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The brightest young talent in HR ACCOMMODATING MENTAL HEALTH A closer look at HR’s legal rights and responsibilities

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Find out who took home a trophy on the industry’s biggest night

CANNABIS IN THE WORKPLACE Is it time to reassess your organization’s approach to the drug?

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Seeing the whole picture puts your people on the same page. From each individual to every team, Ultimate Software shows you the whole picture so you can keep everything working in harmony.

HR | Payroll | Talent Management UltimateSoftware.com

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ISSUE 7.04

CONNECT WITH US Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information?


@HRD_Canada facebook.com/HRDCanada

Canadian HR Awards winners revealed, p26

UPFRONT 02 Editorial

Turning the recognition spotlight on HR

04 Statistics


An increased focus on soft skills is just one trend shaping the modern workplace

06 Head to head




RAISING THE BAR FOR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT How a benefits program that integrates with employees’ daily lives can boost engagement


Chris Taylor, CHRO at Best Buy Canada, tells HRDC why today’s HR leaders must do more than just solve people issues


How tech can help leaders bolster their emotional intelligence

13 Opinion

Supporting career reinvention in a time of rapid change How to make organizational design a creative process rather than a chore

FEATURES 59 The power of fear

Tips for pushing past fear and seizing success



08 Technology update

14 Learning & development insight

HRDC spotlights 19 young professionals who have already made their mark on Canada’s HR sector


Is experience or education more important when evaluating job candidates?


As awareness of mental health rises, how can employers make sure they stay on the right side of the law?

60 How to get what you want from difficult people Learn to spin any confrontation to your advantage

PEOPLE 63 Career path

Kristina Holle’s HR journey has been defined by her willingness to listen




Advice on the best way to approach cannabis in the workplace

64 Other life

Take to the seas with HR leader and round-the-world sailor Colin Streeter



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It’s time to recognize HR


hen it comes to awarding excellence, no sector does it better than HR. From individual recognition to organizational-wide benefits, this people-centric industry knows exactly how to show appreciation to dedicated employees. A recent Gallup poll asked employees which types of recognition they’d most like to receive from their employer. The top five responses were public recognition (an award or accolade), private recognition from the CEO, a monetary bonus, a promotion and a glowing review. The business case for implementing these reward strategies is staring us all in the face. A recent report from Recruiter Box found that organizations with effective recognition programs have 31% lower turnover – in fact, 90% of employees agree that their company’s recognition programs positively affect their engagement levels. But be warned – it’s not enough to simply pay lip service to reward initiatives. As Tom Short, president and founder of Kudos, told HRDC, “Companies that get it and realize culture is critical for their success are empowering everyone

“Authentic recognition is earnest, timely and focused on the positive behaviours that lead to success versus success itself ” to be keepers of their culture, making recognition ubiquitous, transparent and central to their operations. When they commit to this open format that appeals to boomers and millennials, they’ll experience a more authentic, connected culture. Empowerment is the key, and leadership will come from all levels. Authentic recognition is earnest, timely and focused on the positive behaviours that lead to success versus success itself.” But who’s recognizing and rewarding HR? HRD Canada is – autumn heralds the much-anticipated return of the Canadian HR Awards and the unveiling of HRDC’s Rising Stars list. The year’s awards gala saw nearly 1,000 of the country’s top HR leaders gather at the legendary Beanfield Centre in Toronto on September 12. Sponsored by Ultimate Software, the 2019 Canadian HR Awards boasted 25 categories, designed to recognize and celebrate the best of the country’s HR sector. Don’t miss our special behind-the-scenes guide in this issue – and stick around to find out which 19 young HR superstars made it onto this year’s Rising Stars list. The team at Human Resources Director Canada



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www.hrmonline.ca WINTER 2019 EDITORIAL


Managing Editor Emily Douglas

National Sales Executive Samantha Hickey

Writers John Hilton Libby MacDonald Nurhuda Syed Rachel Ranosa

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CONTRIBUTORS Greg Smith Mark Ware Molly Moseley Aytekin Tank

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Marla Morelos Production Manager Alicia Chin

Director, Business Development Andrew Cowan Vice President, Sales John MacKenzie Global Head of Communications Lisa Narroway Project Coordinator Jessica Duce

CORPORATE President & CEO Tim Duce Office/Traffic Manager Marni Parker Events and Conference Manager Chris Davis

Production Coordinator Kim Kandravy Advertising Coordinator Ella Dayandante






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Embracing the softer side A greater focus on soft skills, along with a desire for more transparency and flexibility, is defining workplaces in 2019 SOFT SKILLS have always been crucial to success, but as automation and artificial intelligence have taken hold, the importance of some traditional hard skills has declined, and soft skills have assumed a larger role in the success of many companies. A recent LinkedIn survey found that 92% of employers feel soft skills matter just as much or more than hard skills when hiring – and the soft skills in highest demand and shortest supply


Employers who said soft skills are increasingly important to company success


Employers who said they struggle to assess soft skills accurately

today are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management. While employers are looking for more from job candidates, employees also expect more from their employers in 2019, including the ability to work remotely, a workplace free from harassment and greater transparency around pay. The confluence of these trends is beginning to bring a more balanced power dynamic to the employer-employee relationship.


Talent professionals who said increased flexibility has improved productivity







SKILLS TO SUPPORT THE FUTURE OF HR Around the world, talent professionals consider soft skills to be very important to the future of recruiting and HR. In nearly all of the regions covered by LinkedIn’s survey, at least 90% of talent professionals agree about the value of soft skills.


Increase in content about pay transparency shared on LinkedIn since 2014 Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report



More than 90% of talent professionals agree that soft skills are the most important trend affecting the future of recruiting and HR. WHICH TRENDS ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF RECRUITING AND HR? Soft skills









20% 10%

53% 40%



Pay transparency

0% 60%



Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report






80% 70%


Work flexibility


Despite placing increased importance on soft skills, most organizations are still using the same processes to measure them as they did decades ago. Three-quarters of talent professionals told LinkedIn that their company uses behavioural questions to identify a candidate’s soft skills, while 70% look at the candidate’s body language.

Behavioural questions

Reading body language

Situational questions


Tech-based assessments Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report


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92% Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report

FLEXIBILITY INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT Flexibility has become a top priority for job candidates – nearly one-third of LinkedIn members say flexible work arrangements are a very important factor when evaluating a job, a proportion that has risen steadily since 2013.





While employees want greater pay transparency, employers aren’t entirely on board. Just over half of companies said they don’t share salary ranges with job candidates and have no plans to start doing so.

Don’t share salary ranges and are unlikely to start 51%


Share salary ranges 27% Don’t share salary ranges but are likely to start 22%

26% 25% 2013




2017 Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report

Source: LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report


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What’s more important: qualifications or experience? When hiring a new employee, should on-the-job experience always trump formal education?

Christine Vigna

Laura Lee-Blake

Kelly Davis

Vice-president, people and culture Dejero

Vice-president, human resources Campbell Company of Canada

Chief people officer Sunwing Travel Group

“Qualifications provide a solid foundation early in a career. Such achievements show that candidates have put in the work and are eager and committed. Experience, however, builds resiliency and becomes the differentiator. It’s the competitive advantage for candidates who can apply that knowledge and confidence in ways someone with just an education cannot. Qualifications demonstrate that a candidate has the capacity to see a goal through; however, I’m far more interested in those individuals whose work experience demonstrates their ability to overcome obstacles, innovate and achieve growth. That’s the type of candidate who will have an impact.”

“Qualifications for technical or specialized roles are a must, and a minimum educational threshold is a starting point. However, when assessing the potential of a new employee, experience always wins. Experience is built by learning and growing in different situations and challenges. These experiences often provide that new employee with an understanding of external market pressures, industry issues and expertise with navigating the workplace. Experience is not built solely from an employee’s professional roles. Leveraging lessons learned from personal experiences helps to round out an employee’s perspective and allows them to have a positive impact immediately.”

“You need to look at the industry, company, team one is joining, peer group, actual day-to-day role, potential leadership challenges – all of these pieces together should help to inform whether you need to focus more on pure qualifications or experience. If I had to pick one, I would say experience, but with the caveat that the definition of experience must be broadened to be more than just related to the current role. The world blends together much more today at work than ever before, and the word ‘experience’ therefore needs to have a very broad meaning.”

EXPERIENCE GOES A LONG WAY Almost 70% of employers surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Marketplace on the role of higher education in career development felt that colleges were doing a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ job producing successful employees – but managers tend to lend greater importance to employment, internships and volunteer experience than to GPAs or even relevant coursework when evaluating a new graduate’s readiness for a job. In the same survey, 79% of employers said an unpaid internship in a related field had a positive impact on their hiring decisions, while 73% said volunteer work with a community organization or non-profit would positively impact their hiring decisions. Meanwhile, 72% said a lack of employment would negatively affect their perception of a candidate.



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TECHNOLOGY UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS The modern worker is looking for a ‘laptop lifestyle’

Only 43% of employees believe their office computer is actually “fit for purpose,” according to a recent survey conducted by Hire Intelligence. Moreover, about two-thirds of workers believe 25% of their employers’ IT hardware is fast becoming useless or outdated. The survey revealed that laptops are the number-one item on most employees’ wish lists – 38% of respondents said an office laptop would significantly improve their working life. The second most popular requests were wireless charging points and tablets, further indicating that employees favour technology that can adapt to flexible work arrangements.

New Zealand becomes the first country to allow Bitcoin salaries

New Zealand has taken another step toward digitizing the workplace, allowing employers to remunerate workers using cryptocurrency. As of September 1, the country’s Inland Revenue Department allows companies to pay salaries and wages through blockchain-based currencies such as Bitcoin, making New Zealand the first country in the world to support crypto-salaries. The agency said the value of the cryptocurrency must be pegged to one or more fiat currencies, and crypto-salaries must also be easily convertible into fiat currency on an exchange.

Can AI and analytics help employers detect burnout?

From electronic time tracking to email monitoring, employee surveillance has become widespread and integral to the modern workplace. Now, behavioural analytics are being touted as a way to detect burnout and ultimately promote


better health and well-being in the workplace. “By employing behavioural analytics, companies are able to detect when employees’ behaviours breach individual ‘norms’ and can identify when people might be acting in a way that suggests they’re overworked,” said Saryu Nayyar, CEO of global security analytics firm Gurucul.

Global brand launches its own social network for employees

In an attempt to strike a balance between managing reputational risk online and staying digitally connected with their employees, top workplaces are now launching their own employerbranded social networking platforms. AXA Philippines recently partnered with Workplace by Facebook, the social media company’s enterprise version, to roll out a social network exclusively for its employees. “We wanted to engage our people better,” said AXA Philippines’ Marico Sunshine Rodriguez. “We know people nowadays – a second after waking up – check their Facebook account. Why can’t we have something similar to Facebook?”

Virtual reality training could be the future of L&D

Forget classrooms, whiteboards and paper tests – virtual reality is the new avenue for employee training. Australiabased emergency services provider St John Ambulance Victoria recently introduced a new virtual reality CPR training that uses real-life 360-degree video scenarios and an integrated questionnaire to deliver a CPR certificate course to students. Delivered via either a one-hour course for four students using virtual reality or a twohour course for a group of 20 students using immersive learning, the VR module cuts up to two hours from the time it takes to deliver and undertake traditional CPR training.

How EI is changing the future of work Are HR leaders becoming smarter about emotional intelligence? One leading expert believes so When the concept of emotional intelligence [EI] first emerged in the 1990s, people thought it was a joke. Critics felt this ‘touchyfeely’ aspect of human development belonged only in the realm of HR, recalls Dr. Jarik Conrad, senior director of human capital management innovation at Ultimate Software, who is slated to speak on the topic of EI at the upcoming HR Leaders Summit in Toronto on November 12 and 13. “The common opinion at that time was that emotional intelligence didn’t matter much,” he says. “Now, we’re smarter about the science of emotion.” Today, as the disciplines of behavioural science and data science collide, people are taking the concept and development of EI more seriously. In fact, the Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum predicts EI will be one of the top 10 most important skills for workers by 2020. “It has to do with how you process information, how you make decisions and the degree to which you can connect with others and get them to follow your lead,” Dr. Conrad says. “It’s very difficult for a leader to be effective without emotional intelligence, unless it’s a situation where people simply have to do as you say. They may do it reluctantly, but you’re not going to get that discretionary effort from people without connecting with them.” EI is critical to making that human connection – and everyone, from senior leaders to


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customer-facing staff, has a certain degree of this intelligence, whether acquired through nature or nurture. In transforming the workplace of the future, Dr. Conrad encourages HR and business leaders to ask how technology can aid in the effort to put people first. “The least talked-about aspect of technology that’s going to matter the most to us in the workplace is technology’s ability to augment and amplify who we are as human beings – in other words, to make us more human in some way,” he says. “If an individual is working on how to better connect with people and it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to them – for example, they want to do it, but they just don’t know how – part of the reason for that is that they have difficulty understanding others. Emotions can be difficult to read and interpret. This is one of the aspects of EI.” HR leaders can support this process by

providing technology and tools such as sentiment analysis to help read people’s emotions. With the right people data, managers don’t have to guess how employees are feeling. Instead, they can get accurate feedback on employee sentiments and use that informa-

us that emotions play a big part in the decisions that people make. You’re more likely to make better decisions if you don’t try to fight the fact that emotions affect those decisions.” With thousands of choices to make each day across workplaces, it’s important to

“The least talked-about aspect of technology that’s going to matter the most ... is technology’s ability to augment and amplify who we are as human beings” tion to learn how to be more empathetic. “Many of our decisions are influenced by our emotions,” Dr. Conrad explains. “The insidious part about it is that this often happens unconsciously. Most people will tell you they make decisions based on the information they have. These are reasonable, logical decisions. Well, everything about science tells

understand how EI will guide leaders through their decision-making processes. “If you can take something from what typically happens at a subconscious level, as emotions often do, and bring it to a conscious level,” Dr. Conrad explains, “you can account for it in your decision-making, and you can make better decisions.”



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THE POWER OF TEAMWORK HRDC caught up with Chris Taylor, chief HR officer at Best Buy Canada, to chat about his unlikely path into the industry and what he believes younger HR leaders must do to rise to the top

HRDC: How did you start your career in HR? Chris Taylor: I began my career as a retail leader with a large retail company in Canada – I thought this was going to be my career path. However, I was asked to take on a training and development role that I didn’t feel I was wired to do, nor at the time did I believe I had the relevant skills to train my colleagues. But, after a number of conversations, it was clear to me that this was something my organization really wanted me to do. Sometimes you don’t see what others see. I had enough trust in the company that if it didn’t turn out well, I’d always have my operations path open to me. So I took a leap of faith and stepped into an HR role. And honestly, I’ve never looked back. It was a fantastic decision. I could never have imagined that it would set me on the path it did. I’ve been able to move through a number of different positions, progressing over time, before finally ending up as CHRO at Best Buy Canada.

HRDC: What does your role at Best Buy Canada entail? CT: My role by structure is a fairly traditional


one. At Best Buy Canada, we have around 12,000 employees across the country. We’ve got about 175 stores, and I have an HR team of around 100 staff who deal with all the various outputs, such as recruitment, HRIS, rewards, engagement, benefits, learning, and health and safety. My personal transition went from leading the function across all of HR to setting the

challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? CT: I’ve had so many challenges throughout my career, but the one that really sticks out for me happened just a few years ago. For many years, we operated under two separate and distinct brands. As the retail landscape shifted, we reacted by making the decision to consolidate these two brands into one.

“The days of HR being purely about solving people issues are gone. We do play a huge part in that, but we also focus on creating leaders who can do all this on their own” entire people strategy for the company. Supporting Best Buy’s overall business objectives in such competitive times has been my biggest challenge. Now, along with my team, my role is to evolve the organization from a people and culture perspective.

HRDC: What’s one of the biggest

For me, as an HR leader, it was a daunting task to be a part of figuring out how we were going to bring this to fruition in such a short timeline – we completed the reorganization in four short months. What stays with me most from this experience is that you should not attempt to do everything on your own. Surround yourself with top talent and take a


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collaborative approach. In the end, facing what looked to be an impossible task, we were able to devise a plan we felt was optimal. This plan was executed on a mass scale, countrywide, one Sunday morning. And though it meant we had to close many of our stores and then re-recruit and reopen a number of them the following week, by putting together a fantastic team, this sensitive work was accomplished with our people as our focus. And now we’re thriving under one strong brand.

HRDC: What new initiatives are you most proud of during your time at Best Buy Canada? CT: Under our new technology strategy, we recently went live with a new cloud-based HCM. When I look at the effort my team put in to bring this home from start to finish in less than a year, I’m incredibly proud. Being able to get the funding to bring in a modern product and replace a 20-year-old system has been awesome and part of why I work for Best Buy. Best Buy Canada has been named one of


Canada’s top employers for several years in a row – we’re always looking for ways to improve and grow as an organization. We were also named as the Canadian HR Team of the Year at the recent Canadian HR Awards, which for me is a massive pride

to which I replied that he should be a manager instead. The days of HR being purely about solving people issues are gone. We do play a huge part in that, but we also focus on creating leaders who can do all this on their own.

“Think about how you can be a champion of change within your company, and with commitment, you will no doubt have an incredible impact” point. My team is absolutely outstanding, so I’m glad they were recognized.

HRDC: What advice do you have for someone looking to be a leader in HR? CT: It’s all about the individual’s mindset. I remember speaking to a young man and asking him why he wanted to pursue HR as a career. He said he loved working with people,

For me, HR leaders need to have a passion for improving the effectiveness of their company – and that’s the toughest part of my role. As newer HR professionals consider why they want to pursue this career, they hopefully have a passion for moving their organizations forward. Think about how you can be a champion of change within your company, and with commitment, you will no doubt have an incredible impact.


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GOT AN OPINION THAT COUNTS? Email editor@hrmonline.ca

A tsunami of change ahead Reinventing careers in an age of rapid and dynamic change requires strategic thinking on the part of HR, writes Greg Smith THE SPEED of transformation already underway can feel overwhelming and like a tsunami of change bearing down on us. It’s not just the pace, but the depth of change that brings challenges. But it also brings great opportunities for the agile-minded. The imperative of acting rather than being a passive observer is distilled in a quote credited to Bill Gates: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” Whatever the future of work holds, it’s a reasonable bet that it will be remarkably different in 10 years or so than it is today. Soft skills are widely expected to become the most sought-after capability in the years ahead. A 2019 Deloitte study predicted that by 2030, around two-thirds of jobs will be “softskill intensive.” And a recently published report by Deakin University and the Ford Motor Company emphasized the importance of humanistic skills as machines take over routine work, along with being adaptable and flexible when confronting change, and having the capability to learn and pursue continuous, lifelong learning. These elements are requisite to reinventing ourselves and our careers. At times of significant change, creativity and innovation come to the fore if we dare to use our imagination and dream what could or might be. As all the balls are thrown in the air and past conventions are challenged or discarded, opportunities abound for those who are receptive to its call. As Einstein said,

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” Having career options is enlightening and empowering and can provide a sense of freedom. The great thing is we all have choices; we just need to recognize them.

the next critical activity for successfully transitioning from one career to another. It’s about identifying not just the skills we have, but more importantly, the ones we want to use. We all have skills we’d rather not use and others we find exciting and motivating; these are the skills we want to apply, promote and focus our development on. This will enhance our enjoyment of work and ultimately steer us towards career satisfaction. Mentors can be a rich source of inspiration, guidance and advice, a sounding board for new ideas, and can help you target future pathways to career satisfaction. By having the capability to hold effective career conversations, leaders, along with internal or external mentors, can play a practical role in helping their employees leverage their transferable skills, achieve significant career changes, and reinvent themselves and their careers. External mentors have the advantage of sitting outside the politics of an organization. Mentors, often referred to as trusted

Once we understand our motivational drivers, identifying transferable skills becomes the next critical activity for successfully transitioning from one career to another While some can do this almost innately, many others need help and development to get there, but the journey itself can be exciting and rewarding. Reinvention sounds simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy. Many need help to see what may appear obvious to others; sometimes it’s easier for some­one else to recognize our attributes, strengths, capabilities and achievements. This might be due to humility or a lack of self-awareness. Either way, identifying our career drivers and motivational, career, and cultural-fit elements is a critical first step to career reinvention. These self-insights provide a foundation to conceive career options that will lead to satisfaction – and a metaphorical ruler with which to evaluate them. Once we understand our motivational drivers, identifying our transferable skills is

advisors, only have one objective in the mentoring relationship: to assist in the career development and support the success of the person they are mentoring. Significant change is an opportunity to reflect, review and renew your career. It forces us to confront the approaching realities that, with targeted research and enhanced selfinsight, can help keep career changes from taking us by surprise, as well as empower us and make us feel in control of our career destiny. If we ignore the key signposts of change, we could miss the opportunities and career choices we’re seeking. Greg Smith is an expert in career development and co-founder of HR consulting firm Deliberate Practice. He is also the author of Career Conversations: How to Get the Best from Your Talent Pool.


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The power of organizational design HRDC spoke to Brenda Barker Scott, lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Organizational Design program, to find out how meaningful design choices can enable and empower the right people in your organization

TO REMAIN competitive, organizations must stay ahead of the curve, not only by frequently analyzing and updating business strategies, but also by ensuring that people have the right organizational design to enable those strategies. The right design supports people to excel by focusing their efforts on the right work, enabling the required interactivity and energizing the right behaviours. Previously regarded as disruptive and chal-

for example, Google is admired for its innovative capabilities. “My mission in life is to reframe organization design from something that is imposed on people to a generative and creative process,” says Brenda Barker Scott, lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Organizational Design program. “That’s why the process involves much more than simply changing boxes and lines on an organizational chart. Rather, it’s

“If we have structural change without behavioural change, it will be superficial and won’t work. That’s why design is a social process as well” Brenda Barker Scott, Queen’s IRC lenging, organizational design has shifted to become a creative tool that supports and empowers leaders to build capability internally to help an organization grow and thrive. At its root, organizational design is about reflecting on required capabilities – or, simply put, what the organization needs to be good at, whether that’s efficiency, innovation, agility or having a great employee brand. Whereas Walmart is admired for efficiency,


about stepping leaders back to reflect on new and evolving capabilities before they shift their attention to shaping prototypical designs.” Once the desired capabilities have been determined, the next step is to build a model that will focus people on the right work, facilitate the right pattern of interactivity and foster the right kinds of contributions. Scott outlines three building blocks of organizational design:

Groupings. Group people into teams, communities and activities within the organization to focus the right people on the right work. Determine whether these groupings will be formed by activity, output, customer or a combination. Linkages. Examine how to link the different groups within the organization to encourage the right levels of cooperation and collaboration. Build and encourage formal or informal relationships within the organization so that people will relate to and support one another in the most productive way. Create spaces where people can see each other and interact. Contribution vibe. Shape purpose, protocols, work design and leadership to enable, support and foster the right behaviours and contributions. As groupings shift to focus people on new capabilities, and relationships shift to enable new forms of cooperation and collaboration, behaviours also must shift. If an organization is transitioning from a focus on compliance to a customer focus, or from focusing on efficiency to focusing on innovation, then people need to contribute differently, and they will require a different set of tools and skills.


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Brought to you by

ABOUT BRENDA BARKER SCOTT A groundbreaker with a passion for creating workspaces that inspire, connect and grow people, Brenda Barker Scott is the lead facilitator for the Organizational Design program at Queen’s IRC and also teaches several other courses, including Designing Collaborative Workplaces and Organization Development Foundations.

Do. Determine the phasing and timing for implementation, and then launch the new concepts so people can embrace their new units, relationships and contributions.

“If we have structural change without behavioural change, it will be superficial and won’t work,” Scott says. “That’s why design is a social process as well. The design process must engage organizational design leaders and other key stakeholders in conversations to reflect on and explore why change is needed, to what and how. It’s the process or journey that creates the necessary understanding and commitments amongst leaders to support the new ways of working.” Scott advises leaders to follow the 4-D design process, in which every stage informs the next: Define. Do a diagnosis of the organization. What are the big trends driving change, and how are they shaping new capabilities? Who needs to be involved in this effort because they have relevant knowledge and skills or a role to play? Discovery. Collect data and insights from relevant stakeholders and informed experts around what the organiza-

tion needs to determine design criteria and develop a logic model. Design. Shape design concepts to test different ways of grouping and linking before deciding upon the right design.

Just as leaders shape their business strategies on a yearly basis, they should also examine organizational design regularly to ensure that the process is aligned with business objectives and continues to be helpful and informative. In order to reap the rewards, HR must support the design process as a continuously evolving internal capability. “This is not a static process,” Scott says. “It needs to be internal so that we can constantly shift and evolve the design. HR professionals are ideally suited to perform this important work.”

ABOUT QUEEN’S IRC The Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre [IRC], a professional development unit within the Faculty of Arts & Science, delivers programs in labour relations, human resources and organizational development, based on 80 years of experience and research. Our programs are led by industry leaders and designed for busy practitioners who want to directly apply their knowledge to their work environment. Human resources: Learn how to build and engage teams in multi-disciplinary environments, manage change, and transform key HR data into business strategy. Labour relations: Develop the skills to effectively handle disputes and negotiations, build trust, and manage unionized environments. Organizational development: Diagnose organizational challenges, explore design issues and develop robust solutions. Choose from twoto five-day open enrolment programs delivered across Canada or customized on-site training solutions that address your organization’s specific needs. We also offer certificate programs in advanced human resources, organizational development, labour relations and advanced labour relations for professionals who want to continue to develop their skills and contribute to their organization’s success. Why Queen’s IRC? • Opportunities to network with high-level colleagues from across the country • Coaching from internationally renowned facilitators with real-world experience • Experiential programming to test theories and ideas • Skills and strategies that directly apply to work environments • Mentoring beyond classroom sessions Learn more at irc.queensu.ca


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HRD Canada shines the spotlight on 19 of the HR sector’s most promising young superstars WHEN IT comes to spotting top talent, HR is a cut above the rest. As a sector, HR knows thing or two about how to attract, nurture and develop talent, from the initial candidate screening to sculpting the leaders of the future. So it stands to reason that HR likes to celebrate the upstarts – the new faces who are just entering the people profession but who have already shown the potential to shape its future. On the following pages, HRDC spotlights 19 Rising Stars in Canadian HR. From senior consultants to inclusion advisors, these young professionals represent the new pioneers of the Canadian HR landscape.





Miranda Birkbeck

First West Credit Union


Emily Bond

Lofthouse Manufacturing


Tania Chaudry

City of Penticton


Stephanie Cruzeiro

HomeEquity Bank


Jomana Elwenni

Orangetheory Fitness Canada


Vanessa Greco

Golden Boy Foods


Danielle Grusie

Sherritt International


Lydia Hamilton

Dentsu Aegis Network


Jennifer Irving

Interfor Corporation


Libin Joseph

City of Brooks



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SPASIJA TURNBULL HR assistant Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health

Spasija Turnbull first joined the team at Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health through a four-month co-op assignment in 2018, during which she was charged with setting up an in-house certification program during a period of high growth. The project was prompted by feedback from front-line and support staff, who regularly interacted with patients but felt they didn’t have sufficient training to make them fully confident in their performance, which was leading to high levels of stress and unnecessary turnover among staff. Turnbull used Anova’s procedure manuals to build a database of questions about their contents and generated questionnaires designed to train staff on their respective departments’ standard operating procedures. Since it was rolled out in July 2018, the program has led to 90% of front-line and support staff achieving certification. “Although Spasija was brought in specifically to implement the certification program, she quickly proved able in other areas of HR, including recruitment, reference checks, correspondence, drafting job postings and offers of employment, documentation, performance reviews, orientation of new employees, and even workplace investigations,” says Evert Akkerman, the independent HR consultant who brought Turnbull onto the project. Turnbull’s stellar performance led to her being offered a one-year contract as a part-time HR assistant at Anova, followed by a permanent position as HR assistant after she completed university.




Liana Macera

A Modern Way to Work


Tierra Madani

Vancouver Island Brewing


Kirsi Maharaj

Invest Ottawa


Jay Pariseau



Marli Penner

Northwest Community College


Jenn Rooney

Stackpole International


Ravi Sidhu

CWT Group


Danelle Sun

Coast Mental Health


Spasija Turnbull

Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health


MARLI PENNER HR advisor Northwest Community College

Marli Penner originally joined the HR department at Northwest Community College in a benefits administration role but quickly rose to become an HR advisor. Focusing on employee benefits, disability management, and occupational health and safety, Penner became an OH&S champion, helping to build a culture that prioritizes health and safety across the college’s four locations and 300 employees. Her work has included everything from producing training packages for staff and educating fellow employees on reporting compliance to updating the safety orientation program for new employees. She also led the charge to boost the number of first aid attendants on campus and update the first aid dispatch process. Penner has also spearheaded a focus on wellness throughout the college, organizing learning events for staff, students and the public on financial, physical and mental health. Through her work in disability management, she has also helped to significantly reduce lost time to injury, strengthen the school’s return-to-work program and spread the word about its employee assistance program, resulting in a 7.4% increase in usage.


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RISING STARS 2019 LYDIA HAMILTON HR manager Dentsu Aegis Network

Lydia Hamilton started her HR career as an assistant at Topshop in the UK before transitioning into the advertising world as a junior people advisor for TBWA London. She moved to Canada to work as an HR generalist at Universal Music Canada, then joined Grip Limited (which was acquired by the Dentsu Aegis Network in 2016) as an HR generalist. Charged with overseeing the day-to-day HR operations of a fast-paced advertising agency, Hamilton is involved in everything from employee onboarding and recruitment to payroll administration, compliance, and supporting various HR initiatives and programs, including the Grip Juicer Apprenticeship Program. “It takes a smart and strategically minded person to understand how to inspire and sustain a strong culture for the long-term benefit of the business, and Lydia has that skill in spades, along with a very promising future ahead of as a strategic HR leader,” says John Stockwell, chief people officer for Canada at the Dentsu Aegis Network.

TANIA CHAUDRY HR supervisor City of Penticton

In the three years that Tania Chaudry has been with the City of Penticton, she has continued to grow and expand her experience, most recently participating as a member of two collective bargaining committees that successfully ratified five-year agreements. Chaudry also stepped up to help the city’s understaffed health and safety department process claims, follow up on first aid reports and generally keep things running smoothly. She also oversees planning for the city’s Long Service Awards, set up the framework for an exempt salary review, participated in the 2020 budget planning process and played a key role in implementing the city’s first-ever applicant tracking system. “Tania is a trusted go-to member of the HR team who is regularly sought for her insight and ability to successfully connect with city leaders and staff,” says Kerri Lockwood, the city’s HR manager. “She has had a huge role in attracting, recruiting and onboarding a number of talented staff members, both union and exempt, who will continue to work on making the City of Penticton an amazing place to live, work and play.”


VANESSA GRECO HR generalist Golden Boy Foods

Vanessa Greco started her HR career as a co-op student at Golden Boy Foods and was hired full-time as an HR coordinator after graduation. During her first year, she negotiated a CBA, completed a pay equity plan, navigated a change in ownership, managed implementation of Ontario’s ESA changes, took on difficult leave and WSIB cases, and led health and safety training for all employees, resulting in her swift promotion to HR generalist. “All this was done with professionalism and at a time when there was a lot of restructuring going on,” says Irene Krupp, Greco’s former supervisor. “It’s not easy finding an outstanding HR newbie who moves into a role and takes it on without a hitch. The plant managers were deferring to her quickly, even when I was there. She hired an HR coordinator this year who now reports to her and is moving into the HR manager role quickly in my absence.”

RAVI SIDHU HR manager CWT Group

Known among his colleagues for proactively addressing issues related to workforce development, employee engagement and productivity, Ravi Sidhu was quickly promoted to HR manager at CWT Group. Sidhu now supports 500-plus employees in performance management, compensation, executive and employee development, succession planning, workforce optimization, disability management, staffing, benefits, and diversity and inclusion. “In a short time, Ravi has become an integral part of the CWT family,” says colleague Samar Sidhu. “He has both professionalism and empathy – not at odds with each other, but as a pair of complementary skills that make him an HR manager.”


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KIRSI MAHARAJ Talent and culture coordinator Invest Ottawa

As a commerce student at the University of Ottawa, Kirsi Maharaj won the Telfer Internal Case Competition in Human Resources and completed a successful stint as co-op student with the federal government, where she was asked to stay on and extend her work term throughout the school year on a part-time basis. After graduation, she joined global IT professional services firm Pythian, where she took the initiative to condense the company’s onboarding process and reinvent

it to benefit Pythian’s active student base. She coordinated welcome lunches, highlighted students through social media, conducted exit interviews and check-ins throughout their terms, and added a farewell lunch to the program. Within her first six months of joining Invest Ottawa as an HR coordinator, Maharaj was promoted to a talent and culture coordinator. She has helped the HR team roll out KPIs, launch a new HRIS and implement an applicant talent system and performance management program. She also leads Invest Ottawa’s balanced teams committee and building reconfiguration taskforce, and was recently promoted to employee co-chair for its joint health and safety team.


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RISING STARS 2019 STEPHANIE CRUZEIRO HR coordinator HomeEquity Bank

Since joining HomeEquity Bank three years ago, Stephanie Cruzeiro has quickly risen through the organization from reception to HR assistant and then HR coordinator. Initially trained as the backup person for payroll, Cruzeiro embraced the opportunity by completing her Payroll Compliance Practitioner certification and taking the lead in developing a payroll manual, while also participating in HR initiatives and acting as an employee contact for the HR team. In addition, Cruzeiro played an active role in executing HomeEquity Bank’s annual mandatory online employee training and launching the Dayforce HCM system, including creating employee communications for the Dayforce rollout, developing the training materials for the launch, and training employees and managers on the system. She also serves as co-chair of HomeEquity Bank’s employee social committee and has helped develop and roll out diversity and inclusion initiatives for internal events celebrating everything from Women’s Day to Pride to employee appreciation. “When you ask Stephanie to do something, she always adds that extra touch, whether it is the experience she creates when working with an employee or the thought and ideas she provides when completing her projects,” says Andrea Khan, learning and development manager at HomeEquity Bank. “Stephanie is often recognized for her contributions from outside the HR department and is lauded for her confidence and her determination, her professional demeanour, and the outstanding quality of all of her work.”



HR/inclusion advisor

Corporate manager, HR shared services & systems

City of Brooks

Libin Joseph started his HR career in the city of Brooks, Alberta, in 2016 as the city’s HR/inclusion advisor. In his short time with the city, Joseph has racked up several accomplishments, including coordinating and implementing an HRIS system for roughly 150 employees, transforming the ‘Careers Corner’ section of the city’s website and implementing a volunteer engagement policy to give employees time off to volunteer with local charitable organizations. Joseph also helped transform the city’s inclusion portfolio by coordinating numerous celebrations, including Pride Day, Women’s History Month, Seniors Appreciation Day and more. He also kickstarted the city’s work with Outcome Placement Services, which aims to provide volunteer opportunities for underemployed individuals and people with disabilities. In addition to his daily responsibilities, Joseph participates on the Southern Municipalities Human Resources Team and the Brooks Local Immigration Partnership Council. He also sits on the City of Brooks staff wellness committee and spearheads the welcoming and inclusive communities staff committee.


Stackpole International

The winner of HR Rising Star of the Year at the 2019 Canadian HR Awards, Jenn Rooney joined manufacturing firm Stackpole International in 2014 as an HR administrator before moving to the corporate office in 2017 as an HR generalist. There, she was responsible for day-to-day HR support in areas ranging from employee relations and performance management to talent acquisition, organizational change, integration of a new HRIS system and development of a new global mobility centre of excellence. Rooney was soon promoted to corporate HR business partner and systems lead, followed by another promotion to corporate manager of HR shared services and systems. In her new role, Rooney is responsible for Stackpole’s global systems project plan and execution, along with rollout of a new Canadian time and attendance system. In addition, she oversees total compensation, including payroll, and all HR systems.


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DANELLE SUN Disability and recruitment specialist Coast Mental Health

As the disability and recruitment specialist for Coast Mental Health, a charitable organization providing a range of services to more than 4,500 people with serious mental illnesses and addictions in 45 sites across British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Danelle Sun has helped to change the perception of recruitment at the organization. Over the past year, Sun has helped Coast Mental Health implement a new

talent management system while also hiring more than 200 employees for six new locations and dramatically reducing time to hire from 50 to 20 days. “During this key period of hiring and onboarding, Danelle helped redefine the role of the HR department at Coast Mental Health as a critical resource for the operating divisions within the society,” says HR director Deborah Maynard. “This marked a fundamental shift in the organization.” Outside of her responsibilities at Coast Mental Health, Sun volunteers her time to support the Courage to Come Back Awards.


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RISING STARS 2019 MIRANDA BIRKBECK HR service centre advisor First West Credit Union

A finalist for CPHR BC & Yukon’s 2019 Rising Star Award, Miranda Birkbeck served as an HR technology intern at First West Credit Union before joining the organization in a full-time HR coordinator role. Within her first few months on the job, Birkbeck had created a proposal to launch the credit union’s first harmonized employee referral program. She also played a key role in helping First West implement a new application tracking system, a case management system and a new group phone line for its service centre. In addition, Birkbeck has recently spearheaded the creation of a new employee value proposition in collaboration with First West’s leadership team. Outside of her work at First West, Birkbeck serves as the volunteer coordinator for Elevation Outdoors, a nonprofit that provides free outdoor recreation opportunities for underprivileged youth. She also is a Girl Guide leader for 5- and 6-year-old girls in the Sparks division in Kelowna.

LIANA MACERA HR and talent acquisition specialist A Modern Way to Work

Liana Macera began her HR career in a unique way, by entering the world of consulting while completing a bachelor of commerce degree. Today, she serves as an HR and talent acquisition specialist for a diverse list of clients who previously had no HR team or programming. Among her many accomplishments over the last year, Macera supported a gaming technology company to set up HR policies, practices and programs prior to an IPO, including hiring a diverse team of technical talent in a difficult market; developing HRIS, ATS and recruitment methods from scratch; and facilitating training and development workshops to ensure smooth transitions for new employees. Macera has also built out employee engagement programs, team development and manager training for a global clean beauty brand, which extended all the way to the company’s production facility. She also supported front-line workers’ participation in decision-making by using employee engagement metrics to help managers better understand where to focus their attention to improve business results.


JOMANA ELWENNI National HR manager Orangetheory Fitness Canada

Jomana Elwenni began her HR career by juggling a full-time HR assistant role for hospitality company Delaware North with the final semester of her bachelor of commerce degree. Within a year, she had been promoted to HR generalist and then HR manager, managing Delaware North’s contracts with the San Diego Chargers and Ottawa International Airport. Elwenni went on to become HR manager of World Health Edmonton, Tru Ride Spin Studio and Fresh Fit Foods, then added overseeing corporate studios for Orangetheory Fitness Canada to her list of responsibilities as the brand was beginning to expand across Canada. Her work in managing HR for four brands that were all in different stages of their development led Elwenni to be named a Rising Star by CPHR Alberta in 2018. During her time with Orangetheory, Elwenni has spearheaded multiple initiatives, including a creative onboarding program that gives candidates an engaging brand experience, a talent recruitment strategy that positions the company as a talent magnet, a unique performance management system, and an internal professional development program for managers and key leaders. She also played a critical role in the mass restructuring of World Health Edmonton during Alberta’s economic downturn, which resulted in zero layoffs, improved employee morale and increased engagement. “She is an innovative HR leader, consistently uncovering first-of-its-kind solutions to emerging business challenges and disrupting the status quo,” says Tamera Rude, general manager at World Health Edmonton. “She has made a tremendous impact and built a strong HR reputation and presence in a short amount of time.”


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TIERRA MADANI Human resources manager Vancouver Island Brewing

After winning CPHR BC & Yukon’s Rising Star Award in 2018, Tierra Madani has had her fair share of HR challenges to tackle at Vancouver Island Brewing in 2019, including two rebrands, high turnover in several key roles, a transition to a new general manager and the development of a new vision for the brewery. As the sole HR/ops professional on-site, Madani worked with other senior managers to successfully

implement a change management plan. She also helped the brewery make strides toward its lofty goal of building up its Brewery Safety Program to achieve COR certification through MSABC. In addition, she took on the responsibility of overseeing the tasting room team and leading the charge to achieve a lounge licence to become a brewpub. “In the past 12 months, we have undergone incredible change here at Vancouver Island Brewing, during which we have resiliently pushed forward despite many hardships,” Madani says. “From people to safety to the tasting room, it has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding year!”


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RISING STARS 2019 JENNIFER IRVING Corporate recruiter Interfor Corporation

EMILY BOND HR generalist Lofthouse Manufacturing

During her three years at Lofthouse Manufacturing, Emily Bond has quickly made an impact. She has worked with the company’s management group to hone analytics and data management by creating easy-to-understand charts and reports, and she has also reorganized Lofthouse’s balanced scorecard, which gives the team a framework for planning and implementing strategic direction. In addition, she advised Lofthouse’s sister company on its own scorecard initiatives. Beyond her HR responsibilities, Bond has stepped up to create an interim website for Lofthouse until its new website is up and running, and she regularly creates marketing presentations to help train the company’s international sales team. “Emily shows passion, common sense and team excellence in all her projects and has made a real difference in her short tenure here at Lofthouse,” says Wendy Stroud, Lofthouse’s HR manager. “Emily believes strongly in the power of strong community bonds, coming from a small town in Manitoulin Island, and she demonstrates the importance of economic growth and fellowship. She has joined our small community’s downtown improvement committee, helping to drive a better, more prosperous town for everyone.”


Faced with the challenge of attracting a new generation of front-line leadership to the sawmilling industry, Jennifer Irving played a pivotal role in establishing and executing a new campus recruiting program at Interfor. By building relationships with Interfor’s operating groups, Irving was able to identify the types of students who would be successful in a co-op program. She used this knowledge to build a structured co-op program with a focus on safety, student mentorship and helping participants develop a general knowledge of sawmilling. Thanks to Irving’s on-campus recruitment efforts, Interfor hired a record number of students this year and was able to secure multiple returning students for next year. Irving was also responsible for designing, coordinating and organizing a student event that brought co-op students together with senior leadership so the students could better understand the employee development programs available at Interfor. “Her work has been recognized from the mill floor right up to the executive table,” says Kimberley Adkin, director of recruitment and HR at Interfor.

JAY PARISEAU Senior consultant, HR service delivery CIBC

Jay Pariseau’s specialties include diversity recruitment, stakeholder engagement, crosscultural communication, reputation management, research, marketing and employee relations. He began his career in Aboriginal relations with oil producer Nexen and went on to hold roles in development and recruitment at Indspire and BMO before joining CIBC as a senior diversity recruitment consultant in 2014. He was soon promoted to his current role of senior consultant in HR service delivery, where he puts a high priority on measuring stakeholders’ attitudes and beliefs in order to create effective strategies.

DANIELLE GRUSIE Talent management specialist Sherritt International

Over the past year, Danielle Grusie has made a major impact in organizational design at nickel producer Sherritt International. Grusie has been a lead member of the organization design project team, coaching leaders on the required change management and coordinating with the relevant stakeholders to implement the new design. She has contributed to the publication of regular newsletters and internal communication initiatives to get the word out about the new design and has become an organization design internal trainer, charged with delivering training to all new leaders and employees. “Danielle is someone who can be relied on and looked to help navigate change in a productive way,” says Karen Trenton, SVP of human resources at Sherritt International. “The organization has undertaken a major culture transformation, and Danielle has been a major contributor to leading this change.”


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February 19, 2020 Vancouver Convention Centre


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Lorene Novakowski

Nicole Byres

Nicole Howell

Partner Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Partner Miller Thompson LLP

Partner HHBG Lawyers


Get 20% off the full registration rate when you use code HRELVAN





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HRDC reveals the HR professionals, teams and companies who took home top honours across 25 prestigious award categories BROUGHT TO YOU BY



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Platinum sponsor

IT’S THAT time of year again. HRD Canada’s annual celebration of the best the country’s HR sector has to offer returned to Toronto’s Beanfield Centre on September 12 – and this year’s event was bigger and better than ever before. Hosted once again by Jessi Cruickshank, this year’s gala celebration was attended by nearly 1,000 HR professionals. Sponsored by Ultimate Software, the 2019 Canadian HR Awards boasted 25 categories, awarding teams, individuals and companies the highest honour in the sector. Teamwork was certainly the theme of the night, as winner after winner cited the importance of morale and group effort as the underpinning of their victory. “I think it’s time for HR to really step up, to be part of the corporate table, be part of the corner suites, to work with the CEO and the CFO, and be at the table to make some really good changes,” said Kin Choi, CHRO at the Department of National Defence, who was presented with the Award for Lifetime Achievement in the HR Industry. “It’s really about people at the end of the day.” The team at Jazz Aviation, which took home the Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award, echoed Choi’s sentiments: “We have a small team and a small budget, but it really is incredible what you can do with people. When people are motivated and champion what you want to do at work, you make huge strides.” On the following pages, HRDC goes behind the scenes with the winners – the individuals and teams who dominated the HR space in 2019. Turn the page to find out who made it onto this exclusive list … www.hrmonline.ca

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The Leadership Agency

FINALISTS 7Geese Applauz Recognition Blankslate Partners Blu Ivy Group CareerJoy Kudos Mindful Snacks PostBeyond

The first award of the night was dedicated to service providers – an essential aspect of HR in Canada. Aptly, this year’s award went to The Leadership Agency, founded by HR guru Jamie Hoobanoff. “It feels amazing to have won,” Hoobanoff said. “The truth is that this category means so much in Canada because small business is so important, as are service providers themselves. It’s amazing to have a voice in HR and to provide an amazing service that’s in this line of business, especially one which HRDC readers recognize to be great.”

Jamie Hoobanoff The Leadership Agency

The Leadership Agency team




FINALISTS Randstad Canada Ultimate Software Workhuman PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

A revolutionary health benefits organization, League is a giant in North America, with a platform that helps empower people to take charge of their health and live happier lives. “We’re surprised and delighted,” the League team told HRDC. “League is growing very quickly. We’re working on helping employers showcase what kind of organization they are by really providing world-class benefits and opportunities for employees to think about their health proactively. We believe that healthier employees mean happier employees – at a lower cost to employers.”

Joy Watson Seon League

Kim Tabac League

HRD Canada is Canada’s only magazine written exclusively for senior HR professionals and top corporate decision-makers. HRDC talks to leading HR practitioners from around the globe to produce an industry-standard magazine that supports both the business and best-practice functional requirements placed on HR leaders. HRDC is complemented by an awardwinning website featuring daily breaking news, an industry forum and exclusive multimedia content. For more information, visit hrmonline.ca



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Platinum sponsor



The Canadian Internet Registration Authority

FINALISTS D2L Corporation Geotab Gibson Energy MCAP Sollio Agriculture TD Bank Group Wave Financial WestJet Airlines


MaxSys Staffing & Consulting is a national staffing and consulting leader with operations in 12 cities across Canada. Since 1993, we have been providing quality contract and temporary help services to the private and public sector. We offer all the experience, quality and professionalism that you’ve come to expect from a national firm. As the winner of numerous business awards, MaxSys is recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. An ISO 9001 quality firm, we have more than 2,500 deployed consultants and employees. As an employer, MaxSys abides by and is respectful of all employment and human rights regulations and laws. We are committed to guarding our reputation for honest, ethical and professional behaviour and as a provider of services of the highest quality.

Developing an all-encompassing recruitment strategy should be the first issue on a people leader’s itinerary, but recruitment can give even the most hardened HR leaders sleepless nights. One company that shone this year in the hiring game is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority [CIRA], winners of Most Effective Recruitment Strategy.

“We focused on attracting diverse people to our team – that’s what we’re all about here” THE CANADIAN INTERNET REGISTRATION AUTHORITY “We really focused on revamping all of our HR programs, including talent attraction, this year,” the CIRA team told HRDC. “We focused on attracting diverse people to our team – that’s what we’re all about here. We’re a purposedriven organization, so it feels so great to be recognized.” “I think that in Toronto specifically, and in Canada, we have such a demand now for top talent,” said Richard Bond, vice-president at award sponsor MaxSys Staffing & Consulting, who presented the award to CIRA. “Recruitment strategy seems to be an ever-growing and important role for any organization. A company can’t be great without great people – and that’s why recruitment strategy is such an important thing.”

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority team

Richard Bond MaxSys Staffing & Consulting

For more information, visit maxsys.ca


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FINALISTS ActiveCo Technology Management Axonify Fiix Software Fuller Landau Kinaxis MD Financial Management OPIN Software Pethealth PointClickCare WE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Ultimate Software’s cloud-based UltiPro helps simplify and improve work experiences for everyone. With UltiPro, you can deliver personalized recruiting and onboarding experiences, guide employees through important benefits choices, simplify complex payroll computations, efficiently manage time and attendance, support continuous performance management and development, and build proactive succession plans for the future. Most importantly, UltiPro’s solutions are supported by powerful business intelligence and reporting to help drive smarter, people-focused business results. Perfect for businesses with Canada-based locations and/or employees, UltiPro’s solutions comply with HR legislation governed by the Canada Labour Code and provincial/ territorial Employment Standards Acts.

Employees might take a job for the money, but they’ll stay for the culture. This year’s culture cup went to computer networking gurus BlueCat. “This is honestly what I’ve worked for throughout my whole career,” said Cheryl Kerrigan, VP of people at BlueCat. “When you can change a culture and make it great, it’s a game-changer in being able to attract and retain the best talent. I’m beyond delighted and super proud of my team, who’ve all worked very hard for this. “BlueCat’s culture is about creating a workplace that fosters innovation and experimentation, open lines of communication and transparency, and a sense of community where you can bring your whole self to work,” Kerrigan added. “Crowdsourced from employees from across the business, our Culture Code is woven into the everyday fabric of our company and is the foundation for our continued success.” Nick Faria, strategic development manager for award sponsor Ultimate Software, told HRDC that “workplace culture is near and dear to our hearts. If you Google Ultimate, you’ll find great technology first and foremost – but you’ll also find the number-one place to work in a lot of different categories. “For us, putting employees first over everything is the key to organizational success – the secret to being number one in whatever you do,” Faria added. “We happen to sell HR software, but it doesn’t matter if you’re selling widgets or are white-collar, blue-collar, etc. As long as you’ve got employees who love your company, you’ll have employees who will love your customers, and that will translate into business results. Culture eats strategy for breakfast – to steal the line from many great leaders – and we live that every day at Ultimate.”

Nick Faria Ultimate Software

Cheryl Kerrigan BlueCat

For more information, visit ultimatesoftware.com



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Platinum sponsor



Best Buy Canada

FINALISTS Accent Inns Brookstreet Hotel and Marshes Golf Club Earls Kitchen + Bar Giant Tiger Stores Sobeys

For Best Buy Canada, winners of Canadian HR Team of the Year (Retail or Hospitality), this year’s awards gala was an opportunity to recognize everyone responsible for their success. “Our people set us apart from everyone else,” the Best Buy Canada team told HRDC. “The partnerships make what we do every day so much more meaningful. At Best Buy, everything we do within our strategic framework feeds our vision of helping customers pursue their passions and enrich their

“Everything we do ... feeds our vision of helping customers pursue their passions and enrich their lives with the help of technology” BEST BUY CANADA lives with the help of technology. Our HR team supports this vision by creating best-in-class employment experiences that are unique, purposeful and continually evolving.” “The quality of nominees this year was amazing,” said Alissa Barton, director of human capital planning at Infrastructure Ontario and a judge for this year’s awards. “There was a lot to learn about how innovative people are – and for only the sixth year of these Canadian HR Awards, I’d say the quality is so outstanding.”

The Best Buy Canada team


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HSBC Bank Canada

FINALISTS HomeEquity Bank MD Financial Management Paysafe Group PSP Investments Swiss Reinsurance Company, Canadian branch TD Bank Group

The difference between a good team and a great one is authenticity, collaboration and respect – attributes HSBC Bank Canada’s HR team has in spades. “We didn’t really prepare because while we knew we’ve done amazing work, this is a very difficult category,” the team told HRDC. “There’s a lot of teams out there who’ve done some great work, so we’re just thrilled. We know we made a big difference, but it’s awesome to be recognized for it.”

“We know we made a big difference, but it’s awesome to be recognized for it” HSBC BANK CANADA Christian Cook, associate professor of management and human resources at Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business and one of the judges for this year’s awards, presented HSBC with the award. “It was a tight race – there were really a lot of phenomenal applications, and it’s thrilling to see how much good work is happening in the industry,” Cook said. “I feel really confident about where we are as an HR profession in Canada. I think we’re doing an outstanding job of keeping all of our houses in order, but also really getting into spaces for innovation. When we consider where the profession is going, I think that’s next-level, and that’s exactly what I’m seeing here tonight.”

Kim Toews HSBC Bank Canada



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22/10/2019 3:39:48 AM

Platinum sponsor




FINALISTS CGI Canada KPMG in Canada Loblaw Companies The Canadian Internet Registration Authority Uberflip

Tracy McDonald Left

Mary Barroll TalentEgg

Employer branding is a key component of employee experience. In today’s social-media-connected world, it’s more important than ever for organizations to understand how their company is portrayed. Mary Barroll, president of award sponsor TalentEgg, explained why this award is close to her heart: “TalentEgg is all about employer branding. We actually evolved over time from being a job board to somebody who helps employers in getting their organizational message across. So we talk about their core values. We talk about their culture, things that make them stand out among employers of choice. We do that through a number of their services, and we like to celebrate people who do things with excellence. We’re really excited to sponsor this award.” The team at Left, this year’s winner for Best Employer Branding, added: “We were so fortunate over the past couple of years to partner with our amazing marketing department. When you have that true collaboration of two departments coming together, you can make some real magic.”


TalentEgg has been a go-to career resource for students and new graduates since its inception in 2008, and nine years later, we are committed to the continued innovation of campus recruitment. We focus on meaningful, career-launching internships, co-op positions and entry-level jobs, and provide free career resources created specifically for students and recent grads. Our main demographic is typically 18- to 24-year-olds looking for internships, co-op programs or their first position out of university or college, but we also have a large number of recent graduates who are early career candidates with a bit of experience in the workforce. We have an average of 250,000 visitors to our site each month, thousands of jobs and event listings, and have worked with several hundred employers over the years, including the City of Toronto, Apple, IBM, CFLA, Xerox, P&G, Labatt, BMO, Rogers, Bell, TJX and many more. As the most popular online resource for students and graduates looking for meaningful, careerlaunching opportunities, there’s no better place to share your recruitment message and job opportunities to reach top Gen Y and Z talent.

For more information, visit talentegg.ca


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Jenn Rooney Stackpole International


The HR Rising Star of the Year Award is a sought-after individual accolade, one that went deservingly to Jenn Rooney of Stackpole International. “I am completely shocked,” she told HRDC. “I was not expecting this at all. I’m very humbled and obviously couldn’t have done this without my team.”

Centurion Asset Management

“I’m very humbled and obviously couldn’t have done this without my team”

Reena Bali

Jenn Rooney

Jenna Wood, Aecon Group Ashley Osmun, Burrard Group Laura Salvatore

Cogent Industrial Technologies


Ravi Sidhu, CWT Group

Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing for Canada at award sponsor ADP, added: “At ADP, we recognize the value of HR. In our business, it’s all about helping HR professionals have the biggest impact possible. The Rising Star Award is about not only recognizing leaders who have already had an impact, but who we know we’ll see lots from in the future. Jenn is obviously a powerhouse, and the fact that she’s so focused on the mentoring and support to use technology – of course, that’s near and dear to our hearts at ADP.”

Larissa Calderone, Investment Management Corporation of Ontario

Jomana Elwenni Orangetheory Fitness Canada

Tia Parekh, Plenary Group Natalie Mohammed, Prodigy Ventures Kristin Mueller, VueReal

Heather Haslam ADP Canada

Jenn Rooney Stackpole International


ADP, one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing and human capital management solutions, serves more than 620,000 businesses of all types and sizes in more than 125 countries. In Canada, ADP pays one in four working Canadians and is the leading provider of payroll and HCM solutions. Our solutions are cloud-enabled, and technology is at the forefront of our offerings. ADP invests more than US$750 million per year in technology to ensure that we continue to lead the market with our intuitive and secure solutions. We help businesses of all sizes – small, big, national or global – to increase productivity, improve employee engagement, and meet regulatory and legislative requirements using our solutions for human resources, payroll, talent management, tax and benefits administration. Partnering with ADP means you get solutions with the latest technology – so customers can focus their time and resources on growing their business, not back-office administration. For more information, visit adp.ca.



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22/10/2019 9:06:07 PM

Platinum sponsor


HR CHAMPION (CEO) WINNER canadian hr awards

Lynn Oldfield AIG Canada

FINALISTS Andrew Graham Borrowell

David Ossip Ceridian

Bruce Poon Tip G Adventures

Noah Waisberg Kira Systems

Rick Watkin KUBRA

Ron Mock Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

Sean Smith Pethealth


It’s essential that HR recognizes greatness in the C suite. After all, a company’s values should emanate from the top down – and that’s something Lynn Oldfield puts into practice every day at AIG Canada. Since joining AIG in 1991 as an underwriting manager, Oldfield held a variety of progressive management positions before assuming the role of president and CEO in 2008.

“To be the only female finalist, and to have been successful, is just a testament to everything we’re doing at AIG” Lynn Oldfield

AIG CANADA “I am honoured,” Oldfield told HRDC. “It is such a privilege. The nominees were iconic men in iconic organizations – so to be the only female finalist, and to have been successful, is just a testament to everything we’re doing at AIG.” “Every organization is driven by their people – it’s the power of every organization,” added Deanna Heroux, partner of people and change advisory services at KPMG Canada. “But most importantly, one of the key ingredients is the tone they set at the top. The CEO is the role model not only for their leaders, but for every single person in the organization. So to have a champion of HR at the top, setting the tone that motivates staff, that motivates leaders – I think, most importantly, it actually attracts great talent as well. That’s powerful. So we’re thrilled that Lynn has won this award this evening.”

KPMG has offices in 33 locations across the country. The firm’s more than 700 partners and 5,600 employees provide audit, tax and advisory services to many of the public and private business, not-for profit, and publicsector organizations in Canada. They look to KPMG for a consistent standard of service based on high-order professional capabilities, industry insight and local knowledge. Sustaining and enhancing the quality of this professional workforce is KPMG’s primary objective. Wherever we operate, we want our firms to be no less than the professional employers of choice. For more information, visit kpmg.com

Deanna Heroux KPMG Canada

Lynn Oldfield AIG Canada www.hrmonline.ca

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CAA Club Group of Companies

FINALISTS Carfax Canada Enercon Canada Flynn Group of Companies Harris Moneris Niagara Casinos O2E Brands Prospera Credit Union Purolator Sienna Senior Living WilsonHCG


L&D must take a front seat in HR’s remit, according to Brian Bell, chair of the School of Leadership & Human Resources at Seneca College, which sponsored the Best Learning & Development Strategy Award. “Seneca is in the business of teaching people all about learning and development and strategies related there, too,” Bell said. “So this is our world, and we want to develop expertise. We want to reward expertise in this arena. It’s obviously important to us, and it’s very gratifying to see practitioners in the field doing such good work in a field that’s important to us.”

“To be recognized for our ability to help employees [reach their maximum potential] is a great honour” CAA CLUB GROUP OF COMPANIES CAA Club Group of Companies had one word to describe its win in this category: amazing. “It feels amazing to be recognized for our learning and development programs,” the team told HRDC. “We’re a company that’s built on growth and helping employees reach their maximum potential. So to be recognized for our ability to help them do that is a great honour.”

Aneika Ince-Mercer CAA Club Group of Companies

Brian Bell Seneca College

With campuses in Toronto, York Region and Peterborough, Seneca offers degrees, diplomas, certificates and graduate programs renowned for their quality and respected by employers. It is one of the largest comprehensive colleges in Canada, offering over 300 full-time, part-time and online programs. Combining the highest academic standards with work-integrated and applied learning, expert teaching faculty, and the latest technology ensures Seneca graduates are career-ready. For more information, visit senecacollege.ca



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22/10/2019 3:39:57 AM

Platinum sponsor



Hydro Ottawa

FINALISTS Best Buy Canada CAA Club Group of Companies Dentsu Aegis Network Government of Alberta Intelex Jefferson Elora Corporation MEC Mountain Equipment Coop Royal Bank of Canada Tim Hortons Foundation Camps

If there’s one aspect of HR that practitioners need to get a handle on, it’s technology. Given that tech has the propensity to either revolutionize a company or ruin it, HR must focus on implementing the best platforms and practices to propel their organization to the next level. That means HR is under pressure to keep pace or risk falling way behind – and Hydro Ottawa, this year’s winner for Most Innovative Use of HR Technology, has risen to the challenge. “We’re stunned,” the team told HRDC after its win in this category. “We introduced technology in way that puts the HR customer, the employee, at the centre of everything we do. And so, as a result, it’s been embraced by the organization and has transformed the business. The technology put employees’ information in the hands of the employees themselves so that they can work smarter and more efficiently.” Colin Druhan, executive director of Pride at Work Canada and a judge for this year’s awards, told HRDC how he went about selecting a winner in this incredibly competitive category. “It was more difficult than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “There seem to be a lot of interesting things happening in the HR space, and it was really wonderful to get to know a whole crop of new companies I wasn’t familiar with.”

The Hydro Ottawa team


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22/10/2019 3:40:01 AM



Tim Lawson McCarthy Tétrault

FINALISTS Lorenzo Lisi Aird & Berlis

Marylee A. Davies Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy

Christian Paquette Fasken Martineau

Dolores M. Barbini Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie

Benjamin A. Kranc Kranc Associates

Nicole K. Skuggedal Lawson Lundell

Lindsay A. Mullen Norton Rose Fulbright Canada


As national practice group leader of McCarthy Tétrault’s labour and employment practice, Tim Lawson has developed, led and heavily supported several innovative client solutions, including an interactive training and compliance solution to address legislative changes, a workplace harassment solution in response to #MeToo and a unique HR compliance diagnostic tool.

“We’re integrating the HR function in a legal group as a multi-disciplinary, which no other firm is doing right now” Tim Lawson

MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT As for being named Best Employment Labour Lawyer (Within a Practice)? “Big surprise,” Lawson said. “I was actually sitting in there with my wife while she was taking embarrassing selfies of me. “We’re embedding HR specialists and labour relation experts in our legal team,” Lawson added. “We’re integrating the HR function in a legal group as a multi-disciplinary, which no other firm is doing right now.” “Employment law has become a huge part of human resources – it’s one of the most-read sections in our publications as HR practitioners strive to stay on top of the latest trends and developments impacting the workplace,” added Sarah Dobson, editor of Canadian HR Reporter. “Tim has been heavily involved in several innovative client solutions that have involved issues such as legislative changes, workplace harassment and HR compliance, and is easily deserving of the recognition.”

Published 12 times a year, Canadian HR Reporter offers readers the most current news and information on the latest trends and practices, expert advice, experiences, and insights from HR practitioners, research and resources. Each issue provides real-world solutions to perplexing HR situations from peers and industry experts, helpful case studies, and insightful commentary. For more information, visit hrreporter.com


Sarah Dobson Canadian HR Reporter

Tim Lawson McCarthy Tétrault

Paul Burton Canadian HR Reporter


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22/10/2019 3:40:03 AM

Platinum sponsor



Stikeman Elliott

FINALISTS Allegis Global Solutions Cisco Systems Canada D2L Corporation Dejero Digital Extremes Ericsson Canada Ingram Micro KPMG in Canada Metro Vancouver Regional District Servus Credit Union

There’s never been a more pressing time for HR to invest in mental well-being. As employers begin to realize their role in safeguarding workers’ financial, physical and mental health, some companies are already making huge strides, including Stikeman Elliott, winners of the Venngo Award of Excellence for Financial, Physical & Mental Wellness. “We are elated to have won,” the team told HRDC. “We’ve done a lot of lunch and learns to get everyone involved in mental health and wellness, both in the workplace and outside of it. Mental health is much more of a prevalent issue in law firms – it’s a high-stress job. And so we’ve put together a great program with the support of our partnership team to take wellness to the next level.” Well-being is a core theme for award sponsor Venngo. “We help employees save money to aid their financial wellness and their overall physical and mental wellness,” said president John Moore. “They can stretch their dollars using the discounts that we bring to them.” As for the rising awareness of mental health over the past decade, Moore said, “I think it’s amazing. It’s highly important. There’s so many of our community that are struggling in so many different ways. There’s so much pressure coming at them – be it physical, be it financial, be it other aspects in raising a family. So we’re really fortunate to be in a position where we can provide help from a standpoint of aiding them in saving money. This can be a stress reducer to help in their overall mental awareness.”


Denise Grodin Stikeman Elliott Sonja Smith Stikeman Elliott

Melesha Kelman Stikeman Elliott

John Moore Venngo

Venngo provides world-class group discount programs with a focus on financial and physical well-being. Our programs integrate seamlessly to support other elements of total compensation, including medical/ dental benefits, EAP and employee wellness programs. Some of the ways we do that are through health and wellness partnerships, discounted fitness memberships, and real savings with discounts on over 1,200 other products and services. For more information, visit venngo.com


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Jazz Aviation

FINALISTS Accenture Capgemini Canada FDM Group Canada IBM Canada Royal Bank of Canada SaskGaming (Casinos Regina and Moose Jaw) Sobeys Sodexo Canada

Diversity and inclusion is a topic close to many Canadian companies’ hearts. What separates a good D&I policy from a great one is dedication – a characteristic Jazz Aviation has in spades. “We do a lot of work at Jazz for inclusion and diversity,” the team told HRDC. “We have multiple different employee groups, from LGBT+ to Indigenous groups. Having diversity champions weaving diversity and inclusion throughout the company is essential. We have a small team and a small budget, but it really is incredible what you can do with people. When people are motivated and champion what you want to do at work, you make huge strides.” “For us, diversity and inclusion are extremely important,” added Jaqui Parchment, CEO of award sponsor Mercer Canada. “At Mercer, we strive to make sure that every single day, all of our employees can come to work, bring their whole selves to work and thrive. And we help many of our clients do the same thing, so we thought it would be great to celebrate something that is that important.” PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Sonova Symcor Wealthsimple

The Jazz Aviation team

At Mercer, we make a difference in the lives of more than 110 million people every day by advancing their health, wealth and careers. We’re in the business of creating more secure and rewarding futures for our clients and their employees, whether we’re designing affordable health plans, assuring income for retirement or aligning workers with workforce needs. Using analysis and insights as catalysts for change, we anticipate and understand the individual impact of business decisions, now and in the future. We see people’s current and future needs through a lens of innovation, and our holistic view, specialized expertise and deep analytical rigour underpin each and every idea and solution we offer. For more than 70 years, we’ve turned our insights into actions, enabling people around the globe to live, work and retire well. For more information, visit mercer.ca

Jaqui Parchment Mercer Canada



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22/10/2019 9:07:25 PM

Platinum sponsor



Kin Choi Department of National Defence PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Queen’s University’s Industrial Relations Centre is Canada’s leading management development centre, offering premium professional development training in human resources, labour relations and organization development. Based on over 80 years of experience and research, Queen’s IRC programs are delivered by subject-matter experts, grounded in adult learning principles and designed for busy practitioners who want to directly apply their knowledge to their work environment. Choose from one- to five-day open-enrolment programs delivered across Canada or customized on-site training that addresses your organization’s specific needs. We also offer certificates in advanced human resources, organization development, labour relations and advanced labour relations. For more information, visit irc.queensu.ca

The Lifetime Achievement in the HR Industry Award is given each year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the industry through visionary people management strategies and leadership. This year, the prestigious accolade went to Kin Choi, assistant deputy minister (human resources – civilian) of the Department of National Defence, for his work in championing better people management during his extensive public service career, including chairmanship of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Choi is the first public servant to receive this award.

“I’ve surrounded myself with great people and a great team – that’s really what all this is about” Kin Choi

NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE “This is a tremendous honour – but it’s also not just about one person,” he told HRDC. “Throughout my career, I’ve had amazing mentors who’ve given me every opportunity to try, fail and succeed – and failing a lot more often, I might add! To be honest, I’ve surrounded myself with great people and a great team – that’s really what all this is about.” The award’s sponsor, Queen’s University IRC, is crucial to the fabric of the Canadian HR sector. “Queen’s IRC has been around for over 80 years – it’s just fundamental from a people management perspective,” director Stephanie Noel told HRDC, “and this award really aligns with the values that we profess. When we look at leading practitioners in the field and all the tools that they use and the methodologies and the initiatives they come up with, Mr. Choi was a really great choice to win this year.”

Stephanie Noel Queen’s University IRC

Kin Choi Department of National Defence


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22/10/2019 3:40:11 AM


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22/10/2019 9:14:30 PM

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HR LEADER OF THE YEAR WINNER canadian hr awards

Cathie Brow Revera

FINALISTS Richard Rudderham BMO Financial Group

Jason Fleming, DriveABLE Jennifer Melanson Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Petra Bergner Government of New Brunswick

Sandy Bernier Liberty Mutual Canada

Thierry Miras Schneider Electric Canada

Lisa Gravelle, Shoppers Drug Mart Melanie Forsberg, Statistics Canada


The Leadership Agency is North America’s recruitment partner of choice for the technology and startup community. With a mission to help build the most impressive companies of our generation, The Leadership Agency disrupts the status quo and helps companies make their best leadership and sales hires. Focusing exclusively on sales and executive recruitment, The Leadership Agency works with the world’s fastest-growing startups, including TouchBistro, Uberflip, SkipTheDishes, StackAdapt, Vena, Justworks, Knotel, Reonomy, TripActions and O2E Brands.

A strong leader can inspire a team to greatness, steer a company to success and revolutionize the industry from the top down – all of which Cathie Brow, SVP of HR and communications at Revera, has done. “I’ve had a long career,” Brow told HRDC. “I’ve led teams for 25 years, and this is the most incredible team I’ve ever had. I’m only great because they’re so great – they make me great. I can’t do what I do without the team I have here. To get this recognition – I can’t even explain the feeling.”

“This is the most incredible team I’ve ever had. I’m only great because they’re so great – they make me great” Cathie Brow

REVERA “The HR Leader of the Year Award, to us, represents the voice of HR,” said Jamie Hoobanoff, founder of award sponsor The Leadership Agency. “It couldn’t be a more important and more exciting time to be an HR professional. And I think all it takes sometimes is one person to be the voice of disruption, to be the voice of diversity, to be the voice of inclusion, to be the voice of the people of an organization, and what could be more important than that? “We’ve become sponsors of the event and of the awards community because we feel it’s so important,” she added, “and I can’t even tell you how amazing tonight has been. A thousand people here tonight – the sponsors, the nominees, the finalists, the winners, and we’ve seen some really amazing diversity in terms of the types of companies that have won.”

Jamie Hoobanoff The Leadership Agency

Cathie Brow Revera

For more information, visit leadershipagency.com



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22/10/2019 3:40:18 AM

Platinum sponsor



IBM Canada

FINALISTS Axonify BFL Canada Fidelity Investments Canada Mint Health + Drugs OPIN Software Royal Bank of Canada Tata Consultancy Services Canada


Discover what University of Waterloo students can do for your talent needs. Canada’s most innovative university offers work-ready co-op, graduating students and alumni from more than 120 accredited programs who can adapt to your unique business needs and make a strong contribution to your organization’s success. Students alternate between academic terms and work terms, which means they will bring the most cutting-edge industry trends to your organization. Whether you need someone with a background in chemical engineering, kinesiology, planning, arts and business, biomedical engineering, accounting and finance or dozens of other programs, we have the right fit for you. We’re grooming the next generation of the workforce and invite you to become a part of it. Put your organization at the forefront of innovation by hiring Waterloo.

The team at IBM Canada, winners of Best Next-Generation Employment Innovation, were thrilled to have been recognized in such a competitive category. “This is huge honour, especially for our campus team,” the team told HRDC. “There’s so many people working so hard behind the scenes, so we’re really happy to give them the recognition here. IBM has transformed its approach to campus recruitment. We’re moving beyond information sessions and career fairs to focus

“We’re [focusing] our campus recruitment strategies on targeted and personalized experience digitally” IBM CANADA and prioritize our campus recruitment strategies on targeted and personalized experience digitally. Piazza is our main tool for digital sourcing, which allows us to connect with target students and invite them to exclusive hiring events, including hackathons, design thinking workshops, cognitive demos and ‘pop-up’ booths on campus.” The University of Waterloo is something of a pioneer in the innovation game, which made this award a natural fit for it to sponsor. “We’re always looking for innovations and new ways of doing things and new ways of doing business,” Dr. Norah McRae, associate provost of co-operative and experiential education, told HRDC. “And specifically, our program is co-operative education, and we’re very interested in preparing students for the future of work and also innovation in recruitment. I think it’s changing the ways that companies attract students and get students’ attention. Also, it’s about how they have different ways of recruiting, maybe assessing students’ capabilities and recruiting them in different ways, and encouraging students to think about how to present their capabilities in new ways.”

Dr. Norah McRae University of Waterloo

The IBM Canada team

For more information, visit uwaterloo.ca/hire


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22/10/2019 3:40:21 AM



Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

FINALISTS Aecon Group Bird Construction Canopy Growth Corporation D2L Corporation Excel Society Geotab MacDon Industries Toronto Transit Commission


Accompass is a leading independent employee benefits, pension and investment, and broad-based and executive compensation consulting firm that designs and manages its clients’ programs from the biggest picture to the smallest detail. Our clients expect more than periodic meetings and fair value from their plans. They expect a level of attention, proactive preparation and expertise that is all-encompassing. Accompass brings its personal, hands-on approach to clients ranging from smaller companies to global enterprises with thousands of employees. We’re proud to be considered an extension of many of North America’s most respected corporate teams. In 2018, Accompass became a division of Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan was “overjoyed” to be named Canadian HR Team of the Year (500 Employees or More). “It’s been amazing year for this team,” they told HRDC. “We have such amazing leaders and receive so much support from our CEO. It’s been an incredible ride, full of transformation.

“We’ve spent the last year reimagining our approach and have a dynamic team and strategy in place” ONTARIO TEACHERS’ PENSION PLAN Attracting and retaining the right employees is crucial to achieving our mission of providing outstanding service and retirement security for our members. We’ve spent the last year reimagining our approach and have a dynamic team and strategy in place that will support our business objectives by activating our talent, amplifying our culture and accelerating our performance.” Sarah Beech, president of award sponsor Accompass, added: “As we work with our clients to create best-in-class solutions for their employees, it’s really about the team. As the saying goes, it takes a village – it takes a team to build and make change and influence great HR polices. I think the nominations this year are extraordinary. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of them, but the work that the teams are doing in this space is truly extraordinary. HR is a strategic partner for driving business influence and change, and that’s what the nominees really are doing.”

Beth Tyndall Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Sarah Beech Accompass

For more information, visit accompass.com



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22/10/2019 3:40:24 AM

Platinum sponsor



Rubin Thomlinson

FINALISTS Dutton Employment Law Harris & Company McLennan Ross Minken Employment Lawyers Monkhouse Law Rodney Employment Law Roper Greyell Sultan Lawyers Whitten & Lublin

As the world around us shifts, employment law continues to change with the times. Keeping your finger on the pulse can be tricky – and it takes an exceptional employment law firm to help HR departments stay up to date. Taking home the trophy for Labour & Employment Law Boutique of the Year was Rubin Thomlinson, a Canadian law firm focused solely on workplace and institutional investigations and assessments, tactical training for HR professionals, and consulting. Rubin Thomlinson is the only employment law firm of its size that works exclusively in workplace investigations, making it truly unique in the Canadian legal marketplace. Bill Dennis, president and CEO of Cultural & Generational Training, served as one of the judges for this year’s awards, and he told HRDC that the calibre of this year’s nominees “was amazing ... I probably read 20 submissions, and every one of them – and I do mean every one – was between excellent and outstanding. That made it very difficult to be a judge because there was no one who hadn’t done a great job. “I think it’s a real credit to the Canadian HR Awards that they were able to draw from such a talented group of people,” Dennis added. “Everyone did a superb job – you can really feel the pride in the air.”

Williams HR Law Professional Corporation

Christine Thomlinson Rubin Thomlinson Janice Rubin Rubin Thomlinson Cory Boyd Rubin Thomlinson


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Carfax Canada

FINALISTS COTA Health Ecobee Fiix Software Financeit Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. Index Exchange

Carfax Canada, this year’s Canadian HR Team of the Year (Fewer Than 500 Employees), encourages professional development to strengthen teams and drive innovative solutions for customers. The HR team also takes personal development very seriously, challenging individuals to be the best they can be and to take accountability for their own personal growth and learning.

“Our team’s focus has been on supporting the organization to adopt a growth mindset and truly empower people at all levels” Sarah Jansel



Kellogg Canada

“The team and I are absolutely ecstatic about being recognized amongst some truly amazing companies,” said Sarah Jansel, VP of people and operations at Carfax Canada. “Our team’s focus has been on supporting the organization to adopt a growth mindset and truly empower people at all levels to help us deliver the best results. In the last year, we made some changes to how our HR team delivers, and we believe that’s been a big part of what’s differentiated us; we have the right focus, structure and people who will help us.” “The quality of nominees here tonight showcases all the innovation that’s in our industry,” added Maryse Gringas, regional director for Quebec and Atlantic Canada at Futurpreneur Canada and one of the judges for this year’s awards. “Obviously, we know that we’re going through a lot of changes. So it’s great to see that organizations are taking that step – they’re making sure they’re growing by improving HR practices.”

Kira Systems Resolver

The Carfax Canada team



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22/10/2019 3:40:29 AM

Platinum sponsor



Mattamy Homes

FINALISTS Ceratec Dynacare Hydro Ottawa Ingram Micro Niagara Casinos Rexall Pharmacy Group


Dentsu Aegis Network, part of Dentsu Inc., is innovating the way brands are built by helping our clients’ brands win in a changing world. This means doing things differently, and better, by embracing the positive potential of disruption. Our spirit of collaboration helps us inspire brands to connect with consumers in more engaging ways. Dentsu Aegis Network is made up of 10 global brands, as well as several specialist/multi-market brands, and offers high-performance services across media, digital and creative communications. Headquartered in London, we operate in 145 countries, and our team of 38,000 – including 1,500 in Canada – delivers first-class talent and leading-edge capabilities to clients to drive stronger performance and brand growth.

An innovative, multi-channel HR communications strategy enabled Mattamy Homes to clearly articulate its employee value proposition. Through the voices of current employees sharing what it’s really like to work at North America’s largest privately owned homebuilder, Mattamy Homes was able to tell the story of why the most talented people want to build a career there. The communications strategy has made a real difference to HR’s ability to recruit new talent and strategically manage retention and employee engagement. “This award reinforces what we’ve been working towards for the last few years,” the team told HRDC. “One aspect that sets us apart is the focus that we put on employee branding and engagement – specifically focusing on how we communicate internally with our own employees.” “What it really boils down to for us is the focus that we’ve had on our employer branding strategy,” added Kaitlyn Anderson, communications manager at Mattamy Homes. “So we’ve really put a lot of time and energy into what exactly is our employer brand and how we can emulate that with our employees, both internally and in our recruitment process as well. HR is really the foundation of our business, and without it, our people wouldn’t have the strategies that we have, the policies in place and the support they need in order to do their jobs the way they want and need to do them.” John Stockwell, chief people officer at award sponsor Dentsu Aegis Network, added: “Our company is in the business of telling stories every day. We work with our clients to make sure that they tell their stories to their customers every day. So it’s important to recognize the importance of telling an HR story – that’s why this award is significant for us.”

John Stockwell Dentsu Aegis Network

The Mattamy Homes team

For more information, visit dentsuaegisnetwork.com


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AstraZeneca Canada

FINALISTS Canterbury Foundation Doctors of BC Mitel Networks Corporation OMERS Plasman Group Tata Consultancy Services Canada Teranet

Reward and recognition is one of the best ways to not only recruit new talent, but also keep the top people in an organization. This year’s winner of Best Reward & Recognition Strategy, AstraZeneca Canada, believes their success comes from aligning the company’s values to its rewards program. “It’s such an honour to even be in the category,” the AstraZeneca Canada team told HRDC. “There’s a lot of companies who are doing great things, but we have great people who make the magic happen. Recognizing employees is a key component of a thriving people strategy.” “We’ve been sponsoring this award for four years now,” added Sylvain Bergeron, country manager for Canada at award sponsor Workhuman. “It’s extremely important for us, as we are very passionate about making the workplace a more human workplace. One of the fundamental pieces of making the workplace a more human workplace is really showing gratitude to those we work with for the great work they do every day. And so the Workhuman fast recognition strategy definitely supports that.” PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Sylvain Bergeron Workhuman

The AstraZeneca Canada team

Workhuman is the world’s fastest-growing integrated Social Recognition® and continuous performance management platform. Our human applications are shaping the future of work by helping organizations connect culture to a shared purpose. With a consistent stream of gratitude fuelling unparallelled, provocative workplace data and human insights, Workhuman Cloud® is a critical software engine for global companies seeking to motivate and empower their people to do the best work of their lives. Workhuman (formerly known as Globoforce) was founded in 1999 and is co-headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Dublin, Ireland. For more information, visit workhuman.com



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Platinum sponsor





Hiring the best people is only the beginning – for a company to thrive, it’s all about perfecting the talent management strategy. Purolator, winner of this year’s Best Talent Management Strategy Award, knows this more than anyone.


“It’s pretty simple – invest in your people, and they’ll invest in your customers”



Mint Health + Drugs

“We’re so excited,” the Purolator team told HRDC. “We’re a 60-year-old, Canadian-owned and -operated transportation company, and we continue to dominate the marketplace – that’s all because of our people. Around the rest of the world, our industry is dominated by global players, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that we don’t actually manufacture anything – all we have is the best people doing the best job. It’s pretty simple – invest in your people, and they’ll invest in your customers.” “Talent management is the pillar and backbone of any organization,” added Dane Taylor, director of client strategy at event producer Key Media International, who presented the award to Purolator. “You need to retain the talented individuals within your company and foster their growth to really strengthen a culture.”

Accenture Day & Ross

Revera Schneider Electric Canada Wave Financial

The Purolator team


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Cisco Systems Canada Co.


Cisco Systems Canada’s corporate social responsibility focus is to align with governments, not-for-profit organizations and NGOs to help extend their scale and impact to build stronger, more vibrant communities. The company leverages technology solutions to help ensure that all Canadians have access to the services and support they need in order to thrive, specifically in the education, mental health and IT skills spaces.

Meridian Credit Union

“Organizations need to give back. They need to give back to the society that actually helped them flourish”

Randstad Canada

Stephen Brown

Cogent Industrial Technologies Fidelity Investments Canada

Sage The Body Shop The Travel Corporation

ONTARIO SHARED SERVICES “Organizations need to give back,” said Stephen Brown, director of talent acquisition in the HR service delivery division of Ontario Shared Services and a judge for this year’s awards. “They need to give back to the society that actually helped them flourish. This is an important category for the Canadian HR Awards to be recognizing and reinforcing the social conscience of industry in corporate Canada.”

Stephen Brown Ontario Shared Services, who accepted the award on Cisco Systems Canada’s behalf



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Platinum sponsor



Megan Paterson Kinaxis

FINALISTS Izzie Egan Blankslate Partners

Cheryl Kerrigan BlueCat

Nathalie Kachulis Canada Revenue Agency

Kim Tabac League

Gillian Hynes Royal Dutch Shell

Laurie Murdoch Sony Pictures Canada

The final award of the evening went to a woman who’s made significant strides in the HR profession: Megan Paterson, CHRO at Kinaxis, who admitted she was shocked to be taking home the trophy. “I know everyone says they’re shocked, but I genuinely didn’t think I’d win,” Paterson said. “I’ve always worked in high-tech – in a lot of startups, mainly. I spent a lot of my career being a one-person HR department. With Kinaxis, I now have 18 people on my team working internationally, though we’re still very proudly Canadian.” Award sponsor HRPA was proud to showcase its dedication to empowering female talent in HR. “HRPA recognizes that women have been at the forefront of the human resources profession for a very long time – and now it’s really their time to shine in the CHRO roles,” said HRPA CEO Louise Taylor Green. “I think if you look at the statistics about women occupying senior executive roles and board seats, despite all of the public efforts that have gone into advancing women and diverse populations, in the seats we haven’t done enough. We haven’t achieved the kind of progress that we need. We need to see a strong commitment from government and business to move this forward, and the HR team will continue to support women in HR in advancing their careers.”

Gloria Pakravan Toronto Police Service

Louise Taylor Green HRPA

Megan Paterson Kinaxis


The Human Resources Professionals Association [HRPA] is Canada’s HR thought leader and the largest HR association in the country. In Ontario, HRPA regulates the HR profession and issues the Certified Human Resources Professional [CHRP] designation, the national standard for excellence in human resources management. For more information, visit hrpa.ca


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Raising the bar for employee engagement Venngo’s Kondwani Mwase and Tom de Iulis tell HRDC how integrating benefits with employees’ daily lives can take your engagement strategy to the next level

WORK CULTURE, employee benefits and overall happiness are all critical elements in building employee engagement – a key factor to the overall success of any organization. So it’s no surprise that employee engagement has become a top priority in shaping a successful HR strategy. Engaged employees have proven to be more creative and more productive in the workplace. According to a 2015 Deloitte survey of around 3,300 business and HR executives in 106 countries, an overwhelming 78% believe that culture and employee engagement are the most important trends for HR today and in the future. When employees enjoy their experience with the organization, it affects more than their performance and motivation. It also creates an emotional connection between the business and the employee and can significantly impact retention and talent acquisition. Achieving an optimal employee experience remains a challenge as organizations continue to search for innovative, cost-


effective options. According to a Gartner survey of HR leaders, 40% conceded that their organization struggles to bring the employee value proposition to life in employees’ day-to-day work.

Another important challenge is the rise in non-desk positions. According to a StaffConnect study, more than one-third of companies reported having at least half of their employees in non-desk positions. With

When employees enjoy their experience with the organization, it affects more than their performance and motivation. It also creates an emotional connection between the business and the employee The problem today is that work experiences don’t match those outside the workplace. “Employees want their 9 to 5 to feel like their 5 to 9,” says Brian Kropp, group VP at Gartner. “And employees’ 5-to-9 lives are full of seamless, effortless experiences, largely enabled by digital technologies.”

remote workers now a common part of many teams, it has become considerably tougher for HR to implement an effective employee engagement strategy. This is where Venngo, North America’s largest provider of private group discount programs, comes in. Venngo’s flagship benefit


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program, WorkPerks®, helps organizations elevate and extend their employee experience beyond the workplace. “With discounts available across North America on everything from travel and entertainment to restaurants, shopping and electronics, WorkPerks® puts the organization at the center of good times with their employees, anytime and anywhere,” says Kondwani Mwase, director of ingenuity at Venngo. Organizations across North America widely recognize WorkPerks® as an effective part of their employee engagement strategy. Being part of employees’ lives and adding value to their personal experiences outside of the workplace can help organizations connect in deeper, more meaningful ways, at moments that matter to the employees. That’s the niche WorkPerks® provides. Delivered by an intuitive mobile app, WorkPerks® lets employees enjoy perks

wherever they are. It includes discounts in a broad range of categories and optimizes their experience by showing perks they can take advantage of nearby — there is something for everyone. And while the employees enjoy their perks, Venngo’s behavioural insights help employers learn more about their employees’ preferences – insights they can use to further customize or expand their employee engagement strategy. “While health benefits are considered a standard part of an employee package, WorkPerks® is an excellent value-add that is perceived as an everyday benefit, making employees feel special and rewarded,” says Tom de Iulis, SVP of product and strategy at Venngo. According to a report from Clutch, 49% of employees say receiving benefits makes them feel as if their employer is investing in them

personally, while 53% of workers say benefits enhance their quality of life. “Health benefits are tremendously valuable in times of need,” de Iulis says. “A benefit program like WorkPerks® engages employees in their everyday lives, becoming part of their happy times with family and friends. It truly is a benefit for the good times.” Deloitte’s most recent Global Human Capital Trends report identified employee experience as one of the most critical global trends currently facing organizations. A strong, successful employee engagement strategy can attract high-performance talent, fortify employee-employer relationships, positively impact overall performance and create an energizing work culture. All good reasons for employers to rethink benefits and raise the bar for their employee engagement strategy by including a benefit for good times.


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Recognizing mental health issues Lorenzo Lisi of Aird & Berlis tells HRDC why it’s important for employers to take mental health issues seriously and how to tell when mental health is a factor in employee misconduct

ADDRESSING MENTAL health in the workplace has never been more important. As many as one in five Canadians experience some form of mental illness in any given year, and accommodation requests related to employee mental health have become more common in the workplace. Issues related to both work and personal matters – such as the

dealing with external stressors that might impact employees. As programs related to mental health in the workplace have become more prominent, employees have become more likely to raise issues of mental health from an accommodation perspective. The challenge is that unlike accommodation requests for physical issues, many mental

“It doesn’t mean you have to put up with bad performance or misconduct, but an examination of the context of the conduct or performance … is always good advice” Lorenzo Lisi, Aird & Berlis LLP challenges facing the ‘sandwich generation,’ who must deal with both elder and childcare issues – can create stress that negatively impacts employees’ work performance, attitude and often conduct. In response, employers must prioritize creating a healthy work environment and


health issues are unseen and might require the employer to dig deeper to determine which issues require accommodation. Across Canada, both provincially and federally, legislation addresses the requirement to create a harassment- and violencefree workplace. Combined with corporate and

social media initiatives, there is a heightened awareness with respect to workplace mental health issues. Lorenzo Lisi, partner and head of the workplace law group at Aird & Berlis LLP, has seen how this awareness is impacting employers, both legally and practically. Lisi says employers are struggling to address mental health accommodation requests where, unlike requests for accommodation for physical disabilities, there is little to no knowledge of any issue with the employee. This, in turn, can lead to discipline or even terminations being incorrectly attributed to ‘culpable’ misconduct when the underlying reason for the behaviour might be a mental health issue. Lisi explains that the law assumes, in certain circumstances, that employers may have constructive knowledge of a mental health disability, which is based on what a reasonable person would think in similar circumstances. This means that even if an employer isn’t specifically advised by an employee that they have a mental health condition that could impact their behaviour or performance, there may be certain ‘red flags’ that suggest a mental health issue. Lisi adds that it’s not surprising that many employers struggle to differentiate between culpable misconduct that’s unrelated to mental health and conduct where mental health comes into play. He uses the example of substance abuse or alcohol addiction, both of which might impact an employee’s behaviour or performance. Similarly, erratic behaviour or continued disputes with co-workers might be triggered by certain mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, while frequent absenteeism might be caused by depression or anxiety. “If an employee is suffering from a disability, the rule is that you must accommodate them to the point of undue hardship,” Lisi says. “Discipline is not an appropriate response unless there is a refusal to comply with treatment or, for example, a return-to-work or accommodation plan. When there is misconduct that might be related to a mental health issue, the employer may need to make inquiries while still being mindful of privacy issues.”


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There is no bright line test in this situation, and there’s abuse on both sides of complying with legal obligations. It’s not uncommon, Lisi says, for employees to claim a mental health disability to avoid disciplinary action, which then requires a request for and examination of medical documentation. In fact, employers are required to make inquiries into restrictions and possible accommodations as part of their legal obligation to accommodate, and employees must cooperate in that endeavour. There are also examples of employers rushing to make a disciplinary decision without exploring the need for a mental illness accommodation. “Take the time to look at the situation rather than jumping to conclusions,” Lisi advises. “It’s really important. It doesn’t mean you have to put up with bad performance or misconduct, but an examination of the context of the conduct or performance, and a deeper look at some of

the issues that could be causing the misconduct, is always good advice. Employers can take it from there.” Lisi stresses that employers should put mechanisms in place to promote a healthy workplace and deal with interpersonal conflict in the appropriate way. Performance expectations should be clear and consistently enforced. If there are issues, there should be a clear policy on how to deal with them, and open and consistent communications with the employee should be an essential part of this approach. Many businesses offer training and policies to deal with cases of bullying and harassment. Wellness programs can also be extremely beneficial to help cut down on absenteeism and raise awareness of available mental health accommodations. In fact, many organizations have set up mental health awareness programs, such as Bell’s Let’s Talk, which aims to destigmatize and

drive action in mental health care, research and the workplace. Aird & Berlis runs a mental health awareness week every year with programs after work and during lunch breaks, featuring guest speakers and workshops, to raise awareness and offer stress management advice and support to workers who might be suffering from a mental health issue. The firm also offers training for managers to help leaders set the proper tone for talking about mental health and providing support to those in need. “It makes for a much more open workplace where people who have issues are not afraid to step forward and ask for assistance if they need it,” Lisi says. By offering support and maintaining an inclusive and open workplace culture around mental illness, organizations are likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and save money, which is a benefit to both employers and employees.


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How to craft a cannabis policy Many Canadian employers are still in the dark about how to address cannabis in the workplace. Canopy Growth Corporation’s Dr. Mark Ware offers some advice on where to start

health insurance providers is also a big part of the challenge of developing sensible workplace and coverage policies. To this end, Spectrum Therapeutics, the medical division of Canopy Growth, has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to help destigmatize cannabis use among employers. The two organizations will collaborate to develop an educational module as part of CMHA’s Not Myself Today workplace mental health program. This module, slated to launch early next year in time for CMHA Mental Health Week

Removing the stigma of cannabis through dialogue, intensive research and education holds substantial potential to provide needed relief to Canadians THE CONCEPT of permitting cannabis in the workplace likely raises an important paradox for many employers. We have been conditioned to think of cannabis use in terms of impairment and abuse. As a result, a zero-tolerance approach to cannabis remains a cornerstone of many workplace policies. While zero tolerance is one policy option, it is not based on evidence. There is a case to be made that accommodating medical cannabis use might boost employees’ productivity by alleviating symptoms or reducing the use of some medications. With absenteeism climbing, currently resulting in 10 lost days per employee each year, and depression and anxiety costing the Canadian economy an estimated $17.3 billion per year in foregone GDP due to lost productivity, it is clear something needs to be done. Currently, many of the more than 360,000 Canadians authorized to access medical


cannabis are covering the cost of this treatment out of their own pockets. That in itself is an important statement about the benefit and value of cannabis. While data on safety and efficacy is not ideal, particularly in the classical pharmaceutical method, it does exist. A significant number of Canadian group insurance companies have conducted their own independent assessments on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, citing several conditions where the provision of medical cannabis may be a suitable option. Further clinical trials are ongoing, and more extensive and robust data can be expected. But in the meantime, plan sponsors can look to their insurers for guidance on how to implement a managed medical cannabis benefit that at least offers certain levels of coverage for plan members. Education for employers, employees and

(May 4–10, 2020), will feature a host of physical and digital engagement tools, as well as video resources featuring medical cannabis subject-matter experts. The aim is to encourage greater oversight by healthcare professionals when patients use cannabis to treat a medical condition. Removing the stigma of cannabis through dialogue, intensive research and education holds substantial potential to provide needed relief to Canadians, prevent work-related harms and help them get back to work. Turning the clock back on decades of prohibition won’t happen overnight, but there are actions that can be taken to ensure that those who benefit from medical cannabis are not disadvantaged for longer than necessary. Dr. Mark Ware serves as the chief medical officer for Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation.


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The power of fear Rather than being a warning of failure, fear can often be a sign of approaching success. The challenge, writes Molly Moseley, is learning to work through it

YOUR PALMS are sweaty. Your stomach has that light, unsettled feeling. Your mind races eagerly from thought to thought. Fear is an innate part of the human experience and has been essential to our survival as a species for thousands of years. While fear keeps us from danger, it also can keep us from many other amazing experiences.

I accepted the offer and decided not to let fear get in my way. To do the best job possible, I knew extensive preparation was essential. I took plenty of time to prepare my points, hone my message and practice out loud. I was nervous but ready. Ultimately, the presentation went well, and I got tons of great feedback. I’m glad I

While fear keeps us from danger, it also can keep us from many other amazing experiences Recently, I was asked to speak at a community networking event. I was excited about the opportunity, but fear reared its ugly head. Like it is for many others, public speaking is outside my comfort zone. The thought of addressing a crowd full of people was overwhelming. Would I speak well? Would they learn from me? Could I inspire them? Doubt sunk in. A flurry of negative thoughts raged through my mind, from stumbling over my words to physically stumbling over the podium. I had a choice: Give into fear and maintain the status quo, or challenge myself and give it my best.

accepted the offer and tried something new. When faced with a career challenge, it’s easy to take the comfortable path. However, when you do this – whether for public speaking, a big promotion or a move across the country – you’ll always wonder about the road less travelled. The next time fear creeps up, rather than considering it a warning of impending failure, view it as a sign you’re on the right path. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and inventors attest that fear isn’t always a warning of the negative; it’s often a signal that you’re on your way to success.

When facing doubt, it’s important to realize fear is not unique to you. Everyone experiences fear, even those you might feel are immune to it. Will Ferrell’s 2017 commencement speech for the University of Southern California made this point perfectly. “You’re never not afraid. I’m still afraid,” Ferrell said. “I was afraid to write this speech. And now, I’m just realizing how many people are watching me right now, and it’s scary. Can you please look away while I deliver the rest of the speech? But my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of ‘what if.’ What if I never tried at all?” For the graduates about to embark on a brand-new adventure, he offered some advice that I think is fitting for just about anyone:

• Enjoy the process of your search

without succumbing to the pressure of the result.

• Trust your gut. • Keep throwing darts at the dartboard. • Don’t listen to the critics – you will figure it out.

So next time you feel fear holding you back from trying something new – whether in your personal or professional life – push those feelings down and stomp them with your foot. Then be bold and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll succeed. At the very least, you’ll be glad you tried. Molly Moseley is a marketing strategist and brand evangelist. She serves as part of the cross-functional leadership team at LinkUp in developing, managing and positioning products that capture new market share and expand existing relationships. For more information, visit linkup.com.


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How to get what you want from difficult people Difficult people are a fact of life. Aytekin Tank offers three guidelines that can help you defuse even the most uncomfortable confrontations

ACCORDING TO Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner, authors of Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, there are several challenging personality types that make our lives harder: The Tank: Confrontational and angry The Sniper: Makes you look foolish The Grenade: Explodes into fury out of nowhere The Know-It-All: Authoritative and must have things done their way The Whiner: Points out everything wrong in vague terms You might be thinking of a person to put


one of these labels on. They could be a friend, co-worker, customer or family member (circa that tense Thanksgiving of 2016). Still, according to executive consultant Tim McClintock, only about 10% of the people you encounter are categorized as difficult, even if some days that number feels much larger. The other day, I was standing behind a guy dressed in a tan suit at a coffee shop. He was on his phone while simultaneously rambling off a complex drink order. Between the mumbles at the barista and the chatter into his wireless earbuds, I think all of us waiting in line knew what was going to happen next. At the end of the bar, he picked up his coffee, took a sip and immediately lost it over the ‘extra foam’ now destined to ruin his day. Unkind words were exploded across

the counter, leaving the barista temporarily frozen. A Tank – confrontational and angry – was on the loose. I watched as the barista listened to what he said, put his head down and redelivered the order to the man in just a few moments. He handed the cup over kindly, watched for his approval, nodded and then went to his next order as the man walked out the door, still talking on his phone. The barista had gotten what he wanted. He kept his goal in mind, and by listening and then taking action in the face of verbal accosting ,  he got him to leave. When you’re communicating with any difficult personality, being in the moment is hard. At JotForm, we have over 3.5 million users, and some of our users give us a difficult time


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Listening, combined with the intent to understand what is being sought, gives you a prime opportunity to end the interaction while achieving your goals almost every single day. The following guidelines help me defuse situations, from handling our customer relations to managing our team of more than 108 employees.


Listen and understand the end goal

At first, the barista froze to avoid conflict. We’re all hard-wired like that. Every last one of our brains still defaults to fight-

flight-freeze when something highly stressful or unsettling occurs. However, when a person is acting unreasonably right in front of you ,  being like the barista works perfectly. He was able to not only move through this automatic response of fight-flight-freeze, but also get clear on what he wanted and execute flawlessly. Listening, combined with the intent to understand what is being sought, gives you a prime opportunity to end the

interaction while achieving your goals. The barista understood that no matter what the man said, what he really wanted was to have his coffee the way he asked for it. He listened past all the yelling to delineate how he could fix the situation while achieving his goal of watching him walk out the door. The feedback was harsh, but this barista was a pro.


Focus on what you can do

You might not be able to avoid what difficult people have to say, but you have control over what you do and, more importantly, what you ask. Asking questions puts you in the driver’s seat to let the person air what they have to say while guiding them to what you can do anything about.


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Asking questions puts you in the driver’s seat to let the person air what they have to say while guiding them to what you can do anything about Difficult people, especially the ones Dr. Brinkman and Dr. Kirschner refer to as Whiners, require a lot of directed questioning so you can understand their desires and what actions are available to you. On the flip side, during this intense questioning, you might end up uncovering something about yourself you wouldn’t have known otherwise. We decided to test this process by conducting face-to-face interviews with our users. In one of our first interviews, we came up close and personal with the Whiner. This person drained our time, providing vague descriptions while sprinkling them with unpleasant commentary. We didn’t give up – we kept digging, always keeping in mind our goal of how we could create a better product. An hour later, we struck gold. We found out this customer had been using JotForm as a productivity tool.


Customer after customer shared similar tales as our interviews continued over the following weeks. By continually asking deeper questions of a difficult customer and not giving up, we not only found a new focus, but we also discovered the difference between challenging people and unpleasant comments.


Make a distinction between a difficult message and a difficult person

Earlier this year, a customer made several new feature requests and was pretty adamant about their unhappiness with our functionality in a support thread comment. Good news: They felt comfortable enough to let us know where we didn’t meet their expectations. Bad news: Yikes. I didn’t take the grievances shared on our forum personally. I did, however, take them

seriously. I don’t usually jump into support discussions, but this was a critical moment to examine whether this person was being difficult or giving us an opportunity for improvement. Further, what if by challenging our platform and strategies, this customer was giving us a huge gift? I needed to find out. I saw this as an opportunity and stepped into the forum to respond to the customer’s experience. I provided details on what was going on with the platform that could be causing their issues and also offered my email address for further discussion. It always helps to get clear on the difference between a difficult message and a difficult person. What couldn’t be seen on the thread was us listening to their issues and ascertaining their end goals through deepdiving questions. You will always come across challenging people, but by listening to them, asking questions, understanding their goal and focusing on your actions, you can put yourself in the best position to succeed in getting what you want. It won’t always happen in the most pleasant way, but keeping these guidelines in mind helped us handle challenging moments both with our users and within our organization, and hopefully they’ll help you grow, too. Don’t freeze and walk away, but instead engage head-on with these personalities. They will push you to innovate, make things better and fill in gaps you didn’t know were there before they arrived. I’d say that’s a gift worth getting at the expense of an uncomfortable confrontation, wouldn’t you? Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of JotForm, an online form creation software with four million users worldwide and more than 100 employees. A developer by trade but writer by heart, Tank shares stories about how he exponentially grew his company without any outside funding. For more information, visit jotform.com.


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LISTENING IN Kristina Holle has long known that everyone has a story – all you have to do is listen A trip to Africa as a teenager proved to be an eye-opener for Holle. “It had a huge impact on me, on how I saw cultures: to see where people are coming from and not be judgmental. Everyone has a different story, and we should listen to the story. Females were not seen in the same way as in the Western world; that was eye-opening. I realized that Canada was an amazing country, and I appreciated all the things that we take for granted.”





DISCOVERS HR Although she toyed with the idea of going into law after her undergraduate degree, the discovery of the employment law component of HR led Holle down a different road. “That drew me in. I did a year-long condensed post-graduate program in HR and fell in love with it. Once I got into the program and saw the connection with people and driving engagement, as well as the legal aspects – labour relations and bargaining – I made my decision.”


FORGES CONNECTIONS Holle challenged herself by moving back into warehousing at Coca-Cola.

“You had to be a strong character; it brought those qualities out in me. They would send me into a room with a bunch of angry people to mediate. I try not to judge; I try to connect with people and share their concerns” 2014

MOVES TO THE GAP Always ready for a new experience, Holle accepted a position with retailer Gap Inc., which prompted her to learn how to manage transformation and change. “You have to understand people culture and know how to listen. People have to be involved in this process and in driving the culture; it can’t be top-down. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to engage with people and encourage them to be as passionate about the organization as I am.”

WINS A SCHOLARSHIP Holle attended university on a scholarship from Johnsons, which required her to work in one of the company’s warehouses, giving her perspective on what it was like to be in a manufacturing environment. “I worked hard to achieve that scholarship; it was about being well-read and connected to the community, as well as academics and athletics. It was a big deal to get that scholarship, and my education was important to me; it wasn’t something I could take for granted.”


FINDS HER VOICE A move into hospitality and hotels propelled Holle’s career and thrust her into a leadership role. “I started as a junior and was running the department within five years. We dealt with SARS and the 2003 blackout. My philosophy is to diversify: to understand how different industries run. Hospitality taught me that perception is reality.”


PRIORITIZES ENGAGEMENT Tapped for her labour experience, Holle joined supply chain manager Progistix Solutions to help build out its HR function. “I realized that you could build out engagement without money via wellness programs, and we could leverage that as a way to form good relationships with the unions. To build engagement or culture, you need to take the time to have the conversations and to provide the space to do so.”


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COLIN STREETER was always a water baby – the senior HR leader grew up surfing, windsurfing, fishing, swimming and sailing. So when he considered a three-year sabbatical to sail around the world, he says it was “never a case of why, but when.” The youngest of Streeter’s children leaving for university provided the opening for the journey, given that he and his wife were still young enough to tackle the physical aspect of sailing a yacht and make the most of all

Colin Streeter typically holds senior HR roles in leading corporations, but right now he’s out to sea


Countries Streeter has visited on his journey so far


Days it took him to complete the longest single sail of the trip (6,480km)

the adventures they’ve had along the way. Currently approaching the end of his journey, Streeter is scheduled to complete his circumnavigation of the globe in Bundaberg, on Australia’s east coast, on October 30 and return home by mid-November. However, he admits that the homecoming will be bittersweet. “This has been the most wonderful experience of my life,” he says. “I would highly recommend it to others.”


Times Streeter has been chased at sea by potential ‘pirate’ boats

Streeter’s health played a pa rt in his decision to ta ke to the waves. “I felt a major intervention was needed to really restore my pea k health, fitness, energ y a nd zest for life a nd work,” he says. “It worked. I have regained so mu ch of what I had lost over the previous 20 yea rs.”



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