HR profession on path to higher status

HR practitioners predict bright future

The future of HR is looking bright, according to a recent survey by the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO) and Canadian HR Reporter.

The online survey of 1,024 HR practitioners and students found 81.3 per cent of respondents think the HR profession and its designations, in particular the Certified Human Resource Professional (CHRP), will be much more or somewhat more widely recognized in 10 years than they are now.

“I think the changing demographic is going to mean that all organizations are going to have to put a greater value on the HR function because retaining and recruiting employees is going to become even more critical in the next 10 years,” said Joanne Whittle, director of HR and sales leadership practice at Peak Sales Recruiting in Ottawa and one of the survey participants.

Three-quarters (76.9 per cent) of respondents also think the HR profession will have a much higher or somewhat higher status in 10 years.

Whittle, who has been in HR for more than 10 years, would like to see HR take on a more strategic role in organizations. For this to happen, HR needs support from the executive level, she said.

“You can’t lead from behind. You can try and push your own initiatives but it really needs a champion, and the champion is the CEO,” she said.

HR also has a role to play in influencing public policy, with 70.2 per cent of respondents saying they think the profession will have more influence in this area in 10 years.

“It’s important to be more politically active. It builds credibility,” said Gary Collins, finance and administration manager at food manufacturer DC Foods in Waterloo, Ont.

But that doesn’t mean HR should be lobbying the government on any and all issues, said Jennifer King, director of HR for chartered accounting firm Fuller Landau in Toronto.

“It depends on the topic whether we should be asked for our opinion on it or not,” said King.

While the CHRP may not be as well recognized as the CA (chartered accountant) or CGA (certified general accountant), HR practitioners think that will change over the next decade. Nearly one-half (46.8 per cent) of respondents think HR will have made significant gains toward being recognized as a profession on par with the accounting professions, while 19.4 per cent of respondents think it will be on par.

“A CHRP compared to a CA or even a CGA designation is not as highly regarded in the business world,” said Collins. “I think it will take more than 10 years for it to be recognized to the same extent as the accounting designations are recognized because it hasn’t been around as long.”

HR associations, such as the HRPAO, have to do more to raise the profile of the designation, said Arlene Rampersad, an HR administrator for measuring tools manufacturer Mitutoyo Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

“People don’t really know what it is. People haven’t really heard of it,” said Rampersad, who has worked in HR for nearly three years. She would like to see the HRPAO’s marketing initiatives target non-HR business people to educate them about the CHRP.

HR practitioners see a growing demand for HR professionals, with 46.9 per cent of respondents saying they think there will be more professional and managerial jobs in HR in 10 years’ time.

Another 37.5 per cent of respondents think there will be increased demand for HR professionals at all levels.

However, that demand will depend on the economy, said King. When money is tight, HR functions, such as training, are often the first to get cut, she said.

“It’s considered a cost center,” said King. Unfortunately many HR programs, especially training, are key drivers of retention so if a company cuts those programs it will likely lose valuable employees, she said.

The pulse of the profession

We are taking the pulse of the HR profession. Canadian HR Reporter has teamed up with the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO) to bring you Pulse Survey. This monthly series will take a look at areas of importance to HR practitioners from across Canada, and the profession as a whole.

In the next edition of the Pulse Survey, we’ll take a look at whether the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation should be harder to attain. Look for results in the April 21 issue of Canadian HR Reporter.

How to participate: Members of the HRPAO will receive an e-mail inviting them to participate, as will subscribers to Canadian HR Reporter. These are national surveys, so anyone from across Canada is encouraged to participate. You can also access the surveys from Look for a link under “News from the Canadian Workplace.” If there is no link, it means there is no active survey.

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