Pulling together (HR Associations)

A major rebranding saw most of Canada’s HR associations united this past year — including Quebec — while Ontario maintained a separate path

Pulling together (HR Associations)
A major rebranding saw most of Canada’s HR associations united this past year — including Quebec — while Ontario maintained a separate path. Credit: Shutterstock

CPHR Canada continues down ambitious path

As the national body for HR, CPHR Canada, the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Canada, has had a very busy year.

Formerly known as the CCHRA (Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations), it officially announced a name change in February. The move was about doing what’s best for the profession, and having a strong national voice, according to Shannon Railton, chair of the board at CPHR Canada.

“Literally, we’ve had to rebuild our brand and bring people together in a way that we hadn’t existed before. So we’ve redone everything — our governance model, we have a new strategic plan, we’ve rebranded.”

The national association may have faltered in the past in terms of being too operational, says Railton, but now it recognizes its role should be as a governance board.

“We are very fortunate to have a very collegial group of people to work with and we have great leadership and, with that, we’re able to get a lot done,” she says.

And having Quebec come back as a full voting member — after it relinquished its membership in 2010 — has been important in terms of the national association’s strategic goals, says Railton.

However, Ontario is still not a member of CPHR Canada, having left the group in 2014.

“We would love to re-engage them as a full member, so that continues to be our strategic hope. We are certainly currently in discussions with them about how it would look for them to come back,” she says.

Railton also became president of the North American Human Resource Management Association (NAHRMA) for a two-year term starting in September 2016.

“The timing is really good for Canada to lead given that we’ve changed so much, and grown and strategically positioned ourselves well in terms of being the Canadian voice for the HR profession,” she says.

Railton also says she hopes the national association will work on strategic initiatives outside of Canada, such as creating a North American or international standard.

“I see that as a real opportunity for us, especially with many of our members working outside of our borders as well, so it’s really just positioning our designation to align with others as well.”

And CPHR Canada is set to embark on some exciting initiatives in terms of government relations, she says, along with supporting the member associations with their pursuit of self-regulation.

British Columbia and Yukon embrace name change

In March 2017, the Human Resource Management Association (HRMA) on the West Coast changed its name to CPHR (Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Canada) British Columbia & Yukon, making the switch to match the new name for the national association and HR designation.

“It’s been a lot of work leading up to this, but the whole country’s pretty energized, obviously, outside of Ontario… about what we’ve done and who we are and what we’re representing,” says Anthony Ariganello, president and CEO of the Vancouver-based group.

And a new campaign features the tagline “People leading business,” he says. “It really resonates with business owners, CEOs, COOs who are looking to add value or contribute value to their space, and showing how HR can contribute in that space from a strategic standpoint.”

The B.C. and Yukon association, which has about 5,700 members, is also keen on self-regulation, but that’s been stalled with the focus on the provincial election, says Ariganello. “We’ll have to regroup once the election is over.”

The group also released a couple of white papers during the year, with one looking at minimum wage and the other a semi-annual HR Trends Report.

CPHR British Columbia & Yukon is also staying on top of issues that are of interest to its members, such as affordability, says Ariganello.

“Salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living, not here, and that’s a problem — people have to move far away from work and commute,” he says.

“HR managers have to start thinking about that: ‘How do we accommodate a workforce that wants to ensure they stay productive but, at the same time, don’t lose their whole day in stressful activities, like being stuck in traffic?’ So, for B.C., it’s a really critical time.”

Alberta introduces 5-year action plan with new CEO

Since becoming CEO of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) — now CPHR Alberta — in January, Peter Dugandzic has been particularly busy rolling out a five-year action plan for the association.

“We’ve had strategic plans before but they weren’t action-oriented plans. So… we developed what I would call a private sector-type of business plan that was future-focused, that took into account where our past deficiencies were, and therefore what objectives and actionable deliverables would be to transform and deliver change.”

The plan focuses on a number of key objectives, according to Dugandzic.

“(These include) increasing the value of the designation through the products and services that we offer, through ensuring that we have adequate professional development by increasing the profile of HRIA with its stakeholders, enhancing the recognition of the brand within the business community, and then growing our membership base,” he says.

“We’re focusing on the value position that we offer to members, so members need to see value in terms of what they’re paying for the membership, and that will come from the recognition of the CPHR designation and brand within broader stakeholder groups. But, more specifically, we’re focusing on the business community so they understand what’s behind the credentials and how it adds value to their business.”

The association plans to have a very transparent focus with members moving forward, says Dugandzic, “so not only do they want to see results but we’re committing to regular, quarterly updates in terms of where we are with execution of the plan, what we’ve done and what we’re continuing to focus on for the remainder of the year.”

The latest membership survey showed a decline in satisfaction year-over-year, says Dugandzic.

“While it’s negative news, it’s positive from the point of view that we have detailed information in terms of where we need to focus, so using the survey results in conjunction with the consultation process that we have, we believe we have firm information upon which we built the business plan and which we want to now execute and deliver the results to members.”

Membership at the Alberta association sits at about 5,800, and the objective is to grow that to about 7,500 by the end of the five-year business plan, says Dugandzic.

Saskatchewan changes name, focuses on self-regulation

Like several other HR associations across Canada, Saskatchewan is celebrating a new name. In late April, members of the Regina-based group voted yes to change from the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) to Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Saskatchewan.

The change followed the move
by the national body and its
provincial members to align under the name and designation CPHR — Chartered Professionals in Human Resources.

“This wasn’t something that was done overnight — there was a lot of deliberation on the idea of changing the name, to protect the public, to avoid public confusion in the marketplace, and there’s a lot of positive with adopting an association name that’s reflective of the designation name, so that was a really big move,” says Nicole Norton Scott, executive director and registrar of the Saskatchewan association.

It’s also good timing as CPHR Saskatchewan’s strategic focus includes self-regulation.

“Having a new designation name, a new association name, building all of the awareness and the branding and the marketing around that, it’s going along well in terms of educating the government and our stakeholders on what this brings, what the association does, what the profession does, what a member of the association with the designation does, so the competence of that person with the designation — it’s fitting well,” says Norton Scott.

The Saskatchewan association also had a successful conference in October in Regina, and introduced a Rising Star award, “moving along the whole idea of recognition, professionalism and competence in the field,” she says.

For the 2017 conference in October in Saskatoon, there will also be an HR Team of the Year award.

The association, which has more than 1,400 members, has also been busy delivering HR Trends Reports that provide members with labour market information.

“We’re having trending information in Saskatchewan for our members because we can compare from last year this time where things were at,” says Norton Scott.

And, going forward, CPHR Saskatchewan will continue to be involved with CPHR Canada as a member of the advisory committee, she says.

Rebranding reshapes Manitoba HR association

A rebrand and designation name change have been the defining factors of the past year for the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Manitoba, according to CEO Ron Gauthier.

Previously known as the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM), the Winnipeg-based group changed its title to reflect membership under CPHR Canada.

“The national body is doing a brand campaign, so in Manitoba we’re leveraging that right now,” he says.

“It’s been a big year of change.”

The association has advertised its new name and look heavily in the Manitoba capital, including a sponsorship with the Winnipeg Jets and mainstream media publications.

The journey to self-regulation was highlighted alongside the rebrand, including updated pathways to obtain the CPHR designation — both post-secondary and non-degree routes, says Gauthier.

“We also introduced a new code of conduct and professional rules of regulation, which are much more robust,” he says.

“It’s all positioning us to increase the credibility of the designation, but also helps us with our journey to self-regulation.”

And the foundational work completed in 2016 has set the organization up for success in those endeavours, he says.

“Our goal is to be making an official submission to the province of Manitoba to self-regulate the designation and be legislated by the province to do that.”

The three-year recertification process has also been altered to an annual continued professional development requirement.

“Those were all connected to the designation and the rebrand, positioning us for self-regulation,” says Gauthier.

The association has also invested in research projects, including participation in the Western Canada HR Trends Report.

“It’s great for us to position the association as a thought leader in the province,” he says.

Participation in a national salary survey revealed the average CPHR practitioner in Manitoba makes $87,000 annually, with 20 per cent of members earning upwards of $100,000 per year.

Non-certified human resources professionals earn $68,000, on average, says Gauthier.

“There was definitely a salary discrepancy between a designated and non-designated member.”

CPHR Manitoba’s total membership has climbed to 1,405, he says.

HRPA focuses on 4 building blocks, senior members, competencies

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) continues to focus on the four building blocks that are at the core of its strategy,  says Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of the Toronto-based group.

These include: protecting the public as a regulator of the profession; enhancing the credibility of HR professionals by communicating and promoting their value; ensuring the association is seen as a leader in how associations are run; and making sure the HRPA’s three designations (the entry level CHRP, professional level CHRL and executive level CHRE) are seen as validating the capabilities of HR professionals.

“We want to make sure we continue to promote the profession and the value HR professionals bring, and continue to work on factual, tangible, evidence-based data that show how HR professionals can impact an organization, and particularly how designated professionals can really help organizations be successful,” he says.

On that note, the Ontario group released results from a survey of 250 executives showing eight in 10 executives believe HR professionals contribute positively to business success. And six in 10 would place more value on an HR professional who had any of HRPA’s three HR designations.

And more than 1,000 members completed the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) skills self-assessment in 2016, looking to identify and prioritize their CPD requirements.

Looking to involve more senior HR members, the 24,300-member association has also been offering different programs such exclusive events.

“We keep them at the CHRO senior-executive level, so they’re tuned to their particular needs,” says Greenhalgh.

HRPA also presented a comprehensive core competency framework to a technical committee (TC260) of the International Standards Organization (ISO) in September, with a recommendation that ISO should mandate a multinational working group to develop global standards in HR integrating competency frameworks from various countries into a single global framework.

The committee approved HRPA’s proposal unanimously, and created a working group to develop that harmonized framework, with Greenhalgh named chair.

“This is a long program, it’s been underway for about eight months, it’ll probably take about three years. But this is about enhancing the profession and creating this harmonized framework around the world,” he says.

Quebec cracks 10,000-member mark, rejoins CPHR Canada

The Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines (CRHA) in Quebec achieved its membership goal last year, swelling to 10,040, according to new general manager Manon Poirier.

It marked a strong start for the association’s new leader, who took over from Florent Francoeur at the Montreal-based association.

The group also decided to once again become a full voting member of CPHR Canada, after a six-year lapse. While many provincial associations have rebranded to better reflect their membership in the national group, Quebec will continue to retain its French name while using the CPHR acronym in English.

CRHA’s focus has been on the future of work and what it means for the profession, says Poirier.

“We’ve been in those kinds of discussions over the last year, organizing events and reflections with our members.”

“Meanwhile, we’re trying to be proactive and walk the talk,” she says. “We’re completing an innovation process to review the way we deliver our mission. It’s been a very exciting process, but we don’t know the end yet.”

Often, organizations go through this type of process during moments of crisis, but Poirier says she is pleased to be approaching this in a proactive manner.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re always relevant and ahead of the game.”

For Poirier, it’s about understanding the professional system and the organization.

“The first year is a lot of learning,” she says. “This organization has known a lot of great results and is respected and appreciated by members. For me, I’m just trying to understand what made this organization successful and trying to continue that and take it forward.”

The association is also undertaking a review of the competency profile for the profession.

“That is the founding ground for a lot of things we do,” says Poirier. “We decided to not just tweak what we had, but totally rethink it. Right now, I think the HR profession... is at a turning point, in terms of what HR professionals do and should do.”

“I believe the success of organizations is based on their capacity to attract and retain talent, and the expertise around that is with our professional members.”

The association also encountered legislative issues last year, including concerns with provincial Bill 98, which aims to change the governance of professional orders in Quebec, says Poirier.

“There was a lot of questions and tension between what the government is proposing and what the professional orders would like to see.”

CPHR New Brunswick has ‘transformative’ year

2016 was something of a transformative year for us,” says Jason Scarbro, president of CPHR New Brunswick in Moncton (formerly the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick).

In addition to rebranding, the association introduced new pathways for achieving the CPHR designation.

“We also created a new position: Executive director,” says Scarbro. “With this new role, we can start to move forward with some of the initiatives we’ve only dreamed about.”

To set the stage for changes ahead, CPHR New Brunswick’s leadership engaged in comprehensive strategic planning — a process that’s ongoing.

“This year, we’ll focus on governance, taking a look at our structure and the roles and responsibilities of committee members,” he says. “It’s been a long time coming and it will set a good foundation for us.”

A stronger association will help the province’s human resources professionals handle any bumps in the road.

“New Brunswick’s population is shrinking and getting older, and that presents HR with challenges in terms of recruiting and retaining talent,” says Scarbro. “Many of my colleagues are addressing this head-on, with the message to candidates that they don’t have to leave New Brunswick to have an exciting, rewarding career.”

Some organizations are finding success by focusing on providing an engaging culture and career development opportunities, and by recruiting directly from the province’s colleges and universities, he says.

Another consideration for New Brunswick’s human resources professionals is the health of the general population.

“Statistics tell us that the New Brunswick population isn’t as healthy as it could be,” says Scarbro.

“We believe workplaces can play a significant role in supporting employees’ physical and mental health, and this will continue to be a big focus for us.”

National events are shaping HR concerns in the province, too, including the impending legalization of marijuana and the influx of Syrian refugees.

“HR professionals have worked to prepare their organizations to welcome newly arrived Syrian employees and help them engage in the workforce,” says Scarbro.

“Our association has partnered with several organizations and we’re working together to find the best ways to do this.”

CPHR Nova Scotia looks to establish CPHR Prince Edward Island

CPHR Nova Scotia (formerly the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia) has significant plans for change in the immediate future — above and beyond the national rebranding project.

Historically, the 1,000-member association has served members in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but an evolution is underway.

“We have invested, and continue to invest, in the establishment of CPHR Prince Edward Island,” says Sheila McLean, CEO of CPHR Nova Scotia, based in Halifax.

“This will provide an increased opportunity to create a local P.E.I.-specific professional community, increasing engagement and knowledge-sharing locally.”

CPHR Nova Scotia has been working with the new founding directors to establish CPHR Prince Edward Island, she says.

As well as those changes at the association level, provincially, there were some headline-making issues that impacted the profession in 2016. Among other labour relations-related events, teachers engaged in work-to-rule job action and the province passed legislation that imposed a contract and ended the bargaining.

“For many HR professionals in the province, high-profile labour relations events meant an ongoing focus on negotiation and a spotlight on how to effectively manage workforce issues during times of high tension,” says McLean.

Looking ahead, several trends are likely to impact human resources in the province, she says. As with much of the country, there’s an increasing awareness of and focus on mental health in the workplace.

“It’s an area of growing importance, with an emphasis on such areas as stigma, resiliency, compassion fatigue, respectful workplaces and ensuring organizations have the right support in place for both leaders and staff,” says McLean.

“Also... innovative employers are investing in total-health programs that support physical and mental health, financial wellness and work-life supports.”

Another big change in the province: More than 5,500 people immigrated to Nova Scotia last year — the highest number in any single year since the Second World War.

“This offers employers access to new talent,” says McLean.

“It also highlights the importance of ensuring workplaces are culturally aware, and this would include identifying and addressing any barriers that may exist for new Canadians.”

Newfoundland and Labrador energized by rebranding

At CPHR Newfoundland and Labrador, the national rebranding project dovetailed perfectly with the association’s website redesign.

“It was part of our strategic focus to invest in a new website and that was underway before the rebrand rolled out nationally,” says Neil Coombs, president of CPHR Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s.

“The new site features a lot of functionality we didn’t have before,” says Coombs. Association members can now access exclusive opportunities for online training, vendor services and more.

The rebranding, too, comes at a good time, helping to energize the 200-member association as human resources professionals across the province continue to face hurdles.

“The price of oil and gas has had an impact on many businesses, and some of the longer-term projects are finishing and winding down,” says Coombs.

“Taxation changes coming out of last year’s budget were a big challenge for small and medium-sized business, too, because it had implications for payroll.”

Business owners have had to be more strategic with their human resources management, says Coombs, “to ensure they’re able to keep good people, ready for an economic rebound.”

As with much of the rest of the country, HR professionals in the province are beginning to think about the implications of legalized marijuana use, beginning as early as next summer.

“People are thinking more about their testing policies and how their organizations will respond to violation of policy,” says Coombs. “It’s going to be a learning curve.”

While the province has endured some changes in the past several years, Coombs is optimistic about better days ahead.

“We’ve been struggling with a provincial trend of our workers moving away,” he says.

“With the economic struggles in Alberta — and that’s where a lot of our people went — we’re seeing many workers starting to come back.”

The result, he says, is a more robust workforce. “What we’re going to see, too, is more projects coming upstream,” says Coombs.

“It does seem like things are starting to right-side themselves, a little bit.”

Payroll association celebrating move to electronic T4s

After five years of dedicated advocacy, the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) achieved its goal of federal legislation surrounding the electronic delivery of T4s.

Beginning in 2018, the Canadian government will allow employers to issue electronic T4s to employees without obtaining written consent first. The move will save employers more than $100 million annually, acording to CPA president Patrick Culhane.

“To have electronic T4 legislation in place to support them as the standard delivery method is fantastic,” he says.

“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and CPA have been running a pilot for five years. There were 40 major employers across the country participating in the pilot, from oil and gas to financial to education, and even the federal government itself.”

Now, the focus turns to an additional reconciliation remittance for large employers with CRA, as well as employment insurance (EI) service quality recommendations.

“We’re looking to move away from the Record of Employment driving the EI system to use of real payroll data,” says Culhane.

The group’s focus continues to be on “payroll compliance through education and advocacy,” he says. “Everything we do is around supporting employers to be compliant.”

The cancellation of the Ontario pension plan,was also a “big win,” says Culhane, adding the CPA played a significant role in that decision in favour of a “modest” increase to the Canada Pension Plan.

Other major endeavours by the CPA included implementation of an annual continuing professional education declaration process, progress on the work experience requirement for the Payroll Compliance Practitioner certification, and a survey conducted by Hays indicating certified payroll professionals make an average of $10,000 more than non-certified workers. 

The association also continued to enjoy stable enrolment with 11,500 registrants per year in certification programs at 40 colleges, universities and online programs across the country, says Culhane.

The organization has a membership of 19,500, representing 43,000 payroll staff across the country. CPA has 7,000 organizational members representing 30,000 staffers, plus 7,000 professionals and 6,500 associate members, he says.

“We’re kind of unique that way as a hybrid organization.”

Suanne Nielsen takes helm at Strategic Capability Network

It was a year of change for the Strategic Capability Network (SCN), with long-time president Ian Hendry stepping down in April 2017.

Suanne Nielsen is the new president of the 600-member association, which sees HR professionals gather monthly in a variety of jurisdictions to hear from subject experts. (Hendry will stay on as treasurer.)

Nielsen is chief talent officer and corporate secretary at Foresters Financial in Toronto. She has volunteered with SCN for close to two decades. And SCN will continue to provide strong thought leadership alongside a respected community of peers, she says.

“There’s no other place I can go to where I have access to a community of chief HR executives in a trusted setting to share experiences with and learn from,” says Nielsen.

“Our value offering to HR leaders is really around two areas — quality thought leadership, largely demonstrated through our programming, and, equally important, a community of peers.”

SCN is a 38-year-old organization with chapters in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, London and Waterloo. When Hendry became SCN president in the early 90s, the Toronto chapter had 35 members, says Nielsen.

“What the shift in leadership signals is an opportunity to step back and review what got us to this point in our history, then look at what’s working really well for the organization and where there are opportunities to enhance our member experience and our value offering,” she says.

The focus of recent SCN sessions has been the look of the future workplace, as the association aims to bring in speakers on the cutting edge of the profession.

“The reality is the workplace is changing,” says Nielsen. “The digitization of work is hitting all of us. Talent is more global, yet employment, immigration and taxation laws don’t necessarily allow us to take advantage of that.”

“No longer can employers step back and dictate how employees need to work. Talent will be dictating how employers need to adjust and change if we’re going to continue to attract talent.”

While many of the events held in Toronto are sold-out affairs, an additional 25 people typically tune in by webcast. Going forward, the network is aiming to develop more member interaction at its events, she says.

New administration in United States keeps SHRM on its toes

The actions and potential law alterations of the United States’ new government administration is keeping members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) up at night.

“There’s a new administration in Washington and they have focused on a number of key issues that affect the workplace,” says SHRM senior vice-president of membership and external affairs Robert Carr.

Recent changes to immigration and visa policies are of concern to the association’s members, as are tax reform and health-care reform, he says.

“In the U.S. tax system, employee benefits largely go untaxed,” says Carr. “We’re worried about tax reform.”

Talent acquisition and retention is also top of mind for HR professionals, as is the war for talent, says Carr.

In terms of ongoing policy, 2016 saw the continued implementation of SHRM’s main strategic initiatives: extending the reach of its competency-based certification, ensuring adequate tools to do so where available, as well as improving the organization’s engagement of senior human resources professionals, according to Carr.

“The overall strategy for SHRM is to make sure we’re serving HR professionals no matter where they are in their career,” he says.

“We want to make sure we’re serving them at the student phase, then entry-level, mid-level and top tier.”

A major milestone for the association’s certification was its accreditation by the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he says.

An app was also developed to help HR practitioners track professional development activity.

And in 2017, a major push will take place with SHRM’s recertification efforts, to ensure the 100,000 practitioners with the new certification maintain it, says Carr.

The organization — which has members in more than 165 countries and more than 575 affiliated chapters in the U.S. — continues to grow at a three per cent annual clip under the leadership of CEO Hank Jackson, with a current total of 291,875.

“We’re fast approaching the 300,000 mark,” says Carr.

“We grow the membership by acquisitions and we had a record number of acquisitions last year. I think we acquired 60,000 new members.”

SHRM’s annual conference is said to be the largest of its kind in the world, drawing 15,000 registrants, he says. The 2016 event was held in Washington, while this year will see human resources professionals meeting in New Orleans.

Latest stories