Champions Career Centre: Elizabeth’s Story: When Your Attitude Becomes a Barrier to Success Champions Career Centre: FAQs for Employers Champions Career Centre: Service Dogs Part 1: Mobility Help Champions Career Centre: Hearing Dogs Champions Career Centre: Disability Focus: Assistance Dogs Champions Career Centre: Am I Over Qualified For The Position? Champions Career Centre: Canadian Labour Market Snapshot Champions Career Centre: Beating Bias in the Interview Champions Career Centre: Creating a Supportive Culture in the Workplace Champions Career Centre: Champions Open House: October 2nd Champions Career Centre: Workplace Fairness Luncheon on August 21st Champions Career Centre: OCPD in the Workplace Champions Career Centre: Disability Focus: OCD and OCPD Champions Career Centre: Mental Health at Work: Let's Talk About It Champions Career Centre: This Week in Employment: August 3, 2012 Champions Career Centre: This Week in Disability: August 3, 2012 Champions Career Centre: Disability Focus: Inclusion Body Myositis Champions Career Centre: Life-long Learning Champions Career Centre: Meghan’s Story: An old technique for a new job Champions Career Centre: Are You Managing Your Career?

Service Dogs Part 2: Psychiatric and Medical Response Dogs

Friday, August 31, 2012

This is the second part of our discussion surrounding Service Dogs, as previously we discussed dogs which help people with mobility issues. Today we are going to talk about Service Dogs which help people with with psychological or mental health issues, and also discuss medical response dogs.

Service Dogs can be trained in a variety of tasks to help their owners and thus they can help people with all kinds of conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety and panic disorders, depression, diabetes, epilepsy and more! According to Joan Froling, Service Dog trainer, there are four main tasks that dogs can do to help assist people with psychiatiatric disabilities or medical conditions. 

1. Bring Medication and Assist in Emergency Situations
  • Dogs can be trained to retrieve medication from a specific location, whether it be a special bag, cupboard or even in a hotel room or dresser
  • Bring a beverage from the fridge to swallow the medication
  • Bring the phone if it is an emergency, or call 911 with a K-9 rescue phone
  • Summon help from a family member or co-worker
2. Treatment Related Assistance
  • Dogs can be trained to remember what time their owner needs to take their medication, they can remind with a nudge or ask to be fed themselves
  • Carry a card for when their owner has a speech impairment that may be related to their condition or medication - the dog can give the card to other people so they know what is happening
  • Alert a sedated person of a doorbell, smoke alarm, or someone else in distress

3. Help Cope With Emotional Overload
  • Provide stimulation: being with their owner after a night terror or hallucination can serve as an affirmation of reality, vigorously licking their owners face can help bring the person back to full awareness of their surroundings 
  • For children with autism, a dog can be trained to constantly nudge their owner to help bring them out of inappropriate repetitive behaviour
  • The dog can turn on lights, TV or initiate a game to break the grip of obsessive thoughts or memories
  • Help find an exit for their owner to get out of a stressful situation or panic attack
  • By applying pressure on their owners - usually through sitting on their chest - they can impose a calming effect on their owners who may be having an anxiety or panic attack

4. Enhance the Personal Security of their Owner
  • Asking their dog "who's there?" allows for them to have their fears alleviated if they are feeling anxious about an intruder being present
  • Bringing an emergency phone to call a friend of 911 when their owners are feeling fearful
  • Keep suspicious strangers away
  • Using teamwork in public to alert the owner of others approaching or to watch owner's back when using an ATM or check out stand

Once again we would like to note that if you see a service dog in public, please don't approach the dog without the owner's permission. Service Dogs which help with mental health conditions or chronic illnesses are working and provide their owners with a measure of security and distracting them could have serious consequences. 

Also remember that these dogs are helping people with invisible disabilities and to act respectfully. Simply because a person isn't blind, or have a mobility issue related to a physical disability, doesn't mean they rely on their Service Dog any less. 

Elizabeth’s Story: When Your Attitude Becomes a Barrier to Success

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It can happen to any of us, a disease strikes and our life is turned upside down. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, or another ailment, dealing with and recovering from a serious illness can be a long process and can dramatically alter our careers, relationships and even personalities. 

For Elizabeth, suffering a stroke derailed her career and caused her to leave work for several years to recover, as she needed to adjust to her newly acquired disability and the lifestyle changes it required. When it was time to re-enter the workforce Elizabeth struggled on many fronts. Being out of work for so long meant there was a gap in Elizabeth’s resume - which was also out of date.  She also had lost track of many of her former contacts as she focused on her recovery, creating a barrier to professional networking. However, the biggest barrier Elizabeth faced was her own attitude. 

Struggling with a change in her abilities made identifying a realistic job target difficult for Elizabeth. She came to Champions hoping we could help update her resume, improve her networking skills and maybe connect her to an employer. Yet she was not ready to accept how her disability may have impacted her career path. When participating in one of our workshops Elizabeth was asked, “What have you gained as a result of your disability?” to which she struggled and ultimately refused to answer. For Elizabeth, not being able to correctly ascertain her own abilities, mostly because she refused to, had become her biggest barrier to employment. Not only did this mean she couldn't be honest about realistic job targets, but also meant she couldn’t identify how she would perform essential job tasks if she received the job. 

It was the day after she attended this workshop that Elizabeth had an epiphany. Spending the night carefully reflecting on her present situation, and life path, resulted in Elizabeth seeing her disability in a new light. Her different abilities weren’t a barrier to employment, but just a part of her evolution as a person. Pride had been an unaddressed issue for her even before the stroke. Looking ahead she could now see a whole new set of possibilities. As she continues her job search, she knows that it isn’t her resume or networking contacts which will ultimately get her a new position, but her newly discovered positive attitude.

FAQs for Employers

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why hire people with disabilities? 

The fact is one in six Albertans has a disability and this represents a largely untapped talent pool in Calgary. Accessing and recruiting from this talent pool is vital to navigating present and future labour shortages. Disability does not define ability - people with disabilities can be as productive as individuals without a disability. 

An inclusive work culture enhances the moral of all employees, which in turn improves quality, productivity and service in the workplace. 

What's important to keep in mind is that employees with disabilities offer diverse perspectives which can foster innovation and creativity in the workplace. 

The commitment to hiring persons with disabilities identifies an organization as a corporate leader in the workplace and a community leader in society. 

What types of jobs can people with disabilities do? 

People with disabilities have a variety of backgrounds; as well as diverse education and job experience and are capable of full participation in the labour market. Given the opportunity to succeed, people with disabilities can excel in the workplace. 

One of the biggest misconceptions we see is employers matching positions to disabilities. For example, thinking a person in a wheelchair is ideal for a desk job. Yet we know people in wheelchairs who work as travelling salesmen and other positions which require a high degree of mobility.

It is essential to remember that there are no good jobs for people with disabilities, but there are people with disabilities who do good jobs. 

Will hiring a person with disabilities increase my workers compensation insurance rates?

No. Insurance rates are not based on if workers have disabilities, but solely on the relative hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident experience.

Do employees with disabilities have a higher absentee rate? 

Many studies have shown that employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities. Supporting an employee with disability may make them even more loyal and committed to an organization’s success. 

Will hiring a person increase my workers compensation insurance rates? 

No. Insurance rates are not based if workers have disabilities, but solely on the relative hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident experience. 

Are accommodations for people with disabilities expensive? 

Most accommodations are easy to introduce and have very little cost. The Alberta government estimates that 70% of accommodations cost less than $500. Funding supports are available for more expensive accommodations through the Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) program. 

Where do I find qualified candidates? 

People with disabilities are everywhere but it is difficult to know where to look for the best person for your position. Agencies like Champions work specifically with people with disabilities and have many qualified candidates ready and willing to work. 

Writing job descriptions which accurately identify the essential requirements of the position (For example, do you really need a person who can lift 50 plus pounds?), and present your organization as committed to diversity and inclusion, will help increase the amount of candidates who seek you out.

Be genuine in describing your company’s commitment to diversity! Taglines like “equal opportunity employer” have lost their meaning over time and remain ambiguous. Instead, try statements which reflect your organization’s values, like “Our company reflects the diverse and inclusive community in which we live and so do our recruitment and hiring practices”. 

Think outside the box. Start an internship program with students with disabilities, collaborate with community partners to develop new programs to reach previously untapped potential candidates, train your HR team in best practices for building an inclusive workplace. 

How do I interview a candidate with a disability? 

People with disabilities want to be treated the same as everyone else. Everyone wants to be hired for the right reasons: because they have the skills and abilities which make them the right person for the job. You should interview a person with a disability the same way you interview any other candidates. Avoid assumptions about the existence of a disability and its impact on job performance. Instead, ask questions about how each candidate – those with a disability and those without - will perform the essential requirements of the job. The answers will give you valuable insight into how each candidate will perform on the job and help avoid any misconceptions you may have about a candidate’s ability. 

What if a person comes in for the interview with a visible disability, such as a wheelchair or white cane? See next month’s newsletter for a new article on interview etiquette.

Service Dogs Part 1: Mobility Help

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

As we mentioned in our Disability Focus on Monday, there are a variety of Assistance Dogs available to help people with disabilities. Yesterday we talked about Hearing Dogs, who are dogs trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Today we are going to talk about Service Dogs, who are dogs trained to help people with a variety of other disabilities. Specifically, we are going to talk about Service Dogs trained for people who have MS, Parkinson's, Cerebral Palsy or another physical disability which may create mobility difficulties.

How do Service Dogs help people with physical disabilities? Put shortly, they simply assist with tasks their owner has trouble doing. This can include picking up dropped items, getting an item off a counter-top or table, switching on and off lights, opening doors (including pushing automatic door buttons) and being able to brace their owners when they need help with stability. They can also speak (bark) for their owner in situations where they need help from another person but are unable to speak or are too far away. For a great first person story of how a Service Dog can aid a person with a physical disability, please read Tanya's story.

For people with physical disabilities, larger breeds are generally required for the tasks they need to perform. Smaller dogs won't be able to perform tasks like bracing their owner, opening doors or carrying a phone. The dog must be dependable, intelligent and trainable. Labradors, Retrievers and German Shepherds all make excellent Service Dogs because of their demeanour and size. Larger breeds, like Mastiffs, are also becoming popular for people who need a bigger dog for stability and mobility purposes.

Service dogs can be an invaluable companion in the workplace, at school, and around the home. They provide their owners with a measure of independence and reduces their reliance on other people. It is always important to remember not to distract or touch a Service Dog when you see them in public. They are quite literally working and distracting them could break their concentration and leave their owner vulnerable. If you would like to talk to or pat a Service Dog, be sure to ask the owner for permission first.

Hearing Dogs

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hearing Dogs

Did you know that Assistance Dogs aren't only for people with visual impairments? As we discussed yesterday, there are dogs which can help people who have mobility issues, diabetes, MS, Epilepsy and for people with mental disorders. Today, we are going to talk about Hearing Dogs - the dogs trained for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

So how do Hearing Dogs help a person with a hearing impairment? It's fairly simple, Hearing Dogs are able to alert a deaf person to sounds which are specific to their needs. This includes noises such as doorbells, telephones, alarm clocks, baby monitors, or smoke alarms and fire sirens in an emergency. They can also be used to notify a deaf person that another person in the home is calling them. As their owners cannot hear them bark, Hearing Dogs are trained to make physical contact to alert their owners of a specific sound. They will make contact with their owner and also lead them to the source of the noise. Many dogs are also able to respond to hand signals if their owners are unable to communicate clearly.

Hearing Dogs are generally small to medium in size and can be almost any breed as long as the dog is adaptable and confident. You will be able to identify a Hearing Dog in public as they generally wear an orange collar and vest which identifies them as as a service dog. This is in contrast to Guide Dogs for the blind, which usually wear red collars and vests.

It is always important to remember not to distract or touch a Hearing Dog, or any service dog, when you see them in public. They are quite literally working and distracting them could break their concentration and leave their owner vulnerable. If you would like to talk to or pat a Hearing Dog, be sure to ask the owner for permission first.

To people who are deaf and hard of hearing, Hearing Dogs provide a measure of independence, security and freedom to their owners. Not to mention companionship! To learn more about these wonderful animals please visit

Disability Focus: Assistance Dogs

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chihuahua Service Dog

This week our Disability Focus is on Assistance Dogs and how they aid people with disabilities. We have decided to devote our blog posts this week to providing more information about Assistance Dogs, the different types, and rules and etiquette about interacting with them. Today we will begin with a brief introduction about the dogs and the history and background behind their development.

Most people are aware of the existence of Guide Dogs and their usefulness for people with visual disabilities. With the help of a Guide Dog, sometimes referred to as a "seeing eye" dog, people with visual disabilities have greater mobility and independence.

For some years now, two other types of dog have been being trained to assist individuals with disabilities other than visual impairments. Hearing Dogs can assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing and Service Dogs, as the name suggests, provide assistance to individuals with physical disabilities such as MS, Parkinson’s Disease or Epilepsy. Recently, Service Dogs have also been trained to help people with psychological disabilities or mental health disorders like Panic Disorder, PTSD or Depression.

Dogs have long been used to assist people with disabilities and references to Guide Dogs date at least as far back as the mid-16th century. The first Guide Dog training schools were established in Germany during World War I, to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat. The United States followed with The Seeing Eye organization launching in 1929 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Initially German Shepherds were a popular breed not only because of the first training schools established in Germany but also because the breed has a strong sense of loyalty to its owner, giving it a natural tendency to be protective. Other traditional breeds used in assisting the visually-impaired are Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers as their intelligence, size and temperament make them ideal Guide Dogs.

Nowadays the use of unusual breeds for service dogs has exploded. Mastiffs are used for mobility work. Chihuahuas are used for diabetic or seizure alert dogs. Almost any breed could do certain jobs if the dog has the temperment, skills, and willingness to work. A corgi wouldn't do as well for mobility work but could work as a hearing dog. Breeds like pugs and bulldogs don't always make the best of service dogs due to their pushed in noses -- this leads to difficult breathing while walking and a shorter working life. However, smaller breeds are being used more often by people with disabilities who are on a fixed income as they eat less and can live happily in a smaller home.

Do you have any questions about Assistance Dogs you would like answered this week? Hit us in the comments with your requests and stay tuned this week for more information!

Am I Over Qualified For The Position?

Monday, August 27, 2012

When you are looking for a new job or career there can be times when you become discouraged because you aren't getting responses to positions you feel qualified for. Unfortunately, many times we see people applying for jobs they think they are over qualified for when they are actually under qualified. This is due to some basic misconceptions about job postings and what is required of the position. Just the other day we came across this amazing advice from LinkedIn Member Debbie Mastel on what employers expect when considering qualifications during the hiring process: 

"Oh I do love the question about over qualification. I won't speak specifically about your application as this is an open forum, but I will share what I have noticed with some applicants. It has been my experience that when an individual asks me to check and see if they'll be considered for a position that they feel they are "overqualified" for, in actuality, they are "underqualified" for the role. 

You may have seen other comments from me that if you don't have the first & or second bullet under "Qualifications" then you aren't qualified for the role and you should move on to the next posting. For example, I've seen lots of people who are looking to get their foot in the door so although they may be an Engineer, they apply for an administrative role, feeling that they're "overqualified". Yet the first bullet on the posting will read that you must have "7-10 years of experience in an administrative role", and they don't have this, then really, they aren't over qualified, they're underqualified! In certain instances, companies may also be looking at someone with __ years of experience. This number isn't just one they make up, but it's one that has to take in to consideration the group that the person will be joining. For instance, if the hiring manager is thinking about succession planning and realizes members of her group are thinking about retirement, she would want to bring in some younger members so would be requesting only a few years of experience. Another team may be really young and so they need to bringing on some experience so will be looking for the 10+ year guy. So again, it depends on the dynamics of the group. It would be difficult for a manager to bring someone on that doesn't fit in to their long term plans for the group."

Canadian Labour Market Snapshot

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The latest employment numbers from Stats Canada are in and the labour market in Canada seems to be holding steady over the summer months. Here are the highlights:

National unemployment rate: 7.2% in July, down 0.1 percent from June.

512,600 people receiving EI benefits in May, which is for the most part unchanged since April.

$894.61 is the average weekly earnings of non-farm employees in May. This is a 2.5% increase from May of 2011. For those who are interested, the national inflation rate over this same period was 1.3%.

Beating Bias in the Interview

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yesterday, a news story emerged which highlights a young American war veteran who is struggling in his job search. The veteran, Justin Claus, had his military service career brought to an end by a parachute accident which left him with chronic back and knee pain. Justin has been bringing a document to his interviews which serves as proof of military service - he hoped his status as a veteran would give him an edge - but the document also noted his accident and the reason his military career was over: a permanent disability.

Justin feels as though his disability may be leading to employers passing on him for other candidates. He, like many other veterans, also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although he has not been disclosing this during the interview process. He goes on to state how he won't be bringing his military service record to future interviews in the hopes of not being overlooked because of his disability.

This story highlights a difficult decision faced by anyone with a disability: to disclose or not to disclose. In this situation, Justin appears to feel okay with not disclosing his PTSD. Perhaps he feels he can self accommodate on the job without help from his employer. However, the consequences related to his unintended disclosure of his chronic back and knee pain from his military record may have caused his interview to focus on his disability, rather than ability.

This is a scenario we see often at Champions. For our clients who choose to disclose their disability, having a strategy to disclose their disability prior to the interview, and also knowing what accommodations are required to succeed in the position, may help change the dialogue and defeat misconceptions which may exist. Disclosing a disability to an employer may not be easy to do, but having a clear and comprehensive plan will help an employer see the ability – and not the disability.

Creating a Supportive Culture in the Workplace

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recent events have pushed the issue of mental health in the workplace to the forefront of discussion in Canada. This past May, the Mental Health Commission of Canada released Canada’s first mental health strategy, Changing Directions, Changing Lives, with an aim to correct years of underfunding and lack of attention to mental health services. The strategy aims to improve mental health prevention and promotion, access to services, uphold the rights of people with mental illness and improve collaboration between government and stakeholders. Prioritizing mental health through a national strategy is becoming increasingly important as the status quo is currently estimated to cost the Canadian economy upwards of $50 billion a year. 

However, for the millions of Canadians who are affected by a mental health issue this isn’t news. We know how workplaces have been heavily impacted by mental health concerns for a long time now. Indeed, a recent Canadian study reported how 44% of employees surveyed stated they were either currently experiencing a mental health issue or have experienced one in the past. Mental health is currently the number one cause of disability in the workplace in Canada, currently accounting for 30% of disability claims and 70% of the associated costs. 

So why is talking about mental health still very much taboo at work? Burnout, anxiety and depression are common ailments in the workplace, but they are often still overlooked. Perhaps this is due to negative attitudes and stigma towards mental illness remaining prevalent at work, which in turn prevents open and honest discussions about the topic. This leads to the uncomfortable scenario where managers feel they are being supportive, while employees feel differently, and a quiet tension persists as no one talks openly about mental health issues or concerns. 

The burden of creating a supportive workplace usually falls upon management. While management surely has a leadership role to play in creating a healthy culture in the workplace, every employee has a responsibility to contribute as well, especially if management isn’t as involved or committed as they could be. A supportive culture in the workplace that is driven by employees, rather than management, may also have the benefit of not feeling manufactured or forced upon employees. 

As such, there are many ways an employee can help build a more supportive culture in the workplace. Here are some ways each of us can help contribute to building a positive work culture where every employee feels supported:

  • Change the water cooler discussion. Last week, I came down with a bug and missed a day of work. When I returned, nearly every co-worker asked me how I was feeling.  It's important to show a co-worker who missed time due to mental health the same courtesy. Neglecting to ask, or ignoring the fact anything happened, only perpetuates tension, assumptions and stigma towards mental health in the workplace.
  • Take a mental health day. One day off might not be the answer to serious underlying problems which lead to burnout at work, but it can help. Decide if you need rest, fun or maybe just a day to address your priorities and check up on how your day-to-day life is unfolding. Make sure to book it in advance! This will open up opportunities to talk about mental health at work while also allowing you to prepare for the day off, meaning you can prioritize your workload in advance and not feel stressed about falling behind.
  • Be aware of how everyone else is doing at work. We often internalize our own mental health while ignoring the fact that others may be feeling the same way. Evaluate your workplace – is everyone in the office receiving consistent support? If not, how can you help create it? How can you contribute to your co-workers in a way which emphasizes a healthy work culture? 
Making the effort to personally exhibit the behavior required to create a supportive culture at work is an important part of changing attitudes towards mental health. It encourages each of us to be part of the solution!

Champions Open House: October 2nd

Monday, August 13, 2012

Struggling at work or with your job search?

We are hosting an Open House on October 2nd to allow you to meet our staff, view our business centre and computer lab, and learn about how Champions can help you find the right job or succeed in your current role.

Our doors are open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm, please feel free to come in at any time during our Open House.

We will be hosting two general information sessions and an interactive workshop for those people looking for a more in-depth look at the services Champions provides. The general information sessions are an hour long and will show how we emphasize your skills, ability, potential and self-worth while developing an employment plan which is right for you.

Our complementary workshop, "Help employers see your disability as an advantage", is an hour long interactive session which will help identify your strengths and show you how to communicate them to employers.

All of the services we provide at Champions are at no cost to you.

Food and beverages will be served all day.

All guests attending our Open House will be entered in a draw to win a new Google Nexus 7 tablet. People who attend an information session or workshop will also be entered into a draw for a prize pack.

Date: October 2nd, 2012
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Address: Suite 650, 839 5th Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta

Information Session 1: 12:00 pm - FULL, please register for 4:00 pm session
Information Session 2: 4:00 pm
Workshop: 2:00 pm

Space is limited for the information sessions and workshop, reserve your spot by calling 403.265.5374 or register online at

Workplace Fairness Luncheon on August 21st

Monday, August 13, 2012

Are you an employer seeking to tap into the talent pool of qualified persons with disabilities? In this time of labour shortage in Alberta, you can become an employer of choice by tapping into the enormous talent pool of people with disabilities. Do you know what you can ask in an interview? Do you have a strategic plan? Maybe you have a successful recruitment strategy now, and would like to share your story. 

Join us August 21 at Ric’s Grill as our Employment Retention Specialiast, Nicole Bourgeois, leads a conversation about recruiting for abilities within disabilities. This is a great time to learn about how Champions Career Centre, a team of inclusion specialists devoted to achieving employment success, can help diversify your workforce and to access and retain skilled candidates for your ongoing needs.

Join the discussion. Be sure to come early for networking! The talk and lunch start promptly at noon.

Tuesday August 21
Ric’s Grill, 1436 8th Street SW
11:30 – 1:00 (12:00 start)

Free street parking on 7th Street and on 15th Avenue

RSVP online at

OCPD in the Workplace

Monday, August 13, 2012

In yesterday's Disability Focus, we talked about Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), the symptoms associated with OCPD, and also compared the differences between it and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Today we would are going to discuss how OCPD manifests itself in the workplace and open up a discussion on how to manage it on the job. 

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder, on the surface at least, often leads to success in work environments. People with OCPD require routine and need to know where they stand in the social hierarchy, and nowhere is that hierarchy more obvious than in the workplace. People with OCPD are also generally reliable, honest, have a great attention to detail and excellent self-discipline. 

People with obsessive compulsive personality disorder are often deferential and polite to those in authority, whether that person is a police officer or their work supervisor. This characteristic, coupled with their compliance with rules and tendency to devote themselves to their careers often earns OCPD workers the praise of their supervisors. However, to those seen as beneath them on the social or work hierarchy, people with OCPD can give harsh criticism and seem to exhibit self-righteousness. 

When OCPD creates problems in the workplace, it is often due to a few causes. First off, perfectionism and a need to repetitively check minor details for errors can prevent OCPD employees from finishing projects by their deadlines. Secondly, an insistence on observing even the most insignificant regulations, the need to micromanage projects, and obvious criticism and contempt for subordinates, can lead to conflict with fellow employees. Finally, as mentioned earlier, people with OCPD require a measure of stability and routine to feel comfortable and they may react negatively to change in the workplace. For example, a new boss with new expectations or new ways of doing things may create a large amount of stress for someone with OCPD. 

Do you have or know some with OCPD? How do you manage the symptoms in the workplace?

Disability Focus: OCD and OCPD

Monday, August 13, 2012


Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or OCPD, is one of the more prevalent personality disorders and affects 7.9 percent of the general population. In some circles OCPD is referred to as Anankastic Personality Disorder. 

Rigid adherence to rules and regulations and an overwhelming need for order and personal control are the primary characteristics of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. People living with OCPD can be inflexible, they are perfectionists and often unwilling to yield responsibilities to others. 


OCPD symptoms tend to present at an early age and are defined by inflexibility, close adherence to rules, anxiety when rules are transgressed, and unrealistic perfectionism. A person with obsessive compulsive personality disorder exhibits several of the following symptoms: 

· abnormal preoccupation with lists, rules, and minor details 

· excessive devotion to work, to the detriment of social and family activities 

· miserliness or a lack of generosity 

· perfectionism that interferes with task completion, as performance is never good enough 

· refusal to throw anything away (pack-rat mentality) 

· rigid and inflexible attitude towards morals or ethical code 

· unwilling to let others perform tasks, fearing the loss of responsibility upset and off-balance when rules or established routines are disrupted


OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by either Obsessions (intrusive, repetitive thoughts that won't leave the mind and that cause great anxiety) or Compulsions (repetitive behaviors that are designed to reduce anxiety brought on by obsessions). 

OCPD, on the other hand, is a personality style characterized by a preoccupation with "orderliness, perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control at the expense of flexibility, openness and efficiency.

Anxiety Disorder
Personality Disorder
Axis I – late onset
Axis II – early onset
Diagnosed in twice as many men as women
Males and females equally affected
Person is often aware that their obsessions are abnormal, but are compelled to perform the rituals anyway

Upset when their repetitive routines are interrupted
Person believes their need for strict order and rules is perfectly normal
Obsessions and Compulsions
In some cases, people with both OCD and OCPD have a preoccupation with order, lists, and cleanliness is present
Rules and Procedures
Seek help for the psychological stress caused by having to carry out compulsions or the disturbing content or themes of their obsessions

Seek treatment because of the conflict caused related to their need to have others conform to their way of doing things
Causes problems in the work environment due to the persistent obsessions and need to relieve anxiety from these obsessions through compulsions
Cause problems for social interactions.
Although there is social impairment present, people with OCPD are able to perform well in the work environment.
The most effective treatment is often cognitive-behavioral therapy

SSRIs may be used for alleviating rigidity and compulsiveness
Treatment is usually centered on a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy

Use these tasks to reduce anxiety caused by obsessional thoughts

Both OCD and OCPD may involve being excessively engaged in tasks that require exquisite attention to detail such as list-making
Justify list-making as a good strategy to improve efficiency
Are usually distressed by having to carry out these tasks or rituals

Both OCD and OCPD may involve being excessively engaged in tasks that require exquisite attention to detail such as list-making
View activities such as excessive list making or organization of items as necessary and even beneficial

Spend a much greater amount of time engaged in these tasks or rituals

Both OCD and OCPD may involve being excessively engaged in tasks that require exquisite attention to detail such as list-making
Spend less amount of time engaged in these tasks or rituals

Mental Health at Work: Let's Talk About It

Thursday, August 09, 2012

We were recently asked to write a guest article for another blog regarding attitudes toward mental health in the workplace. We came across this gem of a cartoon along the way...

This Week in Employment: August 3, 2012

Friday, August 03, 2012

Every week we link to and provide many different articles regarding career advice, job search strategies and general employment discussion in this blog and on our social media accounts. We understand that not everyone can keep up with this endless stream of information and so we round up all the best content we posted during the week. Enjoy! 

On the Champions Blog:

Are You Managing Your Career? 3 tips for getting back to your career goals:

Meghan's Story: An old technique for a new job - the art of cold calling:

Life-long Learning: Get a degree in big ideas:

Around the web:

Secrets for job hunting through social media:

Don't be a victim, take control of your job search with these four ways to stand out:

What not to say when interviewing:

10 questions to ask an employer during an interview:

How to train for your job hunt like an Olympian:

This Week in Disability: August 3, 2012

Friday, August 03, 2012

Every Friday we like to round up the best links and discussion we've had during the week surrounding topics of disability. Hopefully this allows people who are too busy or not on social networks to connect with us and follow some of the major trends and issues in the area of disabilities. 

On the Champions Blog:

Parkinson's Disease and Cognitive Impairment - We look at one of the lesser known symptoms associated with PD:

Inclusion Body Myositis - Strategies for accommodating this degenerative muscular disorder in the workplace:

Around the web:

A commentary in the National Post calling for every person in Canada, including those with disabilities, to have the opportunity to work:

The federal government announced a new panel to investigate ways to get more people with disabilities meaningful employment:

How to accommodate an employee with Aspberger Syndrome:

Don't wait to get evaluated if you think you have ADHD, learn how to accommodate and manage your symptoms:

What's next for Canada after signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Humans with Disabilities:

From severely dyslexic to top of his grad class: Strategies for coping with dyslexia:

Disability Focus: Inclusion Body Myositis

Friday, August 03, 2012

What is Inclusion Body Myositis? 

Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) is a condition where a person experiences inflammation in their muscular tissue which leads to weakness in the affected muscles. This weakness often leads to tripping or falling and an inability to grip objects or lift substantial weights. The disorder is degenerative and is typically seen in men over 50, but not exclusively. Though rare, the disease is becoming increasing prevalent and there is still very little understanding of what causes it. There is also no known effective treatment for IBM. 

Inclusion Body Myositis in the Workplace

In it's early stages, IBM is largely an invisible disability. A person living with IBM may look very fit and healthy even though there are days when they would not be able to lift a five pound bag. Disclosure of the disability is very important to ensure accommodations and strategies are in place to help a person with IBM succeed in the workplace. 

Indeed, working may be possible for someone in the early stages of IBM. The symptoms associated with IBM are not always stable and thus some days are better than others. However, work scenarios which involve heavy lifting and lots of exertion should be avoided. Periodic rests and ergonomic workstations in the workplace can alleviate some of the fatigue associated with IBM. Self-paced workloads with flexible hours can also be a way to mitigate some of the exertion associated with the symptoms. 

Accommodations will vary on a case by case basis. There are many solutions available and a workplace with open and honest communication can almost always find an acceptable solution. People experience the symptoms of IBM in a variety of ways and thus their needs will differ, consider the following scenarios:

A person with IBM is experiencing hand weakness which makes using a traditional keyboard difficult. There are miniature keyboards available with light touch features which can be used. Or speech recognition technology.

A person with IBM experiencing cognitive problems may need written job instructions and reminders alongside other memory aids like schedulers. 

A person with IBM may require an accessible washroom and/or office if they rely on a motorized chair. 

These are just a few possible strategies available for a person with IBM. In many cases accommodations will come at little to no cost and just require effective planning between employer and employee. For those times when costlier accommodations are needed, there may be funding supports available to help make the workplace more accessible. 

For more information about IBM please visit or

Life-long Learning

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Yesterday, we posted a blog titled "Are You Managing Your Career" in which we talked about the importance of life-long learning as part of achieving your career goals. Continual learning is an essential part of personal growth and expanding your interests. Too often we put aside learning, or professional development, and leave it to the occasional business conference or mandatory courses associated with our professions. 

The truth is that life-long learning should be fun! It should not only align with your career needs but also fulfill your personal passions. This is why we got excited when we saw a blog post from TED yesterday which highlighted 12 great free online courses available through different institutions like MIT, Harvard and Coursera. They are calling it the TED Degree in Big Ideas, and what ideas they are! Free courses in Artificial Intelligence, Shakespeare, Bio-Medical Ethics and more. This is a great place to start for anyone interested in utilizing the fast growing world of free online education. 

As for me, I'm going to start with the "Galaxies and Cosmology" course. What are you going to learn? 

Meghan’s Story: An old technique for a new job

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

At Champions, we continually talk about finding the right job for the right person. We believe it is important for a person to not just find a job, but truly meaningful employment. Sometimes our clients come to us with very specific careers and job targets in mind, other times they are more open to career planning and finding a position which suits their unique abilities. Above all, we follow a similar mantra as espoused by Dr. Richard Pimental, who once stated “there are no good jobs for people with disabilities, but there are people with disabilities who do good jobs.” This point is to not pigeon-hole people into pre-determined roles but rather let their skills, strengths and interests determine their career path. 

Meghan came to Champions with a very clear job target in mind - she wanted to be a florist. She thought her passion for flowers and gift arrangements would mean that a floral shop would be a perfect environment for her to work in. After a layoff from work to deal with a mental health issue, Meghan decided she needed help from Champions to develop her resume, work on her interview skills and support her in her job search. However, having a very particular career in mind meant there were limited opportunities available for her when she began her job search as there were no advertised or readily available positions in the Calgary floral industry. 

To overcome this perceived barrier to the job market, our Employment and Retention Specialists coached Meghan on the technique of cold calling. Cold calling is a job search technique where you contact a person you don’t know in the industry in which you want to work. People who work in sales are often very familiar with this technique, as it is a method they reach out for potential clients or purchasers. In job search, the technique is a form of networking which allows job seekers to connect with decision-makers in their industry, convey their interest in an organization and explore possibilities for working together now or in the future. Depending on the industry, or who you want to get in touch with, cold calling can be as simple as a quick phone call, email, LinkedIn message, or even tweet. 

Coming to Champions every day and using our resource area to do internet searches for open positions and to make calls, Meghan connected with a local floral shop who were thrilled with her tenacity and interest. Recognizing they would be in need of a new employee very shortly, the floral shop hired Meghan and she is thrilled to be working full time in the industry she loves.

*Image made available by AdamBindSlev under Flickr's Creative Commons license.

Are You Managing Your Career?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

My career plans were much more exciting when I was five.
At some point in your life you were probably informed of the necessity of career planning. It may have been during or after high school and post-secondary education, or at some point in time when you were looking for a new job, but chances are you were told of the value of managing your career choices. To refresh your memory, career management is simply the life-long process of investing resources to achieve your career goals. 

However, like many goals which require long term planning, we have a tendency to forget or set aside the time needed to manage our career. Then one day we wake up and wonder how and why we got to where we are. 

Successfully managing your career is similar to any other investment, it requires discipline and consistency to yield good returns. Managing your career not only allows you to reach goals you’ve set for yourself, but also allows you to keep up to date in your profession, be prepared for adjustments in your responsibilities in your current role and be ready for changes in your job security. 

Getting back into managing your career is easy and can be done in 3 simple steps:

1. Evaluate where you are. Is this where you intended to be in your life at this point? Have you developed the skills, knowledge and values you thought you would? What skills do you currently want to develop?

2. Continue developing your network. Are you cultivating your personal and professional relationships? These relationships often go beyond specific industries and communities and ultimately are the best source for future opportunities in life.

3. Commit to learn throughout your life. Are there opportunities to grow in line with your career vision? Do you want a promotion? To volunteer more? Gain a new certification?

Remember that career management is a continual process and to achieve the results you desire is a result of constant reflection alongside short and long term planning.