HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #8 ~ Christina Stewart

No Train, No Gain

Why Lifelong Learning Matters for You and Your Employees

Providing employees with Learning and Development is essential for both your business and for their engagement and happiness
Let’s continue our HR Strategic planning discussion on using training as a tool.

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There’s a saying that that goes like this:
The CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?”
The CEO responds: “What happens if they stay and we don’t?”

The answer is so obvious, it goes without saying. If business leaders don’t invest in learning and development for their employees, we get stagnated workforces and a marked decrease in the quality of work. Conversely, when business leaders promote lifelong learning in their work teams, we get vastly increased morale, increased capacity to cope with day to day work stresses, improved team performance, and improved employer trust. All of which leads to improved loyalty for both the employee and the employer as well as huge economic benefits for both. When the employer provides opportunities for development, the company does well, the employees do well, and loyalty builds. For example, a Wendy’s restaurant in Fredericton, N.B., provided workplace literacy and essential skills (i.e. communication, critical thinking, and computer skills) training to their team members in 2013. Ownership saw reduced staff turnover to between 65% and 80%, which is down from between 125% and 150% in the two earlier years, saving the franchisee $5,000 annually in new staff training.

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More than Money

We all want our businesses to experience profitability but often we want more. We want our business to mean something significant to our customers and to our teams. Developing employees by training and teaching and offering learning opportunities allows us to create both profit and meaning within our workforce.
So, by now we agree that a great way to retain staff and nurture employee skills is to consistently and actively promote learning and development activities. Encouraging this kind of professional growth shows your team you care about their progress and their future, and it inspires loyalty in employees.


Get Ready, Get Set

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Before jumping in to any new initiative a little planning and coordination of goals can go a long way. Ask yourself what you want your employees to achieve – or better yet, ask them. Having individuals complete a self-assessment as a kickoff point to their own learning creates engagement from the outset. In this phase you are identifying where you are and where you want to be. The gap in between is the learning that needs to take place. Ask your team some or all of the following:
• Identify the job requirements and performance expectations of your current position
• Identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that will enhance your ability to perform your current job
• Identify and assess the impact on your position of changes taking place in the work environment such as changes in clients, programs, services and technology
• What goals do you want to achieve in your career?
• Which of these development goals are mutually beneficial to you and your organization?
Ask your employees to set two or three goals using the tried and true SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Timely.) One way of helping them get into the goal mindset is to ask employees to view the workplace as a curriculum. Asking that they look at their daily tasks and responsibilities as items they must master can be a very useful mindset. In this approach, the normal workday of an employee informs what they need to learn in order to do their job most successfully. The tasks they perform become the curriculum components they need to learn, making it easy to set identifiable goals. Employees should also set a target length of time in which to master this goal before moving on to the next. This builds natural stepping-stones between the current job and the next level at the organization, as mastery of each goal can bring them closer to promotions, raises, increased responsibility, or other rewards.


Go: Inside Methods

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There are many methods to consider when implementing professional development in the workplace, however, major impediments to providing learning opportunities to employees is the cost to the business and the time to have employees offsite. However, these don’t hold much weight as there are cost-effective, in-house training opportunities within a work environment, such as:
• Job expansion; the role has been mastered so adding greater challenges
• Job shadowing; following and learning from others in the organization – maybe even you!
• Job enrichment; stretch assignments and special projects or committees
• Job rotations; temporarily being given the opportunity to work in other areas of the business
• Adding mentoring/coaching; a more experienced employee provides advice and guidance to a novice within the work site
• Peer-assisted learning; two knowledgeable employees swap the information they know in order to expand the other employee’s abilities
• Providing time for writing articles for a paper, online publication or magazine enhance the reputations of the employee as well as the organization.


Go: Outside Methods

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Implementing a quality professional development program encourages employees to continue their learning beyond the confines of the office. Outside options include footing the bill to enroll employees in formalized classes. The more specialized training or certifications that an employee receives, the more you can boast your company’s know-how and expertise. If it’s a program that many employees could benefit from consider working with the provider for internal classes or lunch and learn sessions on the topic. Consider networking at industry trade group conferences and with like-minded professionals at other organizations, joining a formal coaching or mentoring program outside of work, or earning an advanced degree.
Although some certification programs can cost an employer a pretty penny, sending an office representative to a conference or to a networking event can be an affordable alternative. Give that employee an even greater opportunity for development by presenting their learning to the organization after the event. Organizing in-house team-building events can also serve as a great method for keeping employees mentally challenged and engaged.


Everybody Wins

By encouraging a learning culture with professional certification, continuing education and association membership to increase the amount of outside education, your employees can bring back valuable knowledge into the company to share with one another. By focusing on in house opportunities to create a learning culture you expand your workforce knowledge and both your organization and your employees benefit.
Improving employees’ skills makes it easier for them to learn new ones and helps them innovate. Your learning culture is a foundation for creating better products and services, and fostering a new competitiveness and profitability. Creating a learning culture in your business is imperative for innovation, growth and economic success. The corporate return on your investment in essential skills and employee engagement is real and attainable.

Come back next week when we chat about a different HR Strategy: Recruitment!

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action Post 7

Training and Development Strategies

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Last week in Post 6 of our discussion on HR Strategic Planning we talked about using Restructuring Strategies to align your workforce with your overall organizational direction. This week we’re going to talk about training! This strategy is so useful in a workforce that is ready for productivity but perhaps lacks the skills or knowledge necessary to move into the next direction.
This strategy includes:
• Providing staff with training to take on new roles
• Providing current staff with development opportunities to prepare them for future jobs in your organization
Training and development needs can be met in a variety of ways. One approach is for the employer to pay for employees to upgrade their skills. This may involve sending the employee to take courses or certificates or it may be accomplished through on-the-job training. Many training and development needs can be met through cost effective techniques. Tune in Next Week when we discuss No Train, No Gain and run through why life-long learning really matters.

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post 6

RESTRUCTURING STRATEGIES

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Integrating human resource management strategies and systems into your overarching organizational strategy will help you achieve the overall mission, strategies, and success of the firm while meeting the needs of employees and other stakeholders. Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about HR Strategic Planning, we’ve introduced it and we’ve talked about assessing where you are now, and we’ve looked at forecasting your HR requirements. In this post number six we’ll discuss using a Restructuring Strategy.

This strategy includes:

  • Reducing staff either by termination or attrition

  • Regrouping tasks to create well designed jobs

  • Reorganizing work units to be more efficient


If your assessment indicates that there is an oversupply of skills, there are a variety of options open to assist in the adjustment. Termination of workers gives immediate results. Generally, there will be costs associated with this approach depending on your employment agreements. Notice periods are guaranteed in all provinces. Be sure to review the employment and labour standards in your province or territory to ensure that you are compliant with the legislation.

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Attrition (not replacing employees when they leave) is another way to reduce staff. The viability of this option depends on how urgently you need to reduce staff. It will mean that jobs performed in the organization will have to be reorganized so that essential work of the departing employee is covered. Careful assessment of the reorganized workloads of remaining employees should include an analysis of whether or not their new workloads will result in improved outcomes.


It is important to consider current labour market trends (e.g. the looming skills shortage as baby boomers begin to retire) because there may be longer-term consequences if you let staff go.
Sometimes existing workers may be willing to voluntarily reduce their hours, especially if the situation is temporary. Job sharing may be another option. The key to success is to ensure that employees are satisfied with the arrangement, that they confirm agreement to the new arrangement in writing, and that it meets the needs of the employer. Excellent communication is a prerequisite for success.

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Your analysis may tell you that your organization may have more resources in some areas of the organization than others. This calls for a redeployment of workers to the area of shortage. The training needs of the transferred workers needs to be taken into account.

Come back next week to check out Training & Development Strategies.




HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #5 ~ Christina Stewart

Strategies, Strategies, Strategies

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As you’ve seen over the past few weeks of posts, HR Strategic Planning is no small undertaking. From assessing where you are now, to forecasting your HR requirements, assessing that gap and then determining a strategy to get there – there’s a lot of work and, well, planning involved!
Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies is a big job in and of itself. There are five HR strategies for meeting your organization's needs in the future:
Restructuring strategies: Reducing, regrouping and/or reorganizing your team or certain departments within it.
Training and development strategies: Providing your current team or certain departments or skill sets with additional training or the opportunity for learning and development.
Recruitment strategies: Taking an active approach to filling vacancies and promoting your business as a stellar place to work.
Outsourcing strategies: Taking the approach of utilizing contractors or consultants who hold certain skill sets to complete fill the gap.
Collaboration strategies: Finding partner organizations who have what you need and where you can offer something back.
Over the coming weeks we’ll run through each of these strategies outlining what each is and when that particular strategy is best used. Stay tuned!

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HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #4

Gap Analysis

Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about HR Strategic Planning, we’ve introduced it and we’ve talked about assessing where you are now, and we’ve looked at forecasting your HR requirements. Today, let’s “mind the gap”.

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The next step is to determine the gap between where your organization wants to be in the future and where you are now. The gap analysis includes identifying the number of staff and the skills and abilities required in the future in comparison to the current situation. You should also look at all your organization's HR management practices to identify practices that could be improved or new practices needed to support the organization's capacity to move forward. Questions to be answered include:

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·        What new jobs will we need?

·        What new skills will be required?

·        Do our present employees have the required skills?

·        Are employees currently in positions that use their strengths?

·        Do we have enough managers/supervisors?

·        Are current HR management practices adequate for future needs?

Next time we’ll dive into developing strategies that support the overall organizational strategies which is no small undertaking!

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #3

Forecasting HR Requirements

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Over the past two weeks we’ve been talking about HR Strategic Planning, we’ve introduced it and we’ve talked about assessing where you are now. Today, let’s dive into looking ahead.

The next step is to forecast HR needs for the future based on the strategic goals of the organization. Realistic forecasting of human resources involves estimating both demand and supply. Questions to be answered include:

·        How many staff will be required to achieve the strategic goals of the organization?

·        What jobs will need to be filled?

·        What skill sets will people need?

When forecasting demands for HR, you must also assess the challenges that you will have in meeting your staffing need based on the external environment. To determine external impacts, you may want to consider some of the following factors:

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·        How does the current economy affect our work and our ability to attract new employees?

·        How do current technological or cultural shifts impact the way we work and the skilled labour we require?

·        What changes are occurring in the Canadian labour market?

·        How is our community changing or expected to change in the near future?

Come back next week when we take a look at the space in between when you are now and where you want to be: aka: “The Gap”.

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post #2

Post #2: Assessing Current HR Capacity

Last week we introduced the topic of Strategic HR Planning so this week let’s look at the first phase: Assessing where you are today.

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The first step in the strategic HR planning process is to assess the current HR capacity of the organization. The knowledge, skills and abilities of your current staff need to be identified. This can be done by developing a skills inventory for each employee.

The skills inventory should go beyond the skills needed for the particular position. List all skills each employee has demonstrated. For example, recreational or volunteer activities may involve special skills that could be relevant to the organization. Education levels and certificates or additional training should also be included.

An employee's performance assessment form can be reviewed to determine if the person is ready and willing to take on more responsibility and take a look at the employee's current development plans. Take a look at resumes and references are there any skills your team members have that may be dusty but potentially applicable?

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Based on the organization's strategic plan, you’ll soon be reviewing if the current skills match what’s needed to achieve your goals. Be thorough and take your time here. Once you have a strong repository of skills listed for your entire organization, be sure to add new team members to the data as they arrive and review the list every year or so (after performance reviews is a logical time) to ensure that your current skills inventory remains current.

Check in net week when we move on to Step 2: Forecasting HR Requirements (no crystal ball needed because you’ll rely on sound analysis!)

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post 1

Introduction to Strategic HR Planning

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Integrating human resource management strategies and systems into your overarching organizational strategy will help you achieve the overall mission, ideas, and create the success of the business while meeting the needs of employees and other stakeholders.

The overall purpose of strategic HR planning is to:

  • Ensure adequate human resources to meet the strategic goals and operational plans of your organization - the right people with the right skills at the right time

  • Keep up with social, economic, legislative and technological trends that impact on human resources in your area and in the sector

  • Remain flexible so that your organization can manage change if the future is different than anticipated

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Strategic HR planning predicts the future HR management needs of the organization after analyzing the organization's current human resources, the external labour market and the future HR environment that the organization will be operating in. The analysis of HR management issues external to the organization and developing scenarios about the future are what distinguishes strategic planning from operational planning. The basic questions to be answered for strategic planning are:

  • Where are we going?

  • How will we develop HR strategies to successfully get there, given the circumstances?

  • What skill sets do we need?

The strategic HR planning process

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The strategic HR planning process has four steps:

1. Assessing the current HR capacity

2. Forecasting HR requirements

3. Undertaking a Gap analysis

4. Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies

Check in next week when we break down Step 1: Assessing the Current HR Capacity, and of course, reach out anytime to admin@praxisgroup.ca to get some help in setting your own HR Strategy.

Do I Really Have to Pay Overtime? By Kyle Reid

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Paying out overtime is a costly but necessary means to immediately addressing staffing issues or unexpected increases in the volume of work. Staffing is often the largest expense for many organizations and having to pay employees one and a half or even two times their regular wages can drastically increase labour costs. Employers can anticipate overtime and it has become such a common practice, you’d be hard pressed to find many organizations that don’t end up paying overtime wages on occasion. So, if overtime is so common then why do many employers and employees not know more about when overtime is due and how it’s calculated?

The basics are fairly straightforward. If an employee works over eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week, they are owed overtime, right? This is usually the case, but every workplace and employment relationship are different, and many factors must be considered when calculating how much, if any, overtime is due. Some of these factors include, but are certainly not limited to: When does the workday actually start, are breaks paid or unpaid, and what about travel? Getting the basics down is key but building a better understanding of what an employer owes or what an employee is owed is incredibly important from a legal and financial standpoint, not to mention ethical.

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“But my employees are salaried so I don’t have to pay them overtime!” is a common misconception that can lead to years of owed retroactive or back pay. The idea that an employee is salaried because an employer says so is really just an agreement in good faith. If an employee is considered management, or is not covered by BC’s ESA, only then does a working relationship exist where no overtime pay is due. When an employee is entitled to overtime an employer can offer time off rather than overtime pay, or other incentives, it is ultimately the employee’s choice whether or not they receive overtime pay.

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So, what can an employer do in a situation where they know they will require employees to work overtime, but cannot afford to be paying such high labour costs? There are a few options in BC to solve this dilemma that ensures employees are compensated fairly. The first option is an Averaging Agreement, which allows employers to average out an employee’s hours worked in a week to satisfy the 40 hours per week requirement. The second option is time banking, which allows an employee to “bank” overtime hours worked to be paid out at a more opportune time by the request of the employee. The third option, which is our personal favorite, is agreements in good faith. Although not technically enforceable, an agreement in good faith allows employers and employees work together to find the appropriate compensation for the hours worked by the employee. Typically, these agreements offer time off in lieu of overtime pay, and should always be in writing and signed by both parties.

Want to know more? Check out the link below to view the BC “Hours of Work and Overtime” Overview:

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/hours

Hiring a Recruitment Firm? Start Here

Recruiting top workers should be a priority for every organization and your company should be no different.

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You know you want to get your next hire just right and you know you don’t have the time, the energy, the resources, or the expertise in attracting and recruiting that ideal employee. You’ve made the wise decision to use a recruitment firm to find your needle in a haystack. Now what?

There are 200++ firms just in the Lower Mainland. Some have industry specialties in IT or law or marine biology, some are divided by the type of candidate that they work with, from entry-level to senior executive, and still others will work on any search. Some firms function as a one person show in the basement of the family home and some are sleek corporate machines operating in 30 countries and have ten Canadian offices. So, how do you know which one is right for you?

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Many people will begin seeking out a search firm by asking a trusted associate for advice or for the name of a Recruiter that they may have worked with and liked. Often this works because the people in your network already know you and what you expect as a customer. Sometimes it doesn’t work for any one of a myriad of reasons. Maybe the salesperson is too pushy, maybe the recruiter sends you unqualified, not screened candidates, maybe when you call the firm you always get voice mail or maybe the firm is unwilling or unable to come see your operations firsthand. While there is value in the fee that a firm charges, the Recruiter needs to mesh with your company and the way you operate; which is exactly where the search for a search firm should start – by taking a good look at your culture and operations.

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Ask yourself what is important to you. If personalized service is what you offer your clients, then that’s what you will expect when on the other side of the boardroom table. Come up with a list of four or five non-negotiables that you offer and expect in return. This provides a benchmark.

Here are some examples of items to look for in a competent search firm:

  • The ability to readily provide testimonials and / or referrals

  • Internet presence – look for the types of jobs they are advertising on their website, How well are the job postings written? Do they resonate with you?

  • Do they come out to your office? If a firm doesn’t come see your operation firsthand how will they find an employee that connects with your culture?

  • When taking the job order the questions should be related to the skill set and personality fit

  • Transparency with the fee

  • Explanation of the process in detail and sets expectations up front

  • Shows a willingness to ask for your business

  • Is clear on the type of searches they conduct; i.e. middle management to executive across all industries or strictly medical temporary placements

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Finding a service provider in any industry can require a bit of leg work but finding the right search firm that fits with you and your organization can be a valuable tool and a great resource as an extension of your human resource department. Once you do find this gem the two greatest ways to show your appreciation are to give them repeat business and make sure you refer them to all your associates.

Why I Love Recruitment by Drew Stewart

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We heard from Christina about why she loves recruitment, now let’s hear from Drew: I came by my interest in Recruitment organically. I was exposed to it through my job as a manager working for a well-established video game publisher. When I would tell people where I worked, the majority of the time I’d get a response such as:

“Oh wow, must be fun to play video games all day.”

I wish! Now that would be a fantastic job! Unfortunately, when you got to the heart of what I did there, it was not much different then most companies. I spent most my time in spreadsheets, developing reports and managing external relationships with outsourced partners. However, there was one thing that I always looked forward to breakup the monotony of a project cycle. That “thing” was recruiting. I took an active role in evaluating my teams and going through skill set inventory to see where we needed to supplement existing attributes. I particularly enjoyed interviewing and getting to know individuals on a bit more of a personal level. I came away from interviews feeling re-energized and infected with the enthusiasm that came from the candidates who wanted to work for this company and be a part of making a video game that they have personally enjoyed. The process gave me tremendous perspective, in two very different and conflicting ways.

1. Seeing people come into an interview and discuss at length about how a product you are a part of has influenced their life, is a very powerful thing. Now, I fully realized that we were not solving the worlds problems within those walls, we were providing entertainment for people. Nonetheless, what we made impacted individuals and motivated them to pursue a career in our industry. It made me feel proud and excited about the future to eventually have even more influence over decision that could make our products even more entertaining and fun.

2. If I loved this one facet of my job so much, why am I not doing more of it?

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I like to simplify my life and the world around me, as much as possible. I find that getting into too many details can paralyze me into a state of inaction. Paralysis by analysis, if you will. So, when I weighed the two different pieces of perspective, one just seemed too simple to ignore. That question of why not do the thing I enjoy, was too simple to ignore and ultimately it is what gave me the motivation to leave a wonderful organization and enviable place to work.

So, what is it about Recruiting that pushed me to making it a bigger part of my professional life? In my simplified way at looking things, I came up with my top three things that I love about recruiting.

Research

I am a natural introvert. Thankfully, like a lot of introverts, I am a genuinely curious person. I love finding out the “why” or the “how” behind how things work or how people think. Through recruitment, I spend a lot of time researching best practices within different industries and searching for the individuals who have the skills that are desired by our clients. I get the time to work independently doing this, which feeds my natural introversion personality.

Chance to be Extroverted

I wouldn’t be a well-rounded individual if all I did was seek out opportunities to stay in my introverted lane. Doing interviews and talking to candidates on the phone allows me to connect with people and flex my extroverted self. A misconception about introverts is that they appear aloof and disinterested in conversation at times. What I find, is that introverts can become extremely connected to people when getting to a deeper meaningful level. Not so good at small talk but we can build a relationship and stay connected as good as anyone else.

Impact someone in positive way

When one takes inventory of their life and lists out important milestones, they do not get very far down the list before thinking about a job they loved or hopefully getting the opportunity to work somewhere they always dreamed of. Giving good news to candidates that they secured such an opportunity if a definite highlight of my job. I help people get the job they want, which impacts their everyday life. Being a small part of it is extremely satisfying.

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I have found that recruiting suits me. I have not regretted leaving that tech job, not for one minute. I feel like I have grown and learned a lot about a number of different industries and the people who drive them. I feel that I am helping to make an impact in a community where I grew up. I still don’t get to play games all day but when the opportunity arises, I do so as a fan and not a job.



Why I Love Recruitment ~ By Christina Stewart

I absolutely love recruiting! Cheesy? Maybe, but still true.

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I can remember the “HR Lady” at my first office job. I was working as an Administrative Assistant at a Brokerage in my very early 20’s and until that point, I had never heard of HR or Recruitment. As I watched her move from project to project and from a senior level meeting to a training session to interviewing for a vacant role in the office I thought she must have the coolest job ever. She got to know everything about everybody. She was the keeper of secrets – all things confidential were in her grasp.

Naturally as a highly curious person myself, I was intrigued by all that she knew about our company, our office, the people who worked there and our future as an organization. It seemed to me that she had her hand in it all – she was part of the big picture strategy and culture along with every other step down to the minutia of how the office functions; she knew it all and her opinion mattered. I wanted her job.

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I started taking HR classes and luckily one of my first was recruitment. I was hooked. The importance of recruitment became very evident very quickly. Hire the wrong person and your workplace could suffer serious implications. The impact could be felt by unhappy employees, high turnover, low productivity, managers spending too much time on management and not leadership, disgruntled customers – the ripples could turn to waves pretty quickly. Conversely, hire the right person and the opposite can happen: happy colleagues, increased retention, increased productivity, managers spending time leading, and satisfied clients.

Beyond how pivotal it is for a company to have the right complement of people I simply like the duties and responsibilities of being a Recruiter. I like speaking with the client to find out what they are looking for and helping them to refine the ideal person with the ideal skills and experience. At the beginning it can feel as daunting as looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, however, by crafting the right job ads and putting them in the right places along with picking up the phone and talking with people, people and more people, it ends up being more like putting a really fun puzzle together. I feel the joy of putting someone in a role the same as if I were to find the last piece of that puzzle on the floor under my chair. I couldn’t see it right away, but it was there all along ~ Eureka!

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Add to all of that, that I simply enjoy talking with people – I love hearing their stories and learning about why they took this job or how they landed what that company. Everyone has a career story and if you ask the right questions you can often learn a tremendous amount about someone in a fairly short time. I have interviewed hundreds, maybe even a thousand people, in my HR and Recruitment career and every single one of them has something of interest to say. I learn and I grow with each and every interaction.

Telling people that they aren’t successful is hands down the hardest part of this gig, but I see it as an opportunity to provide feedback when someone asks for it, and as an opportunity to treat others with grace. I hope if you were to ask the people I’ve interviewed over the years that they will tell you that I treated them with class and respect throughout the process. I’ve never left anyone hanging, not one of the people I have ever interviewed will tell you that I didn’t speak to them directly to let them know that they didn’t get the job. My attitude is of understanding – I know how hard job hunting can be and how frustrating and arduous to be looking for work but through that process every person has a right to be listened to and treated with dignity.

We do a wide variety of things at Praxis, all of them feed me in some way, but Recruitment really hits home for me with the significance of my contribution, my ability to meet and work with a huge variety of people and how in the end, my perseverance pays off.

Employees Keeping You Up At Night? Read on:

HR Audits Work! By Christina Stewart, CPHR

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A healthcare company leader had employees keeping her up at night. Her main concern was entitlement: tardiness, absenteeism, a spike in peer to peer conflict, giving rewards and additional pay and getting a non-response – or an outright complaint that it wasn’t enough. Basically, she was seeing employees take and take and take and an overall sentiment that the company should simply be happy that the employees showed up to work each day; these team members were lacking in self-awareness and taking no accountability for their actions. The culture was flat at best and the negativity was taking over – people just seemed miserable – especially the CEO and she was worried that it was leeching out to her clients. She had done an employee survey a year before, but the results simply confirmed what she already knew and mistakenly, she didn’t do anything about the mediocre results. She didn’t undertake any changes or take any further action other than simply conducting the survey.

She reached out to us to see if there were a way, we could help in turning this collection of individuals into a true team. Before we could do that, we needed to understand why theses behaviours were happening.

We undertook an audit – interviewed a variety of employees (different roles, departments, tenure, and levels of responsibility) reviewed all the HR documentation (policies, procedures for hiring, promoting, terminating, training, benefits – everything related to HR). In doing so we quickly came to see a few patterns emerge:

  • The first and largest was concerning unclear expectations provided from leadership. Employees weren’t sure what success looked like for their role and they were not connected to the greater goal of the organization. They just didn’t see the value in the work they were doing.

  • There were further themes identified around how the rewards and recognition of good behaviour and reaching milestones were handed out

  • How the policy was interpreted and executed (often inconsistently), and

  • How poor performance was mostly ignored.

We were able to provide specific tactics to take to implement address the above list:

Expectations By setting very clear expectations on how, when and where the work is to be done and by whom, conflicts were immediately reduced, leaving leadership with more time to motivate the team instead of simply running interference. The other outcome of clear expectations was increased productivity. When a leader says “bring in clients” an employee will be creative in determining what that means (Only bringing in one is still an increase, right?) but when the leader says “your job this month is to bring in 10 clients” the employee works directly toward that goal until it’s met – no creative interpretation required. Through this process with us the employer lost two employees who were at the heart of most of the conflict – all turnover is not bad!

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By connecting the team to the significance of the company we were able to increase engagement and of course increased engagement means increased productivity. As leaders we know that productivity equals profitability and of course profitability equals increased rewards for the team. Round and round it goes.

The best part of the story: The Leader finally got some much needed sleep!

If you have any questions about how we can help your organization get to the heart of what’s happening for your team – let us know. We offer free consultations and free HR Pulse Checks to help guide you in creating your best HR strategy.

Six Reasons to Undertake an HR Audit by Christina Stewart

We recently explained what an HR audit is: What Exactly Is A Human Resource Audit

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This week we’ll run through a few reasons why you might need one. We think of audits as “Elevated Employee Surveys” – just like with an anonymous online employee survey you get details on how your employees feel about their work, but with an audit, you also get a good picture of why they feel that way. Additionally, you get a deep look into how effectively your HR systems and HR processes are functioning. Add on to that recommendations for what steps to take in the deficient areas and you have something significantly more valuable that just an online survey.

Most companies are familiar with the concept of an audit, especially when it comes to the financial aspects of the business. However, conducting an audit of your Human Resources policies and procedures is just as valuable – as we know strong HR functions are bankable. An effective HR audit will not only help you assess the important factors for creating a financially healthy future, it can also provide insights into the qualitative aspects that impact your organization’s culture.

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Six Reasons to Conduct an HR Audit

Here are six ways an audit can provide incredible value for your organization:

1. An HR audit helps ensure compliance with important HR regulations. Staying up to speed on the latest compliance and regulations updates is critical. Whether you’re trying to avoid WorkSafeBC penalties or provide appropriate overtime compensation, an HR audit can help you ensure you’re avoiding any potential fines or penalties.

2. An HR audit helps you stay up to date with the latest employment laws and trends. The business world is changing rapidly, including the laws that govern Human Resources departments. An HR audit can ensure that you’re not only adapting to the employment law trends that are shaping today’s workplace but that you’re also up to date on the general business trends that could impact your organization.

3. An HR audit helps ensure that your employees are being paid fairly. As an employer, you need to know what fair pay should be for your employees. You also need to know how to communicate with employees regarding fair pay and compensation. An HR audit can provide insights into both areas.

4. Accurately classify your employees. As the popularity of freelance work and independent contractors has risen in recent years, so has the ambiguity on how to classify employees. An HR audit can help you determine how an employee should be classified or consider what type of hire you should make.

5. An HR audit can analyze and reduce employee turnover. Employee turnover can be incredibly costly for your organization. Whether you’re looking to capture insights through an effective exit interview or looking for ways to boost morale and improve your company culture, an HR audit can provide insights to help you reduce employee turnover.

6. An HR audit can improve organizational structure and update job descriptions. Whether you’re just starting your business or experiencing rapid growth, an HR audit can help you evaluate and improve the people, processes, and procedures you use to run your business. An employee handbook is a foundational element for businesses just starting out. As your company grows and evolves, an HR audit can help you re-assess job descriptions in the same way you evaluate finances and budgets.

Enhance the Processes & Procedures Impacting Your People

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Whatever specific challenge (or challenges!) you’re facing, an HR audit will help you enhance processes and procedures that are directly impacting your greatest asset—your people. Our team at Praxis Group understands the nuances of BC Labour Laws, the best practices in HR and how it all intersects with culture. We’ll help you understand steps to undertake.

Connect with our team to learn more about our HR audit process and other HR services.

Potential Changes to the BC Employment Legislation by Kyle Reid

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BC Employment Standards Act – Summary of Major Amendments

British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) lays out the legal framework for minimum workplace standards to ensure employees are treated fairly and ethically across the province. Provincially regulated employers are required by law to run their organization in accordance with the rules laid out in the ESA. Although small amendments to the act are fairly common, significant alterations are quite rare.

In June of 2018 the “Employment Standards Act Reform Project Committee” finished their review of the ESA and made 78 tentative recommendations. Since these recommendations have been made, the Labour Minister of British Columbia has introduced in the Legislative Assembly of BC for the first reading of “Bill 8. The Employment Standards Amendment Act. 2019”. Of these recommendations, significant amendments were proposed to address: Stronger child employment protections, Expanded job-protected leaves, Improved wage recovery, Modernized Employment Standards Branch services.

Listed below are some of the major amendments proposed under Bill 8:

Stronger child employment protections

· This legislation will broadly raise the age a child may work to 16 (from 12 currently) and better protect the safety of 16 to 18-year-olds by putting restrictions on the type of hazardous work they can be asked to perform.

· Additionally, the legislation does provide exemptions that allow 14 year-olds and 15 year-olds to perform “light work” as prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (aka regulation via Cabinet) that is safe for their health and development (an example given is stocking shelves at a grocery store) with parental consent. To perform “any other work” will requires permission from the Director of Employment Standards.

· The legislation maintains existing regulations that allow children to work in recorded and live entertainment with parental consent.

Expanded job-protected leaves

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· Currently, workers who are trying to escape from domestic violence have no ability to take time from their jobs to find the solutions they need to make life safer for themselves and their kids.

· Changes in the new legislation will provide up to 10 non-consecutive days of unpaid job-protected leaves for those workers, so they can look for a new home, go to medical appointments, etc.

· Additionally, workers will have a second option that will see them receive up to 15 weeks of consecutive unpaid leave.

· Government will carry out an engagement process to determine next steps in making improvements to leave for workers escaping domestic violence.

· The legislation also creates a new unpaid job-protected leave for those caring for critically-ill family members that will align with federal employment insurance benefits — allowing workers to take up to 36 weeks to care for a critically ill child and up to 16 weeks to care for an adult.

Improved wage recovery

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· The legislation establishes a legal framework for regulating tips and tip pooling and protecting workers’ rights with respect to tips and gratuities.

· It prohibits employers from withholding tips or other gratuities from workers, deducting amounts from them, or requiring them to be turned over to the employer.

· It permits tip pooling but specifies that the employer may not share in the tip pool except when the employer performs the same work as workers who share in the pool.

· The legislation also extends the recovery period for which workers can recover owed wages from their employer from six months to 12 months — with the possibility of extending the period to 24 months under some circumstances, such as in cases involving wilful or severe contraventions of the act.

· It also makes collective agreement provisions subject to the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act.

Modernized Employment Standards Branch services

· Under the new legislation, the self-help kit is being eliminated as a required step before filing a complaint.

· The legislation will require the Director of the Employment Standards Branch to investigate all complaints accepted for resolution by the branch — improving on the current process of forgoing needed investigations in favour of speedy resolutions.

· It modernizes several other areas related to services provided by the Employment Standards Branch — including allowing the branch to waive or raise penalties, requiring employers to inform workers of their rights and requiring licensing for temporary help agencies.

· Government will also augment with non-legislative improvements to the branch, including increased education and outreach, adding multilingual capacity and providing enhanced service delivery to workers and employers with visual and hearing impairments.

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It is important to keep in mind that Bill 8 is still subject to revision prior to being passed into law by the legislative assembly of BC. However, if passed this will be the first major revision to BC’s ESA in almost 15 years. For more information on the proposed changes, click on the link below to view the proposed bill as it currently stands in the first reading in parliament.

Link: https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/4th-session/bills/first-reading/gov08-1

What Exactly is a Human Resource Audit? By Christina Stewart

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Hearing the word ‘audit’ is often enough to cause most of us to break out in a cold sweat. Visions of Governmental officials in dark suits with calculators and grim expressions searching through the deep dark corners of your finances and your life come to mind. And I’m sure that can be true in some cases – but not in the case of an HR Audit. Or at least not in an audit with Praxis.

When we think about the word audit – we get excited! We think of problem solving and we think of answers and we think of executing on your visions – we think of solutions. The whole point to undertaking an audit is to get an objective assessment of your people practices so you can exact some positive change.

An HR Audit is a thorough review of your current human resources function. An audit will review your HR policies, procedures, documentation and systems as well as interview your people. Areas will often be identified that require some kind of enhancement (or possibly outright revamp) – when the HR function is enhanced you’re that much closer to executing on your overall company strategy and your vision.

Call it an audit, an assessment, an analysis, an examination, an evaluation or a review – it all means the same thing: understanding your HR function. A properly executed audit can tell you why your turnover is so high, why you’re having trouble recruiting, why you have so much overtime, sick time or disciplinary situations. An audit can provide your company with insight as to how your Human Resources behaviour is impacting your goals, objectives and bottom line.

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But knowing why is only half of it.

A comprehensive audit will also tell you what to do about it. And reputable audit companies will also lay out all the options for undertaking change. The really good ones will even help you execute on your new HR plan.

If you truly want to know where you stand with your people and want to know how to get from here to where you want to be, then an audit is exactly what you need. No governmental suits or sweating required.

Earth Day 2019: #TrashTag

Great things start small

Great things start small

Internet trends come and go, while some are welcome and productive others can be unwanted or down right offensive. One relatively new trend that has been gaining international attention is the #trashtag challenge. For those who haven’t been made aware of the trend, volunteers are collecting garbage from outdoor locations and posting before and after photos online of the area. Although it has been dubbed a “challenge” volunteers are not doing this in hopes of winning a prize, the prize is the satisfaction earned from making the earth a better place to live for everyone.

 

The Photo that started it all

The Photo that started it all

Although it has only recently gained a large international following, the hashtag was first used by Steven Reinhold, an environmentalist and activist, back in 2015 in an attempt to inspire other outdoor enthusiasts to join their effort in picking up any trash they see while out in the wilderness. The movement had an ambitious goal of collecting 10,000 pieces of garbage in its first year of existence. The hashtag was moderately successful in the coming years, primarily being used among American nature and outdoor groups.

 

One of the first to answer the call

One of the first to answer the call

It wasn’t until early March of 2019, where Facebook user Bryon Román posted a challenge to “bored teens” to collect trash in littered areas then post a photo to inspire others. Shortly after, similar posts were appearing across all social media platforms from around the world with bigger and bigger groups cleaning up larger and larger messes. It should be mentioned that the activity of “detrashing” an area is nothing new, and people have been doing this for a long time with little to no recognition. But if some internet points is all it takes to inspire those who would not have gone out and participated to pick up trash, I say why not? Everyone wins.

 

Students from Nepal get involved

Students from Nepal get involved

Now if you are reading this and asking yourself “how can I get involved?”, I’ve got some great news for you, it’s easy! All you need are some trash bags, means to collect garbage (thick gloves or grabbing tool), and a good attitude! Photo evidence is entirely optional, the end result is the same regardless. Whether you pick up a few pieces of trash on your morning walks or organize a group to tackle a whole area, you are still contributing towards a cleaner Earth, a healthier habitat, and a more sustainable future!

10 Cost-Effective Strategies to Increase Employee Retention by Kyle Reid

Employee retention has become an increasingly difficult challenge for organizations, in fact many studies have identified it as the most important challenge Human Resources departments have faced these past few years. As employees move more freely between organizations and spend less and less time at any given job, organizations have experienced a significant increase in recruitment and training costs to keep positions occupied. Beyond the costs associated with finding new talent and training them to a satisfactory standard, organizations can also experience loses related to reduced sales, job errors, lower moral, and a number of other unproductive detriments.

So why are we seeing such a dramatic increase in employee turnover rates across industries? Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer that can be addressed and resolved with minimal effort. Every organization experiences their own level of employee turnover as a reflection of the state of their organizational culture, employment practices, and competition. It would be too easy to just blame Millennials and call them disloyal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Retention is not an issue related solely with Millennials, or any group in particular, it is the result of greater access to information.

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Gone are the days where the employer held all the power in the working relationship. Employees have a better understanding of their rights & entitlements, access to more resources, and an entire job market at their fingertips. If an employee is unsatisfied with their working conditions, there is very little holding them back from looking elsewhere. So, what can employers do to ensure their workforce is satisfied with their employment? Quite a lot actually, and the results greatly outweigh the costs of investment.

 

Listed below is our top 10 cost-effective Retention Strategies:

Recruit Well – Retention starts at the beginning of the employment relationship. Investing time and effort into the recruitment process is critical for ensuring the right talent is being brought in. Often too much focus is placed on the personality of the candidate and their potential “fit” with the organization. Although fit is important, more focus should be placed on the candidate’s job skills and likelihood to succeed in the prospective roll. A well-organized recruitment process also gives potential employee a good first impression of the organization

Train Managers – Managers and supervisors have significant influence towards whether an employee decides to leave or remain with an organization. Organizations can enact progressive policies and employment practices, but if not administered fairly and appropriately these efforts can have an adverse effect on employee retention. Employees don’t often quit an organization, they quit their manager.

Train Everyone – Knowledge is power and the more knowledgeable a workforce is, the more powerful the organization can become. Knowledgeable employees are engaged employees, which not only increases retention but gives the organization a competitive advantage with their workforce. The advantage comes from the improved skill set of an organization’s workforce as a result from training. Whether the advantage is due to better customer service or improved productivity, it can have an additional positive impact on the organization beyond increased employee retention.

Employee Significance – A sense of significance at work can go a long way for an employee’s relationship with their employer. A sense of importance within a role provides greater job satisfaction and a sense of belonging within the organization.

Career Planning – If the employee is expected to invest in the organization, there should be an expectation for the organization to invest in the employee. Monetary compensation only goes so far to provide incentive for employees to stay with an organization. Providing a path for career progression gives employees something obtainable to work towards and a sense of accomplishment when they know their advancement through the organization is a direct result of their efforts.

Flexibility – For many employers, the need for associates to be in the office from nine to five Monday through Friday has become more and more obsolete. This rigid structure of set work hours greatly impacts the work-life balance and is becoming out-dated as societal norms stray further from where they were when the traditional work week was first established.  Organizations who offer flexible working hours and locations have shown employees to be more satisfied with their jobs, more innovative, and more productive.

Talent Mobility – Cross training has long shown to be an effective tool to satisfying internal talent requirements, while also providing opportunities for employees to further improve their skill set and value to the organization.

Benefits – Not all organizations are in a position to be able to offer benefits to their employees, but those that are able to could improve their employee retention by finding out what their employees actually want and need in their benefits before deciding on a plan for their workforce. For organizations that are not in a position to offer benefits for its employees, consider offering alternative non-traditional benefits that are valued by the workforce.

Measure & Improve – Simple observation is often not enough to use as a reliable justification for determining solutions to issues related to employee retention. Taking the time to investigate and measure any possible causation provides much more insight to the issue at hand and will often uncover additional contributing factors, allowing the organization to appropriately address any issues that may be contributing towards employee turnover and absenteeism.

Loyalty Program – It’s no secret organizations desire loyalty from their associates, so why try to hide it? A loyalty programs are just that, a program that has been put in place to reward loyalty from employees. Whether the program celebrates time with the company, job performance on a project, or even just for their birthday, it provides an opportunity for employees to celebrate and be rewarded for their efforts at the organization.

 

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These are just ten of the many low-cost strategies organizations can engage in to address issues with employee retention and turnover. We are excited to see what other practices organization engage in the future to retain their employees.

Improving Our Awareness by Kyle Reid

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Around the world, April is known as Autism Awareness Month. Although important issues such as improving our understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) deserve much more time for thought and discussion than one month of the year, it’s a great start towards promoting a greater, shared understanding. By improving our understanding, and promoting further research, we can collectively improve the lives of those affected by autism. Autism Awareness Month isn’t focused on “finding the cure” but rather to shed light on the challenges families face when affected by autism. There is a significant misunderstanding of what autism is, and how someone who falls within the spectrum is affected.

There is a large divide in our society’s understanding of what Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is, and what ASD is not. ASD is: a neurodevelopmental condition which falls across a highly varied spectrum, ASD is a lifelong condition that cannot be “treated”, individuals are born with autism, they do not develop it. ASD is not: Restricted to childhood, contagious, a “fad” diagnosis, or caused by vaccines. Much of the misinformation comes from a lack of current research conducted towards adults with ASD and a substantial misrepresentation in the media and entertainment industries.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder is broken into only three levels, but the range of symptoms someone with ASD may experience is varied. These levels include: Requiring Support, Requiring Substantial Support and Requiring Very Substantial Support. The criteria for determining what level an individual with ASD is placed in is primarily focused on their deficits in social communication & interaction. It is often the social deficits that cause individuals with ASD to struggle with living independently, much less to do with their intelligence or psychological capacity. If our society was better equipped for accommodating those with social deficits, we would see a huge increase in the quality of life for those affected by ASD.

Currently Individuals with ASD are one of the most underrepresented groups of people with a disability in the Canadian workforce. Only roughly 35% of working age adults with ASD find employment, as the standard employment practices are not designed in anyway to accommodate those who aren’t neurotypical. But what happens when employers make the effort to accommodate individuals with ASD? Many organizations have made the effort to create accommodating employment opportunities by altering their recruitment processes and employment practices. Accommodations are often seen as challenging and expensive for organizations, but simple changes like how you ask a question in an interview or the communication method used for giving instructions can go a long way.

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So how do we continue to move forward? Although it appears like more and more individuals are being diagnosed with ASD, this is due to the broadened scope of the autism spectrum. Our ability to more accurately diagnose ASD means we can provide the support to those who may require it. Worldwide there is an estimated 50-60 million undiagnosed working age adults with ASD. Not all individuals with ASD require daily support, but the ones who do experience a much greater quality of life when they receive the support they need. It is now up to employers to provide their own accommodations to ensure these perfectly capable individuals are able to find and hold meaningful employment. We have come a long way in supporting those affected by ASD, but there is still so much we can provide, and it all starts with knowledge.

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, take a look at one of the many foundations listed bellow that work towards providing support for those who live with ASD.

https://www.autismspeaks.ca/

https://www.canucksautism.ca/

https://autismcanada.org/

https://autismawarenesscentre.com/

http://www.autism-society.org/

First Response Restoration gets Respectful Workplace Training

Since we rolled out our Respectful Workplace Certification last year, we’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of businesses, set-ups, and industries. We’re really enjoying the insight we get into the ways different organisations operate and view respect within their workplace. Some businesses come to us as a response to something that’s taken place at their office, some come as a mandate from a head office that respectful workplace training is required and some register for our training as a proactive measure, a way to educate their team, before there is an issue or to squash any disrespect before it affects morale or operations.

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In January we ran a workshop with Gibsons-based restoration company, First Response. Marek Ahlsten and his team have been providing expert fire, flood and emergency services to the Sunshine Coast since 1999. Since that time their staff has grown and the team now has over 25 employees. Christina Stewart President, Client Engagement and Drew Stewart, President, Operations at Praxis Group met the First Response team to share our presentation, engage in interesting discussions and share insight around respect, bullying and leadership.

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The Praxis Performance Group Respectful Workplace Certification Process begins with Respectful Leadership, and engages every level of an organization in the acts of learning, professional development and personal growth. We know that people want to work for and with organizations that demonstrate respect and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. But often employees don’t know what to say or do when faced with improper or disrespectful behaviour. We know to really make change, education and awareness are key.

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Christina and Drew shared that 40% of Canadians have experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying and/or harassment at least once a week for the last six months. Bullying is also not conducive to a productive business. Bullied employees spend between 60% and 80% of their time at work navigating the situation. Research shows they spend time defending themselves and networking for support, thinking about the situation, being demotivated and stressed, in addition to taking sick leave due to stress-related illnesses.

The discussion with First Response was open and honest. Employees shared experiences they’ve had throughout their careers where a comment or situation has made them uncomfortable. The group discussed how to practice empathy and mitigate bullying as well as the role of a bystander.

Other topics we covered during the First Response workshop were:

  • Our legal duties under the Workers Compensation Act

  • Recognizing the potential for workplace bullying and harassment

  • The legal duties of employers, workers, and supervisors for preventing and responding to workplace bullying and harassment

  • Our workplace reporting procedures

  • How our workplace will deal with incidents or complaints, including investigations

  • What co-workers can do to stop bullying and harassment

  • Tips for how to talk to a bully, if you’re a target or witness of bullying and harassment

  • Additional information and resources about workplace bullying and harassment

At Praxis Performance Group we are passionate about our community and helping organizations build respectful workplaces. First Response Restoration inspired us with their team focus and open-minded approach to their professional relationships. We love seeing local businesses at the forefront of building respectful workplaces.