anadian HR Reporter talked with Laura Simmons, president of HRMAM, about the issues and events shaping the association and the profession in Manitoba.
How have membership numbers changed in the past five years? What do you think has been the biggest factor on membership?
Our numbers have increased by more than 40 per cent. In 1999 we had 684 members and in January we hit our 1,000-member mark. There are no signs that it will slow down any time soon. I’ve seen an overall increase in HR practitioners in the province as more people study it at university and qualify for entry-level positions. There has also been more awareness of the importance of HR practitioners to the success of organizations, so HR has begun to play a more prominent role.
What are the main reasons people join your association?
One very good reason to join is that you have to be a member of the association to maintain your CHRP designation. Also, we provide networking opportunities through our dinner meetings, lunch-and-learns, think-tanks and our bi-annual conference. Our magazine and newsletter help keep members up to date on HR issues.
What have been the most challenging issues for your association in the past year?
Our biggest issues have been our growth, which has greatly increased our workload, and the large number of initiatives we have launched.
What new initiatives/ services has your association launched in the last year?
We developed an organizational development think-tank, with speakers providing information to organizational specialists.
As well, we:
•started a senior HR executive roundtable;
•hired our first executive director, Lori Fenn, to help us focus on our long-term strategies. We also have a new volunteer co-ordinator position within member services;
•launched a member services survey to collect demographic information; and
•completed a massive upgrade to our Web site (www.hrmam.org). It is now more user-friendly, has more content and a members-only section with discussion groups and a job board.
What initiatives do you plan to launch in the coming year?
We’re going to complete the implementation phase of the national standards for the CHRP designation, including exam co-ordination and preparation. We’re also going to aggressively market the HR profession, our association and the CHRP designation to Manitoba’s business community.
What can governments do to support your members’ HR-related issues in the coming year?
The provincial government could consult with HRMAM prior to passing HR-related legislation. In fact, we plan to approach the Minister of Labour about this.
So much legislation touches the lives of employees in Manitoba, and who better, in the developmental stages, to use as a sounding board than the provincial HR association? And if our members knew in advance what legislation is planned, they could prepare their organizations for the changes.
How will the HR profession’s roles and responsibilities change in the next five years?
HR professionals will continue to act more as business partners in their organizations. HR departments are reducing or outsourcing the routine service work and retaining the more strategic and proactive responsibilities. I can see this trend continuing for the next 10 or 15 years.
What will your association do to help practitioners?
We are looking for ways to partner with like-minded associations and post-secondary institutions, and to build our relationship with the Manitoba business community and local government. We’ve had talks with other HR associations with Manitoba members, including WorldatWork, International Personnel Management Association and the International Association for Human Resource Information Management. We hope to hold seminars and professional development courses with these associations.