Until about 10 years ago, HRPA ran a telephone help desk that was centrally coordinated and serviced by volunteer HR practitioners. The popularity of the service caused it to become unwieldy and the decision was made to abandon it.
More recently, the association has operated a Resource Centre staffed by librarians who maintain a well-stocked reference library, curate a self-serve knowledgebase, edit a daily news digest and respond to member enquiries by researching HRPA and publicly available resources for labour statistics, salary survey data, etc. But as well-received as these services are, they can’t replace the expertise and experience of HR practitioners.
In August 2012, we asked members in a survey, “Should HRPA create a phone-in HR enquiry service staffed by CHRP volunteers?” Ninety-five percent of respondents said, “Yes.”
We also asked, “As a CHRP, would you be willing to volunteer some of your time and expertise to help other members with their HR questions (in exchange for CHRP recertification points)?” Again, of those answering this question, 95% said, “Yes.”
HRPA has more than 9,000 CHRP members. At any given time several hundred of these CHRPs are either on leave or in between jobs. They are often eligible for reduced membership dues and would have the time to be available to respond to member enquiries.
HRPA’s phone system has the capability to transfer incoming calls to a call group of any number of phones, whether inside HRPA’s office or outside. So we configured the system to allow callers to the Resource Centre to be transferred to a call group we nicknamed “HR Hotline”. The system also randomizes the ringing order so every call group member gets an equal number of call opportunities. We then put out a call for CHRP volunteers and selected two dozen very experienced HR practitioners from the members responding to this call to be the inaugural HR Hotline team members.
At the same time, Carswell, a well-known publisher of Canadian HR and legal news and reference materials, was looking to add a human resources help desk for subscribers to its Consult Carswell Human Resources reference service. In return for equipping each of HRPA’s CHRP Hotline volunteers with individual access to Consult Carswell to for their reference, HRPA agreed to give Carswell’s subscribers access to the HR Hotline. Carswell will market this service to its subscribers as the “Consult Carswell Human Resources Helpline, a service provided by HRPA.”
I am happy to report that the system has been tested, volunteers have been trained. They now have their Consult Carswell logins and the HR Hotline service will be available to HRPA members, starting March 4th, 2013; subscribers to Consult Carswell will be able to call into the Helpline service as of March 18th, 2013.
Both HRPA members and Consult Carswell subscribers will be required to accept a service disclaimer that the service is intended for fast answers to general questions and cannot be substituted for appropriate legal and/or consulting services. Callers requiring legal advice and/or consulting services will be referred to the HR Vendors Guide on the HRPA website.
HR Hotline volunteers will earn Continuing Professional Development credits for recertification.
By launch date, we also expect to have a mobile app available to make HR Hotline access even more convenient. Called My HRPA, the app will be available for download from the Apple Store, Google Play, and BlackBerry World and will also allow for mobile access to HRPA thought leadership, professional development programs, regulatory updates and members benefits.