The HR folks are alright (Editor's Notes)

Quality of applicants to National HR Awards underscores great work HR is doing

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 National HR Awards. The 17-page section in this issue is testament to some of the best work being done by HR across Canada.

For Canadian HR Reporter, it was an exciting endeavour. We wanted to launch a comprehensive national competition and the response from readers has been nothing short of phenomenal.

We were flooded with applications from coast to coast, and that made judging intense in many of the categories. But it was the quality of the nominations that impressed us the most. 

It’s gratifying to be able to tell the stories with so much depth. Too often, award shows focus on the shiny statues and not enough on the actual practice that won the award.

And we’re not done. As I write this, we have a team of videographers crossing the country. If you receive Canadian HR Newswire, our weekly email service, you’ll soon get a special email with links to videos of the award winners. You can also check for updates — we will be housing all of the winner’s stories there, along with videos. Some highlights from the award winners:

Employee engagement: Fidelity Investments Canada has a 98 per cent employee engagement score, and it goes above and beyond in taking employee comments seriously. For example, if the employee engagement survey reveals problem areas, the company president will get involved, talking to senior team members to ensure they understood why the issues matter.

Technology/innovation: Loblaw took its campus recruitment program of pharmacists online, fully tapping into the potential of video interviewing and assessment technology. In the past, it sent a team on an expensive and time-consuming cross-country tour. And the quality of candidates hasn’t suffered one bit — just as many candidates are being interviewed, and the response rate is higher. 

Recognition: Is your recognition program underutilized? That’s not a problem at ATB Financial, which has 99 per cent of employees using the online tools. It’s also fun and spontaneous with celebrations, including impromptu parades and getting the family of employees involved. 

Training and development: Calfrac spent $280,000 to put a tablet in the hands of every one of its field operators — a massive expense, but far more cost-effective than sending out dozens of manuals to thousands of employees. It also allows standardized training to be delivered across the company at the same time. 

Employment law: Janice Rubin of Rubin Thomlinson stepped onto the national stage and a very bright spotlight when the CBC brought her in to investigate its culture in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Her expert handling of the complex, high- profile workplace situation — and her subsequent report — made her an easy pick for the judges.

Recruitment: We all know how hard it can be to find that perfect candidate. But try building an entire company, and a $4-billion mine, at the same time. That’s the challenge facing K+S Potash, and it took hold of social media with an innovative “See Yourself Here” campaign.

We’re already planning for — and are excited about — the 2016 National HR Awards. Stay tuned for more information.

Our judges
Best Diversity Program: Michael Bach, CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion; Kelly Lendsay, inaugural president and CEO of the Aboriginal Human Resource Council; and Beth Clarke, director of employer programs at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

Best Recruitment Program: Lauren Friese, founder of; Mary McIninch, executive director, government relations, ACSESS; and David Hoad, senior consultant at Hay Group.

HR Challenge Award: Edmond Mellina, president of ORCHANGO; Les Dakens, former CHRO for Maple Leaf Foods; and Tiffany Goodlet of KornFerry.

Employment Lawyer of the Year: Gail J. Cohen, editor-in-chief of Canadian Lawyer; and Jean Cumming, editor-in-chief/market director of Lexpert.

Best Employee Communications Program: Jody Bruner, founder Bruner Business Communications; Roger Davies, founder and CEO of McLuhan & Davies Communications; and Sharone Bar-David, author of Trust Your Canary: Every Leader’s Guide to Taming Workplace Incivility.

Best Corporate Training & Development Program: Allison Patterson, national senior leadership and business manager, KPMG Canada; Tony Kerekes, seasoned HR professional with 20 plus years’ experience; and Doug Macnamara, president of Banff Executive Leadership.

Venngo Employee Engagement Award: Courtney Pratt, corporate director and former chair of Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions; Kay Hubbard, manager of organization effectiveness and talent management at Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business; and Paul Weissman, president of Venngo.

Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program: Barb Conway, vice-president of HR and customer experience at Carswell;  and David Wexler, founder and managing partner of Wexler Human Capital Consulting.

Rideau Best Recognition Program: Roy Saunderson, chief learning office of Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute; and Daryl Bettles, manager, compensation, benefits and human resources operations at Carswell. 

Technology/Innovation Award: Alan McEwen, HR/payroll consultant with 25 years’ plus experience; and Todd Humber, associate publisher/managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter.

Healthy Workplaces Award: Gerald J. Yaffe, president of Kit Care Corporation; Roland Osske, seasoned HR professional with more than 25 years’ experience; and Beverly Beuermann-King, resiliency and wellness specialist. 

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