HR leaders in Alberta, B.C. predict different paths for 2016: Survey

67 per cent expect no change, limited growth for Canadian economy

Canada’s two western provinces are headed in different directions in 2016, and human resources leaders in each province are bracing for the impact, according to a survey of more than 500 HR leaders by the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA), the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) and Alexander Whitehead Executive Search.

While 2016 will see further economic hardship in Alberta, it will also see brighter economic prospects for British Columbia. 

“Sixty-seven per cent of respondents anticipate no change or limited growth in the Canadian economy in the new year,” said Terry Whitehead, managing partner of Alexander Whitehead Executive Search. “That forecast changes at the provincial level. In Alberta, not surprisingly, 54 per cent of HR leaders predict the provincial economy will experience moderate or strong economic decline and 27 per cent plan for no change over 2015.

“In other words, 81 per cent of HR leaders in Alberta predict no improvement or worsening conditions in 2016. Conversely, in B.C., 46 per cent of HR practitioners anticipate moderate to strong economic growth in the coming year.”

HR leaders are well-positioned to understand the impact of macroeconomic factors and events on an organization’s primary asset — human capital, said Anthony Ariganello, president and CEO of HRMA.

“Programs related to hiring, professional development and executive succession planning are all directly impacted by external economic events. In 2016, concern over weakness in commodity prices and the lower Canadian dollar top the list of enterprise risks expected to impact organizations.”

The New Year brings an increased focus on change management at the organizational level for HR practitioners.

“HR leaders identified improving employee engagement and culture as the top human resources priority for their organization,” said Chris McNelly, CEO of HRIA. “This priority emerges when economic conditions are difficult and organizations have faced or are anticipating layoffs. Implementing initiatives to improve morale and productivity is critical to mitigating the concerns of the remaining employees.”

When the economy is weaker, as expected in Alberta, employers tend to focus on managing compensation costs, he said.

“However, employers can still maintain or improve employee engagement and create a desirable corporate culture by investing in professional development which will contribute to retaining top talent and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage.”


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