So long and thanks for reading (Editorial)

End of an era and the beginning of a new one

It was July 13, 1998, when my first Editor’s Notes column appeared in Canadian HR Reporter. In the eight and a half years since, I’ve had the privilege of sounding off on any number of HR-related topics every two weeks on the Insight pages. And despite the stress of the occasional late night before press spent still searching for a topic, I’m going to miss the opportunity to share my thoughts, opinions and observations — this is my last column.

At the beginning of 2006 I moved from the position of Managing Editor to that of Publisher and Editor of Canadian HR Reporter. At the same time Todd Humber was named Associate Editor, essentially assuming the responsibility of the Managing Editor role while we tackled some restructuring. And while I continued writing Editor’s Notes in 2006, it’s now time for Todd, who was promoted in December to Managing Editor, to take over.

Eight and a half years. That’s nearly 200 editorials. With the job of human resources affecting so many people — the workplace is something that affects almost everyone — there’s been plenty to write about. A few favourite columns and themes come to mind.

That first column in 1998 was entitled “The recruitment and retention crisis.” Not much has changed apparently. Back then I commented that offering employees training and development opportunities was a strategy for winning the recruitment war. Many of my early columns focused on areas where HR could improve the employment proposition, help harried managers, and/or improve organizational effectiveness and design.

As I became more attuned to the work of the human resources department, I started writing columns about how annoying employees and the senior management team can be.

HR professional development was another popular theme. I couldn’t have wished for a more interesting time to write about the practice of HR. The last few years have seen the creation of national standards for the Certified Human Resources Professional designation and HR’s steady movement towards strategic HR and a valued place in the executive board room. The journey isn’t complete but the distance travelled from the days of the “personnel department” is considerable.

Looking through the archives, other recurring topics include employee mental health, wellness, benefit program costs, defined benefit versus defined contribution versus no pensions at all, and the debate over outsourcing the human resources function. There’s been lots of government action — and inaction — to write about. (Whatever happened to Ottawa’s skills agenda?) There have even been humorous columns (well, I found them funny). I still haven’t given up on my dream of employers joining the call for the creation of Louis Saint Laurent Day on Feb. 1 to honour the birthday of the man who served as Canada’s Prime Minister after the Second World War. (Shame on those who would suggest I’m merely after a much-needed national holiday during the dog days of winter).

Whether it’s been serious or light-hearted, easy flowing or painstakingly composed, this column gave me the opportunity to communicate with Canada’s HR community, and I will miss that. But I look forward to the fresh take Todd will bring to these pages. His first Editor’s Notes starts in two weeks with the Jan. 29 issue. I can’t wait to get my copy.

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