There's a lot of talk about employee engagement these days, but how do we recognize these engaged employees and show appreciation for the things they do to support the company? It's not always easy to distinguish what exactly engagement in the workplace is, and it can be demonstrated differently depending on a person's role and the function of their company. When I think of engagement, I consider it to be those behaviours and actions that warm the heart. I can picture specific employees I've worked with over the years and the behaviours I've witnessed that have touched me.
RIP HR. That will be the tombstone on the HR profession if we don't get our act together soon. Sadly it seems we just cannot agree on a unified national approach on the professional association front, or even in some provincial regions. It's no wonder that we lack the ability to move HR to the next level in business. What's most unfortunate is that as a profession that should be recognized for leadership, vision and collaboration, we are setting a very poor example. We've been talking about the same old tired things for years, if not decades.
The following case offers an example of how the narrative frameworks of rescription and re-membering were used in a community college career coaching context – affording students the opportunity to practice with story-based approaches to career transition and change. In the broader perspective, the case offers a view into the human resource development practice of narrative career coaching – helping the next generation workforce imagine their career identities.
This article is written for HR leaders and explores the global human resources trends, the human resources function’s readiness to respond, and the associated implications for the HR leader. It draws upon insights from Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report and the Corporate Education Board’s Global Workforce Insights Q3 2014 report and relates the trends identified to the evolution of the human resources field.
Modern HR practice suggests that the difference between successful and struggling companies can be found in employee engagement. Those companies who engage employees to actively participate in the success of an organization report greater productivity, morale, innovation and health. Most companies offer rewards as a way of promoting employee engagement. Yet very few have analyzed the reasons why employees are not engaged.
In April 2014, as Lori Aselstine began her retirement from the Government of Ontario, she sat down with Queen’s IRC to talk about her career, the HR profession and practising HR in an environment that is 85% unionized. Lori talks candidly about her experience rising through the ranks in the Government of Ontario, as well as the challenges and opportunities that come from working in labour relations for the government, which often plays the role of the employer and legislator.
The desire for HR professionals to be accorded the respect and status of being true professionals is a theme that goes back many decades; and there is no evidence to suggest that this desire has waned over the years. In 2013, the Human Resources Professionals Association asked the following question on its annual member survey: "Do you agree that the professionalization of HR is, or should be, an important issue for the profession?"—89.4% of respondents agreed with the statement.
The notion that Human Resource (HR) professionals need to be strategic and aligned with their organization’s strategy is not by any means new. In their book The HR Scorecard published almost fifteen years ago, Professors Becker, Huselid and Ulrich noted that “traditional HR skills have not diminished in value, but simply are no longer adequate to satisfy the wider strategic demands of the HR function” (Becker, Huselid and Ulrich, 2001). Since then strategy frameworks and the language of strategic management have evolved. The question is has HR kept up with these, especially in the past year or so?
On its annual member survey, the Human Resources Professionals Association asks the following question: “Do you agree that the professionalization of HR is, or should be, an important issue for the profession?” In 2013, 89.4% of respondents either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with this statement—this represents as much agreement as one is likely to find on any question.
As demographics, technology and social media change, so must approaches to recruiting talent.Companies who establish innovative recruiting practices will have a competitive advantage for attracting quality candidates. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are a key component of this. Their ability to provide an improved candidate experience leads to a greater talent pool from which to draw and, by automating routine recruiting activities, also provides Human Resource (HR) professionals and hiring managers time to focus on other aspects of recruiting.
I’m always stunned when I hear a senior business leader say that their head of HR isn’t one of their key advisors; that the head of HR is often not at the senior executive table when major strategic or market initiatives are being discussed. And yet, in most organizations, human resources are both the largest expense line in the profit & loss statement and the most mission-critical resource: it is only with good people that ANYTHING of business value gets done. For this reason alone, there should be a senior HR professional at the table for every strategic discussion.
The study of generational differences has garnered increasing interest among organizations, practitioners and researchers in recent years. There are many reasons for this keen interest, including the need to manage people from several different generations, to better adapt the workplace to a multigenerational workforce, to attract and retain new talent, and to identify the working conditions that will lead to positive attitudes and behaviours among younger workers.
Today many vice presidents and other senior executives in human resources (HR) have earned a seat at the executive table by showing their organization’s senior teams that HR operations contribute at least as much as Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance, IT or any other department. The key to this is continuous learning. Jack Welch, former 20-year CEO of world class GE, now an itinerant management guru, is often quoted: “An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Executives who aspire to lead organizations have to spearhead that learning first by learning steadily themselves and that is nowhere truer than for HR.
In 2009, the Alberta government's Connie Scott was a trailblazer, a forerunner in a new learning program that would change the way she and her community would look at their work.
Scott, now a manager of HR Strategies in Enterprise and Advanced Education, was in the first cohort of Queen's IRC HR Business Partner Certificate Program, a curriculum custom-designed for the Alberta government.
For the Alberta government's Pauline Melnyk, the Queen's IRC HR Business Partner Certificate Program couldn't have come at a better time. Melnyk was helping design a cumulative effects management system (CEMS) for her department, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. As part of the system, which designs programs and processes based on the cumulative effects of development on the environment, the department itself needed to review its organizational design.
In my consulting work over the last 25 years, I've seen a significant shift in the role of coaching in the workplace. During this time, coaching could not remain static. It had to evolve to accommodate the many changes and disruptions we have seen in the business world, such as new technologies, the globalization of markets and competition, the rapidly increasing pace of change, and new demands on employees to work faster, smarter and be more productive more efficient and effective.
In this IRC Interview, Stina Bjerg Nielsen, Head of Human Resources for Maersk Oil, talks about her experiences within the human resources profession in Denmark and Europe, and her role at Maersk Oil.
Decision making is a central activity in organizational life. Independent of one's role or profession, the ability to make effective decisions is a core competence that must be practiced daily. Despite its importance, evidence suggests that we're not particularly skilled at making decisions, especially the complex, strategic ones.
In a recent article, Simon Parkin identified three major challenges facing today's HR professionals: Leadership Effectiveness, Talent Acquisition and Management, and HR Capability and Capacity. I fully agree with Simon's assessment: these are, indeed, the top challenges HR professionals must tackle to enable their organizations to compete and thrive in today's environment.
We have moved into an era where traditional support services – HR, Finance, IT, Administration, Legal etc. – are under increasing daily pressure to produce a more direct impact on business results. The business rationale for this pressure is easy to understand. Organizations – both public and private – are being pushed by customers, boards of directors, analysts, and investors to do more with the resources they have or – in many cases – do more with less.
Driving mountain roads can be very tricky. With the exception of those who drive a super-powered something able to negotiate a significant vertical climb, mere mortals learn that reaching the top of the mountain requires learning the skill of turning switchback corners. Go too slowly around the curve, and you run the risk of the vehicle stalling in the climb. Go too fast, and it can be a kissing-the-guardrail moment, or over the edge you go.
In February 2011, the IRC surveyed HR professionals across Canada to glean their perspectives on HR, the challenges and priorities for HR departments, and the kinds of skills and knowledge that are perceived as critical for the practice. This article provides a synthesis of some of our data. Please note that a complimentary copy of An Inquiry into the State of HR in Canada: Executive Summary is available for download from the Queen’s IRC website.