HRPA 2014 Year in Review

Bill GreenhalghAs 2014 comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on what HRPA has accomplished on behalf of its 21,000 members.

The biggest accomplishments—the passage of The Registered Human Resources Professionals Act (in late 2013) and the introduction of our new HR certification model and three new designationsneatly wrap up the final objectives of our most recent strategic plan: most notably to establish HRPA as Tier 1 regulator of the HR profession.

These two accomplishments act in concert to bring about this fundamental shift in HRPA’s role.

Firstly, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act gives formal, legislative recognition of HR as a Tier 1 profession and for HRPA to regulate the profession in the public interest.

Secondly, with this recognition comes the need to solidify the professionalization of the HR profession, and our new certification framework and designation model lays the foundation for this to happen.

The new model is a competency based framework that not only tests an updated body of HR knowledge reflecting the needs of today’s HR professionals and organizations but the ability to apply that knowledge—similar to other top tier professions including law or engineering.

And similar to other top tier professions, the new model also incorporates supervised work experience programs for entry level (CHRP) HR practitioners to manage the transition from academic knowledge to professional competencies. Finally, all candidates must write a case-based performance exam, where everything learned in school, in the professional program, and in supervised experience, comes together.

HRPA members played a key role in creating this new framework over 2014. We received overwhelming response from members to participate in focus groups that helped us completely update the existing HR Body of Knowledge (which hadn’t been effectively updated since 1996). The new framework has been thoroughly modernized for HR practice in a business environment that has changed considerably over the past 20 years, and includes 213 HR functional competencies and 15 enabling competencies (things like business acumen and negotiation) across three levels of HR practice.

The framework is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a gamechanger for the HR profession. Indeed, some day we may see other HR regulators around the world adopting this framework—and with mutual international recognition means even greater acceptance of HR as a profession.

We are very pleased that we have the full backing of the HRPA membership in our professionalization project. In this year’s Member Satisfaction Survey, we asked you several questions around HRPA’s role and performance as a professional regulator. You came back with strong support, with positive response rates ranging from 74 to 82 per cent.

Expanding HRPA influence

A key mandate of HRPA’s new act is protecting the public—including the health of Ontario workers.

Over the past couple of years, HRPA has been working with partners like the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace to help organizations build and promote psychologically safe workplaces.

This year we created a web resources and professional development to educate HR professionals and employers around effectively manage mental health issues in the workplace.

And we continued working with Government towards the goal of building an accessible Ontario by 2025. In support of Ontario’s AODA workplace initiatives, this year we rolled out a comprehensive Accessibility Certificate program for HR professionals in four cities across Ontario, and produced a free webinar series around Accessibility standards for customer service, employment and information and communications.

HRPA Thought Leadership

Over 2014, HRPA continued its HR research activities, including membership surveys and joint projects with partner organizations.

In April, HRPA published a member survey on unpaid internships that found almost two-thirds (62%) of Human Resources professionals believe unpaid internships not tied to education or training should be illegal.

In May, HRPA released Apprenticeship Reform: Ontario’s future depends on it—a paper calling on Ontario’s new College of Trades must make changes to its apprenticeships regime, including modernizing the certified tradespeople-to-student ratio required to train apprentices, and ensuring fair and transparent classification of compulsory trades.

In June, HRPA polled the membership on employee engagement as an HR metric, and found eighty per cent of respondents strongly supported the metric, with more than a third saying it’s a concept that’s increased in importance over the years.

And in October, HRPA partnered with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association on research that found workplace compassionate care leave policies increase engagement and retention for employees caring for terminally ill loved ones.

All in all, it’s been a very productive year that sets us up well for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

On behalf of HRPA, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Holiday and the very best in 2015.


Bill Greenhalgh

Why the HRPA Member Satisfaction Survey matters

If you have already completed the 2014 Member Satisfaction Survey, you have our thanks and you can stop reading now. If you haven’t yet completed the survey, or don’t think your opinion matters, please read on.

We are truly committed to enriching your experience as an HRPA member. The annual survey is association best practice and a very useful tool for this purpose. We ask you how you feel today about the Association, about your Chapter, about the profession, about our programs and services. And we use it so we can do a better job as your association. Here’s what we do with that information:

We create cross tabs of your responses by Chapter, by your level of experience and seniority, etc., and we share that information with your local Chapter so they can integrate what you tell us into their programming. Similarly, we use that information when planning our professional development.

Our Public Affairs team uses your input on the issues that matter most to you to prioritize our lobbying efforts on your behalf.

When you tell us what we should do more of, or less of, start or stop doing, we turn those instructions into actions. For instance,

  • Thanks you your feedback, we reduced email traffic by 70% since 2012 and increased email open rates by almost 40%;
  • You told us that you wished HRPA would make it easier for members across the province to access the kinds of professional development experiences we offer through the learning centre in Toronto, so we added HR broadcasts to our line-up of professional development events, and looking ahead we’re exploring the potential for regional conferences;
  • CHRP Candidate members told us they were having a tough time getting their first job in HR, so we introduced the HRPA Edge paid internship program—and because you told us the compensation for these internships was too low, we recently increased it by over 30%;
  • And because a great number of members with less than 6 years’ experience told us they would benefit from more mentoring, we introduced tools that have allowed a 700% expansion of Chapter mentoring opportunities since 2011.

We also use it to annually benchmark Association and Chapter performance. For instance, association staff and volunteers work hard to increase your satisfaction rating. And, again, we use cross tabs to identify which membership groups are less satisfied and work especially hard to do a better job satisfying them.

So participating in the annual member survey really does matter. And this year we have eliminated some questions and modified the questionnaire’s logic so the average completion time, with nearly 800 completed so far, has been reduced to 23 minutes. So *please*, participate in the 2014 survey.

Draw for 20 Free Memberships

To sweeten the pot, after the close of the survey we’ll draw 20 names at random for free 2014-2015 HRPA memberships from survey respondents who enter the draw. The name and email fields are coded such that this information is not captured for analysis, so even when you enter the draw, your survey responses are anonymous. And you don’t have to enter the draw if you don’t want to.

If you are one of the 20 winners and you have already renewed your membership, your fees will be reimbursed. The draw will be held on May 12th. Winners will be contacted by email.

The survey closes Wednesday, May 7th, 2014.  So click on the link in the email that was sent to you on April 9th, or use this link to participate:

And thank you for reading.

Chris Larsen,
VP, Marketing, Membership & Professional Development, (416) 923-2324 x335

HRPA Survey on Unpaid Internships: Right or Wrong?

By Kristina Hidas
VP, HR Research and Development

Unpaid internships are on everyone’s mind – most recently, the Ontario Ministry of Labour shut down unpaid internship programs at two print publications, sparking debate over whether it was the right thing to do.  Do unpaid internships, in this case in a competitive industry in which it’s difficult for young people to get a start, provide a valuable opportunity to get a foot in the door?  Or are they sheer exploitation?  The week before last week’s announcement by the government, we asked our membership those same questions.  The answers from the 850 respondents were split – 62% of HR managers said that any kind of unpaid internship that is not part of a training or educational program should be illegal.  Of those respondents who work at organizations that currently offer unpaid internships, almost 60% said they should be illegal, providing an interesting perspective on the issue from those who are familiar with administering it.  While the open commentary to the survey included several arguments that no one is forced to take unpaid internships, most of the opinions expressed were that accepting an unpaid internship is a privilege that very few can afford.

Survey fast facts:

  • Of those HR managers working in organizations that offer unpaid internships, 58% said they should be illegal
  • 68% of HR managers working in organizations with less than 50 employees said they should be illegal, while 45% working in large organizations (with more than 5,000) employees said the same
  • 20% of respondents are concerned that unpaid internships displace paid workers
  • A third of respondents are concerned that unpaid internships only benefit the organization and not the individual
  • A third of respondents have seen the number of unpaid internships at their organizations increase over the past five years

The Top Three Benefits Of Group Benefit Plans

Group benefit plans are a vital element in attracting and retaining the very best staff and staying competitive in an ever changing market. Irrespective of their industry and market size, business can keep the edge by employing cost-effective group benefit programs and strategies.  Consider these top three reasons to effect a proper group benefits program in your organization.

Talent attraction

Group benefits can help attract skilled employees especially in a shrinking workforce, where the competition for talent is fierce, so businesses need to offer a highly rewarding place to work.  High quality employees look at three things when assessing potential employers: compensation, career opportunities, and benefits.  Beyond a decent wage structure, an attractive benefits package can tilt the scales in your favour.

A diverse benefits package can help businesses stand out and added benefits like a health care spending account, which gives employees flexibility in how they use their credits, can help employers respond to their employees’ diverse needs.

Talent retention

It’s no secret that turnover is costly, both in replacement costs and customer satisfaction.  Plus, in recent years, employee loyalty is on the wane, particularly among younger workers. That’s why an attractive group benefits package can help retain employees and give you an edge when it comes to retaining them.  In a recent survey from Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, 75% of employers interviewed said that attractive employee benefits aided in employee retention.  On any day, most people value the peace of mind that a good benefits package can bring.

Tax savings

There are other financial advantages to purchasing group benefits in addition to attracting and retaining top performing employees.  Most premiums are tax deductible as a business expense, and health benefits are a non-taxable benefit. What’s more, a lot of working Canadians have access to at least one employee benefit and the number of businesses providing those benefits increases every year.

That’s why it pays to have a benefits package in place to retain a loyal workforce and to attract new employees.

Learn more about the Canadian Group benefits programs and get certified.

Cultural Competency Is Good for Business

Through the years, we have seen a strong business case emerge for diversity in the workplace. But broadening your talent pool to include diverse groups is just one part of creating an inclusive workplace. Equally important are the steps you take to improve individual and organizational levels of cultural competency in order to tap into the immense potential of culturally diverse teams.

Over the past couple of decades immigration patterns have been changing the face of Canada.
We live in one of the most diverse countries of the world. In 2011, one in five people in the Canadian labour force was born outside of Canada. If immigration patterns continue this way, by 2031, this number will likely increase to one in three being born outside of Canada. About one-third of Canadians speak a language other than English at home.*

Many companies acknowledge the importance of diversity, and are working to figure out what it means to them and how it affects their business. For many companies, there are three key drivers for promoting diversity in their organizations. These are:

  • Customers/clients – their customer base is increasingly more diverse, and customers are rewarding companies that understand diversity;
  • Talent – they want to access the best talent from the widest possible pool; and
  • Performance – access to different perspectives and ideas leads to better decision-making.

But while many companies may understand the business case for diversity, and that to be successful, they need to access and hire from a broader pool of candidates, the focus is still on increasing the diversity of their population. It’s equally important to create inclusive work environments, where everyone feels welcome, can be successful and is valued in making a contribution.

As the demographics in Canada continue to change, it’s becoming more important for companies to be culturally competent. For individuals, being culturally competent means interacting effectively and building good working relationships with culturally different people. For a company, being culturally competent means providing products and services effectively to a diverse array of cultural groups.

There are clear benefits for a company to be culturally competent.

For the individual:

  • An inclusive and supportive workplace
  • Stronger teams
  • Fuller participation
  • Ability to provide more effective service
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Retention of employees

For the company:

  • Effective service delivery
  • Increased creativity in problem-solving through new perspectives
  • Minimized risk of legal complaints
  • Strategic alliances within the community
  • Enhanced reputation and trust
  • Distinction of being a diversity leader

Yes, it is a challenge to add yet another thing to your already full plate. But think about the opportunities that await when you become more culturally competent…and what you may be losing if you don’t.

If you would like to find out how your organization can become more culturally competent, contact the Human Resources Professional Association about its “Cultural Competency Training Program”.

* Source: Statistics Canada – Census 2011

About the author:

Daria Kowalyk is a consultant who has been promoting diversity and inclusion in organizations for many years.

HRPA is organizing the “Cultural Competency Training Program” to help HR Professionals and Leaders learn about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. To learn more and register, click here.