Promising it will benefit members and the HR profession overall, the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the United States.
The partnership came about after several discussions over the years, according to Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CCHRA in Vancouver. The two groups had talked about how it would be great if Canada and the U.S. actually led initiatives that other associations belonging to the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) could really benefit from, he said.
“For example, we don’t really have any international HR standards, every professional body does their own… and professionals are not always regulated the same way internationally, either — Canada is probably the exception. So… it’d be great if Canada and the U.S. really partnered on a number of areas — whether it’s research, whether it’s looking at doing some international standards — together that we can then offer up to other countries.”
For members, it’s also important to demonstrate that functional areas like HR, just like engineers and accountants, have alliances with likeminded bodies and, in this case, the U.S. is very similar to Canada, said Ariganello. And it’s important to demonstrate that to stakeholders, including government, he said.
“HR can influence government in a number of areas, especially when it comes to labour and specific tax measures that governments introduce on an annual basis. I think HR should be at the table and when they see that you have partnerships and that you are able to influence agendas worldwide, that’s key, that helps you.”
SHRM has been working with CCHRA for a number of years and it’s been a great relationship, so they wanted to have a more formal agreement, said Robert Garcia, vice-president of global operations at SHRM in Alexandria, Va.
“This is a good way for our members to take advantage of many of the things that they do… we share best practices throughout the world, this is a way to learn more about Canadian practices that could potentially be beneficial to our members in the U.S. and the rest of the world.”
It’s important for SHRM to have good relationships with other groups, he said.
“We rely on sister organizations to provide us with resources and information about local labour laws and employment practices… that’s information that is vital to our members, particularly if they work for a country where employees are in a variety of countries.”
In his travels and interactions with HR professionals, Garcia said it’s become apparent that the opportunities and challenges they face are very similar, such as recruiting and retaining the best talent, dealing with the skills gap, becoming strategic, streamlining operations and technological changes.
“A lot of these trends occur in North America but a lot of them come from other parts of the world where they embrace these trends quicker than us, and a lot of things start here but they develop quicker outside of the U.S. or North America, so it’s (about) sharing those ideas and best practices.”
The CCHRA-SHRM partnership is an exciting development, according to Melanie Peacock, associate professor at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary. It’s not only about networking and pooled resources, but learning from any differences between the two countries, she said.
“We’re looking for ways to enhance our network, to enhance ways to have access to knowledge and current information and research, and it’s just great to be able to learn from other person’s perspectives.
“Even if there are legislative requirements or differences, the more we think about it and talk about it, the more we become analytical and… (use) critical thinking of our own practices, so it’s just an amazing opportunity… more and more members want this, they want to work together as opposed to against one another.”
And the more designations and organizations are recognized, particularly across borders, “the more credibility and rigour it brings to a profession,” said Peacock.
“When we look at what’s happening in every other profession, it’s all about collaboration and working together and taking advantage and not reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts.”
Areas of focus
SHRM and CCHRA have agreed “to work together on key priorities that affect HR practitioners and the profession across North America and around the world.” Their agreement identified initial areas where the organizations see value in collaboration, such as further alignment and mutual recognition of CCHRA and SHRM credentials and certifications.
“We’ve agreed to look at the certification processes for both organizations to see whether there is substantial equivalents, and then to move forward from there,” said Ariganello.
There are lots of governments or countries creating their own certification, so certification is growing on a global basis, said Garcia, citing SHRM’s competency model, based on a survey of more than 32,000 individuals from around the world.
The agreement could also involve joint research, professional development programs, shared access to member benefits and information and content sharing.
“Both bodies have certainly really well-done professional development coursework so that’s another area where our members can benefit by having access to those resources, either at a lower cost or even to have access to them, as a whole,” said Ariganello.
Knowledge sharing and professional development programs are key, said Peacock.
“That’s powerful, and that even speaks to (the) ‘Disrupt HR’ (movement) because it’s a global phenomenon, it’s about sharing knowledge and ideas.”
CCHRA has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) to strengthen the HR profession globally and in Canada, and “promote the value of employee mobility in addressing talent gaps.” The agreement includes a framework of mutual cooperation — particularly in areas of professional development and research.
CERC has partnerships with several organizations that have similar goals and interests, to improve the membership value, both within Canada and internationally, said Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of CERC in Toronto.
“We have longstanding alliances with a number of the provincial HR associations and share many of the same members. It seems like a natural step to put some further structure around those alliances at a national level, that can deliver benefits to members.”
Employee mobility is a niche area within the HR management function so it makes sense to work with CCHRA to provide tools and education that can help to improve management and deliver successful outcomes for transferred employees, he said.
“It also opens up the door to HR professionals to learn more about an increasingly important aspect of talent development. Companies today are looking for talent that have global savvy (and) international mobility is a key development tool in meeting that need.”
CCHRA felt there was a lot of affinity between HR and what CERC does, said Ariganello.
“When issues happen with respect to employees moving here and there, it always will fall on the HR person to take care of matters and not only logistics but there’s personal issues.”
In today’s economy, it’s amazing how much HR work is involved, even still, in relocating and moving people, said Peacock.
“That has a very specific skill set associated with it… it’s understanding too that when you are relocating people, it’s not just a transactional piece of the business, it’s also transforming people’s lives, so we have to understand the human resources implications of that.”
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