The new abnormal: revisiting workplace presenteeism during covid-19

By Tade Owodunni (Cannexus23 GSEP Award Winner)


As the second quarter of 2022 beckons, things appear to be fast returning to normal and everyone is gradually settling back into work. Organizations in Canada are fast embracing the new normal and adopting more flexible workplace practices. In the new normal, employee health concerns have remained a major subject at management meetings.  

Yet, things aren’t quite so normal. The now not-so-new sheriff in town is COVID-19, which has taken the world by storm and surpassed other health conditions that have plagued the work environment and workplace performance over the years, such as stress, heart-related ailments, sleep problems, allergies, body pain and depressive mood (McGregor et al., 2018). COVID quickly gained top-of-mind status with most employees who, by the nature of their employment, must report physically to work.  

Now into its third year as a significant health concern, COVID-19 has affected the world of work perhaps more than any other development in the modern era (Pieh et al., 2021). Its highly contagious nature, along with its tendency to periodically mutate into even more contagious variants, continually stretches the limits of modern medicine as the world struggles to find a solution. The ceaseless pressure to maintain productivity and profitability as the world begins to embrace the new normal presents new challenges with consequences that extend beyond the workplace.  

Workplace absenteeism and presenteeism  

The life of the modern-day business manager is not an easy one. They have a lot to contend with. While absenteeism remains a common disruptor to workplace activity, its parallel component, presenteeism, reintroduces itself as a clear and present danger for all organizations – particularly in the wake of COVID-19. Whilst absenteeism refers to a worker’s absence from work due to illness (either personally or as a caretaker for a sick dependent), presenteeism describes a situation where a legitimately ill person continues to physically come to the workplace (Howard et al., 2012). Where such an illness is as infectious as COVID-19, the consequences are not only monumental but extend beyond the workplace and assume a societal challenge of paradigmatic proportion.  

Presenteeism during COVID-19 

The costs and risk factors associated with workers coming into work while sick with COVID-19 are an enormous and relatively novel situation that organizations are forced to cope with. Where health conditions are non-contagious, sickness presenteeism has been observed to have some benefits to ailing staff, as the work environment offers structure, builds self-esteem and provides opportunities for social engagement and support (Kinman & Grant, 2022). Nonetheless, there is evidence that suggests that working while ill can delay, rather than expedite, the process of recovery, thus increasing the risk of future health problems and sickness absence (Skagen, 2016; Kinman & Grant, 2022).  

Inherent factors that encourage presenteeism  

Unfortunately, the pressures associated with having to turn up at work, especially in non-remote, in-person work sectors like retail, construction and hospitality, compel workers to take difficult decisions and go to work despite their ill health. They may also face the risk of lost hourly wages or even unemployment if they stay home sick.  

“Unhealthy” workplace culture can also be a factor. Employees may be gaslighted into self-doubt and question the seriousness of their own conditions because they are reluctant to let down their managers and colleagues. This may be a particular concern in situations where staffing levels are low or organizations are faced with other challenges that threaten their survival (Kinman, 2019). Workers may fear that their managers and colleagues do not consider them sufficiently unwell to necessitate time off from work if their symptoms are mild. This further constrains workers to put on a brave face and face the challenge of working during illness, unwittingly spreading it to other colleagues. The unfortunate long-term consequences, beyond prevailing a contagion that could otherwise be averted, includes reports that some people have continued to experience symptoms such as chronic fatigue, weakness, low productivity and cognitive difficulties several months later (Wise, 2020).  

Summary, reflections and further research direction 

The simple solution to stalling workplace presenteeism would be to encourage sick employees to stay at home and call in sick when they observe that they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, however mild (Pieh et al., 2021). Unfortunately, in the real world, things are never quite so simple. Therefore, sacrifices have to be made by both employees, who should conscientiously concede to reduced income during their periods of ill health, and managers, who should consider introducing half-pay conditions for workers performing in-person roles whose absenteeism is demonstrably a result of COVID-19-related illness. This demonstrates a sense of fairness to the affected employee and is a gesture of encouragement to avert the spread of the disease.  

Workplace presenteeism has a negative impact on employees, their co-workers and the community. It can exacerbate health problems and increase long-term sickness absence for the worker, increase accidents and injuries for the worker and co-workers, and transmit contagious illness to the community in which the workplace is embedded (Kinman, 2019) 

Tade Owodunni is a doctoral student in Business Administration at Royal Roads University, a Nigerian-trained lawyer, corporate governance practitioner and certified compliance and ethics professional. He emerged as the best graduating student (Nigeria) from his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program at Business School Netherlands in 2018. Tade’s research interests include corporate governance themes, small business growth and career development subjects.  


Howard, K. J., Howard, J. T., & Smyth, A. F. (2012). The problem of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace. In Handbook of occupational health and wellness (pp. 151-179). Springer, Boston, MA. 

Kinman, G. (2019). Sickness presenteeism at work: prevalence, costs and management. 

Kinman, G., & Grant, C. (2021). Presenteeism during the COVID-19 pandemic: risks and solutions. Occupational medicine, 71(6-7), 243-244.  

McGregor, A., Ashbury, F., Caputi, P., & Iverson, D. (2018). A preliminary investigation of health and work-environment factors on presenteeism in the workplace. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 60(12), e671-e678. 

Pieh, C., Budimir, S., Delgadillo, J., Barkham, M., Fontaine, J. R., & Probst, T. (2021). Mental health during COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom. Psychosomatic medicine, 83(4), 328-337.  

Skagen, K., & Collins, A. M. (2016). The consequences of sickness presenteeism on health and wellbeing over time: a systematic review. Social Science & Medicine, 161, 169-177. 

Wise, J. (2020). Long covid: doctors call for research and surveillance to capture disease. bmj, 370. 


Storying: Concepts for future directions in career development research and practice

By Noah Dwain Arney (Cannexus22 GSEP Award Winner)

In her book Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education: Philosophies of Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha (Land), Sandra Styres explains that the purpose of stories is to make sense of “one’s place in the past in order to be in the present” (Styres 2017, 50). This use of stories, or storying (Styres, 2011), for people to understand themselves, their relationships and their connections to others, places and concepts is a philosophical perspective that can support career development work.

Storying is more than the person’s self-making (Savickas, 2012), it includes the context the person brings to each experience through responsibility and relationship “to family, community, nations, and the environment” (Firman, 2005, 226-227). Or, as Styres puts it, “storying refers to how we describe in story our experiences through personal, community, national, and global narratives” (Styres, 2008 as cited in Styres, 2011, 718).

When we tell our story (Offet-Gartner, 2011) we learn from our telling. We tell our stories in circles (Little Bear, 2012), where each time we tell the same story we add “depth and dimension” (Styres, 2017, 186) to it. As we tell our stories we are actively building our connections to not only our physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional selves, but our connections to our family and communities (Pidgeon, 2014) and all the holistic individuals within those groups, each with their own physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional selves. This, then, is the impact of storying: the construction of the holistic self.

Styres concept of storying is “circular, iterative, and relational” (Styres 2017, 38). When it applies to career development, storying requires three parts: story, circularity and awareness of relationships. Story, or narrative, is a core aspect of modern career development practice (McIlveen & Patton, 2007) and Peavy has identified how we link our experiences together through stories and create “an evolving biographical narrative under continuous revision” (Peavy, 1995, 1-2). For Anishinaabek (Peltier, 2018) and Niitsitapi (Marule, 2012) peoples as well as many other Indigenous peoples, the story is not just a narrative but is derived from observation and critical reflection.

Circularity, or iterativeness, is embraced by Western career development professionals who focus on experiential learning (Kolb & Kolb, 2009, Jarvis, 2006). It is a concept that is especially important for career development because we learn from the telling, and learn again from the retelling later (Styres, Haig-Brown, & Blimkie, 2013); with every revisit to the story the person brings their prior experiences to bear (Styres, 2017) on the retelling. This circularity (Akan, 1999) enables a great deal of reflection and personal growth.

The awareness of relationships is an aspect which is not centred as much as it should be in career development. Krumbotlz (2009) and others touch on the importance of relationships to clients, but it is rarely with the complexity and centrality of relationships that is seen in the Indigenous paradigm (Kovach, 2020, Peltier, 2018, Held, 2019). From Saulteaux (Akan, 1999), to Oneida (Antone, 2003), Okanagan (Cohen, 2001), Mi’kmaq (Pidgeon, 2014) and Mohawk (Styres, 2017), the “self-in-relationship” (Styres, 2017, 56) concept is central to the understanding of humans for Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada. From this perspective the relationship is not simply of a familial or romantic nature, but a relationship with the land, nature, our family, community and nation, and those who came before and those who will follow (Chartrand, 2012, p. 148).

The exploration of storying as a career development method, and the Indigenous philosophical paradigm, may open future directions for career development and counselling research and practice.

Noah Arney is a Master of Education student in Educational Research at the University of Calgary. He is a Certified Career Development Professional with over 10 years of experience in student affairs. He is a Career Services Co-ordinator with Thompson Rivers University. His research focuses on Indigenous students’ perception of work-integrated learning.


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Jarvis, P. (2006). Towards a comprehensive theory of human learning. London: Routledge.

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Counselling and the new world 

Zoée St-Amand 

A year ago, I woke up in a new reality. Without warning, a virus showed up, disrupting everything in its path. Across the globe, all of us have been affected personally. The labour market has undeniably been shaken up and will undergo an unprecedented transformation. Workers have had to adapt thus far, but they will need to continue doing so, as it is very difficult to predict what the labour market of tomorrow will be like. 

This transformation was well under way even before the pandemic, but it will certainly accelerate the changes. In 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) issued a document stating that many factors could have a profound impact on the labour market. The ILO predicts that, within a few years, automation, artificial intelligence and technology, among other things, will have effects that will impact millions of workers across all sectors.  

Today, the effects of the pandemic have already being felt heavily in the restaurant, tourism and health-care sectors, among others. Why is this so important? Because people’s jobs, professions and occupations are a major part of their lives. In 2007, Mercure, Vultur and Fleury conducted a research study involving 1,000 young Quebec workers. The study showed that at least seven out of 10 young people rank work as one of the most important values in their lives. They also reported that work is very important for older workers. Moreover, Dionne and Girardin (2021) note that a person’s profession plays a much more significant role than simply providing an opportunity to earn a living. It has an impact on identity development, social integration and general well-being. 

I went to my mailbox yesterday morning and picked up my copy of l’orientation magazine (February 2021), a publication of the Ordre des conseillers et des conseillères d’orientation du Québec. In it, I read a critique by President Josée Landry of the public’s lack of awareness of the value of the service and the expertise that career counsellors offer in the labour market and in training. I began to think about my future as a professional in the field. I had a feeling that the coming years could be defining moments for the profession: an opportunity for the field to take its rightful place and for employment counsellors to finally demonstrate their relevance in the social sphere. In fact, a study conducted by professors and researchers Milot-Lapointe, Savard and Le Corf (2018) demonstrates the effectiveness of individual career counselling in reducing career indecision and psychological distress. Considering the myriad upheavals in the labour market, I imagine that there will be many challenges and that employment counsellors could be of great help to the clients who meet with them. 

I was in class today, and my professor was speaking about advocacy, both for the client’s well-being and for recognition of the profession. I wholeheartedly agreed, and I put up my hand. Yes, I want to be part of the collective effort to make our profession better known to the public, because I feel that in the years to come our relevance and expertise could help a great number of people. It is such an exciting time for counselling, and it is up to us to seize it, to use it to our advantage and, at the same time, to guide our clients through this unknown future to the best of our abilities. 

Zoée St-Amand, master’s in counselling student, Université de Sherbrooke. Coming from an administrative background, I had a strong desire to work with people that led me to retrain in the field of counselling. I have a keen interest in understanding the changes in the world of work and their impact on individuals, sociology and humankind. 


Dionne, P. et Girardin, V. (February 2021) Travail et suicide : au-delà des chiffres [Work and suicide: beyond the figures]. l’orientation, 22-24. 

Landry, J. (2021, février) L’orientation n’est pas un luxe [Counselling is not a luxury]. l’orientation, 4-5. 

Mercure, D., Vultur, M. et Fleury, C. (2012). Valeurs et attitudes des jeunes travailleurs à l’égard du travail au Québec : une analyse intergénérationnelle [Work Values and Attitudes of Young Quebec Workers: An Intergenerational Analysis]. Relations industrielles, 67(2), 177-198. doi: 10.7202/1009083ar 

Milot-Lapointe, F., Savard Réginald, & Le Corff, Y. (2018). Intervention components and working alliance as predictors of individual career counseling effect on career decision-making difficulties. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 107, 15–24.  

Rani, U. et Grimshaw, D. (2019). Introduction – Travail, emploi, société: que nous réserve l’avenir? [Introduction – Work, employment, society: what does the future hold for us?] Revue internationale du Travail, 158(4), 633-650. doi: 10.1111/ilrf.12141  


Burnout of health-care professionals in the face of a pandemic 

Steeven Bernier 

Over the past year, many of us have heard stories in the media about people who lost their jobs and retrained in order to help out in the health-care system. However, working conditions within the health-care sector seem to have deteriorated all over the world. Headlines announcing that nurses no longer want to work at a particular hospital because of the lack of recognition and poor working conditions, for example, attest to this.  

In this context, many health-care professionals who had been working in the field for a number of years have decided to leave their jobs and change careers. With this in mind, it therefore seems likely that career development and counselling professionals will have to meet with such clients in the near future, if they have not already done so. However, beyond the change of course for these health professionals, it is important to understand the circumstances that led them to this decision. 

The pandemic and the strategies designed to counter it (curfews, lockdowns, etc.) have resulted in increased rates of mental disorders, not to mention increased psychological distress, insomnia, suicidal ideation and substance use and the like in health-care professionals (Cénat, 2020; Cénat et al., 2020). Even in non-pandemic times, they are more likely than the general population to experience mental health issues, to be under-diagnosed and to be under-treated (El-Hage et al., 2020).  

A number of pandemic-related factors can affect the psychological state of health-care professionals. These include direct exposure to patients with high viral loads, exposure to the risk of contamination, physical exhaustion, restructuring of work spaces, adaptation to rigid work organizations, management of equipment shortages, unusually high numbers of deaths among patients, colleagues or relatives, as well as ethical issues related to decision-making in an overstretched care system, being parents afraid of contaminating their children and the stigmatization of caregivers as potential vectors of viral infection (El-Hage et al., 2020). 

Canada is no exception to this situation. Indeed, according to recent data from Statistics Canada, seven out of 10 health-care workers reported a deterioration in their mental health during the pandemic (Statistics Canada, 2021). What is more, this perceived deterioration is greater among professionals working with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. In these stressful circumstances, and in the context of a health-care system that was already under pressure, more and more health-care professionals are contemplating a change of career.  

Different strategies can be used to reduce the psychological impact of this new reality. From an individual perspective, enjoying social support, developing resilience and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can have a positive impact (Hage et al., 2020). Going beyond their coping strategies, many health-care professionals will start thinking about their career. 

It is therefore important to understand the reality of these professionals seeking to change jobs or professions so that we can work more effectively with them. Psychological factors such as those described above may have led them to make such a decision or, at the very least, to consider it. 

Steeven Bernier is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Nursing at Université Laval, as well as a lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at UQAR, specifically for courses related to mental health. He is currently pursuing a master’s in counselling. The research for his dissertation focuses on the organizational strategies put in place by health-care environments to support nurses who have experienced burnout. 


Cénat, J.M., (2020). US deportation policies in the time of COVID-19: a public health threat to the Americas. Public Health.  

Cénat, J. M., Blais-Rochette, C., Kokou-Kpolou, C. K., Noorishad, P. G., Mukunzi, J. N., McIntee, S. E., … & Labelle, P. (2020). Prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and psychological distress among populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychiatry research, 113599. 

El-Hage, W., Hingray, C., Lemogne, C., Yrondi, A., Brunault, P., Bienvenu, T., … & Aouizerate, B. (2020). Les professionnels de santé face à la pandémie de la maladie à coronavirus (COVID-19): quels risques pour leur santé mentale? [Health professionals facing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: What are the mental health risks?]. L’encephale, 46(3), S73-S80. 

Statistics Canada (2021). Impacts of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers: Infection Prevention and Control (ICHCWIPC).  


Career decision-making: could art therapy be an avenue to explore? 

By Hélène Brisebois (Cannexus22 GSEP Award Winner)

Careers occupy a central place in people’s lives, and career decisions focus on finding a job that meets financial, social recognition and well-being needs (Blustein, 2008; Gati and Tal, 2008, Milot-Lapointe, 2017). To meet these needs, people choose careers that are in line with their interests and their goals (Gati, Krausz and Osipow, 1996; Milot-Lapointe, 2017). However, this choice can be difficult, and a person may feel incapable of making the right decision, a phenomenon referred to as career indecision (Amir, Gati and Kleiman, 2008; Forner, 2007; Osipow, 1999). 

Choosing a satisfying career cannot be done in a linear and rational manner alone; emotions and intuition must also be taken into account (Falardeau, 2007; Gelatt, 1989). Career decision-making requires a space for reflection, imagination and creativity so that information and ideas can be structured and restructured based on a subjective perception of reality (Gelatt, 1989). This process must be rooted in both the rational and the intuitive dimensions (Lecomte and Savard, 2008, 2009). The former includes rationality, reflection and introspection, while the latter includes intuition, emotions, creativity and imagination (Falardeau, 2007; Gelatt, 1989; Young, Domene and Valach, 2015). Falardeau (2007) explains that decision-making cannot be strictly rational and linear given the importance of emotions in the process: [translation] “people don’t make decisions just with their heads, but also, and especially, with their hearts.” (p. 76). 

We may then ask ourselves what could facilitate contact and make it easier to express and shine a light on the intuitive dimension. While facilitating introspection, art provides access to intuition and emotions and has the potential to play a part in reflection regarding career decisions (Gladding, 2012; Hamel and Labrèche, 2015). This form of expression fosters communication that goes beyond words and facilitates the expression of what is felt (Hamel and Labrèche, 2015). Art – a creative activity – gives free rein to emotions and imagination and, through reflection, introspection and expression, opens a door to the subject’s unconscious, including intuition: something that other approaches cannot do (Gladding, 2012). 

Art therapy draws on art in its approach (Hamel and Labrèche, 2015; Hinz, 2020). In counselling, this practice helps address self-esteem, anxiety, problem-solving skills and the matter of identity (Gladding, 2012; Hamel and Labrèche, 2015). These difficulties are also recognized as factors in career indecision, leading to the idea that such an approach could be used to work on the factors hindering decision-making in career counselling. In addition, art therapy fosters contact with the emotions, the development of intuition, creativity and imagination in a space for introspection and reflection (Gladding, 2012; Henderson, 1999; Hamel and Labrèche, 2015); these elements are essential to decision-making (Falardeau, 2007; Gelatt, 1989). 

Could art therapy facilitate decision-making in career counselling? This seems to be a worthwhile avenue to explore in the field of counselling. A qualitative phenomenological method (Smith, Flowers and Larkin, 2009) will allow us to explore the experience of professionals who turn to art therapy as part of the career counselling decision-making process. 

Hélène Brisebois is a student in the Master’s in Counselling program at Université de Sherbrooke. Her thesis looks at the use of art therapy as a part of the decision-making process in career counselling. 


Amir, T., Gati, I. and Kleiman, T. (2008). Understanding and interpreting career decision-making difficulties. Journal of Career Assessment16(3), 281-309. 

Blustein, D.L. (2008). The role of work in psychological health and wellbeing. American Psychologist63(4), 228-240. 

Falardeau, I. (2007). Sortir de l’indécision [Overcoming Indecision] Québec, Quebec: Septembre éditeur. 

Forner, Y. (2007). L’indécision de carrière des adolescents [Career Indecision in Adolescents]. Le travail humain70(3), 213-234. 

Gati, I., Krausz, M. and Osipow, S.H. (1996). A taxonomy of difficulties in career decision-making. Journal of Counseling Psychology43(4), 510-526. 

Gati, I. and Tal, S. (2008). Decision-making models and career guidance. In J. Athanasou and R. Van Esbroeck (dir.), International handbook of career guidance (p. 157-185). Berlin, Germany: Springer. 

Gelatt, H.B. (1989). Positive uncertainty: A new decision-making framework for counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology36(2), 252-256. 

Gladding, S.T. (2012). Art in counseling. In C.A. Malchiodi (dir.), Handbook of art therapy (p. 263-274). (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. 

Hamel, J. and Labrèche, J. (2015). Art Thérapie Mettre des mots sur les maux et des couleurs sur les douleurs [Art therapy: Applying words to hurt and colours to pain]Livre de référence pour comprendre et pratiquer [Reference book for understanding and practicing]. Paris, France : Larousse. 

Henderson, S.J. (1999). The use of Animal Imagery in Counseling. American Journal of Art Therapy38(1), 20-26. 

Hinz, L.D. (2020). Expressive Therapies Continuum: A Framework for Using Art in Therapy. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Lecomte, C. and Savard, R. (2008). Counseling de carrière: enjeu d’orientation et d’insertion professionnelle [Career counselling: professional guidance and integration challenges] Unpublished paper. 

Lecomte, C. and Savard, R. (2009). Counseling de carrière avec ses enjeux d’orientation, de réorientation, d’insertion, de réinsertion, d’adaptation et de réadaptation [Career counselling and the orientation, reorientation, integration, reintegration, adaptation and rehabilitation challenges that go with it]. Unpublished paper. 

Milot-Lapointe, F. (2017). Effet du counseling de carrière individuel sur l’indécision de carrière et sur la détresse psychologique : influence des composantes d’intervention et de l’alliance de travail [Effect of individual career counselling on career indecision and psychological distress: influence of intervention components and working alliance]. Doctoral dissertation in education, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke. 

Osipow, S.H. (1999). Assessing career indecision. Journal of Vocational Behavior55, 147-154. 

Young, R.A., Domene, J.F. and Valach, L. (2015). Counseling and Action: Toward Life-Enhancing Work, Relationship and Identity. New York, NY: Springer. 


Equitable career development: Dismantling sociocultural barriers that create disenfranchisement 

By Caileigh Wilson (Cannexus22 GSEP Award Winner)

Recently, while teaching a workshop on reflective career planning, a student asked a question that left me without words: “If racism and discrimination exist within hiring panels, what are you doing about it?” This question was posed by a student who was in the process of applying for a job and who continued to experience rejection despite her employable credentials. She was feeling hurt, angry and ultimately was experiencing the beginning stages of disenfranchisement. Her question left me thinking about how career development practitioners uphold racism and systems of oppression and how we can better support those who experience this type of discrimination. 

Individuals who are navigating their career development during pivotal stages of transition, such as high school and university students, often begin with ambitious ideas and plans (Brown & Segrist, 2016). As students start to experience the realities of transitioning into the workforce, their aspirations decrease. Racialized students experience the largest decrease in aspirations as they often are faced with higher rates of rejection, unemployment and increased interactions with sociocultural barriers (Brown & Segrist, 2016). It is well understood that inequities exist for racialized and marginalized people. Discrimination remains dominant on hiring panels (Zschirnt & Ruedin, 2016) and corporate policies on equity, diversity and inclusion often feel like more symbolic declarations than practical applications. As students’ aspirations decrease, their self-efficacy often decreases as well, which can result in feelings of disenfranchisement and overall lower cultural identity (Byars-Winston, 2010). 

Career development is not only defined as the process of supporting individuals to find an occupation, it can be defined as “the process of assisting individuals in the development of a life career with the focus on the definition of worker role and how the role interacts with other life roles” (Tovar-Murray et al., 2012). Career development has a larger focus on change management and life-role adaptability (Bocciardi et al., 2017). With this in mind, working with students by addressing the barriers that exist is then an essential part of effective career development, as it creates a stronger focus on how to adapt to one’s career and life roles. Without appropriate awareness sociocultural barriers, individuals will likely experience lower career decision self-efficacy and lower vocation outcome expectancy (Conkel-Ziebell et al., 2019). 

Ignoring the barriers only perpetuates the inequities that occur for populations who experience marginalization. Social cognitive career theory and self-management model in career counselling suggest that inquiring about individuals’ experiences and beliefs with career aspirations and discrimination are effective practice when working with people of colour (Conkel-Ziebell et al., 2019). Engaging in conversations about attitudes toward career decision-making and experiences of discrimination will likely support students in developing strategies for coping with the barriers they face (Conkel-Ziebell et al., 2019) and create a more equitable relationship between the practitioner and participant. Building a stronger awareness of sociocultural barriers, as well as engaging in inquiries about participant’s attitudes toward their career aspirations, can support stronger self-efficacy and greater ability to manage barriers they may face. 

“If racism and discrimination exist within hiring panels, what are you doing about it”? To answer my student’s earlier question, I can respond by acknowledging the struggle, inquiring about experiences with discrimination and racism, and further inquiring how to better support students through this. I hope to bring greater awareness to the inequities that exist to better support my students in building greater self-efficacy in managing their careers and life transitions. 

Caileigh Wilson is currently working on her MA in Counselling Psychology at Simon Fraser University. She is conducting research both in career development and mental health and exploring the access barriers that exist for refugees resettling in Canada. Caileigh also works as a career development practitioner at Simon Fraser University. 


Bocciardi, F., Caputo, A., Fregonese, C., Langher, V., & Sartori, R. (2017). Career adaptability as a strategic competence for career development: An exploratory study of its key predictors. European Journal of Training and Development41(1), 67–82. 

Brown, D. L., & Segrist, D. (2016). African American Career Aspirations: Examining the Relative Influence of Internalized Racism. Journal of Career Development43(2), 177– 189. 

Byars-Winston, A. (2010). The Vocational Significance of Black Identity: Cultural Formulation Approach to Career Assessment and Career Counseling. Journal of Career Development37(1), 441–464. 

Conkel-Ziebell, J. L., Gushue, G. V., & Turner, S. L. (2019). Anticipation of racism and sexism: Factors related to setting career goals for urban youth of color. Journal of Counseling Psychology66(5), 588–599. 

Tovar-Murray, D., Jenifer, E. S., Andrusyk, J., D’Angelo, R., & King, T. (2012). Racism- Related Stress and Ethnic Identity as Determinants of African American College Students’ Career Aspirations. The Career Development Quarterly60(3), 254–262. 

Zschirnt, E., & Ruedin, D. (2016). Ethnic discrimination in hiring decisions: A meta-analysis of correspondence tests 1990–2015. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies42(7), 1115– 1134. 


Autism as an opportunity for untapped potential

By Andrea Vincent 

Many revolutionary figures in history have been considered to have autism as a result of their abilities to think creatively, focus intently and challenge conventional thinking. The art of Michelangelo, actors like Sir Anthony Hopkins, musicians such as Mozart, life-changing inventions by Nikola Tesla, activists who have stood up in the face of adversity such as Greta Thunberg, scientists who have shaped our understanding of the world like Temple Grandin and writers such as George Orwell have captivated our imaginations and encouraged us to view the world from a new perspective. These people demonstrate the traits of autism and illustrate it as an opportunity to tap into human potential that is often overlooked and underestimated. 

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of autism in the workplace, researchers at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, Australia undertook a three-year study to examine employment outcomes for people with autism. To facilitate the process, some employees were identified to provide assistance through strategies in mediation, advocacy and support in guiding new employees with autism as they integrated into the work environment. This support during the transition process is often a critical component for maximizing positive long-term employment success.  

Upon conclusion of the study, participants indicated that they felt the experience had demonstrated positive outcomes. Key reflections included the ability of people with autism to identify and detect errors often missed by employees who had been working for longer and who had the benefit of more training (Hedley et al., 2017). The unique perspective of people with autism encourages observation of details regularly overlooked by neurotypical employees. Additionally, people with autism are often able to view problems from angles frequently not considered by others (Hedley, et al., 2017). The ability to view obstacles from a unique perspective is essential for problem solving and is a trait from which many workplaces can benefit; yet without a neurodiverse environment, these perspectives are often underrepresented. 

In addition to direct employer benefits, the integration of individuals with autism into the work environment can also have a positive impact on employee satisfaction. In the study conducted by Hedley et al. (2017), many of the employees who worked alongside individuals with autism indicated that they were proud of the work these new employees had contributed to the organization, and some expressed satisfaction in participating in an opportunity that was helping to change perceptions. 

Providing an environment where individuals feel that they are valued is important for employee retention, and creating an environment where employees are part of the process of contributing to progressive collective change can foster an environment of positivity and increased productivity. 

Individuals with autism present an untapped potential as their advantages in reliability, attention to detail and visual skills often outweigh the cost of occupational adaptations required when compared with accommodations for other disabilities (Hayward et al., 2019). Additionally, it is believed that many of the strategies that can help individuals with autism successfully integrate in the work environment are beneficial for all employees (Hedley et al., 2017). Clear and concise expectations, visual schedules and reminders, organized environments and connections with individuals who can help provide support and guidance in the workplace as necessary are all strategies from which the majority of employees benefit. When employers commit to inclusive hiring practices, create a work environment responsive to all employees and integrate supportive transition practices, they are able to capitalize on the untapped potential individuals with autism can bring to a neurodiverse work environment. 

Andrea Vincent is a graduate student at the University of New Brunswick in the field of Adult Education. She has been working with people with disabilities for over two decades and believes in recognizing the potential that lies within each disability by focusing on the positives, and facilitating successful transition outcomes. 


Hayward, S. M., McVilly, K. R., & Stokes, M. A. (2019). Autism and employment: What works. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 60, 48-58. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2019.01.006 

Hedley, D., Cai, R., Uljarevic, M., Wilmot, M., Spoor, J. R., Richdale, A., & Dissanayake, C. (2017). Transition to work: Perspectives from the autism spectrum. Autism, 22(5), 528-541. doi:10.1177/1362361316687697 


The truth will set you free: Why deception is not an effective strategy in job interviews

By Jordan Ho (Cannexus22 GSEP Award Winner)

People are naturally driven to put their best foot forward during a job interview. There are times, however, when people perceive that being entirely honest will hurt their chances of securing the job, or they cannot provide a high-quality response to the interview questions. In these situations, some candidates may resort to a set of strategies called “deceptive impression management” because they believe it will help them succeed in the interview (Levashina & Campion, 2007).

Deceptive impression management describes candidates’ distortion of responses to the interview questions (Levashina & Campion, 2006). These tactics can include minor exaggerations of skills, pretending to share values with the interviewer or covering up negative details about oneself when asked directly. In fewer instances, candidates may even lie and invent fictional stories (Bourdage et al., 2018). These tactics may not be rooted in malicious intent (Ellingson & McFarland, 2011); rather, the evaluative nature of job interviews can pressure candidates into distorting their answers as a natural social response (Marcus, 2009). It is unclear, however, if deceptive impression management actually benefits candidates as they believe it will.

The inherent purpose of resorting to deceptive impression management is to be evaluated more favourably in a job interview (Levashina & Campion, 2006). This perceived benefit of deception may, however, be an inaccurate assumption made by job candidates who see the need to engage in such strategies. Some studies have discovered that deceptive impression management is related to better interview evaluations (e.g. Ingold et al., 2015), whereas others have found the opposite relation (e.g. Swider et al., 2011). Thus, there is mixed evidence regarding the extent to which deceptive impression management predicts better interview evaluations.

To enhance the understanding of deceptive impression management and interview evaluations, our research team conducted a meta-analytic study – currently in-press at the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, Special Issue: Emerging Research in Industrial-Organizational Psychology in Canada. We compiled all existing studies that contained data on the relation between deceptive impression management and interview evaluations. Across 27 different studies, we discovered that deceptive impression management has, on average, almost zero association with interview evaluations (Ho et al., in press). In comparison, our analysis of existing studies indicates that honest forms of impression management (i.e. truthfully promoting one’s skills or fit with the company) are associated with better interview evaluations. These results therefore suggest that although candidates feel pressured to distort their responses during interviews, these deceptive strategies typically will not help them in the end, whereas honest tactics will.

Although deceptive impression management may be a tempting response to a tough interview question or a perceived gap in the skill requirements, job candidates do have better options. For one, our study demonstrated that engaging in honest tactics – being completely truthful about what skills one possesses – is more likely to result in a favourable impression during the interview (Ho et al., in press). What career counsellors can take away from our research is that they should train and encourage candidates to only use honest impression management tactics in job interviews, due to its demonstrated effectiveness.

Career counsellors can further emphasize that even when candidates feel pressured or tempted to distort their responses, they should focus on highlighting the skills they do have and demonstrate their willingness to learn. Candidates do not want to end up in a situation where they embellished their skills and end up being a poor fit for the job (Charbonneau et al., in press). As such, whereas lying does not improve one’s chances of securing the job, honesty may in fact be the best policy.

Jordan Ho is a PhD candidate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the University of Guelph. Jordan is interested in methods of improving the fairness of personnel selection practices, including research on intersectionality, stigma and hiring discrimination.


Bourdage, J. S., Roulin, N., Tarraf, R. (2018). “I (might be) just that good”: Honest and deceptive impression management in employment interviews. Personnel Psychology, 71, 597– 632.

Charbonneau, B. D., Powell, D. M., Spence, J. R., & Lyons, S. T. (in press). Unintended consequences of interview faking: Impact on perceived fit and affective outcomes. Personnel Assessment and Decisions.

Ellingson, J. E., & McFarland, L. A. (2011). Understanding faking behavior through the lens of motivation: An application of VIE theory. Human Performance, 24, 322–337.

Ho, J. L., Powell, D. M., & Stanley, D. J. (in press). The relation between deceptive impression management and employment interview ratings: A meta-analysis. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science.

Ingold, P. V., Kleinmann, M., König, C. J., & Melchers, K. G. (2015). Shall we continue or stop disapproving of self-presentation? Evidence on impression management and faking in a selection context and their relation to job performance. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24, 420–432.

Levashina, J., & Campion, M. A. (2006). A model of faking likelihood in the employment interview. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 14, 299–316.

Levashina, J., & Campion, M. A. (2007). Measuring faking in the employment interview: Development and validation of an interview faking behavior scale. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1638–1656.

Marcus, B. (2009). ‘Faking’ from the applicant’s perspective: A theory of self‐presentation in personnel selection settings. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 17, 417–430.

Swider, B. W., Barrick, M. R., Harris, T. B., & Stoverink, A. C. (2011). Managing and creating an image in the interview: The role of interviewee initial impressions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 1275–1288.


First-generation Canadians and career development – and their overly involved parents

By Kasi Sewraj

“I thought I was the only one.”

During one of my graduate courses on career development, our professor asked us to share our personal career journeys that led us to our counselling psychology program. I was very honest about how my family influenced my pathway to medical school, and I only recently re-evaluated my career path. I was shocked when at least 10 of my other colleagues said that they completely related to my experience and had a similar journey.

Acculturative stress

For many first-generation Canadians, our parents’ native customs and culture become fused with Canadian customs and culture. Acculturation is the process by which immigrants adapt to their new surroundings and incorporate the new culture into their existing cultural frame (Berry, 1997). Research has shown that young people acculturate faster than their parents, and their parents may be less supportive of this process in their children (Berry, 1997; Telzer et al., 2016). This can lead to acculturative stress, where there are gaps between cultures, personal and familial ideals. These experiences leave a lot to consider when it comes to developing one’s career identity (Berry, 1997; Gomez et al., 2011).

Factors affecting career identity

In a longitudinal study examining factors affecting career identity in the children of Asian-American immigrants, various familial and individual aspects of career identity were identified, such as: familial cultural values, parental pressure, family obligation, cultural capital, individual identity style, locus of control and one’s personal motivation (Polenova et al., 2017). The study found that Asian-American culture dictated that students had strict obligations to their parents, and parents often preferred high-status careers that provided high incomes, such as medicine (Polenova et al., 2017).

Children of Asian immigrants also stated that there was a complex interplay of factors that affected their parents’ roles in their career choices. While parents often weren’t forcing their children to go into one career stream, their children noted that their parents made influential childhood comments about joining these careers (Polenova et al., 2017). My parents did the same. In my personal experience, although it may be an outright wish of your parent, it’s delivered in more of a subtle implication that this career choice will make you and your parent the happiest.

Getting the parental perspective

While the above research was specific to Asian Americans, I was shocked when myself and many of my colleagues of all races and creeds had almost the same story. One thing is common in the literature – the perspective of the children of immigrants. My question is: Why does this seem to be a common factor among many immigrant parents? When I asked my own father about this, he said:

“I pushed you and your sister so hard because your mother and I had to struggle when we were younger. We didn’t know what we were going to do in terms of our careers. All we ever wanted was for you both to succeed and live comfortable lives. Being a doctor was the most prominent reflection of that.”

My father’s response indicated something to me – as immigrants, there is a lot to learn about your new culture and surroundings. My sister is currently enrolled in an engineering program, which an excellent field to be in. However, my parents had no idea about engineering and what that would entail and, at first, discouraged my sister from that path. But after they did some research, thankfully they changed their minds. Maybe there is something to the idea that certain careers that seem to be more discussed in public discourse are more accessible to newcomers.

Kasi Sewraj is currently a Master’s Counselling Psychology student at the University of Ottawa. Kasi has her BSc and BA from the University of Toronto, and currently works for Christian Horizons, providing community supports for those with disabilities. Kasi’s research explores the usage of online mindfulness programs in post-secondary education.


Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. International Journal of Applied Psychology, 46, 5–34.

Gomez, J., Miranda, R., Polanco, L. (2011). Acculturative stress, perceived discrimination, and vulnerability to suicide attempts among emerging adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 1465–1476.

Polenova, E., Vedral, A., Brisson, L. & Zimm, L. (2017). Emerging Between Two Worlds : A Longitudinal Study of Career Identity of Students from Asian American Immigrant Families. Emerging Adulthood, 6(1), 53-65.

Telzer, E. H., Yuen, C., Gonzales, N., Fuligni, A. J. (2016). Filling gaps in the acculturation gap- distress model: Heritage cultural maintenance and adjustment in Mexican–American families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 7, 1412. doi:10.1007/s10964-015-0408-8


Career development for those who experience persistent and severe mental illness

By Kristina Waldmann

Imagine. Just for a moment. You belong to a group of people whose unemployment rates average between 70 to 90%. For those who experience persistent and serious mental illness (SMI), such rates are a harrowing reality (Marwaha, & Johnson, 2004). Among individuals with disabilities, the Canadian Mental Health Association purports that those with SMI experience the highest degree of stigma in the workplace. This is one of the biggest barriers to acquiring gainful employment for people with SMI. There are, however, lesser-known barriers to employment, and one such barrier is created by the dearth of career development and vocation research that includes people with SMI.

Vocation and serious mental illness

Modern use of vocation commonly refers to the contribution of work to people’s meaning and purpose in life and their individual ability to make a valuable contribution to the greater good (Steger & Dik, 2010). Work plays an important role in the lives of many people. For some, work is one of, if not the most important source of meaning in their lives (Baum & Stewart, 1990; Klinger, 1977). Yet those who experience SMI are frequently left out of the conversation of career development and research.

Often the skills and value of those who suffer from SMI remain invisible or are largely ignored as focus is given to treating, managing and alleviating detrimental symptoms of SMI. This approach is practical in its focus and I do not intend to relegate its importance; rather, I would like to provide information, beyond the focus on symptomology, on what allows people with SMI to flourish and prosper in the workforce through dedicated quantitative research.

Given the right opportunities and the right support, research has demonstrated that people with SMI can and will lead meaningful careers. For example, one of the cornerstones of some community-based treatments is helping those with SMI find meaningful and sustainable work.

As a mental health worker in a community-based program some years ago, I witnessed the flourishing of individuals with SMI as they found purpose and meaning in work. For many, this meant paid employment; for others, volunteer work and/or education. Regardless, many were able to gain access to opportunities that helped them to re-integrate back into the community and lead more satisfying lives.

In approaching this research, I plan to utilize the Work and Meaning Inventory (WAMI). This instrument measures an individual’s perception of their vocation as meaningful work (MW). Individuals who score low on this measure are more likely to be absent from work and experience both low levels of well-being and higher levels of psychological distress. Examining this in a research setting would help us to gain a better understanding of the importance and influence of WM in people with SMI and their well-being.

COVID-19 pandemic

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) recently reported that mental health concerns are on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. For those who experienced SMI prior to the pandemic, it has been reported that detrimental symptoms have increased significantly (Leger, 2021). Experts believe the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, particularly in the area of work (Stats Canada, 2021) and people with SMI have been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to their employment (e.g. Mamelund, 2003; Leger, 2021). This is one reason why research on what allows people with SMI to flourish and prosper in their work is now more important than ever. By gaining a broader understanding of work and meaning, through use of measures such as WAMI, I believe we can begin to better support those experiencing SMI and invite them to wholly participate in a world that has largely left them out.

My good fortune is not that I’ve recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.” – Elyn R. Saks

Kristina Waldmann is currently a graduate student at the University of Calgary, pursuing a Master’s of Science in Counselling Psychology. Her interests include career and vocation research and counselling with a social justice lens focused on individuals who experience mental illness.


Baum, S. K., & Stewart Jr, R. B. (1990). Sources of meaning through the lifespan. Psychological Reports, 67(1), 3-14.

Canadian Mental Health Association (n.d.) Employment. Retrieved March 31, 2021.

Clubhouse International (n.d.). What Clubhouses Do. Retrieved March 29, 2021.

Leger (2021). Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Klinger, E. (1977). Meaning and Void: Inner Experience and the Incentives in People’s Lives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Mamelund, S. E. (2003). Effects of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 on later life mortality of Norwegian cohorts born about 1900 (No. 2003, 29). Memorandum.

Marwaha, S., & Johnson, S. (2004). Schizophrenia and employment. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 39(5), 337-349.

Rice, K., Pernice, F., & Michon, A. (2020). Metacognition and the clubhouse model in treating severe mental illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 43(4), 284 – 289.

Statistics Canada (2020). Economic Impacts and Recovery Related to the Pandemic. (No. pub/11-631-x/2020004

Steger, M. F., Dik, B. J., & Duffy, R. D. (2012). Measuring meaningful work: The work and meaning inventory (WAMI). Journal of career Assessment, 20(3), 322-337.

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