Moving forward (HR Associations)

Despite an uneven economy, Canada’s HR associations are focused on member needs, self-regulation and collaboration

CCHRA stays quiet on developments, plans

The Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) is a national federation of seven provincial human resources associations representing eight provinces (Quebec is an associate member and Ontario is not a member) and one territory.

When contacted by Canadian HR Reporter, CCHRA declined to be interviewed for this annual feature that gives HR professionals a glimpse of what their associations have in the works.

British Columbia sees success in rebranding campaign

The Human Resources Management Association (HRMA)’s rebranding campaign was well-received, according to president and CEO Anthony Ariganello, citing results from surveys done before and after.

For example, 28 per cent of the business community strongly felt there was a strategic advantage to having an HR professional on staff, compared to 15 per cent prior to the campaign. And 20 per cent said they were aware of HRMA’s presence in the marketplace before the rebranding, compared to just five per cent beforehand, he says.

On the self-regulation side, HRMA has met with the government a couple of times.

“We submitted to them our application in terms of the needs of why we’re seeking it, the public protection interest piece and all that, and they seem very supportive of it,” says Ariganello.

HRMA has also prepared draft legislation in case the government requires assistance there.

“If you help them along and demonstrate to them the goals you’re trying to pursue with regards to legislation, that makes it easier,” he says.

The association was also recognized in 2015 for its best practices and innovative solutions to immigrant employment and integration by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC. 

“If individuals are better-equipped to be able to hit the ground running, that’s really key… understanding what their needs are when they’re settling in Canada, what the requirements are so that it’s not a complete surprise in terms of what you have to be aware of and the requirements,” he says.

And Canada’s Public Policy Forum published a paper  with HRMA looking at how to create more human capital in the province to keep up with demand.

“It’s really important to work with other organizations or like-minded bodies, whether it’s similar HR associations or sister affiliates… for the simple reason that things are very different,” he says.

Alberta hopeful about self-regulation process

The Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) has already seen significant progress on the road to self-regulation, and 2016 will hopefully lead to further advances. 

“We’re (working towards) advancing the HR professional overall, so much of our focus and our resources and efforts are to promote self-regulation of the profession for the benefit of our members and our stakeholders, and to ensure the protection of the public through self-regulation,” says Chris McNelly, CEO of HRIA, adding the 6,005-member association has already submitted its application to the government of Alberta and is waiting to hear back.

But HRIA has other key strategic initiatives, he says.

“They’re primarily focused on recognition of the profession itself, working with industry, business, post-secondary (institutions) to promote the HR profession, to promote the professional designation, and to just ensure the credibility and integrity of the professional designation and of the certification process.”

HRIA is also continuing to advance its professional development and networking opportunities and products and services for members, says McNelly.

“In addition to that, (we are focusing on) establishing those partnerships with post-secondary institutions in particular to ensure that we are growing our membership with students as sort of that pipeline,” he says. 

“We’re developing accreditation programs with Alberta post-secondary institutions and we’re expecting a lot of research on both current and emerging HR trends.”

Another key undertaking this year is HRIA’s a semi-annual HR trends report, says McNelly.

“2016 will be the first year that we’ll have a comprehensive western Canada HR trends report that will include research from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. So it’s the first of its kind that will provide HR analysis, trends, data across western Canada.”

The research was done in partnership with the other HR associations, with HRIA spearheading the project, says McNelly. 

Manitoba hones in on self-regulation, education

Like many of its peers, the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM) has one major goal in mind: Self-regulation. 

“We’ve had a lot of support from Saskatchewan and Alberta and B.C. in terms of some of their codes and standards that they’ve looked and their submissions,” says Ron Gauthier, CEO and CHRP registrar at HRMAM. “We’re just in the process of looking at doing all of that, and we’re just starting to educate our members on what being self-regulated means and why there are benefits to that.”

To that end, HRMAM is focusing on the education piece with its membership of 1,365, he says.

“We’re also very busy looking at the standards for the designation and the codes of conduct… the national body I think is going to be looking at this year some of the credentialing around the designation and those types of things, so we’re providing input.”

HRMAM is continuing to work actively with post-secondary institutions, says Gauthier. 

“We’ve got now two programs that have aligned their courses with our new national competency framework, and we’ve shared it with all the other institutions.”

And the association continues to expand its involvement in student activities, he says.

“We sponsor a lot of the student events — building relationships, creating awareness about students that there is a career in HR and a designation.”

The association is also looking to get more involved with research, as it did while participating in the western Canada HR trends report, says Gauthier. 

HRMAM has also been working hard on its own awareness of the intricacies involved in a self-regulation bid, he says. 

“We’ve met with similar types of associations, and also we’ve met with associations that have just gotten regulated in Manitoba to learn some tips from them in terms of what some of the strategies were or what some of the key things that were involved were.” 

Strong stakeholder buy-in is key, says Gauthier. 

“That’s why we’re educating our members — we’re going to be having some special membership meetings coming up in the spring where we talk about self-regulation, what does it mean… and the big shift in thinking. You go from being a professional business association to a regulator.”

Saskatchewan association celebrates 10 years

The Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015.

But along with the celebrations, SAHRP’s focus on self-regulation remained job number one. However, the provincial election in the spring is a challenge.

“It’s fair to say we’re about in the same position as we were last year,” says Nicole Norton Scott, executive director and registrar at SAHRP. “Given the environment in Saskatchewan, it’s very dependent on where the government is at.”

But the association is more evolved in terms of its thinking around self-regulation, says Lindy Pelletier, president of SAHRP.

“For instance, we’re focused on ensuring HR-specific education is present... we’re creating working relationships with post-secondary institutions around educational programming. So though our application remains perhaps where it was last year in terms of… the government processes, our thinking has evolved over the last year in terms of the elements that need to be in place to enable self-regulation when it comes.”

The association also joined forces with the HR associations in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba to produce a Western HR trends survey that’s meant to track, measure and benchmark the human resources function. Results are expected in March.

“This is very good information for our members,” says Norton Scott. “It can be used as a tool when we meet with our stakeholders, whether it be members of the public, meaning business owners that may not understand HR; the same with the government… using this to talk about what HR professionals do.” 

SAHRP also presented its first annual professional development calendar in 2015, offering a variety of opportunities that directly align with the HR functional knowledge areas of the certified human resources professional (CHRP) designation.

The 1,500-member association also now provides an accreditation program by recognizing quality HR-focused professional development programs, with four organizations signed on so far.

The October conference in Saskatoon was also very successful, with 330 delegates in attendance, and for 2016, the conference is to be held in Regina on Oct. 4 and 5.

“We are looking at perhaps reinvigorating an HR rewards of excellence ceremony to help promote the profession as well, so that’s something that’s going to be reinvigorated from the past,” says Pelletier.

“It’s another tool to help promote the profession so it makes good sense to bring it back.”

Ontario builds on strong foundation

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) accomplished a great deal around incorporating a lot of the new elements of being a self-regulated profession, such as bylaws and processes, says HRPA CEO Bill Greenhalgh. 

“The biggest thing, of course, was probably the designations that we launched right at the end of 2014 that came into effect in 2015. And the impact of those has been unbelievable. Our membership is up by eight per cent year-over-year and our retention is up, and the reaction from our members, from companies and organizations, and from academia has been totally outstanding,” he says. 

A main focus for the 22,500-member association in 2016 will the evolution of the designations, such as new exams. Part of these will be around assessing employment legislation knowledge, for instance. 

“It’s a core part of the HR profession… certainly the professional level and the leadership level will have employment law exams to assess their capability there,” says Greenhalgh. 

HRPA will also be making an intensive effort in terms of marketing the value of the new designations. 

“(It’s about) really making sure that executives who are hiring HR professionals see the value that hiring someone with a designation brings as opposed to someone who’s outside the profession, or even inside the profession without the designations,” says Greenhalgh. 

It’s a ramp-up of the whole approach of presenting HR as a profession, he says. 

“(We are) working on that professionalization, building that body of knowledge as a global body so that people can understand around the world that there is in fact a competency base around what HR people do.”

HRPA also just introduced a professional assessment tool where people can go online and assess themselves against the designations and HRPA’s competency model, says Greenhalgh.

“They can find out their areas that are suggested for development — it actually gives them a specific report that compares against their peers (and) against the competency model.”

Eventually, the association will be able to use this to provide data to organizations with multiple HR professionals about which areas they are strong on and which areas may have some development needs. 

“It gives organizations an indication of where they should focus some of their development activities,” he says.

HRPA also will be rolling out a brand new strategy in 2016.

“HR as a profession is really vital and important, and it’s critical that organizations understand the value that HR professionals can bring,” says Greenhalgh.

Quebec expects changes with new general manager

Sitting at 9,888 members, the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA) in Quebec is looking to hit the 10,000 mark in 2016, according to Réné Jolicoeur, then interim general manager of the organization.

And changes are expected after the departure of long-time general manager Florent Francoeur in 2015, who was replaced by Manon Poirier in January.

“(He) was here for 23 years and the movement went from 800 members to close to 10,000 members… so he did a fabulous job growing this,” says Jolicoeur.

So what’s next on the agenda for the association? 

“What’s Ordre 2.0? What now do we need to accomplish as we see more and more players jumping into the fray from accounting firms to training companies to business school? 

“They’re all offering discussion groups, training programs, posting for new positions, so what used to be pretty much a captive market for the Ordre is now pursued by several partners,” says Jolicoeur.

The organization has been busy working with schools, helping universities shape their programs so students are admissible right off the bat, he says. 

“That helps because we’re entering a phase where you have more people leaving the work market than entering the work market so you have to be aggressive on that front.”

Part of CRHA’s strategic plan has been to articulate the seven core competencies it uses and to structure training around that. That means structuring diplomas that lead to immediate certification, says Jolicoeur, which has to be approved by the Office des Professions du Québec. 

“There are specialized university degrees in IR or human resources but now we’re starting to look at business degrees with a strong HR orientation... to see if they have a sufficient number of credits that are closely associated with the HR curriculum so that they can be recognized right off the bat.”

And when it comes to protection of the public, CRHA wants to increase its efforts when it comes to the inspection program, says Jolicoeur.

Also new for the Quebec organization is its decision to join the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) as an associate member. 

“Joining CCHRA as an associate member is one of the ways for us to strengthen our collaboration with the rest of the country and to provide our members with an opportunity to learn and share best practices and research,” says Richard Blain, chair of CRHA.

Nova Scotia helps members with uneven economy

Back in 2014, big picture planning was a significant theme for the 1,000-member Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS). In 2015, it was all about putting those plans in motion. 

“Our strategic plan is fairly ambitious so we’ve been working hard over the past year to move specific initiatives forward,” says HRANS president Steve Ashton. 

Activities have included an update to the association’s volunteer structure and ongoing policy development work. 

The association has also been collaborating with academic agencies to enhance the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. 

“One of the things we want to do is ensure the programs offered are aligned with the CHRP competency framework,” says Ashton. 
“We’re helping our members understand how the education they’re taking is lining them up for their career in human resources.” 

The backdrop to this progress is a difficult provincial economy. That’s had an impact on HR, but not in an entirely negative way. 

The weak Canadian dollar is helping some industries in Nova Scotia and P.E.I., says Ashton.

“For our exporters in particular, such as the fisheries, tourism and technology areas, there are advantages to a low dollar. We’re really seeing opportunities there, while other sectors are definitely feeling the pinch.” 

The other significant driver in the area is the return of skilled workers, who had originally gone west to work in the oil industry. 

“Extremely skilled employees are now back and working on some very important projects. The Irving shipbuilding project in Halifax is a really good example,” says Ashton. 

Of course, not every industry is thriving, and that means some companies are searching for ways to change and adapt.

“That’s pushing HR teams to be even more strategic in the work that we’re doing,” says Ashton. “So the demand is there for us to be much better advocates and enablers of change, not just with respect to workforce but also when it comes to shaping and influencing organizational culture.” 

Looking ahead, the association will host its annual conference in Halifax in May and has plans to boost the number of webinars and training opportunities it hosts, over the coming year. 

Providing value while being respectful of budgets in a tough economy will remain a challenge and a focus, going forward. 

“In order to support the evolution of our profession — and the professionals working in HR — you’ve still got to be sustainable while you’re adding value,” says Ashton.

New Brunswick focuses on surveys, learning, growth

For the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB), 2015 was a year that focused on learning and professional growth. 

“One of our successes was the introduction of a provincewide mentorship program,” says president Pierre Simoneau, adding the 966-member association used an online platform to connect its members. “More than 100 people are participating in the program.”

HRANB also engaged members in a survey to identify what the association is doing well and where it could do better. 
“We have been tackling weaknesses in a number of ways,” says Simoneau.

For instance, chapters now implement surveys after professional development activities to help determine the success of events. HRANB has also partnered with a rewards company to give members discounts and savings.  

Despite the fact the oil patch slowdown brought many laid-off New Brunswickers back home, quite a number of organizations are still having trouble with recruitment. There’s a lack of skilled workers in the province, causing ongoing challenges for HR, says Simoneau. 

“I know employers are concerned that if they hire someone that’s been in the oil patch, those people will leave as soon as oil picks up again and they’ll lose an employee they’ve invested in,” he says. “So there’s a degree of uncertainty.” 

In an effort to address this, the province has introduced programs to encourage businesses to hire high school students for summer work in the trades. 

“The hope is that they will register for trade school in community colleges and eventually fill the spots available through retirement,” says Simoneau.

Expected this winter is a provincial budget announcement likely to include belt-tightening measures, directly impacting HR. 
“Right now, there are various labour force development programs that help companies,” he says. “One of the things probably coming is streamlining. So instead of five or six programs, there might only be two.” 

Any challenges resulting from budget cuts are likely to make the upcoming biannual conference  in May especially well-attended. 
“HR will need to find ways to make up for the lack of those programs,” says Simoneau. 

Membership continues to grow at HRPNL

For the Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland & Labrador (HRPNL), one of the biggest successes of 2015 was the growth of members with their Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. 

“We’re the youngest association in the country,” says president Neil Coombs, “but approximately half of our membership now holds the CHRP designation.” 

It’s an employer trend too.

“I’ve seen an increase in the number of employers who are asking for the CHRP,” he says. “When they’re recruiting for an HR professional, they’re asking for that certification, so they’re recognizing that it’s more than just education and experience they’re looking for, but a certain level of professionalism.”

Over the course of 2015, the 215-member organization also worked to strengthen its network. 

“As a member of CCHRA (Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations), we’ve been collaborating with other member associations to ensure our standards are consistent with those of associations across the country,” says Coombs. 

Looking ahead to 2016, the association hopes to increase some of the services it offers to members, including more professional development opportunities and a broader range of digital resources through the website.  

“Economically, there are challenges right now, but we are seeing a lot of companies in the province who are still recruiting, still looking for professionals and those in the skilled trades,” says Coombs. “It’s important for us to weather the storm and see where the opportunities come from next.” 

Payroll association keeps pushing for change

One of the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA)’s big accomplishments in 2015 was the implementation of the work experience requirement for the Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) certification.

“In the past, most of our students completing certification were taking it at night and had payroll jobs during the day, but when they moved to the college and university model with students taking courses during the day, then they didn’t have the same level of work experience, so... we needed to ensure that graduates were able to apply the compliance knowledge that we taught them,” says Patrick Culhane, CEO and president.

The 20,000-member CPA has also been vocal when it comes to proposed changes concerning the Canada Pension Plan and Ontario’s pension plan.

“Our preference is that there’s a modest increase in the Canada Pension Plan rather than the ORPP because the CPP is already in place, employers already have a process for administering it and it’s just more efficient,” he says.

The CPA also saw success with Service Canada when it came to electronic ROEs, says Culhane.

“We worked very hard with Service Canada to enable people outside of Canada to sign up for electronic ROEs. So if you’re an HR professional, a payroll professional or an accounting professional or lawyer in the United States or other places in the world, you can then authorize that a company representative is legitimate so they can make use of Service Canada’s electronic services outside of Canada.”

And for the annual conference in June in Calgary, good attendance is expected despite the challenges, he says.

“The reality is in most cases, payroll jobs are pretty secure because if you downsize or even adjust, the fact of the matter is somebody has to pay people.”

CSTD now Institute for Performance and Learning

The Institute for Performance and Learning — formerly the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) — has plenty to be excited about this year.

For starters, there’s the new name and brand, along with a new website and digital presence, says CEO Rob Pearson. 

“The decision to rebrand was one of the primary callouts in our strategic plan.”

The essence of that plan was a belief that in representing performance and learning professionals, the institute should increase its visibility and influence. 

“We’re at a time of great change in our society and in our country and in our economy, and workplace performance and learning professionals in so many ways are at the nexus of this change. The world of work is changing, the requirement to be lifelong learners, just the pace of change. The things that we learned in school and university become obsolete so quickly,” says Pearson.  
The 3,000-member association is also increasing its regional programming through “Learn Fests,” says Pearson — with events planned for major cities, as well as an annual symposium in Vancouver in the spring and a national conference in late fall. 

The institute is also in the early stages of planning a Design Thinking Summit, he says. 

“Our approach to design as a profession, I think, is changing very rapidly and we would like to bring some folks together to do some brainstorming and sharing around what the latest trends and tools are with respect to the design of performance and learning solutions.”

The association is also putting a lot of effort into promoting the profession to potential entrants, says Pearson, visiting colleges, universities and high schools.

Providing knowledge, examples, networking at SCN

This year, the Strategic Capability Network has a fairly simple focus, says president Ian Hendry: “Staying on the cusp of research that’s coming out, new developments that we see, organizational change that we see — it’s really staying on the cusp of evolution.” 

Having the right people doing the right jobs with the right skill sets will continue to be critical as organizations zero in on their strategic objectives, he says. 

“So the more you can align to those strategic objectives and keep people engaged in doing the right things and developing at the same time, I think that’s where the game is.”

A lot of the 550-member network’s programming focuses on experts from diverse disciplines, who in turn apply their learnings to HR. 

“The needs are different in different organizations, they’re all in different places on the learning curve, they’re all in different places with respect to competition — if you’re a global organization, it’s obviously very different than if you’re local. So all of those are nuances, but there are different elements that come to bear,” says Hendry. 

“We try to have a sense of what’s emerging and what those sources are, and bring them into our events so that we can learn from there.”

It’s about taking that information, taking that knowledge and interpreting it for your organization, he says. 

“That’s where peer networks are becoming very useful,” says Hendry. “You sort of take what other organizations have done, look at it in terms of ‘What works for me and my organization?’ and you tweak it and make it useful in your organization.” 

SCN will also continue to build a strong digital presence this year, via blogging, its web platform and a Twitter presence, he says.

SHRM to expand offerings around competency model

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) had an “outstanding” year with “epic” results, according to Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, president and CEO.

After the launch of competency-based SHRM certification in January, more than 87,000 individuals became either a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) or SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

“At the same time, employers began to embrace the concept ... they began asking for the SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP on HR job postings,” he says.

The annual conference was also a success, being its largest ever. Held in Las Vegas, the event had 15,600 attendees from 85 countries — including 209 from Canada — and more than 3,500 exhibitors. For 2016, the conference will move to Washington, D.C.

Looking ahead, the 285,000-member society  plans to expand its offerings around the SHRM Competency Model to ensure HR professionals are prepared to lead their organizations, he says. 

“The competency model was developed three years ago and, since then, we have developed diagnostic tools that HR professionals and their teams are using to assess their strengths and opportunities. We are continuing to help HR professionals engage with the competency model as they develop their skills and careers with practical applications to close competency gaps via content, tools, networks and experiences.”

 SHRM is also conducting a joint qualitative research project with the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) and a Mexico association looking at the best cross-border HR practices of practitioners and their companies operating under the North American Free Trade Agreement. It expects to have a report for release later this year, says Jackson.

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