Canada’s Workplace Culture: Timekeeping



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by Thelma O’Connor
The concept of time is viewed very differently across cultures. In some cultures time and punctuality are of low importance, but in cultures where people run their lives by the clock, arriving late for a meeting is usually considered rude and unacceptable.

Canada is a culture that places immense value on time and punctuality, and the Canadian workplace is greatly influenced by time. An employee’s attendance and punctuality are taken into consideration when measuring job performance.

Most employers will overlook the fact that an employee is five minutes late from time to time. However, if an employee is repeatedly late for work, this will be viewed as a lack of interest in the job, and is considered a valid reason for firing someone.

When people can’t help being late for a meeting, it is customary to phone ahead, apologize and agree to a new date and time to meet. Many Canadians will not wait longer than 10 – 15 minutes for someone who has arranged to meet them for a business appointment.

Canadian employers highly value employees who have good attendance records; who show up for every shift they are scheduled to work; who are on time for staff meetings; who complete tasks in a timely manner; and who return promptly from coffee and lunch breaks.

If you are new to the Canadian workplace, or will shortly be seeking employment in Canada, it will benefit you considerably to know that being on time for work and meeting deadlines demonstrates to your employer that you are a dependable employee, that you care about your employer and your co-workers and that you care about keeping your job!