Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who is a Human Resources Professional?

Anyone can call themselves a Human Resources Professional.  However, the HRPA of Ontario is the regulating body for HR professionals.  You can find out if someone is a member of this association by going to www.hrpa.ca.  Just check their name under the listings and you will know for sure.  The CCHRA issues the exams and the HRPA issues the designations which HR professionals value highly - their C.H.R.P.  You can also find out if an individual has this designation on HRPA's web-site.  This gives you confidence that the individual you are considering hiring as an employee or as a consultant really meets the Canadian and Provincial standards set out by their regulating body.  It doesn't mean that they are perfect or know everything as there are so many specialists within the HR community.  But - it should be a qualification that you definitely need to be aware of and look for.  It is a long, hard road to achieve this designation - therefore, respect the education and experience that those have earned.
Joy Vas, CHRP

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Balancing Act: Internet and Social Media Use At Work

                      With social media outlets such as Facebook and Google+ being so popular and things like fantasy football leagues becoming a staple for many during the winter months personal computer use and even online shopping and banking are inherently going to creep into your employees minds, especially with the ease of receiving email updates on smartphones and wireless internet available nearly everywhere now. So this brings up the question of how employers should address this issue. Is it something that’s been constantly eating away at productivity, is it merely a minor distraction or is it even an issue at all. As the employer you have to ask yourself is it a problem worth addressing? what will the reaction be? And what is the best case scenario or improvement that could come of banning these distractions all together? In doing some online reading reports have suggested ideas on both sides of the spectrum; employees personal internet use is taking up hours of time each day and others saying that yes internet use is common in the workplace but productivity is almost no lower on account of that. My take is distractions are going to creep into the workplace in most cases, internet use is just one of these. Extended lunch breaks, chatter amongst employees and at times foolish games or pranks invented to add a bit of flavour to a sometimes mundane day are common at work. Taking away personal computer use, the one contact they may have outside of work in an 8-10 hour day could cause some unrest with your employees, especially the younger generations who are seemingly tapped into their network of friends, online social groups and hobbies at all times. My opinion is don’t impose a policy eliminating this practice altogether because internet use for personal interests is going to happen. I would encourage employees to do this on their breaks, lunches and at home as much as possible and suggest if it becomes a problem then some disciplinary or internet limiting policies may find their way into the workplace as a result of low productivity. What are your thought on the topic?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Occupational Health and Safety: Your Thoughts?

                The Ontario government seems to release changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act more often than even the most astute followers of this legislation can keep up with and certainly faster than most business owners can or even care to keep up on. I sometimes wonder if these changes are a) necessary b) valuable and c) followed. What I’ve gathered is that most small business owners give only a fleeting thought to the Health and Safety laws in Canada and it’s not because they don’t care about the objectives set forth in the legislation or the safety and welfare of their employees. In fact in most cases I’ve seen the opposite; most employers are good, morale people who would hate to see anyone seriously injured or in the worst case scenario die on the job but really just don’t see the need for the in depth policy and procedure stipulations set forth in the OHSA. There are many reasons these laws aren’t followed to the letter. A couple common reasons are that, “I’ve never had a serious injury before and if one ever does occur I’ll deal with it then” OR, “my salespeople/office workers aren’t in danger and imposing these laws and rules are time consuming and costly, besides MOL inspectors are rarely around and I’ve told everyone here to work safely”. My questions are - how seriously do you take the OHSA? Do you feel it actually protects workers from injury? Is it an easy enough to implement in your workplace? Do you think the government provides enough resources for you to follow the OHSA or do you think outside help from H&S specialists or HR professionals would be beneficial?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recruiting; How To Find The Right People

Recruitment and hiring might be the most important factor in determining how well your business is going to run, especially in a small business where each member's contributions, benefits and drawbacks can be amplified. Compared to a large organization where it’s an entire team of maybe 100+ employees working towards the same goals whereas one poor employee in a group of ten can have a significant negative impact. So where do you start? It’s like shopping, walking into a store without knowing exactly what you want gives you plenty of options but what are the chances you’ll come out with all the things you need. That being said make a list of the “core competencies” that you’ll need in this position, what are the most important skills, knowledge, experiences and educational qualifications needed to perform the job. Next decide upon some of the secondary qualities or personality traits that would make for the ideal fit in a given position. Creating a ranking model or score sheet to track and maintain records accompanying these competencies can make your decision making process that much easier. Next is advertising. Make sure you’re doing this function in the right spots, simply posting an ad in a local paper may not be enough or attract the right people. For example, say you want an entry level IT person to join your team; advertising in a local or national paper could be a costly mistake. How many young people with an education in IT are scanning newspapers for their next job? My guess would be very few so targeting your add can greatly affect who responds. Seek professional associations, online advertising options, government job boards and university or colleges will often provide student resources for new graduates and exploring this option could reap an enthusiastic, knowledgeable individual just waiting for an opportunity to prove him or herself. Think critically about what you need, the ideal type of person for your company's “fit’ and make sure your looking in the right spots to increase your odds of finding a successful new employee.

John Ruyter, HRNC

Monday, January 9, 2012

Return to Work, What is it?

                For business owners and HR professional’s alike returning injured workers to the workforce is never an easy process to navigate. Do it right and your happy, healthy employee is able to return to his former position and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, do it wrong and it can be a frustrating process that could cost you thousands or if you’re really unlucky see you answer the phone to hear the WSIB, the MOL or the Canadian Human Rights Commission because a disgruntled employee filed a complaint. There are several things you can do that will help prevent any issues when you initiate and follow through with a return to work program. One thing to keep in mind during this process is to maintain contact with the employee in question. A simple call to see how they're doing every week or two should be enough to monitor their progress and get an idea of when they will be ready for work again. Another important step is to have a doctor or possibly another medical professional, say a physiotherapist, to fill in a “functional abilities form” which will outline what the employee is capable of doing, what limitations exist and will give you an idea of how to best accommodate this employee. It is important to remember that just because an employee can’t do the exact job in the exact same way as before they were injured doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of working. This may be the most difficult or misunderstood aspect of a return to work program. The “duty to accommodate” is a key part of any return to work program and is required by ALL employers. This can sometimes bring about a degree of hardship in your workplace that may not have existed before the injury occurred but finding a proper fit for an injured employee is one of the most important responsibilities of employers and is key to avoiding legal hardships. Finally as with all employee issues, remember your due diligence; record what’s happened and what your next steps will be, keep employees informed and follow the proper process. For more information or to talk to an expert visit HRNC.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Injuries, Performance, Hiring and Return to Work: Due Diligence

Human Resources professionals know the value of ensuring your company does its due diligence and maintains thorough, organized records of the many employee related issues that tend to come up in the workplace. There are several reasons for this. First it’s your source for information on just what’s happening in your workplace; who’s performing well, who’s performing poorly? Are injuries going up or down? Who’s missing time and why?  When you compile the data recorded over 6 months, a year, five years etc. you can really learn a lot about your own workplace, see where you can make improvements and if your improvement measures have worked. In addition when your employees come to you for a raise or time off what do you have to show them as justification, have you maintained records of when staff have been off, have you kept performance reviews? Without documentation you don’t have much to base your decisions on. This leads to maybe the most important point regarding the need to keep up on your due diligence. Every year there are thousands of claims made to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Labour regarding health and safety claims, wrongful dismissals and discrimination in hiring to name a few but many of these claims are proven to be false and business owners are spared thousands of dollars in severance pay and fines simply because they have conducted their business properly and have the documentation to fall back on when needed. Make sure that you’ve done your due diligence, keep good records and have had employees sign off when their acknowledgement is needed; it’ll save you many headaches and there’s a good chance it could save you some money. 

John Ruyter, HRNC