New CCHRA executive
— Last month, the Canadian Council of Human Resource Associations elected its new executive for 2001/2002. After a year as president-elect, Ian Turnbull of the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) assumes the role of president, while Anne Charette of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario takes over as president-elect. Representing the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association, Joan Harrison was elected secretary while Richard Rousseau, also of IHRIM, will be this year’s treasurer.
Ex-Nortel employees certified for class action
— A group of older ex-employees of Nortel Networks, unhappy with their severance packages, have been granted class-action status by an Ontario court. The employees claim that given their age, experience, job status and the difficulty they’ll have finding similar employment, they are entitled to as much as two years’ pay, rather than the six-month severance package Nortel offered. The judge determined that the claims were sufficiently similar to enable the workers to bring a class action. Moreover, he noted that for any individual to bring a separate action against a “behemoth such as Nortel” is “a daunting task.”
But can they play nice?
— The ability to work well with other people and communicate effectively is the most important attribute for senior-level employees, according to Canadian chief financial officers surveyed by RHI Management Resources. Asked what single factor they look for the most when it comes to hiring a management-level job candidate, 28 per cent of CFOs said interpersonal skills, 25 per cent said years of experience, 18 per cent said industry experience, 14 per cent said proven accomplishments, and 12 per cent said technical knowledge. In a larger survey of U.S. CFOs, 26 per cent said they look for interpersonal skills and 21 per cent said industry experience.
Small business headaches
— Canadian entrepreneurs say they are more stressed today than they were five years ago and one of their top priorities is finding good people, according to a study by management consultants Grant Thornton LLP. Open and timely communication with employees was seen as the key to holding onto staff, while only half of respondents said flexible work arrangements were important for retaining employees. Almost all respondents (97 per cent) said strengthening customer relationships was the top priority, but 89 per cent said finding good staff was very or extremely important and 63 per cent agreed there is an extreme shortage of skilled labour.
Reversing comp trends
— There is increasing evidence that HR will soon be feeling the effects of the economic downturn. The 2001 Conference Board of Canada compensation outlook reveals pay increases for next year will be down significantly from this year. The marked change from the trend in recent years is due to a softening economy which will lead to belt-tightening measures. “For the first time in many years, some organizations are contemplating salary freezes or deferments of increase further into next year,” said Prem Benimadhu, of the Conference Board of Canada. The oil and gas sector will experience above average increases of 5.3 per cent. Others, like transportation, mining and high tech, will experience below average increases. While the study was conducted before Sept.11, another study by WorldatWork revealed most companies are unwilling to change base salary increase projections for 2002 in light of those attacks. Just 29 per cent said they anticipated having to revise planned increases in the next year. The findings are similar to another study conducted by consulting firm Morneau Sobeco conducted in late September. (For a look at compensation strategies in the current environment, see "Compensation planning in a slowing economy", Article No. 1545)