No need to be a lonely HR pro (Editorial)

Forums give HR professionals the chance to network and rediscover their passion for the profession
By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/13/2006

Have you gotten out of the office lately? More specifically, when was the last time you got together with fellow HR professionals to talk about human resources challenges?

I had the pleasure of taking part in two forums that did just that in June.

The first was the Canadian Council of Human Resources Association’s Second Annual National Human Resources Forum in Ottawa. The event brought together HR leaders representing provincial associations from across the country, as well as leaders from other HR-related associations such as the Canadian Society for Training and Development, the Association of Career Professionals, the Strategic Capability Network and the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services.

The forum was launched last year as a vehicle for sharing workforce insights, concerns and strategies. In the policy arena, the forum works to build a national consensus around HR issues, improving the profession’s ability to lobby and work with government.

This year attendees examined generational values in the workforce and how they might impact everything from recruitment and retention to employee engagement.

Before breaking off into working groups, delegates heard from author and demographer Michael Adams, president of Environics. While employees have been grouped into elder, boomer and Gen X cohorts for some time, Adams presented a division of these age groupings into sub-groups based on values. Adams’ work shows the complexity involved in trying to understand employees, and fit well with delegates’ concern that thinking in terms of elder-boomer-Gen X has limited value in understanding the workforce and building HR strategies. What about changes to age groups due to immigration? What about values that cut across generations?

Forum delegates hashed out the topic with the help of Queen’s University industrial relations academic Carol Beatty, and

Canadian HR Reporter

will provide coverage of a white paper to be released this month.

The second HR consciousness-raising event was

Canadian HR Reporter

’s own HR Leaders Forum, held in Toronto. Co-sponsored with our parent Carswellbusiness, the forum featured York University HR professor Monica Belcourt who led a panel discussion and roundtable on the emergence of five trends: metrics, employer branding, retention of key staff, technology and HR as an organization’s conscience.

Invited HR practitioners, authors and industry experts heard five panel presentations by working HR professionals who delved into the workplace implications of the five trends. Attendees further debated the trends in a lively roundtable discussion. Coverage of the event is found in our cover story this issue and a free white paper will be available in the coming weeks through

Canadian HR Reporter

’s

website

.

Whether it’s forums such as these, breakfast seminars hosted by local HR association chapters, conferences or webcasts, HR professionals at all stages of their careers can find value in seeking out colleagues and engaging in an exchange of ideas and insights.

At a macro level forums and conferences contribute to the body of knowledge that improves the ability of HR departments to develop strategies. Both June forums also showed the value in bringing together academics (Beatty and Belcourt) with working HR professionals, eliminating the ivory tower barrier that can plague the dissemination of research in many fields.

On a personal level, participating in HR events can be a tonic for the professionals involved. No longer is one an isolated decision-maker reinventing the wheel. The forums allowed attendees to step away from the day-to-day and take part in stimulating conversations that invigorated one’s passion for human resources. It’s a reminder that all HR practitioners can benefit from getting away from the routine in search of professional growth and an opportunity to experience a broader sense of HR community.

Addressing HR challenges in a fast-changing global environment is no easy task. It’s easier when HR professionals do it together — so take some time and participate in HR gatherings in your community. Both the profession and your own sense of engagement will be the better for it.

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