HR MANAGER'S BOOKSHELF<br> Pursuing strategy and best practices

Creating new perspectives and frameworks for HR and how to do the paperwork.

Carswell has long been a source of factual and reference resources for practitioners in human resources, law and accounting. Several new publications, in three-ring binder format, offer ready-to-use and ready-to-adapt policy, practice and strategic tools.

The “Best Practices” series are written by expert practitioners, featuring a thorough overview of the subject area. The emphasis is on brief descriptions, examples and practical pointers. The series titles offer a valuable starting point for approaching current HR issues.

Best Practices: Strategic Human Resources Management
By David Bratton, Carswell (2001). 1-800-387-5164,

One senior HR manager told me that he found a lot of value and applied learnings from this publication as soon as he received it. Ontario consultant David Bratton wrote this volume to help create:

•a deeper understanding of corporate strategy and the part that a human resource strategy plays in the effectiveness of the organization;

•a new perspective on the role of the human resource function in making a major contribution to the productivity and profitability of the organization;

•a series of functional human resource strategies designed for ease of understanding and implementation; and

•a validation of human resource issues, trends, concerns and challenges based on a survey of human resource professionals.

Readers will find frameworks for getting started in HR strategic planning, gap analysis, HR measurement and undertaking an audit in 10 key HR content areas.

Several chapters on functional topics illustrate strategic approaches to talent acquisition, retention and motivation; creating a learning organization; and managing strategic change in an organization. Other sections address barriers to strategic involvement for HR and ways to gain influence and become more of a “strategic partner.”

Appendices include a 60-page bibliography of books and articles on numerous facets of HR, and a 40-page guide to the Internet for HR managers.

Managing High Technology Employees
By Linda Duxbury, Lorranie Dyke and Natalie Lam, Carswell (2000).
A report on what organizations need to do to keep knowledge workers energized, motivated and committed. The authors, academics at Ottawa’s Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, conducted a study with Ottawa-area high-tech companies with a focus on career development and related issues like retention, job satisfaction, work-life balance and learning.

About 70 recommendations are presented, covering:
•definitions of career success, aspirations and orientations;

•promotion and support of technical specialists;

•promotion and support of those seeking progression through the ranks;

•breadth and relevance of job experience;


•formal education and training;

•independent learning;

•sense of accomplishment;

•financial compensation;


•“being seen” and “being political”;

•stimulating work environment;

•the role of the manager;

•mentoring and networks; and

•human resource practices.

Emphasis is given to the principle that “one size does not fit all.” In-depth case studies focus on Cognos and Mitel Corporation. Other participating organizations included IBM, Royal Bank, Bell Canada, Xerox, Pratt and Whitney and several federal and provincial government units.

Best Practices: Human Resources Forms Toolkit
By Laurie Blake, Joan Bolland and Ellen Mole, Carswell (2000).
This compendium of forms (for print and electronic versions) could be a valuable time saver for HR practitioners, as well as a route to gaining from the experience of other organizations. The hundreds of forms included in the binder and accompanying CD-ROM cover a wide range of topics including:

•planning for staffing (forecasting, turnover analysis, personnel requisition, job descriptions, physical demands analysis);

•managing the hiring process (application forms, internal postings, interview information, offer letters, employment agreements, reference check forms, orientation information);

•human rights compliance and employee complaint resolution (prohibited grounds, gender neutral language guidelines, resolution of employee complaints);

•workplace health and safety (safety manual sign-offs, training, committees, hazard reporting, inspections, work refusals, accident reporting and investigation, workers’ compensation, compliance and due diligence);

•managing employee performance and conduct (probation, training, performance evaluation, performance recognition, discipline);

•HR administration (attendance, employee change forms, expense reporting, conflict of interest, consent forms, tuition refund, Internet agreements, flexible work arrangements, record keeping);

•salary and benefits administration (salary range models, job evaluation and classification, overtime, insurance claim forms, benefits enrollment and tracking, vacations, leaves); and

•termination (guidelines, just cause checklist, termination letters, resignation, exit checklist, exit interview or survey, release).

In addition to forms, the book includes valuable pointers, check lists and articles on many of the areas covered. Effective HR practice, as well as legal considerations, are addressed.

Carswell has also published Best Practices volumes on specific HR practice areas: employment policies, recruitment and selection, terminations, training and development, performance management, employee retention and occupational health and safety. Reviews appeared in CHRR, April 10, 2000 and Sept. 25, 2000. Information is available at or (416) 609-3800, 1-800-387-5164.

Best Practices: Human Resources Benchmarking
By Colin Dawes, Carswell (2000).
Everything you may ever need to understand about benchmarking: what it is, how to prepare, identifying benchmarking objects, selecting external benchmarking resources, approaching target organizations and conducting the process. Also included are guidance on the design of indicators, quantitative data collection methodology, compiling and reporting results, analysis, action planning and implementation.

In the introduction, common misconceptions about benchmarking are addressed:
•it’s expensive;

•it means comparing the best;

•it’s spying;

•it isn’t for small organizations;

•it creates bad habits; and

•it damages competitive advantage.

The thoroughness of the content is illustrated by the section on challenges in measurement and data collection. Questions covered include:
•How can the object be measured?

•Is there a direct, or indirect, way to measure it?

•Can a predictive indicator be designed?

•Can an indicator emphasize “success” or encourage a specific behaviour?

•How many indicators are required?

•Can a multi-purpose indicator be designed?

•Can accurate data be collected? and

•Can data be acquired within an acceptable time frame?

Appendices outline a benchmarking code of conduct, a bank of HR indicators and human asset indicators, and sources of help (associations and experts). Dawes founded the voluntary Canadian group HRBN (Human Resources Benchmarking Network).

Ray Brillinger is a senior consultant with the IBM Consulting Group. He provides change management, business transformation and organization effectiveness services to client organizations. He can be reached at (905) 316-4646 or [email protected].

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