What Santa can bring HR (Editor’s notes)

Filling out a wish list for Canadian workers

Dear Santa: HR practitioners have been good this year. They’re weathering the first waves of the labour shortage. (Heck, in Alberta, they’ve become seasoned professionals.) HR is pushing policies that are good for workers — and for employers and the bottom line — in a way that is catching the attention, and gaining the approval, of senior management.

But there are a few things that could really help them out this holiday season and set the stage for even more success. Mr. Claus, if you would just peruse this one issue of Canadian HR Reporter, you’ll see a few areas where you can help out.

Fix the student problem: Two of the stories on the cover of this issue deal with students. The first (“Permit process failing foreign students: Report” ) details the fate of foreign students graduating from Canadian post-secondary institutions.

We’re losing extremely valuable, Canadian-trained talent at a time when employers desperately need them.

Sure, some of them want to return home and some of them are lured south of the border. But a good chunk want to stay and can’t because they’re not finding work fast enough. The rules need to be changed, and made more flexible, so everything is done to keep these highly trained students.

The second (“IT university enrolment plunges”) looks at the dwindling number of students choosing IT as a career. Almost every single organization in this country, small and large, needs IT people to keep business running.

Employers need to get the message out to schools to counter the negative publicity the profession acquired during the dot-com bust and erase the stereotype of the computer nerd. IT careers are stable and pay very well. Students should be clamouring to get into these programs, not abandoning them. Perhaps you could deliver an extra computer or two to children this year.

Pensions: Alright, Santa. Fixing pensions is a tall order. But a union is raising the issue of pension reform.(“Union wants higher CPP premiums”)

Now, the union’s plan isn’t going to sit well with employers that don’t have any kind of pension plan. It wants companies that don’t offer pensions to pay more into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Workers without plans would then get higher CPP benefits when they retire.

The idea has some merit. It would create a level playing field, since employers that do have pension plans currently pay more. But there’s lots of other solutions out there.

Keith Ambachtsteer took a look at what was happening across the pond last year. (You can view it by clicking here.) After all, not everyone s able to work quite as long as you, Santa. We need a solution that works.

Human rights: Believe it or not, sexual orientation is still an issue in this country. It still makes news (“Out on Bay Street” ) and people are still subject to ridicule and discrimination in their careers.

Might I suggest a few more lumps of coal for intolerance? Dwelling on this stuff isn’t doing anyone — people or business — any favours. We’ve got to get past it, and make it a non-issue.

The drive to be strategic: This issue’s CloseUp ( “Strategic HR: Strategy versus administration”) looks at the evolution of HR, and poses the question: How much time should be spent being strategic? Santa, could you drop a copy of this in every HR practitioner’s stocking? This stuff is a must-read for the profession.

Save our Mounties: This issue’s cover photo is heart-wrenching. Our police officers should be given every tool they need to do their jobs safely — and that means changing policy to make backup mandatory on risky calls, regardless of the cost involved. Santa, these guys wear a red suit just like you. They’re not infallible, but they deserve our support.

Recognition: Well, alright. You don’t need much advice when it comes to recognition. You give (gifts) and receive (milk and cookies) it all the time.

So thank-you for reminding us all how important and meaningful it is to say thanks. Best wishes this holiday season.

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