Know your culture

When it comes to making changes, so often we, in HR, use change management techniques we’ve learned along the way. Typically a set that we’ve grown to feel comfortable with. Sometimes that works. But other times, we fail and are left wondering why. We followed the same steps we used in the last change or in the last company.

I think the missing element is weighing our corporate culture when deciding how to change manage. How open is the company to change? How quickly do they adapt to change? How big of a change can they swallow in one bite?

And we take that one step further by asking about the appetite for the change in our culture. Some changes are far more welcome than others and that will vary by organization.

By taking a minute and asking these questions, we can create a successful change management plan.

New year, new resolutions

It’s that time of year when many people start to think of change. Some that stick and some that don’t. Okay, lots that don’t stick.

But, how many people make a resolution, or two, about work? We spend so much time at work, we should think about bringing some resolutions to work. Approaching things differently can yield results you might not have seen before. Maybe it’s about a sales pitch, or a spreadsheet, or a relationship with a coworker.

What can you resolve to do differently this year?

Benefit Renewal Time

Many of us in HR have been spending the past few weeks fielding calls from benefits brokers soliciting our business as April draws closer and renewal time is here. Of course, we can change our plans at any time but we’ve been conditioned to review our plans around this time of year.

This year we’re hearing about changes to paramedical benefit limits and drug maximums. But the basic structure remains. The few insurance companies don’t seem too interested in innovation or creativity yet. But there’s hope as other smaller, more agile benefit companies continue to blossom.

I leave you with this gem. Manulife still requires changes by fax. Yes, fax. Hurry up, innovation!

Holiday Parties

It’s that time of the year again. When Holidays Parties are all around us. It can be hard as the HR professional to balance your compulsion to protect people with the desire to make sure everyone has a good time. It’s a hard spot to be in. You have to be the fun police for some people while other people will appreciate you trying to keep them safe. Remember that you’re there to do a job. Just as the finance professional in there to make sure the party follows the budget. Make sure that you take some time to sit back, relax and enjoy the party.

Customer Service dictated by Lifetime Value

What kind of customer service should you be providing to your customers?

There are a few different ways to answer that question. But one way is to work with your customer’s lifetime value. While it can be tempting to provide over the top customer service, it might not make financial sense. Adding in the customer service costs to cost of goods can ensure that you provide support you can afford.

Customer Service is important. I’m not advocating that we forget that, but rather we provide the best customer service we affordably can.

References Shmeferences

When will the madness end? Why are we continuing to ask for and contact three references? When was the last time you called a reference who gave you a negative review?

First, the references provided to you are people who both endorse and like the candidate. Otherwise, the candidate would not have provided their name and number to you.

Second, in Canada we are essentially not permitted to provide negative references for fear of repercussion.

On occasion a reference may provide you with some insight in to management tips for the candidate.  But most of the conversation is going to be glowing commentary.

For a true reference, check your network and see if you are connect to the person. Getting some hiring advice that way is much more fruitful and useful.

Benefit Plan Changes

I was reminded, during a conversation today, about benefit renewal in Canada. We’re often led to believe that benefit programs can only be changed or renewed at ‘renewal’ time. This is not the case. You’re able to make changes to your company benefit plan at any time with minimal notice. Likewise with switching providers, this can be done at anytime during the year.

Let’s not get started on American plans. They are much more complicated to administer and to make changes.

Social media and business tools

It’s been a busy week for Human Resources policies in the news. We recently learned about allegations of inappropriate texts using a company mobile phone. It’s a reminder to make sure you have a strong business tool and acceptable use policy.

The step beyond writing a good policy, is making sure you’re teaching your employees about the policy. A policy is no good, and hard to defend, if you aren’t teaching it. Call it training and development, call it workshops, call it whatever you like, but make sure you’re formally introducing the appropriate use policy to your employees.

Policies don’t have to be complicated or scary. Simple and clear is better!


Today’s post is a bit about a personal pet peeve. I am not infallible. I make mistakes. So, I am not pointing fingers, just sharing a spelling pet peeve.

Apart and a part. I just read a job posting inviting the reader be apart of the team. Sigh.

Now, find my mistakes! Fire away. I love feedback.

EAPs aren’t just for divorces and terminations

The morning after an election. A few days after a sex scandal. And, the morning of a funeral that shouldn’t have had to happen.

It’s been a long seven days for Canada. And, Ontario, in particular. There are thousands of Ontarians going to work each day. How many employers are providing a venue for employees to seek support? Even those with Employee Assistance Programs may not think to remind employees of the support available. We tend to think of this only when there is a personal problem or a work related crisis.

Dig out those EAP numbers and web address! Post them for your employees.