Could a strategic HR plan help Canada’s Aboriginal peoples?


Canadians are reminded more and more of the struggles facing Aboriginal peoples.  Most of us read in horror yet have no idea how we can help.  When we view the problem as a national crisis a solution seems overwhelming.  What if  instead we looked at possible solutions through the lens of a workplace challenge?

The principles embedded in corporate HR plans could hold the key to support the needed actions to help Canada’s aboriginal peoples, on or off reserve, to access employment, and a quality of life on par with other Canadians.

  1. Maintain Health and Safety

Every employer has to provide a safe work environment to employees.  A safe environment is one inclusive of access to clean drinking water, buildings  maintained to meet required code expectations, ability to refuse dangerous work, and a forum to complain, be heard and have corrective actions taken to address valid concerns when these expectations are not met.  This standard for a safe environment, at home and at work, should be a basic right for everyone in Canada.

2. Conduct a Gap Analysis

Corporations assess the gap between the needs of the organization and existing resources and work to close it.  Canada could assess the overall needs of First Nation Communities and work to close the resource gap by engaging and enabling Aboriginal peoples who choose to live on reserve to find meaningful work that is of interest and that supports their Community.

This has been done locally but a national focus on a long term, multigenerational plan would be more beneficial and require less resources than multiple seperate initatives.  The infrastructure could be put in place to assess the common needs of Native Communities and record the gaps between the need and the existing resources.  Specific local needs could be looked at as a subset.

3. Devise Strategies to Support the Organization

In an HR plan there are many components of strategy to support the organization’s needs.  All of these would help bolster the quality of life of Aboriginal Communities.

Examples include:

  • Training and development strategies to prepare Aboriginal people to engage in the workforce in a way that interests them and supports their culture
  • Collaboration strategies to create partnerships with existing organizations that provide these services to new immigrants and other Canadians to learn from past work
  • Outsourcing strategies to engage service providers and thought leaders to bring forward real solutions


Many successful businesses strive to solicit employee ideas and feedback in order to drive a culture of continuous improvement and increase productivity.  For any initiative aimed at enhancing the lives of Aboriginal people to be successful the grassroots engagement and of Aboriginal leaders and influencers in the development of solutions is essential.

Any change initiative within an organization needs leaders who can live the values and exemplify the success of the project are needed to motivate others and create support from within affected groups.  This type of initative would be no different.

5. Foster a Respectful and Inclusive Environment

When creating a healthy workplace culture the emotional needs of people need to be addressed.   Canada does not have a history it can be proud of when it comes to Aboriginal relations.  Although the work that resulted from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a good start, it did not go deep enough.

Modern people-focussed employers offer soft skill building opportunities and support to employees that include through conflict coaching, facilitated discussions/mediation, and other Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques.  These types of initiatives could be funded on mass to reach individuals to help them work through the conflict with Canadian culture and find a path forward that meets their individual needs.

6. Communication

Any corporate initiative would be supported by a communication plan.  Communicating the vision in advance and during the work is an important change management technique.  Once determined, Canada would need to communicate the vision for building a future to Aboriginal peoples and to all Canadians to build hope and momentum and to create accountability for those communicating the plan.

7. Evaluate and Adjust

When corporations execute a plan they assess the effectiveness and make adjustments.  Canada has been working to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people, however it seems like the efforts may not be as successful as the intent behind them would like.  The results produced need to align with the efforts invested.

Like any journey it could start with just one step…


Are Flexible Work Arrangments the Right Choice for Your Organization?

Many organizations today recognize that it takes more than a paycheque to retain their top talent. As talent in specific industries becomes more scarce, this challenge of attraction and retention will only increase. They also consider that any changes they do implement need to be aligned with the operational objectives of the business. So are there options that employers can consider that align with these concepts? Certainly. It’s just a matter of customization.

Employers need to ensure that the solutions they adopt make sound fiscal and operational sense for their business. So what about Flexible Work Arrangements? Statistics show that there is an increasing demand for today’s working population to balance work and life commitments. We only need to look at demographics to see why this is the case.  Since 1975 the labor force participation of women with children under the age of 18 has increased from 47% to 78%.  We have also seen a dramatic increase in the demand for elder care, with over 68% of the baby boomer workforce admitting to missing work or leaving early due to caregiver obligations. These are some examples of how the demand on an employees time makes Flexible Work Arrangements a very attractive incentive to attract and retain these employees.

The benefits extend past ensuring employees are more satisfied in their work environment. For employers, implementing Flexible Work Arrangement solutions can also serve as a means to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and lead to a more engaged and present workforce.

Join us on June 13th for a breakfast presentation on how these Flexible Work Arrangements can benefit both employers and employees and suggestions on how to get the process started.

Register Here

We hope to see you there!

Working in the Capital Airs Live this Monday at 8pm on Rogers TV- Channel 22

See the episode guide for details!

Human Resource Blueprints Ltd. Announces Rogers Television Debut!

Rogers TV
Rogers TV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



We are excited to announce the launch of Working in the Capital with Sue Haywood, debuting on Monday, May 28th at 8pm and running every Monday throughout June, on Rogers TV, channel 22.  The program will cover various employment topics from a perspective that will be informative for both the employer and employee audience.

Each episode will include two guest experts, sharing their insights on pertinent employment topics as well as an opportunity for viewers to call in with their questions and comments for discussion. Working and looking for work in the National Capital Region comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities which will be discussed throughout the program. Some topics being covered will include ‘Downsizing- Sizing up Your Options’, ‘Win-Win Interviewing’, and ‘Attracting and Retaining Top Talent’.

The employment landscape is changing and understanding both the current conditions and what to expect in the near future is valuable for any individual along the employee and employer spectrum. As of March 2012, the National Capital unemployment rate sits at 5.9 percent ( What will this number look like with public sector downsizing underway and a skills shortage beginning to show its effects? Tune in from May 28th – June 25th, every Monday evening at 8pm, to learn more. The program will also air throughout the week for those unable to catch the live show.

We are thrilled for the launch of this program and are looking forward to hearing from our viewers throughout the program.This is your chance to reach out to local experts with your questions on employment topics that are important to you!

Orienting New Employees – republished from The Voice June 2012 edition

Orienting New Employees – The Voice June 2012

12 Steps to Bias-Free Selection

“You remind me of a myself 20 years ago, you’re hired!’

“I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. Let’s bring him on board”

“I don’t like his ‘limp fish’ handshake; let’s go with another candidate”

Sound familiar? If it does, then your company is likely utilizing selection processes that leverage gut feelings and other biases. You may be in for a shock in the months and years ahead. The employment landscape is changing and with that comes a shift to the employees having the power to select among multiple employers for the position they are driving towards. This means now is the time to revisit your selection practices to ensure they allow you to effectively identify top talent, versus letting it walk out your door.

12 Steps to Bias-Free Selection

1. Determine desirable qualifications for role.
2. Solidify required qualifications for role and equivalencies. Once set these should not be changed during the process.
3. Develop a plan to assess skills, knowledge and abilities, and any additional requirements (security?)
4. Determine what behavioural traits (competencies) are required for the role/organization.
5. Develop behavioural based interview questions and scoring grid to assess these traits (competencies).
6. Solidify an overall scoring grid. Once set this should not be changed during the process.
7. Train and educate on selection process to be used and need for consistency.
8. Devise and execute a strategy to post job to a wide source of applicants (internal, employee referrals, employment agencies, job boards, LinkedIn, Twitter)
9. Review resumes against required qualifications for role. Set aside all resumes who do not meet the minimum criteria.
10. Screen remaining candidates for skills, knowledge, abilities and requirements as outlined in plan.
11. Conduct behavioural based interviews. (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
12. Select best candidate using overall scoring grid (requirements, knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies/soft skills).
13. Optional: Have an uninvolved person review scores and evaluation notes and select best candidate. Is it the same individual?

New Employee Orientation

Employment Exhibition
Employment Exhibition (Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)

Why is Orientation Important?

Research shows that orientation programs can have a positive effect on both organizations and employees.  Effective onboarding has been found to improve employee engagement, performance and retention levels of new hires, increase employee commitment and satisfaction, as well as reduce turnover.  Research has found that attending an orientation program positively impacted organizational socialization in terms of understanding and accepting the organization’s goals, values, and history, as well as contributed to increased relationship building and organizational commitment.

When employees are welcomed by their employer, they feel respected, both personally and professionally, and this treatment translates into greater commitment to the organization, increased trust in management and inspired work performance is the next step to ensure the effort that went into hiring the right candidate is not wasted.

Your Role:

As the hiring manager, you have a dramatic influence on how a new employee feels about his/her new workplace during the initial week.  As research has demonstrated that employees decided if they are happy with their new workplace during the first 3 days of employment, the environment presented to the new hire is paramount to the success of your organization’s recruitment and retention efforts.  Be supportive.  Be welcoming.  Ensure your new employee knows that you are happy to have him/her on your team.

Day One:

On an employee’s first day, make a lasting connection with a new hire by doing the following:

  •  Meet employee at reception
  •  Ensure there is a meaningful work project for new employee
  •  Assign the new employee a peer mentor/coach in the organization to ask question he/she may not be comfortable asking a manager
  •  Introduce the new employee to his/her coworkers and ensure they spend time together
  •  Ensure new employee has a schedule of events for first day
  •  Ensure new employee is informed of upcoming events to add to his/her calendar
  •  Discuss objectives for next two weeks

Social Media Policies – Guest Posting by Kyle Lagunas

Social Media Policies: Promoting vs. Regulating Use

Fact: most employees occasionally use social media tools at work for personal reasons, anyway. Unsurprisingly, business leaders want guidelines in place for regulating employee use of social media outlets–and protecting against misuse–on personal and company accounts alike. Many 2012 corporate to-do lists include creating an official policy for regulating employees’ Tweets, Likes and Shares while at work.

One thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that while regulation-focused policies protect an organization against any potential social media blunders, they cast a shadow over the shoulder of every employee who uses the internet on a daily basis (shudder). Well-intended though they are, this approach to establishing guidelines often prevent the company from seeing any benefits whatsoever from employee use of social media. My suggestion: If your employees are already using social media while at work, why not make the most of it?

Though there’s certainly more than one way to skin this cat – there isn’t one universal social media policy that works for all, right? – there are a few things to consider when creating a more forward-thinking policy.

For example, you want to be sure you, your leaders, and your people know what you want to accomplish through social media. Are you using it for recruiting? Marketing? Branding? Promotions? For many organizations, the first step in creating a social media policy is to define the who, what, when and where of social media usage in the company. But according to Maren Hogan, Chief Marketing Brain of RedBranchMedia, “that’s doing it a little backwards.” With a clear purpose informing your policy, people will have an easier time understanding and following your guidelines.

On that note, you’re going to make sure that – regardless of your speficic business goals – you are sure to invite everyone in the organization to participate. Of course, you’ll work with managers to decide which departments must incorporate social media into their daily workflows… But how can you encourage other departments to participate? One note: Set separate guidelines delineating voluntary users and mandatory users, so your people know what’s expected of them.

At some point, you’re going to need damage control. “When social media issues arise,” says Hogan, “who do you go to for help? IT? Marketing? A social media coordinator? The CIO?”  Get proactive, and establish a hierarchy of ownership – that way, your people will know when to talk to whom about what. Assign responsibility to the most sensible parties and provide a course of action for addressing mishaps and escalating issues when necessary.

So maybe you’re not paying people to hang out on Facebook all day. Structure is certainly important, and defining who is authorized to access various platforms makes sense… but “Our brains don’t work with don’ts–they work in a positive way,” says Rob Garcia, VP of Product at UpMo. “Policies that limit and regulate are bound to be unsuccessful. They push people away from social media, rather than using it to achieve company goals.” Bottom line: People are bound to make mistakes, your policies should be driven by what to do, rather than what not do.

You’re bound to run into a few challenges when creating, implementing and supporting an official social media policy. Hands-down, the hardest part is building a company culture that embraces a social mindset, one driven by the sharing of ideas and information. With that in mind, leadership should lead the charge in adopting your social media policy, paving the way for the rest of the organization. Garcia’s straightforward advice to leaders: “Show up and participate. The companies that are the most social media savvy are led by people who are plugged in and using different platforms to have valuable conversations.”


About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice – a website that reviews talent management and human resources software. On the surface, it’s his job to contribute to the ongoing conversation on all things HR. Beyond that, he makes sure his audience is keeping up with important trends and hot topics in the industry. Focused on offering a fresh take on points of interest in his market, he’s not your typical HR guy.

How to Downsize the Public Service…or any other organization

Any organization can be downsized.  The trick is to determine what the effects of the reduction will be.   If handled properly, a downsizing saves money.  If mismanaged, a downsizing costs a lot more.  So how is it done?

Step 1: List all of the activities for which your organization is responsible.  This should include both revenue generating and cost line items.  Once you have a complete list of activities, rank them in order of importance.  The most important activities are those that, if you stopped doing them then your organization cannot achieve its mission, now or in the future.  What is the vision of your organization?  What are your strategic objectives?   Some will be inclined to list everything as important and that is why the ranking is critical.  What to cut is determined later.

Step 2: List all of your organization’s positions.  Positions not people.  What positions are most critical to your organization?  Don’t think about what the person in the position accomplishes.  Ask the question ‘what does this role contribute to our organizational success?’.  Remember it is the role not the incumbent in the job you are assessing.  Rank every position from most critical to least critical.  Hint: this does not necessarily align with compensation.  Also rank positions like ‘special assignment’, ‘special assistant’ and ‘receptionist’ low.

Step 3: Reflect back on the 2 lists. Given the tasks that you need to accomplish what positions do you need?  What would a 5% cut look like?  How many positions need to be dropped before a 5% savings is realized?  Determine which outputs need to be dropped to achieve this 5% cost savings.  Draw a line on your list of activities to indicate what would need to be dropped to achieve the desired savings.

Step 4:  Even in unionized environments, consider performance.  With a strategic mind focused on value to the organization, now and in the future, list your employees into 3 groups; must keep, would like to keep, and could survive without.

Step 5:  Go back to your list of positions.  How do these positions relate to your 3 employee lists?  Do you have employees you placed in the ‘survive without’ category that are in your critical roles?  Or are your ‘must keep’ employees in jobs you plan to cut?  What would it take to align people and positions?   Come up with a single list of people and positions that could be downsized.

Step 6:  If you are in a unionized environment, look at your collective agreement.  Yes, wait until this point.  You want to have determined what reductions are best for the business before considering the process.  So, what does the collective agreement say?  Collective agreements rarely if ever restrict the employer’s ability to organize the operation so the reduction of positions is normally not limited.   It likely does cover what happens to those employees impacted by the cutting of positions.  Is their bumping?  What are the severance entitlements?  Do you need to consult with the union before announcing any changes?  Are you able to downsize using discretion or is it by seniority?  Read and re-read the collective agreement to understand the process you are required to follow.

Step 7:   Brainstorm.  You must follow the collective agreement.  You must achieve the dictated savings.  How can the organization be structured to do this?  Explore all options.

Step 8:  You need a communication strategy!  When are you going to implement these changes?  How are you going to communicate these changes?  To whom?  When?  Who is delivering the message? How are you going to support the people who are being downsized?  How will you support the people who stay? How will you engage EAP?

Step 9:  Implement!

Step 10:  Monitor.  Are youachieving your desired outcome?  If not, go back to your plan and make adjustments.