10 Hot Points in Human Resources

Workplace Investigator Lise MacLean discussed ten hot topics in human resources in the Public Affairs/ Human Resources first breakout. No more than ten people from organizations varying widely in size listened as MacLean shared current common encounters in HR.

The ten topics were talent acquisition, workplace harassment, social media, accommodation, re-skilling human resources, compensation, health and safety, globalization and virtual teams, big data, and employee engagement.

Those ten topics fit into broader themes and changes to the workplace that have forced hiring, working and supervising routines to adapt.

MacLean suggested thinking about hiring as talent acquisition. Companies proactively recruiting future employees with strong HR strategies are more likely to end up with a qualified candidate. Employers who brand themselves and develop a social media strategy and presence attract people with potential, not just for a particular job, but for the whole organization.

Conversely, social media accounts of applicants or employees continue to be contentious issues in the workplace. Employers are still learning how to evaluate a future or current employee based on their behaviour outside of work and online. One key distinction MacLean makes is whether the information you’re basing your decision on is protected by human rights codes and whether a decision not to hire someone is seen as discriminatory. The rules regarding personal social media in the workplace vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, which makes them harder to enforce.

Within the workplace, employers and employees face issues that are not new but new, high profile HR cases prompted companies to readdress the topics in the workplace. Sexual harassment cases at the CBC with Jian Ghomeshi, the RCMP and the military stimulated better understanding of appropriate behaviour in the workplace. MacLean said companies are more cautious, taking extra measures to address allegations of harassment at work. More and more companies are requesting harassment training. Recently, harassment was added to the health and safety section of employment standards acts.

Employers are adapting to new situations regarding accommodation at work. Family care obligations and culture continue to be popular work accommodations but now employers are working with employees requesting accommodations for medical marijuana, gender identity and gender expression. As the demographic of the work force changes, employers work with employees from different generations who require or request different accommodations or perks at work.

MacLean said the best way to manage human resources’ responsibilities is to change human resources service function to a decision making, strategic and advisory role. Large companies may employ their own HR managers and small companies may only afford a few consulting hours with HR professionals but MacLean said no matter the size, the companies recognize the value of human resources contributions.