are a “Do” or “Don’t”.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Employment equity in Manitoba

Two people shaking hands with charts on the wall in the backgorund

What exactly is employment equity? Why is it necessary? Attend this workshop to get answers to all these questions.

How to build your professional network

Two people shaking hands with charts on the wall in the backgorund

We always hear that to advance your career you must build a network, but exactly how do we do this?… Read more »

Workplace Communications

A woman giving a presentation at work

Course Description Workplace Communications (WorkCom) is a 4 week course. This course focuses on must-haves for successful communication at work: speaking formally,… Read more »

Webinar for Internationally Educated Engineers

desk with two laptops with two persons discussing paperwork

Disclaimer The views and opinions expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily represent those of  English Online  or Immigration, Refugees… Read more »

Back to top

Join the Discussion

Please login to view the Discussion Forums. If you are not yet a registered learner, find out how to register.

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.