Making the most of our food and protecting our natural resources: food waste, packaging, and COVID-19.
There’s no question that the last few months have changed much about our daily lives - including what we eat and where. With offices, schools, and restaurants closed, many Canadians are eating more at home, and many of us stocked up on essentials when the pandemic’s impact became clear.
A pair of recent studies by researchers at Dalhousie University looked into how these changes have impacted food packaging and waste considerations.
Dalhousie’s study on food packaging before and after COVID‑19, released August 27, found that a large majority of Canadians (87%) remain concerned about the environmental impact of plastic food packaging. However, compared to a survey conducted last year, COVID has increased Canadians’ concerns about food affordability and safety, and some Canadians report they are buying more plastic packaged goods now.
A second study released September 1 found that Canadians feel they are wasting slightly more food at home compared to before the pandemic. People typically underestimate their food waste, so the estimated increase of about 13% could be worrying, but the study’s lead author notes that it isn’t clear that overall food waste has increased (for example, since there is now no food waste from closed restaurants).
There’s some other good news in the study on food waste. For example, most people seem to understand there’s no evidence indicating COVID can be transmitted on food - just 10% of respondents threw food away because they were worried about COVID contamination. Survey respondents also indicated they are paying attention to ways to reduce unnecessary food waste - like eating leftovers, using up fridge and pantry supplies, and meal planning.
FCPC has been a leader in the food industry for moving toward a future of zero plastic waste. We became Canada’s first national trade association to endorse the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's vision for a New Plastics Economy. Many FCPC members have committed to ensure all their packaging is recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025.
It’s important to note that “zero plastic waste” is not the same as “zero plastic.” Banning plastic may be trendy, but it fails to acknowledge the fact that plastic packaging can be a valuable tool for reducing food waste and keeping food clean and safe. That’s why we are committed to keeping plastic in the economy but out of the environment and landfills, where it does not belong.
Globally, food waste accounts for eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as road transportation. Using the right packaging can have a significant impact on reducing the climate footprint associated with food waste. For example, a thin layer of plastic wrap can more than quadruple a cucumber’s shelf life.
Every day and in times of crisis, it’s critical that Canadians have access to the right packages to keep food safe, prevent food waste, and protect our environment - all at the same time.
By: Michael Graydon
CEO at Food & Consumer Products of Canada
Since the beginning of 2020, the world of work has measurably changed. Wide sweeping layoffs makes for lots of talented professionals without secure employment. Many more have observed the way their current employer navigated recent world events and determined it’s time to begin looking for a new role.
If you’re in the market for a new job, you’re in good company. So what can you do to stand out from the crowd?
Here are the skills that set candidate apart, in the post-pandemic job market:
Agility The rapid pace of change that we witnessed, beginning in March and lasting for the better part of a quarter, re-prioritized employers’ necessities. Flexibility is no longer a bonus of employees, at any organizational level this skill is a requirement.
Those able to demonstrate their ability to skillfully navigate change will give employers pause. If you want to stand out in 2020, illustrate your track record of being able to pivot at a moment’s notice; give examples of when you anticipated or encountered obstacles and successfully moved projects in a new direction.
Digital Skills An inescapable reality of the new way we work is our reliance on technology. Digital skills have had an ever-increasing importance for employers. The dramatic shift to remote work has accented the requirement of applicants to be digitally literate.
Interviews have become almost entirely conducted through phone and video conferencing, making this skill an early and essential part of the hiring evaluation. Candidates are expected to be proficient in various media - Computer, iPad, phone - and video conferencing software - Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom - to be leaders in the running.
Effective Communication The quick transition to more regulated communication, more video chats and emails, than in person chats, highlights the value of an applicant’s ability to communicate effectively. For employers, this isn’t measured by the frequency, but rather by the impact of each connection.
Proficiency in this soft skill is noticeably demonstrated throughout the interview process. Be quick to respond and thoughtful in reply. Don’t give in to the temptation to hide behind the computer screen; make an effort to pick up the phone, rather than relying on email.
Empathy The value of empathy can not be overstated. No one wants to spend time with an insensitive coworker even on the best day. Because the pandemic has caused challenges in everyone’s lives, we need to amplify our ability to provide empathy to all involved—both internal and external.
Acknowledge the humanity of each person throughout the interview process, from your recruiter to your candidates, and especially yourself. It’s easy to hold yourself and others to preconceived expectations, but when the world has changed, so should your notions of it. Approach your job hunt with curiosity and transparency. Build rapport effortlessly with a sincere motive to understand the person you’re interacting with.
Creative Problem SolvingMost employees focus on their role and stay in their lane. But now the lanes are much wider. Successful employees will pick their heads up and survey the new landscape.
A creative problem solver helps everyone get to the solution faster and less painfully. Those who can look ahead and assess future impact and opportunities are invaluable. Demonstrate your track record of looking at things in a different light to create solutions.
How To Land a Job in 2020
With the wide-sweeping changes in the economy and industry, employers are also changing the way they approach hiring. They are being less rigid about what they are looking for, increasingly considering candidates outside of their normal profile.
But while employers are broadening their definitions of a qualified candidate, the competition is dramatically increasing as well. Positions that would fetch 100-200 applications last year are drawing 500-800 applicants in 2020.
How do you break through the mountains of qualified applicants to land a job? What’s traditionally worked—high engagement and a range of experience—isn’t enough for employers in 2020. The determining factors of who gets an offer letter is in the subtle uniquenesses of a candidate.
When hiring managers have to sift through hundreds of applications, it takes something special to stand out. Working with a professional recruiter means when an employer receives your resume, it comes with a personal recommendation from an industry expert: Your MacDonald Search Group consultant.
If you’re looking to advance your career with a great company, the MacDonald Search Group consultants are here to help you. Check out our recent job listings and submit your resume today.
Author: MacDonald Search Group
MacDonald Search Group’s commitment to making an impact for clients and candidates is evidenced in part by the degree our team stays informed of industry trends. Each of our consultants is a leader in their field, providing insights and offering strong consultative value to clients.
Senior Consultant, Trevor Baker, recently completed the University of British Columbia Certificate in Organizational Coaching, deepening his skills in this area. Over the years, Trevor has coached hundreds of corporate leaders and applicants. Through applying a coaching mindset in working with organizations, he gets to the core of a client’s needs. Weaving together input from all stakeholders, Trevor sees the bigger picture of his clients’ hiring needs and makes sure that the clients are successful in getting what they are after.
Trevor’s work as a coach also leads to requests from organizational leaders to help navigate through their changing management dynamics. Following COVID-19, Trevor notes, three challenges have become increasingly common:
In this article, we are sharing some of Trevor’s insights on how to embrace these challenges:
How to bring people together, build trust, and foster cohesion in a virtual work environmentThis year, everyone had to quickly adapt to a changing work environment.
Some found the change in workplace refreshing, even becoming more productive by investing their former commute time on work products. But for many, the allure of working from home quickly wore off.
It’s difficult to build trust and foster cohesion in a remote work environment. When working together in an office, the daily habits of chatting in the hallway and grabbing lunch with coworkers are small experiences that create positive outcomes. But when working from home, there’s not the same organic opportunities for micro-team building.
More apparently, there’s not always an opportunity for more orchestrated activities, like company picnics, which are intentionally designed to strengthen team cohesion. These important in-person events enable employees and their families to gather socially outside of work. They are a time where people consciously and eagerly bring together two typically different parts of their world: Home and work.
The current state for many is one of unintentionally blurred lines between work and home and of lacking social interaction with coworkers. So how do you accomplish bringing people together, building trust, and fostering cohesion without our typical events and office socializing?
While it may take more thought than in the past, it is entirely possible for managers of remote workforces to create opportunities for their team to build interpersonal relationships. Here are a few examples:
VIRTUAL COMPANY PICNIC
Taking in-person events online is more simple than you may believe. In fact, virtual events may be even more comfortable and enjoyable for many families. While an employee picnic can be a very awkward experience for many, a virtual gathering puts people at ease because they are in their physical comfort zone, with more control over their environment and interactions.
To make a virtual company picnic a success, invest equal time and resources into planning it as you would an in-person event. Send invitations to a video conference, including friends, family, and pets. Leverage digital break out rooms and randomize pairings to foster small group conversations. Make sure to send a supply basket in advance, which includes materials to participate in group games and food. We love the idea of a s’mores kit with a tealight candle ‘campfire’.
‘CRIBS’ VIRTUAL TOUR
As the lines of work and home are being blurred, smaller teams can lean into the circumstances by setting up a casual, Cribs-style tour. Employees can volunteer to welcome their co-workers into their home for a virtual tour. Those that are up for it can show off what makes them, them. You can provide more specific prompts such as sharing home office hacks or hosting a cooking class.
Sharing a common goal and working together to help others are timeless ways to establish bonds. Banding together for an online group fundraiser like the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the trending Lemon Face Challenge is a low-effort way to make an impact on multiple levels.
VIRTUAL COFFEE DATES
When social interactions aren’t happening organically, like they do in an office setting, you can synthesize them for the same effect. One example is setting up virtual coffee dates between people who wouldn’t normally work directly together. Task each person to get to the other and circle back with their team on what they learned about their colleagues' interests, work, and experiences.
Creating new ways of working
Making an effort to bring people together just once or twice won’t be enough to impact trust and cohesion. Effectively managing teams requires a focus on updating the overall way we work.
While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to successfully bringing people together, infusing daily work-from-home practices with high-value interactions improves business objectives. To successfully bring people together, take from the practices we’ve suggested and make them your own. Align the new way you work with your objectives and your company culture and you’re sure to find success no matter the location of your team members.
Trevor Baker and our team of consultants at MacDonald Search Group are experienced in helping executives navigate changing management dynamics and leadership challenges. We do more than help you hire, we help you make an impact. To learn more about how we can help you bring people together, build trust, and foster cohesion in a virtual work environment, get in touch with us today.
Author: MacDonald Search Group