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Post-Thanksgiving bliss

Sure, we’re in the fourth quarter sprint — but let’s not shake the turkey hangover too quickly

By Todd Humber

“Welcome back to reality.” That’s the Tuesday morning refrain following every long weekend.

And it feels particularly true the day after Thanksgiving. The last long weekend of summer may officially be Labour Day, but all Canadians cling, unofficially, to the hope of a few more warm sunny days in October.

Many of us were rewarded this year as the sun drenched much of the country and temperatures soared. It convinced even the most reluctant to push the harvest tables out onto the deck for a rare outdoor Thanksgiving feast.

Football fans watched Anthony Calvillo, the long-time Alouettes quarterback, set the all-time record for passing yards in pro football on a warm sunny day in Montreal, surpassing legends like Damon Allen, Warren Moon, Dan Marino and Brett Favre.

But now we’re all back in the office, buckling down for the all important fourth quarter, a stretch run to the holiday season where many companies make or break their numbers.

Yet let’s not be too quick to shake off the effects of all that tryptophan we ingested on the weekend. There’s a lot of things for HR professionals, and Canadians in general, to be thankful about.

Stability: It’s easy to forget, particularly if you were born here, just how stable, safe and prosperous Canada really is. We all like to complain about the tax rates, the miserable winter weather and all the goofballs in power at city hall, provincial legislatures and Ottawa.

U2 frontman Bono once famously said “the world needs more Canada.” He’s right. Let’s remember that.

The economy: OK, the economy isn’t exactly on fire. But we’re doing fairly well. The unemployment rate in September dipped to 7.1 per cent, the lowest level since December 2008.

Many industrialized countries salivate at the notion of an unemployment rate that low. France sits at 9.5 per cent; Greece at 16.6 per cent; South Africa at 25.3 per cent; Ireland at 14 per cent; and the United States at 9.1 per cent to name a few. Sure, there are countries doing better, such as Australia (4.6 per cent); Japan (4.9 per cent); and Germany (6 per cent).

While good jobs remain hard to come by, and it’s little solace to our unemployed, through a global lens Canada looks downright rosey. Our banks didn’t collapse, our social safety net stretched but didn’t break and our deficits remain manageable.

Young Canadians could be faring better — unemployment for workers age 15 to 24 remains stubbornly high at 14 per cent. But September brought a ray of hope to youth: Employment among that age group was up slightly, bringing growth since September 2010 to 2.8 per cent, or 68,000 jobs.

HR associations: Turn the lens onto the HR profession itself, and there is plenty to be thankful for. One thing that stands out is the particularly strong work of provincial HR associations.

I had the privilege to attend the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) conference in Vancouver, the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) conference in Edmonton and the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) conference in Toronto this year.

It was impossible not to be impressed by the lineup of speakers, including names like Kevin O’Leary, Douglas Merrill and Dan Pink, these associations were able to marshal. The conferences are first rate, well worth attending in person and all of the provincial associations across the country are pushing the HR profession to new heights.

CHRP designation: The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is doing exactly what it was intended to do. It has gained traction and given HR more credibility. Employers can hire professionals with the CHRP designation with confidence, knowing they’re getting a qualified person to staff arguably the most important position in the company.

That’s not hyperbole, it’s Jack Welch’s opinion. The legendary GE CEO once told Canadian HR Reporter the head of HR is more important than the CFO.

“If you were running a sports team, who would you want to be talking to everyday — the team accountant or the head of player personnel? The head of player personnel because you want to win. What’s different about that in business? Money is a product of a team’s success. If you have great success with your people, you make a lot of money.”

At Canadian HR Reporter, we’re particularly thankful for the support of our readers. You’re why we do this day in and day out. We’ve spent the better part of the last quarter century covering and elevating the profession — 2012 actually marks our 25th anniversary.

So let’s take one last minute to pause and say thanks for everything that makes Canada a great country, and HR a fantastic profession. Then we can all put our heads down and do what we do best — put in our best effort to round out a solid 2011 as we push towards the holidays.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. He can be reached at todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com.

Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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