HR

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.

The Benefit of Flexibility by Christina Stewart

Praxis began because Drew and I wanted to be The Boss. We wanted to work for ourselves and have infinitely more flexibility.  I personally was frustrated with asking if I could have an afternoon or an hour away from the office to attend to something for my kids.  I have excellent time management ability and can focus easily, I know how to manage my time with my tasks and saw slipping away from work to watch an assembly or take a child to the dentist as easy and as just part of my day.  Funny, my boss didn’t see it that way. However, I never did ask if I could come in on a Saturday to get ahead of the workload – I just would and of course no one ever challenged me on it. It isn’t that they wouldn’t let me go – if I asked, then I could go – but it was just the fact that I had to ask and that it was tallied up and tracked, used as vacation, or I traded this time at work here for this time at home there and recorded on some spreadsheet and in some database.

As the one in charge of the service we offer now (aka The Boss) I weave what needs attending to at home and at work into my day and my schedule.  It’s the sunny Monday morning of a Long Weekend while I write this – but I was up at 5:30 so I might as well write this blog while the house is quiet and I have the time – right? And come Wednesday afternoon at 12:50 you’ll find me at the school walking my youngest child’s Kindergarten class to the pool for swimming lessons – because it’s important and fun – right? Still trading time but I’m most certainly not tracking it and I’m not asking if I can; I’m simply managing the pieces of my life and my work that matter.

I have a friend in Vancouver who runs his own business with about 20 employees and he doesn’t track lunch hours or what time they roll in each day – and I’ll tell you something crazy - he doesn’t even track vacation.  Not one little bit.  He sets out the expectations and provides plenty of support; guidance and the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. And then: he lets them get to it. If they need a Wednesday afternoon off to walk their kid to a swimming lesson, off they go, without question, without asking.  If they need two weeks in Hawaii, off they go without question, without asking. He hires skilled people with the ability to get the job done without his meddling and then makes sure they know what they are on deck to do.  Then they do it as they see fit, in the times that work best for them. He doesn’t track anything but their final performance and if they are getting the results he needs them to, they are successful.  End of the story.

As Drew and I stare down the barrel of making our first few hires, we’re most definitely thinking about flexibility for our team.  We refuse to make our employees choose between work and family – we aren’t retail, someone does not have to be minding the store in order to get the job done.  Also, as an HR company we fully understand that companies that are willing to offer more flexible job options find that their employees are happier and more committed to their jobs, or even that they get more work done.  So that’s a nice bonus, but in the end we’re offering flexibility because I will trust them and I have better things to do than track and trade my team’s work time with down time – and so will they.

 

My Unplanned Plan by Christina Stewart

It’s no secret that I’m a planner.  I’m organized and thoughtful about the future and I set goals regularly. So, of course, I take care to plan accordingly.  In my own business we have business plans from each year, strategic plans, marketing plans and goals written down on several whiteboards dotted around the office. I have to-do lists and to-day lists. I have lists for each kid (colour coded of course!) and lists for the house, for groceries, for our dogs and for my husband and me. I have notebooks filled with goals and plans and ideas stashed in each vehicle, each room of our office and home and I’m sure there are a few under couch cushions too.  I’m a big fan of planning.

I tell my clients that planning is a tool that serves both themselves and their businesses.  It is a path to follow that allows for the energy, resources and time of your business and your employees to be in alignment. A good plan will not only tell you where you are going but how you are going to get there.  This is a maxim that I live by in my work and in my entire life. This is what my clients pay us to do for them, and we do it very well.

And yet, we’re about to enter the spring of 2017 and I have no idea where Praxis is going this year.   Seriously. Even typing that sentence gives me chills.  But it’s true.  In November last year, my partner, Drew and I took off to Vegas for a few days to do some 2017 strategic planning.  Except, we were in Vegas and away from the kids and our regular life for the first time in years.  So, we slept and ate and didn’t do any planning.  Then around came December and January – our biggest and busiest months in the life of our business. Followed by a productive February, filled with sick kids, sick adults and playing catch up on all the stuff we didn’t get done in December and January.  You get the idea. Life is busy.  A good busy – a great busy, but still busy.

Week after week, I write down that our priority for that week is “strategy development.”  I write down “we need to define who needs us this year” and I write down “How are we going to let business who need us know we exist?” and I write down “how are we going to best help our clients reach their goals.”  And yet, here we are with no plan.  But here’s the fun part: That has become my plan.

Starting my own business has pushed me in ways I could never ever have foreseen.  I am challenged in a new way almost daily to be creative and put myself out into the world in interesting ways. This whole “no plan” has become part of this adventure for me.  I’m understanding what it’s like to live by an organic system. I’m learning to let the flow of my business dictate where I expend my energy.  It’s a fascinating, unique and developing feeling for me.  It makes me uncomfortable – but there is a huge part of me that is learning to live with discomfort and to actually flourish from what I discover while I am uncomfortable.

I’m not sure how long this departure from my normal will last for me – at the core of who I am, I am a planner and I know that will surface and win out again. Plus, I know that setting goals is actually a sound business practice, but for now, I’m going to let it ride and see where we end up.

Why I love Recruitment by Drew Stewart

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 break up 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?

 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 every day life. Being a small part of it is extremely satisfying.

 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.

Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Christina Stewart

I recruit for a living; I assess candidates and determine if they would be a good fit for an organization. I have reviewed 1,000’s of resumes and conducted 100’s and 100’s of interviews.  One particular interview stands out.  I was looking to fill a sales role in a “blue collar” manufacturing organization in Vancouver.  The client wanted competitive, motivated, and hungry sales people who would flourish with little to no supervision, direction or meddling. They had a large team of all men who were killing it and they needed to add one more self-directed person to the mix.  In my experience, some of the best people for roles like this have a background in competitive sports or are still athletes.  When a resume of an experienced sales professional landed in my applicant file with a lengthy list of hockey accomplishments on it, I was excited.  I emailed “Alex” right away and we made swift plans for an interview. 

So, if you’re familiar with what Unconscious Bias is (making snap decisions based on stereotypes) you can probably guess where this is going. When Alex walked into the interview I am certain I was visibly thrown. Alex was, of course, female. I tried to recover without comment and we carried on with the discussion.  Unconscious Bias at it’s finest.

There are a few factors that led to the Bias.  First within the role itself, the team was all men, my clients never outright said “Only men allowed” but the word “she” was never uttered when discussing the ideal candidate, it was a blue collar industry predominately made up of typical male things, and the role involved almost entirely interacting with men – bosses, peers and customers. Therefore deep in my mind, I was already looking for a man.  Then add to that Alex’s hockey history, I further thought male and of course her name, deep in my unconscious Alex must have equalled Alexander and not Alexandria. 

What is Unconscious Bias Anyway?

Essentially, it’s labels, both negative and positive, that exist in our subconscious and affect our behavior.  They aren’t just about men and women, but race, socio-economics, sexuality, weight, age and family status – you name it, it exists.  Some argue that the bias is so deep that it’s beyond our control.  But I disagree.  Let’s take my example above.  When that happened, I could have just moved on with my life and career but I choose to analyse what happened.  I learned and grew from the incident and therefore brought my unconscious bias surrounding all of those factors to the surface.  I use that incident to check myself and ensure that I’m not letting my brain make any quick decisions about roles or candidates.  It makes me a better recruiter and really, just a better person.

But like most of us – I still have a long way to go.  Most of us think we’re pretty good at being fair and that we assign job tasks, promotions, training and other advantages based on merit alone. But if that’s the case, why are there 100 men promoted into entry level leadership roles for every 30 women? (https://womenintheworkplace.com/) That’s the bad news, the good news is that we can start to train our brains to stop making these decisions based on our biases. 

Three Quick Tips to Uncovering Unconscious Bias

1.       Look Inward – What are some of the stories that make up your decisions?  Are they true and accurate or was there something else at play? 

2.       Speak Up – Call out someone on their bias at work (privately and respectfully of course) will help people see the decisions they are making for what they are.  Promoting open discussion at work is essential to exacting change.

3.       Focus on Skills – The number of women in orchestras has gone from 5% in the early 1970’s to 25% today.  This rise is largely due to applicants auditioning behind screens so the judges can’t ascertain gender; they can only ascertain how poorly or how well they play.  Are there any changes like this you can make in your workplace?

By paying attention to our own stereotypes, we can start to see people for who they really are and uncover what value and contribution they can make to our teams.

Are Personality Tests Valuable? By Christina Stewart

We think so.  But there is a catch… The Results Must Always Be Used For Good!  Let me explain…

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Personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI for those in the biz,) can give folks a super strong sense of who they are and why they behave the way they do. They can also give employers a strong sense of who the employee is, where they may naturally be adept and show the ways that someone may contribute to the team. The problem lies in taking the results at face value, and using those results as a basis for either hiring or not, because there is always more under the surface.  

A great example is with the MBTI.  I am an ISTJ – and I am an ISTJ – I like structure and order and I’m also incredibly reliable.  The risk comes in when, let’s say, an employer may be interested in hiring me to facilitate training. They may see the ISTJ, and assume that I’m too introverted to speak up and move on to another candidate who shows a stronger preference for extroversion.  But what you don’t know about me by only seeing the “I” or the Introvert in ISTJ, is that I actually love public speaking. I adore standing up in front of a group of people and sharing knowledge and having great conversations.  ISTJs can actually be extremely adept at delivering training sessions because they are always incredibly prepared and they’re also information junkies – both attributes would be positive assets to an employer’s training department.

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The lesson here is to use personality assessments to prove what you already and know about someone “Look there is an ISTJ – I knew she seemed like he would be reliable,” and to use it as a way to allow a person a vaster contribution once you do hire someone.  They can provide tremendous value for self-discovery, team building, coaching, enhancing communication, and numerous other developmental applications. But due to limited predictive validity (does this test show how an employer will perform in the future?), low test-retest reliability (will this person answer the test exactly the same each and every time?), lack of norming (can this test be held up against another person’s and show the truth?) and an internal consistency (lie detector) measure, etc., they are not ideal for use in hiring.

Employers with a role to fill who only look at a certain type of person take a big risk in missing out on someone who would be outstanding in a particular role.  Personality Tests can be very valuable when used for good – to build people up, but not to exclude potential employees from their workforce.  They may just miss out on a shining star.

Onboarding is Essential - By Christina Stewart

You have spent time, energy, money and other resources finding the right person to fill your vacancy; the last situation you want is for that new team member to leave your firm early and have all those resources go to waste.  Plus you’d be stuck doing it all over again.  But how do you bridge the gap between recruitment and retention?  Onboarding.

Make your new employee feel welcome, wanted and engaged before the first day.  Often there is a lag between signing the offer letter and the first day of employment, so a week before the start date call your new team member and say how much you are looking forward to having them onboard.   If it is an executive position call again on the afternoon of the day before they start.  This will warm any cold feet and calm any nerves.

It is imperative that when the new hire arrives on day one that they have a work space completely set up, everything from a computer with a working e-mail, e-mail signature, and any other necessary programs to pens, notebooks and business cards printed and sitting on their desk.  Plan in advance what the orientation and initial training will look like.  Know exactly who is teaching what and when.  Show a commitment to having prepped for them and they will feel important and valued from the start, thus increasing their chance of making it through the critical first three months.

One idea is to have new employees start on a Friday – this gives them the weekend to process the new environment and then they can hit the ground running on Monday.  The Friday is essentially a meet and greet anyway.  Make sure your entire team knows they are starting – send out an announcement e-mail with a brief overview of the new hire’s background and always set up their name in the phone system and on the phone directory.

The key to effective onboarding is to always appear organized and to always appear enthusiastic.  Make a commitment to your new team member before they even start and you’ll be rewarded with a team member that makes a speedy commitment to you.

 

 

 

 

Team Building with Purpose (part 5 of 5) by Christina Stewart

Team building is a comprehensive theory encompassing different types of activities with a clear purpose. True Team Building with Purpose has both intention and determination.

In the final entry of our five part series we explain team building through problem solving.  In Part 2: Team Building through Personality Assessment, we talked about how the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) uses the differences in employee’s preferences to launch a conversation about how to move forward as a team.  In Part 3: Activity Based Team Building and Part 4: Skills-Based Team Building we spoke about how learning can be overt or covert – but both ways can have positive impacts on the team development. In our final installment we’ll discuss tackling a problem head-on.

Team Building through Problem-Solving

This type of team building activity usually takes place in a retreat setting far away from the regular work environment and is led by an outside facilitator; well versed in mediation and conflict reduction and who must be an impartial third party. In problem-solving-based team building, team members come together to first identify and to second solve a key challenge the group is currently facing.  Problem-solving-based team building is a brainstorming experience that brings to light the team’s barriers to success. Once the symptoms have been elicited, the team goes on to examine possible causes, until they reach the root cause of the problem. At this stage, team members are able to develop a concrete action plan to solve the challenge.

This team building approach has great benefits in term of stress relief and positive emotions towards the work environment. Problem-solving-based team building is an outlet for frustrations and a step forward to action. The team building helps the group move beyond inertia, stay motivated and take control over its own destiny. 

Team building is a comprehensive theory encompassing different types of activities with a clear purpose. True team building is certainly fun but also has both intention and determination – Team Building has Purpose!

Team Building with Purpose (Part 4 of 5) by Christina Stewart

In Part four of our five part series we walk through Skills Based team building.  In Part 1 we learned that Team Building has Purpose and that when teams are functioning at their capacity in a productive manner, there is no stopping success.

One option is to Team build through Personality Assessment using something like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to develop a deeper understanding of why we and our colleagues do things the way we do.  And from understanding often comes conflict reduction.

While Activity Based Team Building is an indirect way of teaching specific skills while brings employees together, skills-based team building means direct learning.

Skills-Based Team Building

In skills-based team building, team members participate in workshops where they learn and practice a specific skill set, such as:

·         Conflict resolution or management

·         Reaching group consensus

·         Give/receive constructive feedback

·         Types of Power, Control and Influence

·         Shifting Perspective

·         Effective Communication

This type of team building focuses on skills that can be applied immediately to the work environment. Human Resource Managers may likewise use this team building approach to develop the leadership potential of members.

Skills Based Team Building is a superb option for developing your employees both for your organization and for themselves.

Next Entry: Team Building through Problem-Solving

Team Building with Purpose (part 3 of 5) by Christina Stewart

We know from reading in part one and part two Team Building with Purpose that team building is a lot more than a frivolous experience; team building is not just a socializing event, team building isn’t just a way to get out of the office for the afternoon. Many people think of team building as fun and games, risk taking adventures, or merely play time. Although there’s more to team building than just that, team building can actually be a ton of fun!

One option is to Team build through Personality Assessment using something like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to develop a deeper understanding of why we and our colleagues do things the way we do.  And from understanding often comes conflict reduction. 

In Part three of our five part series we walk through activity based team building.  Often, when people think of team building, this is the kind of session they think of.

Activity-Based Team Building:

Activity-based team building is used to provide teams with challenging tasks that often take place in the outdoors:

·         Ropes Course

·         Rafting

·         Mountain Climbing

·         Orienteering

·         Kayaking

·         Survival Events

·         Boot Camp

But there are lots of indoor activities too:

·         Iron Chef Competitions

·         Trivia Battles

·         Scavenger Hunts

·         Video Game Competitions

These kind of activities address specific development needs of teams such as problem solving, risk-taking, trust-building and paradigm breaking.  The idea is not just to have fun together, bond well and learn new skills, but to actually understand how these teamwork lessons can be applied to a work situation. The experience of success in an outdoor challenge can be a great booster for the team’s morale and productivity in the workplace.   

Team Building through Activity can be a tremendous opportunity to bring employees together, see colleagues in a different light and get people working together. Next Entry: Skill Based Team Building

Team Building with a Purpose (Part 2 of 5) by Christina Stewart

Team Building through Personality Assessment – Part 2 of 5

We learned in part one Team Building with Purpose that team building is one of the best investments that an organization can make, but what are some of the options?  What can a company actually do with their team?   In Part two of our five part series we walk through one of those options: Team Building by Personality Assessment. 

Team Building through Personality Assessment:

In personality-based team building, individuals fill out a psychometric test – MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), for example – where they can learn more about their own personalities and those of their teammates as well. The results of the self-assessment are shared with the team and used as a tool for communication and understanding. Personality-based team building is an effective development tool which helps team members gain better self-understanding, become aware of the differences between each other and adjust their behavior to match their teammates’. Different individuals have different motivational needs and different reactions to work situations, stress or change. This can lead people to misinterpret each other’s intentions and actions. Understanding and accepting individual differences will greatly enhance conflict resolution, collaboration and team effectiveness. 

What You Can Expect After a Session – After completion of the MBTI organizations report that they experience:

Improved Communication: A greater understanding of the preferences of others leads to more open and collaborative dialogue throughout teams, between leadership and employees as well as across separate teams of employees.

Improved Team Performance: The insight gained into the preferences of those around you can aid in decision making, training, project management and other workplace initiatives. Also, by understanding the sources of stress for your colleagues team members are better able to aid and avoid pitfalls.

Conflict Resolution: With increased communication and understanding of differences comes a reduction in the nature and severity of usual conflicts within a work environment.  Employees become better at being empathetic colleagues.

Selecting Better Employees and Increased Building of Effective teams: If you understand the underlying dynamics of your teams it becomes easier to hire the right fit as well as to put your teams together.

Team Building through Personality Assessment can be a fabulous way to bring employees together and keep those connections going long after the session ends.

Next Entry: Activity Based Team Building

Team Building with Purpose (part 1 of 5) by Christina Stewart

The words “team building” are bandied about in business and industry – but what does it actually mean?

We know that when teams are functioning at their capacity in a productive manner, there is no stopping success.  We also know the opposite to be true. A team with issues, conflicts or uncertainties, will plod along with success as a far off concept.

Whether in athletics, business, education, government, or a group of people trying to plan a birthday party, things are done smoother and with greater success when people work together towards a common goal. The more effective they are at working as a team, the more fruitful the task they set out to accomplish and additionally, as an added bonus, the greater each team members’ sense of satisfaction.  Provided team members can communicate freely and share confidence in each other’s abilities and judgment, working in a team is the way to go.  Team building is a way to boost confidence in colleagues and ensure that free communication flows. 

Coming together as a group may come naturally for some people, but positive intentions are not enough to turn a group into a team – and a successful, high-performing team at that. HR Leaders know that exceptional teams are built not born. Teams need building and team building is one of the best investments an organization can make. Team building is about creating connections and bringing out the cooperative intellect within the team.

Team Building is an Intervention that:

Solves – Task/Problems

Clarifies – Rules

Solves – Interpersonal Challenges

Enhances – Social Relations

All of which affect team functioning

So, then what is an “Intervention???”

There are four kinds:

·         Team Building through Personality Assessment 

·         Activity-based team building

·         Skills-based team building

·         Team building through problem-solving

Check back soon where we’ll go through each in detail. Next Entry: Team Building through Personality Assessment