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  • The Human Factor: AI Challenges and Opportunities for HR Professionals

    In November 2022, OpenAI released the chatbot ChatGPT, igniting a global surge in interest in developing and applying artificial intelligence (AI). After less than eighteen months of rapid advancement, AI quickly led to groundbreaking applications across multiple industries, profoundly transforming many professionals' workflows and career prospects. Consequently, it raises concerns about job security for workers and HR challenges for numerous Canadian companies. Corporate leaders are questioning whether “LAYOFF”, or “DOWNSIZING” is the ultimate answer for integrating AI into their business operations. However, the primary goal of running a business is not merely to cut costs but to increase revenues and expand markets. From an HR perspective, successfully navigating the AI revolution involves not only adopting new technologies but also ensuring that employees are prepared and supported through these changes. To address AI challenges and opportunities for HR professionals, here are our strategic approaches for effectively managing the transition: 1. Fostering a Culture of Lifelong Learning The rapid development of AI technologies necessitates a workforce continually adapting to new tools and enhancing their productivity. The HR department should focus on creating a continuous improvement culture. This can be achieved through upskilling and reskilling programs, which allow employees to identify skill gaps and offer targeted training programs. Communicating how AI learning initiatives directly contribute to team and company goals helps employees see the tangible benefits of their learning efforts. Some organizations also take steps to re-design their work to ensure an optimized integration of technology and human capital. 2. Enhancing Employee Engagement and Participation The introduction of AI can cause anxiety among employees, particularly regarding their job security. To address these concerns, HR can involve employees in technology integration. Engaging with employees at all levels to get their input on how AI could improve their work processes and experience, what AI tools the employees may need, thereby making them active participants in the AI transition. Similarly, it helps employees understand that AI is a tool to enhance their efficiency and capabilities, not a replacement for their jobs. 3. Recruiting for a Future with AI As AI alters the landscape of required job skills, the criteria for recruitment will inevitably change. Job descriptions and requirements should be adjusted to reflect the importance of tech-savviness, even for non-technical roles. Using AI-powered tools to automate the recruitment process, improve talent matching accuracy, and reduce biases can be valuable for optimizing your workflows as HR professionals. It will enhance the quality of hires and contribute positively to the organization’s culture and diversity. Here are some notable AI-powered HR tools that are helping transform various aspects of human resources: Recruitment and Hiring: HireVue, Pymetrics, Entelo Employee Engagement and Retention: Leena AI, Culture Amp, Peakon Performance Management: Lattice, BetterWorks Learning and Development: Docebo, EdCast HR Automation: UltiPro (now UKG Pro), Zenefits Workforce Planning: Gloat, Workday 4. Implementing Ethical AI Practices As AI systems become more integral to business operations, it is imperative to ensure that these systems are used ethically. The HR department can establish clear guidelines on how AI should be used within the company policies and procedures need to be in place to address: When AI tools can be used What purpose will the AI tools serve What AI tools can be used How to protect company confidentiality and private information After the policies and procedures are established, employees need to be trained. 5. Navigating Regulatory Challenges With the implementation of AI, Canadian companies must navigate a complex landscape of legal and regulatory issues. HR should stay Informed about legislation by keeping up-to-date with national and international laws regarding AI, data protection, and human rights. Working actively with legal experts will ensure that the use of AI in HR practices complies with existing labour laws and privacy regulations. 6. Balancing AI and Human Roles HR departments face a crucial challenge in addressing the concerns of those doubtful or unsure about adopting AI. Instead of large-scale, rapid AI implementations, HR can advocate for gradual, step-by-step adoption of AI technologies. This allows employees, stakeholders, and customers to comfortably adjust to changes. It's important to remember that AI systems are meant to enhance human decision-making, not replace it. This can alleviate fears that AI might make critical decisions without human empathy and understanding. Conclusion: Maintaining a Human-Centric Approach in AI Adoption For Canadian companies, the AI revolution is not just about technological adoption but also about strategically preparing and supporting their human resources for the changes that come with it. By prioritizing education, employee engagement, efficient recruitment, ethical practices, and compliance, HR departments can successfully lead their organizations into the new era of AI-enhanced business. By taking a proactive and thoughtful approach, HR can ensure that the transition to AI boosts productivity and innovation and preserves and augments the company’s most valuable asset—its people. As Fei-Fei Li, Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and IT, said: “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for human intelligence; it is a tool to amplify human creativity and ingenuity.” we envision AI not as a replacement for your workforce, but as a powerful tool that, in collaboration with your team, can elevate your business to new heights of success. Conference Alert: Boris Bokov and Ada Tai, representing BadaB Consulting, will speak on “Is Your Workforce Ready for Technology Advancement” at a full-day HR & Tech virtual conference on May 14, 2024. Want to learn more? Check it out here: #AI #ArtificialIntelligence #HRStrategies #HRTech #AIWorkforce #HRInnovation

  • Sustainable Success: Implementing ESG Practices for Canadian Companies

    In an era where sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity, Canadian companies stand at a pivotal crossroads. However, the surge of new Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards can be overwhelming, leading to confusion about how best to align with these extensive criteria. Many Canadian business leaders ponder the relevance and necessity of ESG frameworks for their operations. Is ESG truly essential for our company? Yet, what exactly does ESG entail, and why has it become a pivotal element in Canada's corporate landscape? Today, BadaB will explore the tangible benefits that ESG practices bring to companies, including enhanced reputation, increased investor attraction, and improved financial performance. Additionally, we will provide practical strategies for Canadian employers to implement ESG initiatives within their organizations effectively. 1. Understanding ESG Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring an investment's sustainability and ethical impact (return and risk). ESG encompasses many practices, from reducing carbon footprints and improving labour policies to ensuring better board diversity and corporate transparency. 2. The Talent Gap in ESG: Challenges and Opportunities in Canada's Job Market ESG is not a new concept in Canada; it has been a growing focus for many companies nationwide for years. Aware of its critical importance, organizations such as Stantec Inc., Telus Corporation, and  TD Bank Group increasingly seek to integrate ESG principles into their business models and strategies. As a result, there is a rising demand for ESG professionals, creating more specialized positions within this field. How do businesses hire ESG talent, given the field's interdisciplinary nature and relative novelty? Firstly, the ESG sector requires professionals who understand environmental, social, and governance issues and can integrate these aspects into the company's strategy and operations. This demands a blend of skills and knowledge spanning multiple disciplines, including finance, sustainability, law, and social sciences, making it difficult to find candidates with the necessary comprehensive skill set. Moreover, the rapid evolution of ESG standards and metrics means that the demand for qualified ESG professionals often outstrips the supply, leading to a competitive hiring landscape. Additionally, there is a lack of standardized qualifications or certifications for ESG professionals, making it challenging for employers to assess candidates' expertise and fit for ESG roles. These factors combined make ESG talent-hiring a complex task for Canadian companies. 3. Assessing the Need for ESG Talent in Your Business The Canadian government and securities regulators are progressively incorporating ESG considerations and reporting mandates for companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and other platforms. In 2024, the principal Canadian ESG Reporting Standards, Rules, and Requirements will encompass Corporate Diversity Reporting, S-211 Supply Chain Reporting, and the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) Corporate ESG Reporting and Disclosure guidelines. Dedicated ESG employees can help ensure that your business practices are sustainable, ethical, and aligned with current trends and future demands.  As a business owner or manager, whether you need those employees depends on several factors, including the size of your business, your industry, and your company's long-term goals. Here are some considerations to help you determine if ESG employees are necessary for your company: 3.1. Industry Requirements and Expectations Certain industries, particularly those in natural resources, finance, manufacturing, and consumer goods, are under increasing pressure from regulators, investors, and consumers to adopt sustainable practices and demonstrate social responsibility. If your company operates in these sectors, having ESG-focused employees can help you meet regulatory requirements, manage risks, and capitalize on new opportunities. 3.2. Investor and Stakeholder Demand Investors are increasingly considering ESG factors in their investment decisions. If your company is looking to attract investment, improve shareholder relations, or enhance its market value, ESG employees can help develop and implement strategies that align with investor expectations and improve your company's ESG performance. 3.3. Brand Reputation and Customer Loyalty Consumers are becoming more conscious of the ethical and environmental impacts of the products and services they purchase. Companies with strong ESG commitments often enjoy enhanced brand reputation, customer loyalty, and competitive advantage. ESG employees can help your company develop policies and practices that resonate with your target market and reflect your company's values. 3.4. Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings ESG initiatives, such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and sustainable supply chain management, can significantly save costs. ESG employees can identify and implement these initiatives, helping your company reduce costs and improve its bottom line. It also prepares businesses to adapt to changing environmental and social practices and to thrive in the future economy. 4. Leveraging ESG for Competitive Advantage in Canadian SMEs Integrating ESG concepts into business operations is becoming increasingly crucial for Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). André Palaguine, Chief Executive of Nations Translation Group LP, an Indigenous-owned company in Ottawa, emphasizes the competitive advantage ESG programs offer. He suggests that lacking ESG initiatives, regardless of the quality of products or services, could result in losing business opportunities to competitors who are more ESG-compliant. As Sylvie Ratté, a senior economist at the Business Development Bank of Canada, highlights, firms that are proactive in ESG reporting often outperform their counterparts. Her research indicates that 82% of large buyers require their suppliers to report on at least one of the ESG categories, with expectations to increase to 92% by 2024, underscoring the growing importance of ESG compliance in securing business contracts. Adapting to ESG principles might not currently be at the top of strategic priorities for SMEs. However, hiring an ESG consultant or external auditors is a practical starting point for most SMEs looking to integrate ESG practices into their operations. Initiating this transition not only aligns with global trends and consumer expectations but also positions these companies to achieve more sustainable growth. Hence, ultimately opening the door to new opportunities and a broader scope for success. Conclusion: Forging Ahead - Shaping the Next Era of Canadian Industry Embracing ESG is not merely about compliance or risk mitigation. By embedding ESG values into their corporate DNA, companies can unlock new growth avenues, attract and retain top talent, and build resilience against future challenges. However, the path forward requires commitment, collaboration, and a willingness to invest. In this evolving landscape, BadaB Consulting is here to assist. Our professional HR services are designed to provide you with the support and insights needed to navigate the complexities of ESG talent acquisition and development. Let's embrace the ESG challenge as an opportunity to innovate, differentiate, and build a legacy of positive impact for generations to come. Check out our Knowledge Library for people and business management insights: #ESG #ESGCanada #SMEs #GreenBusiness #SustainableBusiness #StakeholderRelations #TalentAttraction

  • HR As A Shared Vision - solutions for small business HR needs

    "HR as a shared service" typically refers to large, multi-location corporations that require centralizing their less strategic HR tasks. These organizations often leverage a call-center HR platform that provides general HR services, such as payroll and HRIS, as well as some specialized services like recruitment and policy inquiries, thus allowing them to focus their efforts on more strategic HR functions. This approach has been proven to reduce costs and streamline support services more efficiently. In contrast, small businesses without the budget to afford full-scope HR support face a different challenge. In recent years, smaller firms have begun collaborating and sharing support functions, including HR, IT, and finance. This trend emphasizes a common goal among businesses, which I refer to as "HR as a shared vision". By pooling their resources, small businesses can access common business services, enjoy cost savings, and streamline support without incurring excessive expenses. A shared HR vision for small businesses is to achieve the companies’ goals through effective and efficient ways of managing people resources. One HR professional I admire was a pioneer in creating a shared vision. She pooled together a group of five non-profit organizations and offered them HR support in recruitment and employee relations issues. All of her clients shared similar needs, challenges, and concerns. Although one might think that these organizations would compete for talent, this HR professional encouraged them to collaborate. For candidates who were not successful in one organization's job, she would ask the top candidates if they would be interested in another similar organization within the pool. The results were astounding! Three of our clients operate in different industries, but the small business network helped the owners meet and become each other's sounding boards. I started working with one of them on several people challenges. The owner then asked if I'd be open to meeting with two other business owners with similar issues. One meeting turned into two, into four, and into a continuous pattern. To enhance their people management skills, three discerning business owners have availed themselves of my customized learning sessions and consultations. These individuals split the cost of attending these sessions, designed to enable them to solve their personnel-related challenges with greater proficiency. The cost factor and lack of awareness have presented significant challenges to small businesses seeking HR services. Often, these enterprises only seek HR consultation after hitting a wall, such as encountering a human rights complaint, a need to terminate, an extended leave of absence, or turnover issues. However, HR support is a critical tool for expanding business operations. Outsourcing HR support provides a viable solution for small businesses that lack the need or budget for a full-time in-house HR department. Businesses often seek out HR service providers through various channels, such as networking, referrals, or business advisory services offered by various agencies. Alternatively, some organizations choose to purchase enterprise software that comes bundled with some HR consultation provided by the vendor. When considering potential HR service providers, businesses should carefully evaluate several factors. 1) Define the need for HR service and commit to it Often, small businesses are busy with operational duties, and although they recognize the need for professional help, they often do not follow through. 2) Identify a budget and allow some room for flexibility if people challenges arise Be aware that the common pricing model consultants charge can include hourly, monthly/quarterly, project-based, or retainer-based rates. Businesses should seek out service providers who offer transparent and competitive pricing, and who can deliver value for money. 3) Outline your desired HR support delivery model For example, the delivery can be in-person vs. remotely, on-site vs. on-call, and on a regular touch point vs. as needed. 4) Shortlist 3 service providers Of course, you can go for fewer or more providers. 5) Assess the providers and select the most suitable one Like a hiring process, you want to evaluate which provider is the most suitable for your business and situation. An experienced HR firm/consultant can help you navigate the complex world of talent management and compliance. Companies should assess the HR provider's experience and expertise. A provider with significant experience in a wide range of HR management and consulting can offer valuable insights and guidance. Previous clients’ reviews, referrals, and consultants’ backgrounds and qualifications can provide valuable information about the quality of service and customer satisfaction. To ensure optimal outcomes, it is crucial to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with the consultant. As your business grows and evolves, HR requirements will invariably transform. Businesses should treat the HR consultants as business partners and apprise them of changes to ensure they remain equipped to cater to these evolving needs. Check out our Knowledge Library for people and business management insights: #smallbusinesshr, #hrconsulting, #businessconsulting, #sharedservices

  • Real Mentorship Stories: Could You Be My Mentor?

    Recently, I was a panellist at a local university event. After the session, a young gentleman approached me with a big smile and offered a long handshake. He expressed how much he had learned from my talk and asked, "Ada, I don't have much work experience, and I don't like my degree. I am about to graduate and don't know what to do now, but I am eager to learn. Could you be my mentor?" His enthusiasm and energy caught my attention; I could see the eagerness in his eyes beyond his glasses. His body language clearly showed that he was at a crossroads and needed guidance for his future. At that moment, it brought back memories of when I was in his position and seeking support… When I was an international undergraduate student, I had limited connections outside the school circle. To build those connections, I volunteered, attended networking events and worked part-time jobs. My work caught the attention of a consultant, a very approachable lady in her late 50s who was known in her field. Whenever I got the chance to connect with her at work, I felt that she understood me and she could provide me with the information I needed. At the time, I didn't know anything about mentorship; I never knew to ask, “Could you be my mentor?” All I did was ask targeted questions about career search, first at the workplace, then I invited her for coffee outside of work. I cherished each of those meetings and always arrived earlier to ensure we got a good table to sit at and prepared a list of questions. Over time, she helped me better understand goal setting and career establishment. Her guidance supported me from my final year at university to about five years into my career. Even now, I still read the notes I took back then and learned something new each time. I remember asking her why she would continuously invest time and effort in me and never asked anything in return, even when I offered. She said that she has formally and informally mentored over 30 people over the years. Some parted ways earlier in the relationship, while others kept in touch. The trust and growth in the protegees are the source of her motivation. However, the mentees that she continued to support were those exhibiting appreciative attitudes and professional behaviours. I met my second mentor also at the workplace. He was an HR executive with an open mind and a passion for knowledge sharing. I was a junior staff member in his department. His "open door" policy made me feel comfortable bringing any questions or suggestions. After proving myself through quality work, I started asking more targeted questions about growing my career and got thought-provoking answers. My boss trusted me with enlarged assignments, and eventually, these opportunities helped me land bigger roles elsewhere. We stayed in touch, and he continued to provide guidance and connect me with industry professionals. Although without a formal mentorship agreement, my boss played the role of a great mentor. Simultaneously, I provided support during times that were difficult for him and was able to "reverse mentor" him on technology and trendy industry initiatives. A successful relationship requires investment from both parties. Now, he is an integral part of our consulting team! Over time, I made it a habit to offer handshakes and ask targeted questions whenever I meet people who have walked the path that I aspire to. Although without a formal mentorship relationship, several people became trusted advisors whom I would turn to for specific questions or challenges. Additionally, I have created my own "peer mentorship" group since becoming an entrepreneur, where we take advantage of learning from each other. Aside from seeking mentorship, I have also taken on the role of being a mentor. This was made possible by participating in the structured mentorship programs offered by CPHR AB and the university where I graduated. Through these programs, I have gained a better understanding of the fundamental aspects of mentorship and the key factors that contribute to the success of both the mentor and mentee. Given my own experience, I believe the following factors are critical to successful mentorship: A clear need for mentorship - The mentees should know why they need a mentor and what kind of mentor would best suit their needs. Similarly, mentors should have a genuine desire to connect and invest in another person for intrinsic purposes. A connection between the two parties - In other words, the mentor and mentee should be a good match for each other. Set goals and timelines - Targeted efforts and discussions should be geared towards helping the protegees achieve the goals. Good professionalism during all interactions - This includes being on time, committed to the goals, being friendly, open-minded, appreciative, supportive and consistent. "Could you be my mentor?" The student asked again. His question pulled me back from my thoughts. I smiled and said, “Before we proceed, let’s first understand why you need a mentor.” Contact us to build an internal mentorship program and a learning culture for your organization! Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #learningculture, #mentorshipprogram, #peermentorship, #reversementorship

  • 3 Critical Missing Elements to Achieve Board Diversity - Real Actions for Governance Board

    I am always thrilled by interesting and challenging projects! Lately, our firm has been tasked with several projects related to planning, enhancing or evaluating Board diversity. Some clients have pursued these projects due to ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance measures) demand, while others want to improve their Board's homogeneity perception. Still, some organizations recognize the benefits of boardroom inclusion and want to enhance it. This article outlines our findings of the three crucial missing pieces that prevent organizations from achieving their Board inclusion objectives. To create a workplace culture that is welcoming, respectful, and enables everyone to contribute, DE&I efforts now involve the Board level. This applies to both non-profit and for-profit organizations, as the governance Board is responsible for setting the organization's direction, ensuring good governance, and providing oversight. Achieving Board diversity is often accomplished by having a diverse group of Board members. Common diversity categories include gender, race, ethnicity, age, geography, skills, and board experience. Typically, the board assesses its current composition and sets goals for the future to improve diversity. Indeed, this is a great start, but what is missing? #1 - Diversity should not be a one-time event to simply check a box, but rather an ongoing effort that is integrated into the organization's strategic plan. Recommended actions: Review the organization's strategic plan and determine how Board diversity fits into it. Consider updating the plan if necessary. Collaborate with the corporation leader to establish a shared vision for inclusion and integrate it into the business strategy. Create a customized DE&I plan for the organization, including a section specifically addressing how the governance Board will achieve its inclusion goals. And, don't forget about creating a board inclusion policy. One of our clients represents members from six surrounding regions. At the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), several members pointed out that the majority of Board members belong to only two out of six communities and lack appreciation of diverse voices. The Board chair took the message seriously. Subsequently, the Board identified one of the priorities was to “Enhance the Board member representation in xyz regions through the Board recruitment process”. This sounds like a wonderful goal; however, there seems to be a missing piece. #2 - Board recruitment needs to be a regular pursuit instead of an annual or as-needed activity. Just like with staff recruitment, careful planning should be in place to avoid making Board recruitment an ad-hoc event. This also includes using multiple sourcing channels to market to a wide range of members. The organization's reputation and brand awareness play a crucial role in attracting candidates who are interested in joining the Board. Recommended actions: Understand the composition of the members represented and the composition of the Board members; establish a SMART goal of increasing Board representation to reflect the diverse demographics of the members. Identify areas where representation could be improved and make necessary adjustments. This can include, but not limited to: Changing meeting times and locations Actively pursuing outreach to the under-represented regions Providing training and mentorship to less experienced or new Board members, etc. Add Board recruitment as an agenda item on a quarterly basis and maintain a Board prospects list. This will shift board recruitment from an annual event to a regular governance process. I have attended Board candidates’ interviews, and a question that frequently arises is, "Why do you want to become a board member for our organization?" Candidates who are selected usually provide enthusiastic responses that demonstrate how their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the organization’s, as well as their desire to contribute to their communities. There is nothing wrong with the response, but is there something missing? #3 - To foster a strong and lasting commitment to Board work, it's important to consider the benefits for both parties. Evaluate what potential candidates stand to gain by joining the Board, such as opportunities for developing a specific skillset, expanding their professional network, or enhancing their resume. By understanding these benefits, the Board can identify any missing skillsets, and determine what the Board can offer to attract and retain new Board members. Recommended actions: To fulfill its fiduciary duties, the Board evaluates the skills, knowledge, and abilities of its current members to determine areas of expertise. Identify any gaps in skills that the Board currently lacks. The ideal candidate for the Board is someone who can acquire the desired skills or experience from existing members while also filling in the gaps. To determine the Board's needs for new members, a Skills Matrix should be used to assess qualifications and screen nominations. Achieving Board inclusion takes diligent planning and thoughtful execution. The primary focus should be on identifying inclusion enablers, while taking proactive measures to address any possible roadblocks that may arise. Contact us for board governance and board inclusion consulting! Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #boarddiversity #boardrecruitment #boardgovernance #ESG #nonprofitmanagement

  • Observations of An Effective Hybrid Focus Group Facilitation

    Conducting focus groups is nothing new for people who work in management, research, human resources and other areas. A focus group is a moderated session that gathers a small group of people to discuss specific topics. Recently, our firm was retained to facilitate a series of focus group sessions with diverse businesses on a complex issue. Our senior team member, Bob Excellent, renowned in stakeholder engagement and facilitation, was assigned as the facilitator. Opportunities like this do not happen every day. Our team members treated this as a professional development opportunity. Therefore, we took turns assisting Bob at these sessions so we could observe and learn from him. To make focus groups successful, thoughtful preparations are needed! Pre-Focus Group Preparation: 1. We worked closely with the regional authority who engaged us to understand the background of the situation, the expected deliverables and the targeted audience. 2. Based on adult engagement principles and given the tight schedules, we designed five sessions, each for 60 minutes, with the option of having individual chats afterwards. 3. To encourage participation: We secured a location that is easily accessible and with ample parking spots. We capped each session at 7 participants. A hybrid option was offered to those who could not participate in person. On the focus group invitation: We outlined the objectives and the major questions we would discuss. To complete every session in 60 minutes, we created 5 main questions. We also explained how the facilitator would maintain confidentiality. Snacks and coffee always go a long way. We included a message about these “incentives.” We promoted an interactive atmosphere, but declared that reservation is a must. 4. Within our team, roles were also assigned: Bob, the Facilitator, would plan and chair the session, and address inquiries. Another team member, the Supporter, would manage the logistics, such as space rental, emergency protocols, snacks arrangement, technology set up and note taking. Both people would set up the room together before the session started. During the Session: Bob is an early bird: he is the first person to arrive on all occasions. No surprise, he was 40 minutes earlier for each focus group session. For sessions with no virtual participants, the room was arranged in an open-ended “U-Shape” configuration as in Image 1. On the day I was the Supporter, we had two virtual participants. Therefore, we set up the room as in Image 2. I observed Bob putting the participant’s first name on the name card and putting each card at the table to hint at the seat allocation. He also wrote down our names and roles on the whiteboard in the room. When participants entered the room, he stood up to shake hands and greet each person, asking their names and taking them to their designated seats. He also greeted and waved to each online participant. Bob kicked off the session on time by briefly presenting himself and introducing the session. He then highlighted the concept of confidentiality and certain ground rules. The rules include the following: All perspectives/feedback are welcomed. People need to demonstrate respectful behaviour towards each other. Due to the limited time, participants will be cut off if they dominate a conversation. Attendees may leave early or take a call, but they should keep their phone mute. The participants were given 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their businesses. The virtual participants were also reminded that they could connect with the room via chat or speak through their microphone. They were asked to have their camera on. As the Supporter, I managed the chat box throughout the session. Bob planned how much time he wanted to spend on each question. He did not announce each question by saying, “Now, let’s discuss the first question, which is xxx.” Instead, he led people through a conversational flow. Throughout the hour, Bob balanced the “talkers” and the “quieters.” He also aligned and re-aligned the group with the objectives of the session. Additionally, he closely observed people’s body language and encouraged participation by calling them by their first name. Bob probed on several answers and used the participants’ comments to lead into the next part of the discussion. Occasionally, a person would not have anything to contribute to the question, but Bob made that person feel at ease. The session finished in exactly one hour! Bob officially ended the session by thanking everyone for their input. He acknowledged that due to the time constraints, there was no “group hug”; however, it was critical to hear from diverse perspectives. He sensed that several people had more to say. He put our business cards on the table for those interested. The virtual attendees can receive our business cards via email. Then he offered casual chats for those wanting to stay and discuss further, including virtual attendees. The attendees told us that not only they shared their opinion, but the session also opened their eyes to other perspectives on the issue. After the Session: After everyone left, Bob and I debriefed the session and reviewed notes to ensure we captured the discussions. We also reflected on what, if anything, needed to be adjusted for future sessions. Conducting an effective (hybrid) focus group requires thoughtful planning, diligent preparation and professional conversation control. Since most focus groups are open-ended and opinion-based, a skilled facilitator is needed to balance hearing people out and managing the required outcomes. Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #focusgroupfacilitation #chairmeetings #research #stakeholderengagement

  • A Case Study of an HRIS Implementation

    Has your organization considered adopting a Human Resource Information System (HRIS)? Selecting and implementing HRIS has become a trendy topic in recent years. Employers recognize the need to enhance workplace efficiency and accuracy through integrated business applications that are reliable and user-friendly. In this blog, I will share a case study of one of our clients who is implementing an HRIS for the first time and several “aha” moments along the journey. Background: Company XYZ is a value-based organization. The company experienced positive growth in the last five years: it grew its employee base from 30 to just under 100 and maintained a roster of 30 subcontractors/freelancers. Until early 2022, the accounting system was used for employee expenses and payroll. Recruitment, employee files, performance review and other employee data management functions were still done manually. Furthermore, reporting and benefits administration were handled by two other systems. Unsurprisingly, employee timesheets and time off requests were managed using Excel and email. The Accounting team spent endless hours every month managing multiple systems, retrieving information from one system to feed into another, and ensuring data integrity and accuracy. Managers were concerned about the inefficiency and security risk of the current method. Additionally, leaders contemplated the need for better decision-making and future scalability as the company projects a 60 - 70% headcount growth in the coming three years. Initial Action: We were lucky that this was a long-term client of our company, so we were familiar with their business environment and the employee situation. Two people from our firm were assigned to this project, one being the project lead and the other person providing support. After obtaining the budget, we created a cost estimate and a project plan with major timelines, milestones, people and resources needed. Then we dived into “Needs Assessment” understanding and business requirements gathering. Needs Assessment: 1. We sent out a questionnaire to four types of users in the company to understand what the “must-have” functions and “nice-to-have” functions are. The users include: Frontline employees (end-users) Supervisors & managers (end-users & approvers) Accounting, IT, Administration (Functional users) Leaders (end-users, approvers & ability to oversee everything) 2. After compiling the information, we identified the top “must-have” functions as: Plus, the HRIS must be compatible with the current accounting system. The following were the “nice-to-have” functions: 3. We then facilitated a focus group meeting and five one-on-one meetings with leaders, functional users, and selected supervisors and staff to deep dive into their needs. Vendor Selection: 1. With all the information collected, we quickly narrowed the selection to the top five vendors. 2. We then sent the short-listed vendors to confirm their functionality, pricing, and customer service approach. Then our team watched their live demonstrations. Given our familiarity with the company culture and employee demographics, we knew only certain vendor systems would match the client’s needs, and the user interface must be extremely intuitive. 3. We reported our findings and recommendations to the company. The top two vendors were brought in for live presentations and demonstrations. After both demonstrations, we asked the audience to provide ratings and feedback. 4. Once the top vendor was selected, the company representative negotiated and signed the vendor agreement. When evaluating vendor pricing, a few factors should be taken into account: Company location, Cost per employee, Monthly cost, Implementation fee, Total cost of the first year, Total annual cost from the second year on. After confirming the functionalities of the selected HRIS, the company reviewed the current systems, their pricing, effectiveness, vendor relationship and contract terms, and decided as to which current systems would stay and which systems would be phased out over the coming period of time. If someone thinks that selecting a system is the end of a complex project, it is only the beginning of it… Implementation: The company assembled a 4-people Implementation Team, which includes a manager, an employee, an accounting person and an IT staff. We then worked with the Implementation Team to decide on a department in the company that works the best as the Test Department for user/usability testing. Since HRIS systems nowadays are more intuitive, most vendors do not provide user training or training manuals. The Test Department we selected had more tech-savvy employees inclined to adapt to change. The Implementation Team and our team then prepared information to transfer to the new system and converted the company’s historical data into the new system. Working with the vendor, we did a “soft launch” of the new system with the Test Department for three months. The existing systems were operating at the same time. During these three months, we learned what worked well and what needed adjustment. We also gathered the Test Department staff’s feedback on a bi-weekly basis. We then worked with the vendor to ensure a smooth transition to the official launch. In the fourth month, the new HRIS was officially in operation! The launch party was a lot of fun and got people’s attention. During the initial period after the launch, the Implementation Team, the Test Department and our team addressed questions from the staff. The existing systems would still be in operation for another 6 months to ensure a smooth transition and backup. Having a Test Department is a critical element to success: It ensures early adopters get a chance to use and review the new system, feed information as to what needs to be adjusted and help the company set the stage for the official launch. For large organizations with change management challenges, the Test Department also serves as the company’s influencing force for the rest of the employees/users. Taking into account the cost of the Implementation Team and consultants’ time in the company’s HRIS budget is key. What Now? So far, so good! After the official launch, several training sessions were delivered to ensure a comfortable transition for employees and managers. A quarterly check-in and a formal new system evaluation were also planned to help the Implementation Team gather information and make adjustments as needed. Selecting and implementing HRIS system is a costly and complex project! Each organization has its unique needs, budget and challenges. Having a structured project plan and a methodical approach will help ensure businesses’ success. Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #projectmanagement #HRIS #HRautomation #systemsintegration #hrtechnology

  • Is Employee Engagement a Managerial Competency?

    This morning, I attended a Canada-wide compensation trends webinar. An alarming study revealed to those in attendance that more than 37% of employees would jump jobs if an increase of 10% or more in pay in the next 12 months₁. With the rising inflation and the lingering effects of the epidemic, employers are scratching their heads to develop operationally feasible and budget-creative methods to ensure employee satisfaction and retention. It is no secret that retaining engaged employees is more affordable than hiring new workers. Therefore, fostering employee engagement has become an urgent employer concern. Employee Engagement, in its simplest form, means employees are doing the work they are supposed to do, which yields evidence of commitment and meaningful, valuable results. The most common drivers of employee engagement include: Meaningful and challenging work Respectful environment and effective managers Alignment of individual work with the organization’s objectives and values Ethical and competent leadership Fair compensation and recognition Open and two-way communication Pursuit of individual professional development goals, etc. Based on this list, it is obvious that managers constitute one of the most critical factors that can either contribute to or crush employees’ engagement: the interactions between managers and employees and the behaviours that managers exhibit significantly impact the workers. Therefore, there has been a discernible trend toward demanding managers develop more people-management competencies in recent years. People-management competencies can vary widely. What are the two fundamental yet critical engagement skills that managers need to possess? 1. Getting to know the team members Engagement is an individual concept: how employees feel about their attachment to their organization and how much they are willing to go above and beyond to deliver varies from one person to another. To enhance engagement, managers must spend the time and effort to get to know their staff. Getting to know the team can focus on a few areas: I. Getting to know the individual’s background Communicating and getting work done in a virtual environment reduced the emotional connection between team members. Coupled with the fact that many people work multiple jobs to combat the rising cost of living, people have little time left to spend with each other. Getting to know team members builds the trust and connection that are much needed. When managers show interest in the team members, employees also feel more included in the work environment: they are more comfortable working with people they know. While getting to know the staff, managers should also allow time for the staff to get to know them and develop mutual trust. II. Getting to know the individual’s strengths and interests Knowing team members’ strengths and interests gives managers the requisite knowledge of their workers and how to assign/design jobs that will utilize their strengths and match their interests. Research shows that when employees are explicitly encouraged to use their talent to pursue a goal, individual engagement improves from 9% to 15%2. III. Getting to know the individual’s challenges The pandemic created and amplified challenges. Few can completely put their personal challenges behind them when they enter the office or log on to a computer to start working. A member of our organization who demonstrated superior performance had shown obvious errors and impatience toward clients. I did not want to make baseless assumptions or lose a great member who needed support. Because of our trusting relationship, I was comfortable inviting him to discuss the issues I observed. Without the need to know all details of his personal challenges, I offered support by adjusting his schedule and workload. In two weeks, this team member gradually showed improvement. After a month, he came to me and said that he had dealt with what he needed to handle and was now ready to go back to the full swing of work again. Obtaining resources and tailoring support to team members Each worker needs their manager in different ways. Some need their manager to be a teacher, some need their manager to be a coach, and others need their manager to be a remover of obstacles. Managers can tailor their support after understanding the team members' backgrounds, strengths, interests and challenges. Furthermore, there are times when the support that workers need is beyond the manager’s capacity. In this case, managers need to use tactics to obtain resources from upper management or stand up for their staff. Employees need emotional support and concrete resources to complete their work, especially if it involves multiple parties. If you are one of the businesses experiencing declining worker engagement or productivity, you are not in this alone. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, most employees are disengaged. In 2021, only 20% of employees worldwide and 34% of employees in the U.S. were engaged in their work3. Engagement is an individual connection to the work and the organization, and managers play a vital role in their employee experience. While many organizations emphasize their employee engagement programs, the focus should actually be on ensuring that managers develop the needed engagement competencies. References: Charity Village. (2022). Introducing the Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Report: Pandemic Edition (2022) Webinar. Brian J. Brim, E. D. (2022, September 22). How a focus on people's strengths increases their work engagement. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from Royal, K. (2022, April 29). Who's Responsible for Employee Engagement? Retrieved October 25, 2022, from Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #employeeengagement, #hrconsulting, #retention, #jobsatisfaction, #employeeexperience, #managerialcompetency

  • 4 Reasons to Brand Your HR Department

    “How is your HR department?” What answers come to mind when you ask people about their company’s HR department? People’s instinctive response may be that the department is excellent with a thumbs up or rolling their eyes with a “you know, they are HR people” type of stereotype. As you probe, more information surfaces, such as whether the department is knowledgeable or unequipped, strategic or bureaucratic, agile or old school, etc. These answers reflect people’s perception of a company’s important function - the Human Resources department. Today, as businesses navigate the changing economic and labour landscape, and seek ways to maximize the value that employees provide, the role of the HR department becomes more crucial than ever. This calls for an important question: What does your HR organization stand for? The HR department, like any other support department, although is a functional section of a given organization, should run just like an organization: with a plan, budget, resources and an operating model. Branding a department is no different than branding a product or service. First, branding the HR department starts with defining its purpose. In a given organization, the HR department’s brand is to support the overall business brand. We are not unfamiliar with those HR departments that re-branded their name from “Personnel Department” to “Human Capital Area” or “People’s Team.” We’ve also seen HR position titles shifted from “Personnel Officer” to “HR Business Partner” or “Chief People Officer.” These changes reflect the HR department’s desire to evolve and align with the current business needs as a strategic partner. For businesses that compete for innovation and speed, the HR department’s strategic plan must center around supplying the companies with staff and people management programs to promote efficiency and creativity. For organizations that focus on communities’ well-being, the HR department’s purpose is to foster a humanity culture and hire outcome-driven individuals who truly understand communities' challenges and can deliver services with empathy. Second, designing a compelling brand comes from understanding its customers. Having clear answers to the question of “What do our customers expect from us?” should give the department a precise understanding of the brand identity it wants to establish. HR’s customers include internal customers such as leaders, line managers and staff, and external customers such as job candidates, contractors, industry partners, and other stakeholders. For internal customers, the HR department supplies them with the needed talent-related support. Consulting with internal clients and regularly collaborating helps the HR department grasp their needs. For external customers, HR representatives can be their first point of contact with the organization. Their experience with the HR folks determines their perception of the company. Third, designing a compelling brand comes from understanding the external market. No businesses exist in a closed environment. Trends, technologies, competitions, labour market and legal changes all shape how we run an HR organization. The continuous environmental scanning will help identify the market needs and changes. Making timely adjustments to the people management programs will put the HR organization above the industry peers, providing the entire business with a competitive advantage. Finally, the HR department needs to operate with a suitable model and people to support its established brand. The proper operation blueprint derives from designing metrics that direct performance and encourage the right behaviour that the HR brand wants to construct. A strong HR department brand attracts like-minded HR professionals to join the team, thus, creating a productive departmental culture. These individuals carry similar values and are empowered to serve the overall business mission through people management programs. Clearly outlining the HR department’s brand will strengthen the corporate culture and enable the organization’s advancement in the market. It will also improve the business's overall brand. Having all the departmental branding infrastructure in place is only a start. Educating and communicating the brand's value to current and potential customers will take diligence and ongoing effort. Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #organizationbrand, #hrconsulting, #hrbranding, #businesspartnership

  • HR Professionals as Entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurship seems to be a very trendy word and an occupational choice these days. In my conversations with various HR professionals, a common question arose: How can HR people become entrepreneurs? In other words, if I want to set up my own HR consulting practice, how do I start? Before we dive into “how” to start an HR business, let’s first understand what being an entrepreneur means. My favourite definition of an entrepreneur is: “An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The process of setting up a business is known as entrepreneurship.”1 This definition emphasizes a few key takeaways: first, being an entrepreneur is a journey of inventing and building something from the ground up. During this journey, you will experience many challenges and joys because of the uncertainty and the potential benefits you will gain through a successful venture. Running an HR consultancy as a business entails helping clients solve problems. 1. A business starts with an idea. (What’s your niche?) Generally speaking, for HR professionals to utilize their established knowledge and skills, the idea for a business is likely to provide general or a specific area of human resources support, and/or offer training and coaching services. HR consulting is part of the large Management Consulting industry. In the US, the Management Consulting industry revenue is estimated at $250 billion2. In Canada, the industry revenue is estimated to be about $22 billion3. Human resources consulting services account for roughly 12% of management consulting revenue4. To set yourself up for success, several key questions to consider include: ● Do I want to be a generalist or a specialist? ● Do I want to be a business person or a technical expert? ● Do I want to eventually build a company or stay as a one-person shop? ● What is the niche that I can offer to clients? 2. Narrow your ideas down to concrete plans. (What’s your value proposition?) Although many people prepare great plans, to be effective, these plans need to be tailored to the wonderful service you will provide. Since being a consultant is to solve clients’ problems, your value proposition should clearly communicate the benefit that clients will receive by using your service. In other words, a potential client should be able to distinguish what you offer from the offerings of other consultants. Questions to consider include: ● Who is my target audience? What are their needs and wants? ● How will I offer my services? When? Where? And, How? ● With whom am I competing? What distinguishes my service from theirs? 3. Set up your business or join another business. (Let’s get serious.) To take the HR consulting idea to the next level, you may set up your business as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. Any such form has its pros and cons. Then you will use your creativity to come up with an attractive business name, register for a business number and GST, open up a business bank account, etc. A clear and useful article in which this sort of information can be found is, “Your ultimate guide to starting a business in Canada”.5 A large portion of the entrepreneurs-to-be choose to join other firms as freelancers or contractors, either full-time or part-time. This gives these consultants who are not ready to go all in on being their own boss a taste of being an independent consultant without bearing the full risk. They also use this option to test whether there is a demand for their skillsets. Some HR professionals decide to be a member of growing boutique companies. Others welcome the opportunities and challenges that large international consulting firms present. 4. Marketing, marketing. (And marketing) By putting your business plan together, you now know who your targeted audience is. Using different methods to reach your potential clients and convince them to use your service is the magic of marketing. Setting up a website, and creating an email signature and business cards are the fundamentals to get one started. Once you generate a budget and are ready to go one step further, some HR entrepreneurs choose to engage marketing experts who specialize in social media establishment, search engine optimization, advertising campaigns, etc. What I have found most useful is to create a professional and consistent presence for yourself and your business. This can be done by actively participating in in-person and virtual networking events tailored to your potential clients. Nowadays, while businesses are fighting to hire and retain talents, I find it quite easy to start a chit chat with business representatives about how HR consultants can add value. Be ready to give your elevator pitch about your credentials and your business offerings wherever you go. Furthermore, content marketing has also proven effective. It includes presenting publicly and creating educational articles, blogs, books, videos, podcasts, etc. The key emphasis here is “content.” I firmly believe that without valuable content, marketing becomes meaningless. 5. Let’s get to work! (No promotion can replace quality results.) Now you have identified your niche area and value proposition, registered a business and utilized marketing efforts to engage one or more clients to understand potential solutions you can offer, the next step is to put a proposal together and present it to the client for approval. Several good templates are explained and included in the book, The Basic Principles of Effective Consulting, by Linda K. Stroh6. Once the agreement is signed by both parties, you will immerse yourself in planning your project approach and methodologies, diagnosing the client’s issue, proposing solutions, gathering feedback from the client throughout the process, and implementing the solutions (if required). In my experience, great consultants are also great business people who can see client’s issues from 3000 feet and offer scalable and sustainable solutions. Many of you are probably already performing the HR consultant role for your organization as an internal consultant. You may have also helped friends fix resumes, advised your family about workplace situations, etc. In this sense, we are all consultants utilizing our expertise. In my recent webinar, “HR Entrepreneurs - Have You Ever Thought About Becoming an HR Consultant?”, invited and hosted by CPHR AB, I shared that to be an effective consultant in this competitive environment, it is critical that we adopt a life-long learning approach with the ability to continuously innovate. The problems we are helping clients solve today may not be the problems the clients face tomorrow. Reference: 1 Hayes, A. (2022, July 19). What is an entrepreneur? Investopedia. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from 2 Industry market research, reports, and Statistics. IBISWorld. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2022, from 3 Government of Canada, S. C. (2022, February 17). Consulting Services, 2020. The Daily - . Retrieved July 26, 2022, from 4 Industry Overview: Management Consulting in Canada. Industry Overview: Management Consulting in Canada | Small Business Accelerator. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2022, from 5 Your ultimate guide to starting a business. (2022, July 20). Retrieved July 25, 2022, from 6 Stroh, L. K. (2019). The basic principles of effective consulting. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #managementconsulting, #hrconsulting, #entrepreneurship

  • What Is Your Professional Development Plan?

    When hearing the term “Professional Development” (P.D.), we often think about taking classes, participating in projects, joining professional associations, reading books, etc. Undoubtedly, these are good methods to keep our knowledge and skills up-to-date; however, how have the results of these P.D. activities improved your personal and career growth? In my earlier blog, “Will You Work for Free,” I laid out four practical ways to improve our learning, such as: 1) Self-directed studying 2) Applying the new knowledge practically 3) Sharing what we know with others 4) Reflecting and self-evaluating Completing P.D. activities without having a clear plan is like driving a car without knowing where we are going. Effective P.D. needs to satisfy three conditions: 1. Effective P.D. activities need to align with our career goals. I recently met a hard-working, intelligent and introverted professional, Remy, at a growing organization during a succession planning project that I was working on. After enjoying conversations about career goals, he identified his long-term career goal as to become an executive of the corporation he is currently at in 10 years. As our conversation evolved, I learned that Remy’s advantages are his exceptional writing, project planning and problem solving skills. However, he knows that he needs to overcome several challenges to acquire the role he desires. One of them is his biggest weakness: speaking in front of a crowd. Once the overall career direction is defined, effort should be put towards exploring the suitable methods to achieve those objectives. Therefore, to accomplish Remy’s career goal, we created a P.D. plan for each of his objectives. Below is an example of one area of focus: 2. Complete the P.D. activities with the right mindset. We often include various P.D. activities as part of the yearly goal-setting process. Working in HR, unfortunately, I have seen too many professionals writing out (and completing) their P.D. goals to satisfy the work requirement instead of fulfilling their own growth needs. In this case, Remy realizes that he needs to dedicate time, resources and energy to accomplish the identified activities. For many people, the most challenging part is to sustain continuous passion. However, a driven mindset is developed when we know that the P.D. activities are aligned with our career goals and can eventually help us reach our dreams. 3. Continuous environmental scanning to understand what is needed for our field of occupation. Although creating a P.D. plan is essential, adapting the plan to suit the needs of tomorrow is more critical. The knowledge and skills needed today may be obsolete in years to come. As working professionals, our time is limited and precious. To achieve the greatest return on our P.D. investment, we need a thoughtful plan and a proactive attitude. Too often, abstract planning and calculation fail to translate into real action. If our plans are realistic and useful, acting upon them will not only be easier and more efficient; it will also allow us to transform aspirations into achievements. Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #humanresources #managementconsulting #professionaldevelopment #personalgrowth

  • Who Takes Care of HR’s Mental Health?

    Recently, a small group of us working in human resources came together to address each other's challenges and celebrate success. This is an informal, self-directed group of HR practitioners who met a few years ago during a conference. When we met, we realized the commonalities of our struggles. Speaking of these struggles and hearing the advice of others, we learned how helpful it would be to have regular conversations. Immediately, we decided to meet periodically and infuse each gathering with positive, results-based energy. Gradually, we became each other’s “go-to” sounding boards. This has proven extremely helpful during the pandemic when everything is uncertain, and that the HR professionals are constantly firefighting and pivoting, having someone who can truly understand you and offering that social and professional support is critical. This triggered my questions: Is everyone as lucky as me? When the going gets rough, who takes care of your psychological well-being? Mental health is an important topic as we gradually uncover the effects of the past two years. HR professionals typically take on the role of workplace well-being advocates and are often the first point of contact when employee issues arise. Standard wellness practices include: ● Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) ● Enhanced counselling benefits coverage ● Employee Resource Groups (ERG) ● Awareness and resiliency training ● Series of programs such as work and life balance, flexible arrangements, (virtual) fun activities, etc. However, for those of us who work in HR and for those who are at the forefront of resolving issues that are often confidential in nature, we can feel vulnerable when the standard practices may not help us. How should we take care of our own mental health? Given my own experience, I summarized four optimal practices below. 1. Making self-reflection a habit. According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.1” For working professionals, the first step of maintaining health is becoming consciously aware of triggers and signs of fragility. Since becoming an entrepreneur, I have developed a habit of leaving 15 tranquil minutes for self-reflection every evening. It allows me to carefully review my thoughts, feelings and actions of the day and helps me with personal growth and restoration of inner balance. Notably, I am learning to allocate some downtime, even if it means a quick walk around the block when I have reached my maximum mental capacity. 2. Setting proper boundaries. Very often, I hear professionals with a great passion for their work saying, “Yes, I will do that for you”, or “No problem, leave it with me.” It satisfies the needs of the person asking for support, but lengthens the already extended to-do list for the professionals. Yesterday I had a conversation with a lady who constantly works long hours and shows signs of burnout. I asked her to take five minutes to put together a list of tasks she had completed the week before. It was not until the moment when we reviewed the list together that she realized how many tasks were added to her plate at the last minute, and how many directions she was pulled in that were outside of the position she was hired to do. Make no mistake, we are not talking about someone who is lax or who needs to be pushed to finish the job. This is an over-achiever who strives to do more and blurred her boundaries by taking on what others asked her to do. The more she took on, the more others put on her plate. “When was the last time you said ‘no’ to someone?” was the question of the day for her. 3. Focusing on priorities. In my previous blog “NEW YEAR, OLD RESOLUTION. Focus on your priorities in 2022”, I emphasized that when everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Setting the right boundaries for ourselves not only helps us manage demand, but it also makes us focus on our priorities. Because of the nature of my work, I am constantly engaged in many networking and volunteer activities. After analyzing the time I spent on various things in the previous year, I identified the targeted activities to continue to participate in given my availability and priorities for the year. It took a certain amount of mental preparation to turn down things that I was passionate about and involved in. Interestingly, after my calendar opened up a bit more, I actually became more productive and content. 4. Creating your own support circle. We want to be heard. We want to feel a sense of belonging with people who we trust and who can provide guidance or comfort. Our support circle can be formed by family, friends, people who we meet through volunteering and other activities. In the workplace, I find having mentors or people who have walked in our shoes as trusted allies to be helpful. By sharing our thoughts and hearing advice, we do not feel alone, and we are able to solve problems from a different perspective. By age 40, half of Canadians have a mental illness, which accounts for 70% of all disability-related costs.2 Mental balance means different things to different people. Although organizations strive to create a healthy and positive environment, we should be the ones who take care of ourselves by recognizing and defining our limits, and rejuvenating ourselves through what works the best for us. REFERENCE 1 Mental health: strengthening our response. Retrieved from: 2 CAMH’s Mental Health Playbook for Business Leaders. Retrieved from: Check out our Knowledge Library for people management and career development insights: #humanresources #mentalhealth #wellbeing #employeewellness #hrconsulting

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