Lynda Murray remembers how terrified she was when members of Saskatchewan’s four human resources associations voted unanimously to dissolve their existing groups and form a new provincial HR association.
“Yvette (Battistolo) and I sat there after and said: ‘My goodness, what have we done? We’ve blown the place up,’” says Murray, a professional HR consultant and president of the newly formed Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP). “We’ve had to take everything that we had in pieces all over the province and recreate it all into one organization.”
On June 3 the Canadian Council of Human Resource Associations (CCHRA) recognized SAHRP as the province’s CCHRA member and the CHRP granting body. SAHRP replaced the former umbrella organization, the Saskatchewan Council of Human Resource Associations (SCHRA), as well as the four local associations — Regina’s Human Resource Management Association, Saskatoon Human Resource Association and both Saskatchewan Training and Development Associations (STDA Regina and STDA Saskatoon).
Battistolo, a past president of SCHRA, is now SAHRP’s director of communications and a volunteer just like Murray, who is also a past president of SCHRA and HRMA. In fact, the new provincial HR association, like those that came before, is entirely run by volunteers. Murray eventually wants a dedicated professional staff to run SAHRP.
The road toward a unified provincial HR association started in 1993 when members of the four existing HR associations formed the Saskatchewan Council of Human Resource Associations to oversee the province’s Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.
“Individual people didn’t belong to the council, they belonged to one of the four local groups,” says Battistolo, who is also the manager of human resources at Meyers Norris Penny LLP. “The intent of the founders of the council was always to move to one provincial HR association. It just took us 12 years to get there.”
When the CHRP national standards came into effect in 2002, the members realized that the council’s existing structure, with its duplication of services and its poor communication between the five organizations, wasn’t working.
“The CHRP national standards was a catalyst,” says Battistolo. “It gave us a solid reason to start going down this path.”
Initially they planned to amalgamate all four associations, but this proved difficult. Each group had a different amount of resources, a different number of members and a different structure. After a couple of years, it became clear that this wasn’t feasible
“We decided to create a new entity, a brand new HR association,” says Battistolo. “We would have all 700 members join it as individuals.”
She developed a new business plan that allowed for two chapters (one in Regina and one in Saskatoon) and a 12-member executive. On April 27, all 700 members across the province voted in support of the new association.
“We took the best pieces of everyone’s individual associations and tried to work that into the plan for the new entity,” says Battistolo.
One of the best practices they wanted to continue in SAHRP was the Saskatoon Human Resource Association’s scholarship program with the University of Saskatchewan for students studying human resource management. SAHRP will launch the program provincially to include the University of Regina and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology.
Battistolo says one of the biggest improvements has been in communication. The umbrella organization couldn’t communicate directly with individual members. Instead it had to go through the local associations, which could take months, or even a year.
Murray says this became a problem when the provincial council would meet nationally with the CCHRA. The umbrella association couldn’t speak for all members on an issue without first going back to the local associations.
By the time there was any kind of consensus from the four associations, the national association had already moved on. “We weren’t supporting the CCHRA at all,” says Murray. “Now we have one mandate and one voice.”
With being the new cohesive voice for 700 HR professionals in the province, Murray hopes that SAHRP will become a voice that Saskatchewan’s Department of Labour will seek out and listen to.
The new association has also allowed the streamlining of many processes, reducing the number of volunteers needed to get the job done and saving money for other initiatives such as training. “Our programming is going to be significantly better,” says Murray. “I think every one of our members will benefit.”
This is the first in a three-part series on HR associations. The second installment looks at British Columbia’s HR association’s new role for its board and CEO and the third installment in the Oct. 24 issue will examine governance changes at the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.
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