Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations
In the coming year, the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) will continue to raise awareness about the national HR designation and show the value a designation holder can bring to an organization, says the council’s CEO.
“We’re focusing a lot this year on continuing to enhance the designation,” says Lynn Palmer.
This includes updating the council’s website so it focuses on the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP). The website will promote the value of the designation and explain the difference it makes for an HR professional who has it, says Palmer.
The business community is starting to see the value of the CHRP, according to a CCHRA survey of 1,129 HR and business people in the summer. When hiring for HR positions, two-thirds of employers said they made it a priority to hire a CHRP and three-quarters of HR professionals said obtaining the CHRP was a good career investment.
This was also reflected in a 20-per-cent increase in people writing the CHRP exams in 2008 (5,800, up from 4,650 in 2007). And with 1,500 HR practitioners awarded the designation last year, there are now more than 19,000 CHRP holders in Canada, says Palmer.
Last year the council, which is responsible for maintaining the designation’s professional standards, changed the required professional capabilities (RPCs) for the designation after an extensive review. The changes were reflected in October’s exams.
The council will begin the review process again at the end of the month with the launch of a professional review analysis, which takes about one year to complete.
The upcoming review — which will include focus groups and surveys of members of the provincial associations as well as academics and business professionals — will look at, among other things, how having more people with specialist designations and more people entering HR from line management has affected the profession, says Palmer.
CCHRA is also gearing up for the annual national forum, to be held in November. Last year’s invitation-only event in March examined the integration of immigrants into the Canadian workforce. This year’s event will look at the people side of productivity, says Palmer.
“It’s timely,” she says. “(It’s about) how do we get more out of our organizations and highlighting the impact that people management has on the bottom line.”
British Columbia Human Resources Management Association
Nearly five years into his leadership of the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA), Simon Evans says he has no plans to step down any time soon.
“I love what I do. I’m passionate about it. It’s a great association.”
As CEO of the association, Evans says he appreciates its ability to build the HR profession in B.C. and Canada through collaboration. As part of that, BC HRMA has been focusing on thought leadership and professional development by building HR metrics and research. And in the next few months, it will see the first results from companies that joined the long-term project. There’s a lot of investment spending involved but it’s all to benefit members and the industry, he says.
“The value they get isn’t necessarily the networking and those things all part and parcel of association life, but more tangible. You know, ‘I get some really good thought leadership, I get some good research, I get some good numbers, it’s statistically valid, it’s ready to go, the information is professionally presented.’ That’s the change, how we’re now focusing in that area.”
Members and the business community are keen to gain comparative numbers on issues such as how long it takes to hire, turnover rates and productivity, particularly when a board has questions, he says, and BC HRMA’s webinars on this topic are well-attended.
“The three-year research plan is very specific to building the credibility and quality of what we do.”
As part of its spotlight on professional development, BC HRMA has found two-day symposiums or forums, in four or five different cities, are more worthwhile and successful as mini-conferences instead of one-day or half-day arrangements. And attendance at the association’s annual conference continues to grow. While the 2009 event is slated for Victoria, which has a smaller capacity than Vancouver, the early bird registrations are running 40 per cent above a year ago, says Evans.
The association also continues to grow and now boasts 4,688 members. In the last four years, there has been a 65-per-cent increase in membership and, with 2009 looking solid, that number could hit 5,000 by the end of the year.
The market downturn could have some impact, he says, but while some companies require layoffs, shutdowns or pullbacks, on the other side of the coin, “you often find in the HR world, it’s a matter of retooling and making sure the individual is still continuing to upgrade their skills,” he says.
And now, BC HRMA is in the throes of writing a five-year plan. In addition to the focus on thought leadership and research, the plan will work on maintaining and safeguarding member equity and expanded use of technology, says Evans.
Human Resources Institute of Alberta
The Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) had a busy year in 2008, with growing membership, progress in the collaboration initiative among the province’s six regional associations and a successful annual conference. And 2009 will be a landmark as HRIA celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Membership has grown by 17 per cent to 3,400 members, says Claudia Verburgh, who became president of HRIA in October 2008, one year before expected because the previous president stepped down for personal reasons.
And the annual conference held in April saw record-breaking, sold-out attendance, she says, so hopefully the 2009 event in Edmonton will again see success with Peter Mansbridge as keynote speaker.
The discussions around the collaboration of the regional associations are also going well, says Verburgh. There was a model in principle and a task force has filled in the details on how to move forward, so once it has been approved by the board and members, the deal can be voted on “to make collaboration a reality.” There was an overwhelmingly positive vote from HRIA members on the model in principle, so it’s anticipated members, and hopefully the regions, will be in favour.
“We’re pretty excited about that, it’s been a long process, but we’ve done the hard work of really creating a strong model that is respectful and ensures the viability and good health of all member associations,” she says. “HR professionals are going to get even stronger service than they have in the past.”
Members of the Calgary regional association, however, did not vote in favour of the model in principle so they have decided to go their own way at present, she says.
Another focus for the association is trying to get closer to members, whether that’s through focus groups in the Calgary region or providing more Internet-based training and webinars.
“It’s a real priority of ours to make services available to HR professionals, no matter where they are in the province,” says Verburgh.
The HRIA also continues to partner with other organizations to offer several professional development opportunities throughout the year, such as a Power Within leadership series and an executive briefing on HR strategies in an economic downturn. And going forward, the group hopes to offer more of its own events, while also forging stronger alliances with learning institutions, so it can provide better deals to members, says Verburgh.
Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals
The Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) was formed nearly four years ago, growing from 500 to 1,110 members, and the past year has seen a lot of change for the young association. SAHRP hired its first full-time staff member, executive director Debra Godin, launched an association magazine and a membership directory, and moved its annual conference from June to October, says SAHRP president Keith Davis.
The association’s program delivery has also become stronger, as illustrated by the large attendance for monthly luncheon and dinner events — about 175 in Saskatoon and 75 in Regina, says Davis. This means about one-quarter of the association’s members are participating in regular events, he says.
However, with events taking place in the province’s two urban centres, some members in rural communities struggled to make it to the events, says Davis.
“To go to our luncheon program meeting, it was a long trip for a lot of people and they couldn’t participate,” he says.
So the association held introductory dinner events in Yorkton, Swift Current and Prince Albert and invited anyone from the community who was involved in HR. About 15 to 20 people attended each event and those who weren’t members have since joined the association and now the communities hold regular meetings of their own, says Davis.
To ensure they’re not missing out on what’s happening in the cities, many of the events in Regina and Saskatoon are videotaped and replayed for these members. There’s also interest from other small communities to start up similar “satellite” chapters, says Davis.
“There’s a potential to have three or four more units like that,” he says, which means there’s an opportunity to grow the association’s membership.
“There is still room for growth. I think we could probably grow another 40 per cent,” he says.
SAHRP’s prep courses for the CHRP designation exams have led to the province having a high proportion of members passing the exams, says Davis. This success has prompted him to look into other training opportunities for members.
But because the association has its roots in both HR management and training and development associations, it’s important to ensure everyone’s needs are being met.
“We have to be vigilant, though, to make sure we have a really good cross-section of training and programming topic areas so that we’re covering off the general HR and the training and development side on a continual basis,” says Davis.
Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba
As the new president of the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM), Diane Panting speaks with enthusiasm about the HR profession and the association. In particular, she mentions a comprehensive strategic planning process that is underway, looking forward five years at the business world and the profession.
“We want to be an important centre of business excellence, that’s what we’re focusing on for the future, for HR and leadership, and really enabling our members to contribute to the success and outcomes of their organizations and sustainability of their organizations,” she says.
The plan is still being finalized but has four strategic directions: stewardship, membership, governance and people. Thus far HRMAM has articulated the objectives and is now in the action plan and budgeting stages, she says.
The market downturn could hold some elements back but the association has been very careful over the years and managed its budget well, says Panting.
“We’ve known there are things we want to do in the future and the future is now.”
And these economic challenges make for interesting times when it comes to HR.
“It’s not like it was a few years ago; we’re seeing much more (HR) really thinking through not just short-term but long-term strategy in keeping people. And looking at different ways of compensating people so we don’t have to lay them off, so it’s very interesting,” says Panting. “It’s going to be fascinating, the generation coming up and how we accommodate them coming into the workforce.”
HRMAM has also been busy this past year in conducting a comprehensive member survey, which confirmed members are keen to have opportunities to network and share learnings among various members, particularly more senior ones.
“(It’s about) helping our members really understand the financial aspects of running a business, project management — real business skills as well as technical HR skills,” she says. “We talk so much in our field about wanting to be sitting at the table, which is very overused, but it’s more than saying it, it’s how do we do it? It’s really helping our members to be business leaders, beyond HR professionals.”
There was also the annual HR conference in October, a sold-out event with more than 400 people and 30 presenters.
“It was a huge success monetarily which helps us invest more in the organization,” says Panting.
HRMAM also elected a new board in September, which includes a labour lawyer, a non-HR person, a professor and a chartered accountant, so it’s an “excellent, diverse group,” she says.
In expanding its reach, and building best practices, the 1,300-member association is trying to build better connections with Aboriginal and new immigrant communities through committees and learning and development opportunities. It is also focusing more on younger and older members through mentorship programs, she says.
And in March, it will hold its annual leadership and awards gala recognizing organizations that have done great things in HR.
Human Resources Professionals Association
Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in Ontario, calls 2008 a “strange year” because while the business world was falling apart, the association was adding new members.
The organization grew its membership by eight per cent, added new education modules to its certification program and updated its IT system.
“From our point of view, it was a surprisingly good year,” says Greenhalgh.
The 18,000-member organization also got a boost to its reputation and credibility when it was granted intervenor status in a Supreme Court of Canada hearing. The HRPA offered expertise on the use and importance of doctors’ notes, which the court later used almost verbatim in its ruling, says Greenhalgh.
To underscore its professionalism, the HRPA issued new rules of professional conduct for members and, for the first time, introduced awards for HR excellence in partnership with Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business and publisher of Canadian HR Reporter. The Summit Awards are designed to recognize the people behind the country’s award-winning companies.
“Virtually everything that goes into those awards are HR-related. You have all of the people in the background who pull all of this stuff together,” he says. “It’s time to recognize the rising stars of HR.”
The HRPA also introduced the Emeritus Award, given to HR professionals for lifetime achievement. The award will be handed out annually to select individuals, says Greenhalgh.
“This is kind of like the Oscar or Nobel prize for really senior people who have contributed to HR over a lifetime of achievement,” he says. “People who have made a real difference.”
The organization hopes to build on excellence this year, by expanding its education programming beyond Toronto. Already, four of nine modules are available in Mississauga and all nine will be offered this year, with the possibility of expanding to other cities.
“It’s a clear strategy that makes the association attractive to members — not just attracting new members but keeping the ones that we have,” says Greenhalgh.
To build on accessibility, the HRPA will also add to the tools already offered online through its website, including webinars. All of the 80 held last year were a success, says Greenhalgh.
President and CEO
Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés
In 2008, the association representing certified human resources and industrial relations professionals in Quebec made the decision to drop “industrial relations” from its name and focus solely on the CHRP designation.
“It was difficult for us to promote two designations,” says Florent Francoeur, president and CEO of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA), formerly the Ordre des CRHA et CRIA du Québec. “Industrial relations is more related to labour relations and we want to promote all the fields of HR.”
The organization’s shift reflects a shift in the market as well, says Francoeur. While there are a lot of vice-presidents of HR, there are very few vice-presidents of industrial relations and those members with university degrees in IR tend to work in HR positions.
The association informed all members about why it wanted to focus solely on the CHRP and then surveyed members, finding nearly unanimous support for the move, says Francoeur. The decision was made in April and implemented in September. The name change became official as of Jan. 1, 2009.
Even with such a major change, member satisfaction with the association and its programs remains very high. The annual survey of the association’s 9,000 members, who all hold the CHRP or are working towards it, found 94 per cent were very satisfied or satisfied with the association.
Another survey of the 2,000 members who attended the annual conference in September found 90 per cent of participants were very satisfied or satisfied with the conference.
In the coming year, the association plans to continue to promote the CHRP and raise awareness in the business community about the difference between a CHRP holder and an HR professional who doesn’t have the designation, says Francoeur.
“We want to make sure the CHRP designation is really well-known in the business community,” he says.
To that end, the association will launch a competency model for HR professionals in April. The model, based on the required professional capabilities that are the basis for CHRP exams and consultations with members and academics, will outline what a CHRP holder must know and be able to do.
Members can also use the competency model to compare where they are in terms of skills and figure out what kind of professional development they might need to get to the level expected of them, says Francoeur.
“It will be done for members in Quebec, but about 90 per cent of it will be applicable for any HR people in Canada,” he says.
Human Resources Association of New Brunswick
It will be tough for the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB) to top last year’s success. The association held its first-ever human resources conference in Moncton, which drew about 300 people from around the region.
It was a significant event for HR professionals in the East, many of whom can’t get to conferences in Ontario and Quebec, says Fran White, president of the association.
“The small- to medium-sized business owners and the single practitioners don’t always have that kind of money to fork over,” she says. “This was a blending of a number of things that we felt would be value-added.”
The conference focused on understanding how the business of HR is changing. It obviously “got people thinking,” says White, as the HRANB received a lot of feedback from members. It was a gamble to invest so much time and money into something that had never been attempted before, but it paid off, she says.
To build on that success, the HRANB also started chapters in the francophone communities of Edmundston and Bathurst. The association realized it wasn’t reaching a large segment of the HR community in the province, she says.
“We really needed to do something,” she says. “These things start small but all you need is some dedicated folks with some innovative ideas.”
This year, the HRANB is redesigning its website to keep pace with its increasing membership and the changing needs of the organization.
“The existing design was great when we were small and just starting out but now our members have more needs,” she says. “They’re looking for something that’s got a better appeal, has more information and is user-friendly.”
Looking at the year ahead, 2009 will be a time of renewal for the association, says White. Members will be reviewing the strategic plan over the next few weeks and charting a course for the next year. The once small provincial organization is growing faster than expected, she said.
“We’re doing all of the things we know we need to do as part of getting ourselves in the position that we can address and respond to the growing needs of our profession,” she says.
Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia
There were physical and strategic moves at the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS) last year.
The former involved opening an office in downtown Halifax. The 1,000-square-foot space has become the association’s “centre of connection” in several ways, says Patrick Hartling, HRANS president. Members have a place to call for information and assistance and it’s also somewhere to hold meetings.
“It’s in an excellent area, right in the downtown area. It gives us some visibility and identity with other associations and other organizations, too,” he says.
HRANS also started the process of an IT upgrade in 2008, a project that will continue into the current year. The enhancements are aimed at better serving members in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, says Hartling. For example, members can now store information online, such as records of training courses they’ve attended.
Members benefit from having a centralized storage system that gives them a sense of where they’ve been and where they’re headed, says Hartling.
“Instead of looking at it as in the past and saying, ‘What training did I accidentally go to?’ they’ll be able to plan the activities they’re going to take part in,” he explains. “By shifting it to a more forward-thinking piece, people will be more likely to look at career development linked to their current work and professional development objectives.”
HRANS has also started involving volunteers more in professional development planning. With their input, the association is trying new ideas, times and sites.
“We weren’t listening to members as well as we might,” says Hartling. “Sometimes it was simply about people being tired of having the same meal with the same meeting at the same place. It may seem silly but it’s not. If there are things that prevent them from going or enjoying it, they won’t be as engaged as they otherwise might be.”
Even meeting topics are being tweaked to reflect new issues faced by HR, he says. The goal is to increase membership, and retain those who already belong, especially in Prince Edward Island where HRANS is hoping to make more inroads.
“If we don’t have strong member relationships, it doesn’t matter how strong our technical training is, people will not come,” he says.
Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador
It’s not often an annual general meeting gets people excited but the Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador’s (HRPNL) AGM did just that, according to president Sheldon Winsor.
“It can be like pulling teeth to get people to attend these things. We had over 40 people out, which to us was good attendance,” he says. “It was a very positive event.”
The HRPNL is marking just its fifth year of existence. For one-half of last year, the board was short one member. With no paid staff, and a volunteer board, Winsor says it has been a struggle to get the HRPNL on its feet. Having such a strong turnout for the AGM was a sign the association is gaining ground.
From 2007 to 2008, the association grew by about 30 members to 160. This year, the HRPNL will make an even more concerted effort to attract new members by enhancing its offerings.
“The interest is there but, like any association, members want to see some benefit,” he says.
Last year, the association hosted several professional development sessions, as well as CHRP information events. This year, the hope is to introduce a full CHRP exam-preparation course, similar to what’s offered in British Columbia.
“We’re at the point where we need to be doing that,” says Winsor. “Until we came on the scene, CHRP didn’t really exist here. Now we’re seeing more and more interest in the designation each year. You’re starting to see it even more in job ads.”
While HR as a profession has matured in the province, the association has a lot of catching up to do to keep pace with the issues and challenges faced by practitioners, says Winsor.
The HRPNL is in the midst of defining the details of a “higher level, broader focus” to bring it up to par. The goal is to “build a foundation for a solid profession and offer excellent service to members,” he says.
“Every association has its challenges,” he says. “Most of the other ones are much further ahead than we are but we’re all very positive about seeing things progress down here.”
Chair, media relations
Strategic Capability Network
If success can be measured by attendance, then the Strategic Capability Network (SCNetwork) has found it.
SCNetwork hosts a number of events each year, aimed at tackling issues relevant to senior-level HR professionals across the country. These meetings, which featured some of the industry’s top experts, regularly attracted about 100 members in 2008 — double the previous year’s average attendance, says Edmond Mellina, chair of media relations.
“It’s a testimonial to the high quality of the events,” says Mellina.
The centerpiece of these events was the Executive Series partnership with Canadian HR Reporter, launched last year. Each month, members discussed a major theme or issue in HR, with written commentary from three “thought leaders” around SCNetwork’s three areas of focus: strategic capability, organizational effectiveness and leadership in action.
The commentaries published in Canadian HR Reporter raised the quality and interest in the series, he says.
“All that has contributed to the quality of the discussion during our events, the quality of our reflection and, as well, contributed to attracting senior HR practitioners,” he says.
SCNetwork also entered into a partnership with the U.S.-based Human Resources Planning Society, as well as the Institute for Corporate Productivity and the Human Capital Institute.
“This is bringing more relevant content and point of view for members, as well as helping push thinking within the organization,” says Mellina.
This year, SCNetwork is revamping its website to make information more accessible. The organization has chapters in London, Ont., Toronto and Calgary, as well as chapters under construction in Ottawa and the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area of Ontario. Building chapters will continue to be a focus this year, however, SCNetwork also wants to increase web membership for members who live and work outside of those areas, says Mellina.
“We have an opportunity for them to engage in these communities,” he says. “They will be able to access resources online, participate in discussions and access the library of speaking notes, so they can connect.”
Among the new web features will be discussion boards related to the Executive Series. Members are looking forward to being able to carry on the conversation long after the event, he says.
Canadian Payroll Association
After ten years of lobbying the federal government, the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) finally got what it was looking for in 2008: Graduated penalties for late remittances.
“That was a huge one for us,” says Patrick Culhane, president of the CPA.
In the past, employers who were late were subject to a charge of 10 per cent of the total payroll remittance. The steep penalty was unfair, given that many payroll officers work alone, says Culhane.
“If somebody’s sick or away, the possibility of it being late, well, that’s a pretty onerous penalty,” he says.
Under the new graduated system, the penalty is three per cent for the first three days a remittance is late, five per cent for up to five days, seven per cent for a week and, after that, 10 per cent.
“Three per cent versus 10 per cent — that’s significant,” says Culhane. “It affects every possible employer out there.”
CPA also saw success on the certification front. In 2008, 11,800 people took the CPA’s certification programs, up 3,000 enrolments from the previous year. The CPA launched the Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) program four years ago, and recently started piloting the Certified Payroll Manager (CPM) program. The certification courses are now offered through 50 colleges and universities across Canada.
“We took a fairly rigorous business approach to it,” says Culhane. “It’s easy to use and it’s a good learning experience and it meets a market need.”
The CPA expects to revise and finalize the implementation of the CPM program in 2009, then focus on marketing its product to the accounting and HR professions in 2010.
The CPA’s goal is to raise awareness of payroll as a profession, says Culhane. The organization has already seen some success on that front. Two years ago, financial recruiters started including the CPA’s certification with the Canadian accounting designation.
“That’s pretty significant positioning for us,” he says.
There’s a continuing shortage of payroll practitioners in Canada, he says. Attracting talent to the industry, and ensuring they’re certified, will be a focus of the CPA this year.
HRMS Professionals Association
You have to build on your shop internally first,” says Richard Rousseau, president of the HRMS Professionals Association (HRMSP), explaining how the nearly four-year-old organization is building its base.
HRMSP brings together HR, IT and payroll professionals to exchange ideas and education about information systems management and technology. Unlike many organizations, HRMSP’s emphasis is on participation at events and seminars — not membership.
“We want to emphasize the added-value (of technology) to the HR community on HR issues,” he says.
Last year, participation grew by 34 per cent over the year before. Since its inception, more than 900 people have attended HRMSP-sponsored events and seminars.
“We did a lot of promotions and a lot of word-of-mouth with people,” he says. “We discovered that people were finally hearing that there was an association specializing in promoting the technology in HR.”
Most of that participation is still in Quebec and Ontario, where HRMSP has its roots. The organization hopes to slowly branch east and west, but it first wants to solidify the central Canadian base, says Rousseau.
HRMSP launched a new website last year that gets about 16,000 hits a month. Most are from Ontario and Quebec, but some have been from the United States and as far away as Europe, he says.
To keep pace with the demand for information, HRMSP is “adding more value” to its website this year, with more white papers and space for sharing experiences. The organization also hopes to offer a wider range of expertise with its speakers and discussions.
“Next year’s objective is to attract even more professionals who can share their experiences, in the field of technology as they apply to HR,” he says.
HRMSP recently held its first webinar on the issue of change management. It was a success, says Rousseau, with 56 participants, and other issues will likely be addressed online as well.
International Personnel Management Association – Canada
International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) – Canada achieved a breakthrough in 2008. After years of lobbying the federal government to recognize its Certified Professional (IPMA-CP) and Certified Specialist (IPMA-CS) designations, it finally happened.
This is significant for IPMA-Canada certified consultants bidding on government tenders, says Sharalyn Young, president of the association.
“The CHRP designation is first and foremost in everyone’s mind,” she says. “We were able to convince the federal government to include our designation as well.”
On a local level, several provincial chapters hosted large events last year. In Regina, the local chapter, in partnership with the Public Service Commission, held a one-day summit for senior-level employees. The event was so successful, it’s now being used as a model for other chapters across the country, says Young.
Since then, IPMA-Canada has seen a turnover at the executive director level, with the appointment of Carol Hopkins. She brought in several new initiatives, many of them aimed at improving efficiency, says Young. For example, IPMA is attempting to use less paper by doing more of its business electronically.
IPMA-Canada is now in the midst of a national strategic planning session to discuss significant changes over the next few years. Cuts to federal and provincial HR budgets will make it more difficult for professionals in those areas to access conferences and events, says Young. So it is considering webinars as a way to reach out to all members.
“It will still bring the subject matter to people and, yet, not have it so costly,” she says.
IPMA-Canada is also revamping its website and incorporating more technology, such as blogs and, possibly, a Facebook-style networking site.
“The traditional ways just don’t work anymore,” she says. “The young people who are entering the workforce, they like to be able to do things via the Internet. In the past, everyone felt you had to be in-person.”
Complete listing online
Wondering what associations are out there for HR professionals? Canadian HR Reporter has compiled a comprehensive list of associations across Canada and around the world. To view the listing, see article #6679. Or refer to page 171 of HR Guide 2009, the annual vendor directory that was distributed to subscribers in December.