What is Ethical Employment


You’ve built a great business – what’s the next step?
Discover our tips and develop ethical employment practices at your business.

1) Simply put: When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business. We call businesses that focus on people Ethical Employers – others call it holistic hiring, decent work, or ethical business. You’ve worked hard to start and scale your business. How it continues to grow will impact your immediate success and future exit strategy.

2) Think of your favourite businesses – why do you enjoy visiting or buying from them? Most people will answer customer service and great products. A great product can often stand on its own – but customer service is increasingly important for businesses to maintain and grow market share.

3) Think again of that business – do you interact with the same employees or is it someone new every time? Most customers want to develop relationships with key employees – there’s no feeling like becoming a regular! Businesses with high turnover don’t have the opportunity to develop these relationships with their customers.

4) Hiring employees opens up a whole new world of opportunities and potential pitfalls. Ethical Employment is a term that we use to describe holistic business practices – primarily paid sick days, fair scheduling and higher than minimum wages. These tools, along with company culture, help turn good businesses into great places to work. This encourages expert level employees to stay on board and drive profitable repeat business.

BWA Member businesses with these policies report less turnover along with greater employee productivity and morale. When employees are happier, they perform better. It’s even becoming more common to see these employees become part of succession planning – giving you an exit strategy.

Paid Sick Days

Paid Sick Days are one of the simplest tools a business can adopt. PSDs offer multiple benefits:

  • Reduced workplace virus / cold spread
  • Avoid preventable downtime
  • Improve staff morale

PSDs can be one of the best tools aside from increased pay that contribute to employee retention. In fact, PSDs are proven to reduce workplace injuries and increase employee productivity.

Fair Scheduling

Remember that first job you ever had? If you’re anything like most people, it probably sucked. You were expected to show up 15 minutes early and leave after closing – both unpaid. Or you might remember being called off a shift at the last minute – without being paid.

Fair Scheduling is:

  • Preparing a schedule at least two weeks in advance
  • Paying for same day call-offs
  • Paying employees to open/close

Evidence shows that when you create a consistent schedule, employees call in sick less often and staff retention improves.

More Than Minimum Wages

You and your employees work hard to bring your business success. One of the simplest and best ways to keep them happy is higher wages. Figuring out the right balance for your business is important to developing high performing employees that drive profitability.

Why more than minimum wage?

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Higher morale
  • Lower turnover leading to increased sales

While Living Wages have become popular (for good reason), not every business can afford to pay. Paying more than minimum is proven to drastically reduce turnover and develop highly productive and profitable employees.

There isn’t a one-size fits all approach to holistic business practices. Like most things in business, a little trial and error is necessary to find the right approach for your enterprise. Here are a few steps you can take to identifying what is currently working at your business:

1) Discussing current practices with employees

a) Identifying what’s working well
b) Noting areas for improvement

2) Asking your team what types of benefits are important to them

a) Is it higher wages?
b) How many paid sick days fit your business model?
c) What type of scheduling would optimize your opening hours?

When you’re holding these discussions, it’s important to stay open and transparent. Just because you’re discussing an idea doesn’t mean it’s going to be immediately implemented. Setting out a timeline with your team is important to manage expectations and get them invested in helping you grow.

How Do I Launch These Programs at My Business?

What is a Good Starting Point?

The BWA believes every business should have or be working toward:

    • Hourly wages above the provincial minimum wage for all staff
    • Employer-paid sick days for all staff (part-time and full-time)
    • Shifts scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance, and hours offered to part-time staff before hiring new staff

Many business owners start with just one of these practices and work toward the others when possible. Other business owners offer practices that far exceed these numbers – for example, paying living wages or more, and offering as many paid sick days as needed. Wherever you land, these ethical employment tools combined are proven to reduce turnover. Keeping your key employees longer improves performance and your bottom line – especially during a time where many workers are moving jobs.

The global pandemic has made operating a business more difficult – but we’ve seen the great value in creating a low turnover environment and improving morale with paid sick days, fair scheduling and scaling up wages. There is pressure around the globe for governments to legislate these types of practices. Our members are on the ground floor and already experiencing benefits. Want to learn more? Read our Business Case for Ethical Employment or get in touch.