What's new at your HR association

Self-regulation on the agenda for many associations in 2014 — we talk to BC HRMA, HRIA, SAHRP, MRHAM, HRPA, CRHA, HRNB, HRNS, HRPNL, CPA, SCNetwork and HRMSP
By Sarah Dobson, Liz Bernier and Melissa Campeau
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/24/2014

Editor's note: In this annual feature, we talk to the heads of HR associations across Canada to find out what's on their agenda for the coming year. Provinces are listed here from West to East, plus we have interviews with the Canadian Payroll Association, the Strategic Capability Network and the Human Resources Management Systems Professionals Association.

CCHRA focusing on maintaining ‘strong national exam’

The Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) is a national federation of eight provincial human resources associations representing nine provinces (Quebec is not a member) and one territory. The eight members collectively represent more than 30,000 members, it says.

When contacted by Canadian HR Reporter, CCHRA refused to be interviewed for this annual feature that lets HR professionals get a glimpse of what their associations are planning.

Instead, Cheryl Newcombe, chair of the Toronto-based association, provided the following emailed statement on the CCHRA’s 2014 plans:

“It is incumbent upon all professional organizations to periodically review the scope and practice of their profession. To that end, CCHRA has just completed our professional practice review to update the Canadian human resource profession’s body of knowledge.

“CCHRA is currently undergoing a strategic planning process, establishing appropriate plans and goals for our future operations. We are focused on maintaining a strong national exam, and providing a national platform for our member associations that will enable them to enhance the recognition, value and influence of the human resources profession in Canada.”

‘Status quo’ not a bad thing in B.C.
Simon Evans, CEO, BC HRMA

This will be a year of mixed emotions for Simon Evans, CEO of the Vancouver- based British Columbia Human Resources Association (BC HRMA) — he’s retiring in June after 10 years at the helm of the 5,500-member group.

He’s “absolutely” looking forward to the change and pleased he’ll be passing the torch to a new leader with the association sitting on solid ground. Despite the fact B.C.’s economy has had its challenges and membership growth has been relatively flat, the financial books are strong, says Evans.

The association has seen dramatic growth in its student membership — going from about 50 to 900 over the last several years — but some of those individuals don’t retain their membership because they don’t stay in HR, he says.

The association is also looking at the issue of segmentation and whether different groups are satisfied with their membership.

“Are they getting fulfillment for themselves or do we need to adjust our offerings to them, whether that’s content, professional development or current affairs — or is it something else? Do they want different types of sessions, are they getting the service they want from the field offices we have? Just to make sure we’re meeting the needs of members by segmentation.”

Overall, members seem pretty happy with the association, giving it an average score of seven out of 10 in the annual membership survey (1,458 members responded in 2013). The range has always been between 75 and 85 per cent, says Evans.

“We find that you get to a point where you can’t really do much more without spending a whole bunch more money or investing differently,” he said.

“I hate using the word ‘status quo,’ but it’s a good status quo at the moment.”

Key areas of growth

There are three key areas of growth where members would like BC HRMA to focus its efforts, according to the survey:

•Be the voice of the HR profession by providing the news media with information about employment issues.

•Focus on practices, trends and statistics.

•Provide a range of prices for professional development.

In 2013, BC HRMA also continued to deepen its relationship with the provincial government, various provincial MLAs and members of the opposition. The association hosts a government relations roundtable with guests from various levels of the provincial government.

And having hired a public relations firm and an ad firm in 2012, BC HRMA’s rebranding will be unveiled in 2014, probably at the annual conference in April.

The association is also starting to get more serious about the question of self-regulation. It’s a learning curve and while there’s desire among membership, the costs still have to be investigated, says Evans.

“There’s a lot of legwork to be done and we know only too well from (the Human Resources Professionals Association in Ontario) how many kicks at the can they had to take, so it’s not a quick run.”

BC HRMA is also looking into the possibility of an HR student competition and could join up with the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA), which just held its first student competition in March.

The heads of the associations for Ontario, Alberta and B.C. meet every few months to discuss such projects, says Evans.

As for the HR Metrics Service, the B.C. association is adjusting how these numbers are presented to employers, he says. At first, they were more blanket metrics, but now many companies are really looking to focus in on just a few metrics.

“We’re trying to make it so they don’t have to buy the whole enchilada and just a section of it.”

Unified Alberta focuses on self-regulation

Nora Molina, Executive Director, HRIA

Last year was a big year for the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) as it became a unified provincial association with the inclusion of six chapters including Calgary, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Edmonton and Red Deer.

The votes in each chapter varied from 90 per cent to unanimous support in favour of joining HRIA, according to executive director Nora Molina.

The next major focus is self-regulation, following in the footsteps of Quebec and Ontario, she says. The association has established two member-driven policy advisory groups to review self-regulation models and establish a new code of ethics and standards of professional conduct for HR practitioners in Alberta.

HRIA is in the process of going out to the major cities in Alberta to talk to membership about the new code of ethics and standards of professional conduct, says Molina, along with holding consultations with government.

“The key behind our focus this year is really going to be around communicating — communicating with all of our stakeholders, particularly around self-regulation and what does that mean for us and our continuous evolution of the profession here in Alberta. Making sure our members understand what’s the difference between what we were and how we were operating and getting to that place of having recognition as a whole profession, on par with all the other leading professions.”

Some of the key work includes the implementation of a good character attestation, which is a fairly standard practice, she says.

“If you look at any self-regulating professional body, one requirement is a means of assessing character and members on a continuous basis… it’s really looking towards an individual’s judgment and character so in some way you can make an assessment in terms of how they will provide services to the public in the work they do.”

One issue of concern for the 5,911 members is the move towards requiring professional liability insurance, says Molina. Individuals providing HR consulting will be required to have this insurance and the change could be implemented by January 2016, so HRIA is looking to have a group insurance plan in place by then, she says.

Also a priority for the association in 2014 is the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. With the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) phasing out the term “CHRP candidate” — to avoid any ambiguity pertaining to a person’s credentials — anyone who passes the National Knowledge Exam, as of July 2014, will be referred to as a “certification candidate.”

“Right now in Alberta, since we’re not self-regulated, we actually don’t have any law or right to protect that designation in Alberta — anybody can call themselves a CHRP. And we can ask them not to — as the only designation-granting body in the province because of the CCHRA — but technically we don’t have a legal right,” says Molina. “Where self-regulation comes in, it gives you protection, both of the designation and the brand.”

Another new development for HRIA is an HR case competition. The 2014 HRIA Challenge was held at the University of Alberta in March and showcased students’ skills through an academic competition among five post-secondary institutions: the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University and Athabasca University.

The two-day competition included a $1,000 cash prize for the winning team, as well as a $600 and $300 award for the second- and third-prize winners, respectively. The event came about after the Excalibur competition in Quebec, which used to be national, became provincially based. It’s an exciting initiative, she says.

“We do anticipate making it annual and potentially inviting other Western provinces to participate as well.”

HRIA was also busy with a survey of members on the CHRP and its value. It found holders of the certification have a higher median annual base salary and are more likely to hold management positions. CHRP designation holders have a base salary of $91,800 while non-designation holders reported a base salary of $67,000 — a difference of $24,800 (37 per cent), found the survey of 1,407 members (with 821 CHRP respondents).

CHRPs are also more likely to hold management positions, as 72 per cent of respondents in a manager, supervisor or lead position hold a CHRP, compared to 75 per cent of directors and 73 per cent of vice-presidents.

Regular (non-management employees) are the least likely to hold the designation.

The Alberta association also engaged Abingdon Research on a project to identify trends in the province’s labour market and to provide the latest benchmarking data for members. Members will be surveyed on the retirement trends of older workers and turnover rates among employees.

Saskatchewan takes strategic view
Greg Honey, President, SAHRP

Over the past year, the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) has been working on three main areas: transitioning from a tactical board to a strategic, governance-oriented board; elevating the profession through the pursuit of self-regulation; and improving programming for members.

The board is in its second cycle of strategic planning, so it annually identifies short- and long-term goals for the organization and specific objectives to fulfill those goals, along with action items, budget and timelines, says Greg Honey, president of SAHRP.

“Not only do we want to be a strategic board with very definite action plans that support the strategy, but we want to be a good business and highly accountable.”

To ensure sustainable and effective board governance, SAHRP has done a complete review of its bylaws and is creating a governance manual and handbook.

Additionally, board succession is being tackled by the executive committee which has been charged with ongoing board renewal and presenting the organization with a framework for supporting the recruitment of board members.

Another objective for the Regina-based SAHRP is to become a mature, dual-object entity supported by statute. This means seeking legislation for the profession to become a level-four profession (along with professions such as accountants and lawyers).

This direction was introduced to members at the October 2013 annual general meeting in Saskatoon. It is being followed by a detailed project plan, communication to the association’s 1,500 members and approach to the regulatory bodies, according to Honey.

“Really, overall... what I want to achieve and we as a board of directors want to achieve is to continue to further the profession by increasing the credibility in the eyes of our stakeholders of the people that are practising human resources in the province. It’s critically imperative for the organization and for the province.”

Members have also stated they want and need quality programming to support their development and professional standing.

“We know that we need to improve... the quality of the programming to meet the needs of what our members are saying,” says Honey. “With that in mind, we embarked on getting better-quality speakers. We hit the ball out of the park as far as the 2013 annual conference was concerned — we had a record number of attendees.”

SAHRP is also developing an educational framework that will guide the continuing development of professional competence for members. The framework will enable the SAHRP to: better plan member development through learning initiatives and programs; define the competencies being developed through the programs; and better articulate the parameters for assessing the quality of the programs.

Manitoba: Goal is self-regulation by 2019
Ron Gauthier, CEO, HRMAM

There may be some exciting changes on the horizon for the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM).

The Winnipeg-based association recently developed a five-year strategic plan with a new mission, as well as plans for self-regulation and a strong Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) brand, according to Ron Gauthier, CEO and CHRP registrar of HRMAM.

“In the fall of 2013, we decided to look at creating a new strategic plan. We hired a consultant to come in and do that,” he says.

“We surveyed our members, we had the consultant contact different stakeholders like the
Chamber of Commerce, the accounting professions, all the educational institutions that we deal with… to sort of just talk about the organization, where it’s going, how they see its role in all of those sorts of things. And from that, the board came up with a new strategic plan.”

The plan includes a new mission: “Advancing the human resources profession and driving business excellence,” as well as four new goals — one of them being self-regulation.

“Our first goal is to become self-regulated by 2019. Our second goal is to promote the CHRP brand. Our third goal is to grow the membership to 2,500. Our final goal is to position the association and the profession as thought leaders of significant influence in the community,” says Gauthier.

“Our vision is that the CHRP brand is a premiere brand, a household name in Manitoba, and that… we are a self-regulated body, a partner with business sponsors and the education community.”

HRMAM, which has more than 1,250 members, is looking to double its membership within the next five years.

But, in the shorter term, it will be launching an accreditation program this year.

“We are going to accredit people that do education and training,” says Gauthier, adding that a volunteer panel of CHRPs will review their education or training curriculums and then accredit them as HRMAM-accredited programs.

“If it’s a four-hour program, you will get four continued professional development hours, and we will allow those accreditation partners to use that accreditation in their marketing materials,” he says.

Those accredited programs, combined with HRMAM moving to an annual conference instead of bi-annual, will hopefully further establish the association as a “hub” for its member base, says Gauthier.

“The emphasis for us on that is that we want to sort of be the networking hub of facilitating education and professional development for our members, without having to have all the resources to put them on. We’ve got a lot of people out in the community doing that already so we want to partner with them.”

Ontario puts regulatory bill through its paces
Bill Greenhalgh, CEO, HRPA

Gaining new status as a self-regulated profession in Ontario was a major victory for the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in 2013.

But while passing Bill 32 was a big accomplishment, HRPA will still put a lot of work into rolling out the new act in 2014.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” says Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of HRPA in Toronto.

“(The act) changes a great deal. Now, we have been anticipating that for some time so many of the things that we needed to do, we’d already started doing, things internally that we could do — changing our processes and changing how we deal with complaints and our adjudicative committee. Many of those processes and much of the governance processes we actually altered in anticipation of the act going through.”

Even so, there are some notable changes still to come in 2014 as the details are hammered out and bylaws are written.

“The act itself is going to take us about 18 months to fully implement, but there’s some things we need to do very quickly, which is change bylaws between now and May,” says Greenhalgh, who adds the bylaws will be drafted by HRPA’s annual general meeting in May.

“When you look at the act itself, it’s kind of divided into immediate-term and longer term. Some of the things that are longer term, we don’t really need to deal with right now, so we’ll leave those,” he says.

“But there are some things that we do need to deal with, for example, the size of our board and the government appointees, and how we deal with the regulation of firms — those are all things we need to do very quickly.”

New powers for enforcing proper use of the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation, as well as tools for dealing with incapacity in the workplace — that is, accommodation for professionals dealing with personal issues — are two other significant changes in the act.

Another big item on the agenda for 2014 is the professional practice review HRPA has been working on for the past year. HRPA will be examining the impact the practice review will have as the association moves forward, says Greenhalgh.

“Now we’re looking at, well, what implications does that have going forward? So what kind of education, what kind of competencies HR professionals need to know and how would we go about assessing those?” he says.

“This is not a short-term program — this is a long process.”

HRPA, which has 20,800 members, will also be working on more white papers this year to expand on those released in 2013 that focused on apprenticeships, training, education and immigration.

The association will also be adding new research in other topics — likely including mental health, Alzheimer’s, palliative care and employees who are in caregiver roles.

“We found that mental health, the whole question of palliative care and how employees are dealing with that is becoming a major concern and worry for many of our members, because they’re trying to provide the advice and support to their employees,” says Greenhalgh.

“One other area we’ll be focused on in 2014… is really promoting the profession and promoting the designation, and adding clear value for senior HR professionals. We do have a significant number of HR professionals and we’d like to expand that number. We offer meetings and sessions on topics that suit them, and it offers them the chance to network with people with similar challenges and issues in other industries.”

Quebec puts focus on young professionals, increasing membership
Florent Francoeur, CEO, CRHA

With about 9,500 members, the Ordre des Conseillers en Ressources Humaines Agréés (CRHA) has already convinced nearly 50 per cent of Quebec’s 20,000 HR professionals to sign up.

“The membership is still growing and we are happy about that,” says Florent Francoeur, president and CEO of Montreal-based CRHA.

But building up the membership base is still a key focus for the association, which hopes to reach 10,000 members by 2015.

Recruiting new members is more difficult a task than it may seem, says Francoeur.

“It will be more and more difficult… in Quebec right now, we have more people leaving the workplace than arriving in the workplace.”

But CRHA has a particular focus on students and young professionals who are just starting out in the profession.

“For this year, we plan more and more to focus on young professionals,” says Francoeur.

“We have almost 3,000 students that are involved with our organization. So we have students right now but we want to make sure that we are there — we work hard to provide a lot of services for students. And then we move to help them to have their first job in HR… We launch a lot of activities (aimed at) closing the gap between university and the first job.”

And the support doesn’t end when students graduate, earn their Certified Human Resources Professional designation (CHRP) and move on to gainful employment, says Francoeur.

“The next step is to support our young professionals… they’ve got their first job, they are professionals, they are full CHRPs in the organization, and now they want to have help from us. So it means, for example, offering mentoring groups. We have a website dedicated to young professionals, and we will work on updating and promoting not only this website but a lot of services to help them.”

This year, CRHA will work to provide more online learning in its learning and development offerings and build on the updated version of its competency model launched last year. The association will also launch at least one more code of conduct, which will focus on coaching.

Another development is the modernized description of the CHRP’s scope of practice, which has yet to be formally adopted by the National Assembly.

But a key focus for the organization this year will remain increasing the visibility of the profession and the CHRP designation, says Francoeur.

“We want to be really visible, not only from members or HR people, but with all the management (professionals) in the province,” he says.

“Our real target is to make sure that if you are at the management position at any company in Quebec, you should know what the CHRP is, you should know why you should hire a CHRP, you should know why you may want to do business with a CHRP. So we really work hard to be visible on that part.”

The association’s annual advertising campaign, which kicks off in April, is a key piece of that. So is the annual “HR week” launched last year, which invites organizations to celebrate HR’s contributions — and the people who make their companies great.

“We invite companies in Quebec to try to find a way to celebrate their people — not just HR people, their people within the company,” says Francoeur.

“We had great success last year, and now the government of Quebec will be involved in the process. So we expect more participation this year and we want (it to become) the biggest event in terms of celebrating human resources.”

New Brunswick focusing on education, attraction and retention

Pierre Simoneau, President, HRANB

For the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB), strategic change was the focus for 2013 — and that won’t change in 2014.

Last year, the Moncton-based association took final steps to implement the experience requirement for members seeking a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. Changing the process was a major undertaking that involved collaboration with the Canadian Council for Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) to make modifications and personalize the documents for New Brunswick.

“The change will help ensure CHRPs have an additional amount of time on the ground to gain experience,” says Pierre Simoneau, president of HRANB.

Professional education was also a focus for the association, particularly on legal issues.

“Canadian judges have handed down a number of landmark decisions for cases involving HR policies,” says Simoneau.

Management techniques for improving productivity and cutting waste were well-attended offerings in the past year as well.

“There was a popular presentation recently in Moncton and Fredericton on the evolution of an organization when it introduces lean management and six sigma management,” he says.

Despite a slight dip in membership in 2012 — reflecting the difficult economic times the province has seen in recent years — the association’s headcount remained steady in 2013 at just under 900 members.

“Of course, it’s our goal to increase membership over the next few years,” says Simoneau. “Everybody is becoming more optimistic about the economy.”

Forest company representatives (in a province where natural resources drive much of the economy) recently attended a trade show in Boston and came back more optimistic than the previous year. For HR, a rosier outlook means companies can plan for retention strategies and possibly even growth.

“There’s now a mood of cautious optimism,” he says.

With that in mind, the association is planning courses for members on innovative ways to attract and retain employees.

“Organizations are in the process of changing the way they attract the younger workforce,” says Simoneau, noting that conventional job postings in traditional media aren’t necessarily effective with the younger generations.

Retention is equally important, he says. “The IT sector, startups and evolving organizations are all trying to attract and then retain their people.”

The association is also planning on executing a membership survey later in 2014. After HRANB’s last survey in 2012, the association acted on members’ requests to recruit more volunteers and partner with more organizations to provide a greater range of membership services.

“We hope to find out more about what our members want now so we can direct our focus for the next few years,” says Simoneau. “Once we get results from the survey, we’ll make adjustments to our strategic plan and go from there.”

Nova Scotia develops new strategic plan, looks ahead to annual conference

Cheryl Newcombe, President, HRANS

Near the end of 2013, the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS) polled members to find out what professional opportunities were top-of-mind. While responses varied depending on the organization, industry and experience of each member, the poll did reveal a common interest: Many members are interested in the involvement and development of HR as a strategic business partner within an organization.

“A number of our members have direct influence and are involved in their organization’s strategic decisions and plans, beyond HR, enabling them to contribute to the development of positive and effective workplaces and the ultimate success of their organizations,” says Cheryl Newcombe, president of Halifax-based HRANS in an email to Canadian HR Reporter.

The association’s professional development events throughout the year also delved into leadership and strategy issues.

The 2013 annual conference featured leadership coach and bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith with the address “What got you here won’t get you there,” as well as author and Olympic performance coach JP Pawliw-Fry, speaking about top performance under pressure.

Also in 2013, HRANS began the process of developing a new strategic plan for the association’s next five years.

“Our process involves input from members and discussions of the strengths, opportunities and aspirations of the association, while also looking at the key opportunities for our members as HR professionals,” says Newcombe.

The plan is nearly finalized and HRANS expects to share the details with members in the coming months. The association, which serves Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, has 1,100 members — a number that’s essentially the same as the previous year.

“With the trends in the economy and competition for individual members’ interest in investment, we are pleased that membership is holding steady,” says Newcombe.

In 2014, the association will continue to deliver learning opportunities to members, as well as educational sessions in a variety of formats (including webinars, roundtable discussions, workshops and lunch-and-learn sessions) on popular topics such as virtual collaboration, bullying versus conflict in the workplace and temporary foreign workers.

This year, the annual conference is taking place in Halifax on June 12-13.

“Each year, our conference is focused on topics to build the skills and effectiveness of our members,” says Newcombe.

“It’s designed to provide practical knowledge that they can apply to enhance their workplaces right away.”

Focus on growth, targeted education for Newfoundland and Labrador
Heather Joyce, President, HRPNL

Boom times in Newfoundland and Labrador continue to drive the activities and plans of the province’s HR association.

“We’ve seen continued growth with some of the mega projects here in the province, including Long Harbour and Muskrat Falls,” says Heather Joyce, president of the St. John’s-based Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador (HRPNL).

That means skilled labourers — and workers with specific soft skills — are in short supply. The province is experiencing continued constriction of its labour market, says Joyce.

“Obviously, skilled trades have always been highlighted when it comes to recruitment both here and in some of the Western provinces, but now we’re seeing it with support labour as well, whether it be office workers or HR staff,” says Joyce.

The past year brought other issues to the forefront for HR professionals in the province.

“We’ve seen a lot of union contracts, particularly in the public sector, come to a close in 2013 so there have been a lot of negotiations underway,” she says. “Certainly the management of labour has driven the demand for participation in our association.”

HRPNL now has more than 230 members, which represents a 10 per cent increase in general membership from a year ago and a doubling of the number of student members.

“We’re seeing a lot more people studying HR in university and colleges and interested in what the association is doing,” says Joyce.

Pressing HR topics on operational issues dictated the content of education sessions in 2013.

“What we’re seeing right now is a demand for topics that are less big picture and more focused on things our members can take away right then and there and use immediately in their organizations,” she says.

Practical sessions on issues such as staff retention and the legal ins and outs of hiring temporary foreign workers have been especially popular in recent months.

For 2014, the association plans to continue to offer courses in partnership with both regional and national service providers. Geographical restrictions present challenges when it comes to bringing in high-calibre speakers, and an even greater challenge for more remote members.

“We might partner with Hays, Knightbsbridge, Deloitte, whoever it might be, in order to deliver more to our members this year,” says Joyce.

Co-ordinating remote speakers and exploring different delivery methods will enable more members to take part in better-quality events.

This year, HRPNL will take steps to grow its membership as well.

“We’re focusing on a larger promotion campaign but we’re not just targeting human resource practitioners,” she says.

The association will reach out to general managers, whose roles may include HR functions, and to business owners, who do HR work as part of their daily duties.

The association also plans to develop an education campaign targeting decision-makers in C-suite and executive positions.

“We want the people at those levels to understand the value that HR brings to an organization and the value we can drive for an organization as well,” says Joyce.

Payroll association turns 35
Patrick Culhane, President, CPA

The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2014. But that doesn’t mean the 18,000-member group is anywhere near slowing down. This past year, it had several initiatives underway — and 2014 promises to be equally busy.

One major change involved the certification programs, with the pass mark for all PCP (payroll compliance practitioner) and CPM (certified payroll manager) courses raised from 60 per cent to 65 per cent.

Everything CPA does is about legislative compliance, says Patrick Culhane, president of the Toronto-based association — so the increase is pretty significant.

“Part of it has to do with the lifecycle of our education programs. We’re doing in years what the HR profession and the accounting profession probably did in decades. We’re 35 years old this year but, in relative terms, that’s rather young compared to the HR profession and it’s definitely younger than the accounting profession. So it’s not just about growth, it’s also about the quality of graduates and meeting employer expectations for performance on the job when people are certified.”

And National Payroll Week in September continued to do well, says Culhane — it reached a total audience of more than 33 million in 2013. There’s plenty of interest around CPA’s annual survey looking at how people live paycheque to paycheque, he says.

“That has now become an economic measure.”

And to promote its value and services, the association developed a separate membership recruitment campaign in Quebec and a new National Payroll Week ad campaign for non-members, says Culhane.

“The messaging that we have to our members is payroll is mission-critical, but if you talk to people outside of the payroll profession or even accounting and HR, a lot of them, they don’t realize payroll is a compliance-driven profession. If you talk about 120 regulatory requirements, they look at you kind of (thinking) ‘What, how can that be?’”

A Quebec government relations advisory group has also done “fantastic” work this last year and with the province’s latest budget in February, CPA had a big win, says Culhane.

The payroll thresholds for accelerating remitters changed from $50,000 to $100,000 and from $15,000 to $25,000, to match the change to the federal remittance thresholds announced in the 2014 federal budget, which had not changed since 1988.

“That saves people administration and time,” he says.

CPA also helped postpone, from January 2013 to March 2013, the implementation of the Quebec personal health contribution — introduced in the 2012 budget —so system changes could be made.

“Sometimes governments fail to recognize that when 97 per cent of Canadians are paid using computer technology, you need to give the programmers time to change those systems. So that was a big win,” says Culhane.

The association also successfully advocated for an alignment between Quebec Pension Plan and Canada Pension Plan contributions for employees who move into and out of Quebec.

“Overall, we just had a great year,” he says.

CPA also worked with Service Canada to prevent the expansion of the paper ROE for the “variable best weeks” employment insurance, saving employers and service or software providers millions of dollars, says Culhane.

Last year, CPA had more than 15,000 registrants at over 500 seminars, webinars and conferences. In 2014, it is looking to expand its legislative compliance product and service offerings and to continue to focus on professional development topics that interest members, such as year-end reporting and filing, labour and employment standards, taxable and non-taxable benefits, and terminations.

SCNetwork celebrating 35 years
Ian Hendry, President, SCNetwork

This year marks an important milestone for the Strategic Capability Network (SCNetwork), according to Ian Hendry, the organization’s Toronto-based president.

“The significance of this year is that we actually celebrate 35 years of existence. So for a volunteer-run organization that, to us, is a pretty phenomenal achievement,” he says.

“Our featured event this year is actually a celebration of those 35 years and it’s going to be a one-day event that we make available as a freebie to our members, to thank them for their loyalty to us over those years.”

The full-day anniversary event will focus on different areas of leadership, says Hendry, and while the day will celebrate SCNetwork’s past, it will also look toward the future.

“While it’s a 35-year history, we recognize that going forward, everyone in our membership needs to continually enhance their skills and as the world changes, we need to change. The skills that were adequate in the past aren’t necessarily going to be adequate in the years ahead,” says Hendry.

“It’s a unique event in that way and we’re going to (discuss) four elements around leadership — the critical skills of leadership that are necessary for success.”

SCNetwork has about 600 members — but for Hendry and his fellow leaders, it’s not a numbers game.

“It’s never been about numbers for us — it’s really about creating a community, creating a peer network, recognizing that we learn from each other. But we really try to introduce leading-edge thinking that is pragmatic and implementable,” he says.

“We try and provide rich value because of a lot of the work is done by our members… We’re an organization by leaders, for leaders. The people that run our organization are leaders in their own right.”

Other events this year will continue to demonstrate a strong focus around SCNetwork’s three core theme areas — strategic capability, organizational effectiveness and leadership.

“Our programming will really focus around those things. In March, we’re doing teams and how do you deal with dysfunction in an organization,” says Hendry.

“April is going to be around our 35th anniversary theme event and we’ve got a number of events that will fit within those three budgets going forward.”

Their programming is always popular with members, who know to expect a high standard.

“Our members are always very comfortable that we’re going to be hitting the mark on the topics that really are on their radar,” he says.

Metrics, mobile apps hot topics for HR technology association
Richard Rousseau, President, HRMSP

For the Human Resource Management Systems Professional Association (HRMSP), 2013 was a year to build on its success and reach more HR professsionals than ever.

Rather than a professional designation association, HRMSP is designed to help professionals find out more about HR-focused technology and systems.

The association has been building more of a following each year, says Montreal-based HRMSP president Richard Rousseau. With an official membership of about 100, the association measures its true reach by the number of clients it connects with each year through educational events held in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.

Last year, the association reached about 4,000 clients — significantly more than the 3,000 clients it reached in 2012, says Rousseau.

“HRMSP is about people, processes and technology,” he says. “We gather professionals and practitioners from all organizations of all sizes, from both the private and public sectors.”

The association also works with product and service providers, says Rousseau, as well as anyone concerned with improving their information management systems.

A continuing hot topic last year for clients was HR metrics.

“For years, organizations have concentrated on HRIS (human resource information systems), which is mostly just a collection of data from employees through payroll and HR systems,” says Rousseau.

But this simple capturing of data hasn’t helped HR professionals when it comes to calculating data to support and measure the value of HR initiatives.

“Today, everything has changed,” he says. “There are tools we call HRMS (human resource management systems) and they can help senior management better analyze the data collected from these systems and identify key areas to improve.”

Mobile applications designed for use with HR systems have been popular as well, says Rousseau. With these, any employee can link a mobile device with an HRMS to have on-the-go access to her own data, including schedules and pay stubs.

Also big in 2013 were the product demonstration days held in Toronto and Montreal. Seeing a new technology in action can help an HR professional determine how well it might benefit his organization.

“These are always well-attended events. People like that they can sit down and a see a live demonstration,” he says.

The association also aims to provide networking opportunities.

“We bring all these professionals together for a kind of roundtable discussion,” says Rousseau.

HRMSP education events and demonstrations often bring together diverse groups that include HR professionals, payroll managers and IT professionals, among others. What unites the groups “is that everyone is interested in HRMS and how to improve their business sector,” he says.

Learning from others’ experiences can be an invaluable tool when it comes to making decisions about which technology will suit an organization best.

“It’s not vendors who lead sessions or demonstrations,” says Rousseau. “It’s always someone who went through an experience with his own company when implementing a product and he’s sharing what the issues were, how the implementation went and what they would do different if they could do it again.”

In 2014, the association will be working on improving and expanding its website.

“We want to make our website more user-friendly and even easier to use for people who are looking for articles or names of vendors,” he says. “The biggest issue is to have good articles and good references to share.

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