Jean-François Boudreault
Partner | Human resources consulting

Businesses are going through difficult times but you can still make sure your employer knows your worth.

The situation in the last months hasn’t been easy on organizations and business in many sectors is very slow. Some businesses have shut down while others are gradually picking up. However, generally speaking, most organizations have taken a hard hit. They’ve been forced to cut their expenses, review their operating budget, put a hold on investment projects, and freeze salaries, recruitment and promotions. It may not look like it’s the best time to negotiate a raise.

But it might actually be the perfect time. You can consolidate your position and work on your strategy. Here a few starting points:

1. Know your value on the market

Before asking for a salary increase, do a little soul searching and ask yourself if:

  • Your responsibilities meet your needs;
  • You’re still as driven to do your job;
  • The business and your manager meet your expectations.

A better salary won’t necessarily improve your work life quality and it won’t reignite your sense of belonging or make you happier. Make sure you do it for the right reasons.

Do you know your theoretical value on the market? It represents how much is normally paid for a similar experience on a comparative market.

There are a few ways to get this information. If you’re a member of a professional order, you probably have access to salary surveys that can give you an idea. You can also easily find public surveys or reference databases on the internet, or refer to recruitment agencies.

We know that the best way to get a raise is when you start a new job or get promoted. So, how can you make the most of the situation when you’ve been stuck in your seat?

2. Showcase what you bring to the table

Put yourself in the manager’s shoes. Build your arguments and deliver them smartly at the right time. You must be able to clearly explain how you contribute to the organization and show your added value as an employee.

  • What do you bring to the table?
  • How can you contribute to company growth and wealth?
  • Did you come up with projects that helped the organization save money?
  • What are your success stories?

Think of all the projects you worked on, the internal controls you’ve put in place that helped avoid the worst, how you promote and help put the organization on the map, and the excellent client experience you never fail to deliver.

Highlight the value of your contributions and projects. And remember that managers look at costs and benefits. So, avoid using arguments like “I’m underpaid” or “I deserve it; I’ve been doing this job for a long time.” Look further and have a strategic approach.

3. Put your skills and knowledge forward

You can emphasize a wide array of skills but you must choose wisely. Remember that you will have to justify—and perhaps even debate—each and every one of them during your interview.

First, know the difference between skills and qualities. Professional skills are associated with a specific know-how that you have acquired and had validated through an experience or a diploma.

Qualities are personality or character traits. Ask yourself what special aptitudes helped you deliver your projects and mandates successfully; those are your personal qualities and talent.

IT professionals can show their managers that their skills and expertise are needed and are crucial in ensuring business continuity and security before and after the current pandemic. Without them, most companies would have struggled with the wave of people working from home.

For example, a number of studies have shown that businesses were not equipped in the event of a cyber-attack. If you work in IT and have expertise in cybersecurity, highlight how you can bring value to the organization in times of teleworking, especially seeing how it is increasingly difficult to hire and retain individuals with those skills.

4. Have a strategy and be open to other options

Be strategic and pick the right time. Your annual performance review meeting is the worst time to negotiate raise because that’s what your co-workers will be doing too.

Be ahead of the game! Back yourself up using the information you’ve researched and your achievements that make you one of a kind.

Negotiating is an art. Prepare for your interview and be ready for the worst-case scenario. Make sure you have the arguments to counter-attack if needed.

Be open to other options if a raise is out of the question. For example, you can bring up employee benefits such as company shares, extra days off, a discretionary expense account, a flexible schedule, a company car, paid parking, enhanced group insurance, or a bonus.

5. Stay positive

Despite the potential hurdles and what you may think, it is always in the best interest of organizations to recognize employees with key skills and how they contribute to their business. They know the importance of fair compensation, even more so knowing that many employees would not hesitate to walk out the door if they feel exploited or undervalued. So, feel free to let your manager know that you truly appreciate the organization and want to help it succeed.

Asking for a raise is a key aspect of the professional development process but timing is everything. If your request is denied, the reasons are surely justifiable, and for you, it is not the end.

Getting up with a smile on your face every day, enjoying what you do at work, and feeling like you’re contributing to the organization is often more rewarding than a raise.

Keep up your excellent work and pursue your professional development journey. Understand what drives you, know what your goals are and why you deserve a raise. Your efforts will be recognized if you carry on with the right attitude—and you can try again with a new strategy in a few months.

24 Aug 2020  |  Written by :

Jean-François Boudreault is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in human...

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Montreal’s strategic location and tech skills base combined with Canada’s outward-looking approach to international trading make the city the perfect access point not just to North America, but also to the rest of the world.

“International trade is at the heart of Montreal’s growth strategy,” says Valérie Verdoni, senior director at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in Canada and director of the firm’s International Business Centre. “The free-trade agreements that Canada has with its neighbours in North America, with the European Union, as well as with other blocs all over the world means we have access to more than 50 economies representing around 1.5 billion consumers.”

She adds: “And within Canada, Montreal has a wide range of advantages and incentives for international businesses.” These range from its excellent strategic location in terms of road and rail as well as air freight and travel, to world-class business infrastructure and, perhaps most compellingly, the city’s high level of human capital.

To learn more, click here. 

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Robert Pouliot
Adviser | Financial advisory

Amendments to Bill 141 of the Civil Code of Quebec imposes new obligations for co-owner syndicates.

You need to know what these obligations are and adequately prepare in order to properly protect your co-ownership in the event of an incident or disaster.

New provisions to better protect co-owners

Insurers need to differentiate between the value of a property at the time of its initial construction and the value added through improvements made by the co-owners of a unit.

In order to better protect co-owners, the government is now requiring the creation of a register of private portions that have not undergone any leasehold improvements resulting in an increase in value. These are called “reference units”. The value of a reference unit is determined according to its original or “base” condition and corresponds to the current cost of reconstruction.

The purpose of this provision is to identify improvements made by co-owners and thus determine whether a change made by a co-owner constitutes a leasehold improvement or a simple replacement of a component at the end of its useful life by a similar one.

Without this reference unit description or data sheet, the law presumes that there are no improvements to the private portions. Therefore, in the absence of the register, the insurer may not pay for improvements made by the co-owners.

In the event that leasehold improvements increase the value of the unit, the owner is required to personally purchase insurance to protect the value of the improvements. A second register or data sheet detailing the modifications to the unit is then required.

As for the reconstruction value of a reference unit, it is assumed by the insurance held by the syndicate of co-owners.

Reconstruction value of the building: a professional appraisal every five years

Another change to the law will be coming into force no later than June 13, 2022: every syndicate of co-ownership must have sufficient insurance coverage to ensure the full reconstruction value of the building. In the new version of article 1073 of the Civil Code of Quebec and according to decree 442-2020, syndicates are required to hire a member of the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec to appraise a building’s reconstruction cost.

In addition, the reconstruction value must include taxes, excavation costs and the fees of the various professionals involved in the reconstruction. The professional appraisal must be updated every five years. These updates must be sent to insurers in order to have the reconstruction cost indexed to its real value.

Get the right tools and advice

Unfortunately, all too often, co-owners’ syndicates are underinsured and bear the consequences of a disaster causing a total or partial loss. As a co-owner or representative of a syndicate of co-ownership, it is imperative to be aware of current laws and the possible repercussions.

Our real estate appraisal team is there to help you meet the new legal requirements and, of course, make sure you are adequately insured. Drawing on our skills and broad-based experience, we will produce the required reports for the reconstruction value of a building, a reference unit or leasehold improvements to a private unit.

Our professionals have extensive experience in the field of real estate valuations and are also able to assist you in other projects such as:

· Commercial, industrial and residential properties,
· Leasing properties (four units and up),
· Small farms,
· Seniors’ residences,
· Vacant land.

Whether or not your residential, commercial or industrial real estate project is a condominium, our professionals will provide you with recommendations adapted to your needs.

In addition, we are aware of the deadlines you are facing and are able to respond promptly and efficiently to your requests.

Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on your obligations under Bill 141 or any other real estate project.

This article was written with the collaboration of Daniel Bouchard, chartered appraiser.

19 Aug 2020  |  Written by :

Robert Pouliot is an appraiser and a consultant in real estate at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton....

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Mike Lalumiere
Vice-Président | CPA, CMA | Management consulting

The pandemic has forced many businesses to speed up their digital shift. How can artificial intelligence help?

As resources become more scarce and distancing complicates their day-to-day, many SMEs have had to review their business plans and speed up their digital transformation while continuing to serve their clients. As long as they have the right approach, they can improve their efficiency by automating their business processes.

Business process automation; yes, but…

Before the pandemic, many players in the financial sector had already lined up their digital transformation projects by adopting a traditional business process automation (BPA) approach for their business lines. They even applied that to more complex projects.

Those projects always required a long, detailed roadmap and the process came with a great deal of challenges. Performance evaluation was often based on hypotheses and data could vary significantly in the short and long terms, thereby invalidating the target solution.

In the last two years, artificial intelligence solutions have gradually made their way into the BPA process. For example, the banks tried to predict consumer behaviours, plan their next steps, speed up document processing or increase their membership.

Many businesses tried to jump into exceedingly complex and costly transformation processes without seeing tangible results. And promoters and operational teams were getting frustrated. They believed that advanced analytical and AI solutions didn’t fit in with the teams’ day-to-day operations. That’s what stopped small businesses from investing in their digital transformation.

However, the current situation has forced businesses to demand more and to take control of their short-term performance. All of our clients are saying it; when it comes to modernizing their infrastructure, streamlining their business processes and data leveraging, they no longer have a choice. Business process automation is the way to go.

Digital Transformation- Technologies - Businesses Optimisation - RCGT

Breaking down business process automation for SMEs

The approach has evolved and businesses now want to put in place automation projects in a reasonable, iterative manner. They want to see every dollar invested generate tangible results in their teams’ day-to-day.

Here are the key success factors:

  • An iterative, transferable process-by-process approach;
  • A simple roadmap that describes the existing process and what will be automated and why;
  • A quick visualization of the end result by the promoter through a feasibility demo that includes business data presentation;
  • An AI-enhanced automation solution that’s developed and tested according to the regulations in place and rolled out within a few months.

For example, an insurance company can choose whether they want to start by automating policy processing, follow-ups and updates rather than automating their claims process end-to-end.

In an effort to improving efficiency and reducing human errors, certain clients—including law firms and HR departments in large businesses—are choosing to automate the repetitive portion of their paper documentation verification, research or processing process.

They use optical character recognition (OCR) techniques to improve robotic solutions in order to streamline and accelerate the processes and ensure reliability. This allows the teams to spend more time on value-added tasks.

Digital transformation projects in SMEs are successful when there’s a balance between process-focused automation and data-reliant artificial intelligence. They yield tangible results and can facilitate the operational integration of automated processes.

In short, access to data and how it is interpreted and structured, and automating repetitive human tasks help optimize previously specified business processes. Automation will be logically coded according to applicable business rules. This data leveraging will then make it easier to apply the learning model.

An AI model requiring specific training will then help develop this automation process which will allow for less complex analyses, including document reading and the extraction of relevant information from semi-structured data. The model will accurately decode the information to be extracted using various document types and formats.

Uniting and training the teams to work with the new models

The new models are extremely effective but only if the operational team accepts and welcomes the new players into their day-to-day. They will not be successful without proper training and learning and increased efforts to ensure the solution is fully operational and used and maintained daily.

Everything must be known and included: team learning, knowledge of what the robot can and cannot do, execution programs, error management, new actions from team members, etc. A routine must be established both with the marketing teams and the IT and support teams.

A project of that scale can only work if we look at the big picture. Automation is applied where needed and where its value can be targeted and rapidly delivered. At the same time, it helps integrate more complex technologies such as artificial intelligence—machine learning, natural language processing, interactive capabilities—and makes those involved in the process more efficient. Choosing the type of process to implement is not necessarily complicated; what businesses need to focus on is how to integrate the enhanced automated process and secure buy-in from their team.

Even if businesses had to review their business strategies to survive the pandemic, they had to refocus on what’s important and on getting measurable results. Navigating the digital shift by integrating artificial intelligence into their business processes is an effective, viable solution not only for large businesses, but for SMEs in particular.

19 Aug 2020  |  Written by :

Mike Lalumière is a management consulting expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact him...

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