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Research Briefs – October 2015

Queen’s University IRC - Research Briefs

   Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners

Oct 2015   



In This Issue…

  1. HR Secrets of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies
  2. Business Intelligence, Big Data, and HR
  3. A Closer Look at Resistance to Change
  Queen’s University Campus  

HR Secrets of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies
Lynda Zugec, Managing Director, The Workforce Consultants, 2015

We surveyed the Profit 500, an annual listing of the 500 fastest growing companies in Canada, to find out about their HR practices. We asked questions (see Appendix) surrounding their strategic capabilities, organizational development activities, change management processes, training opportunities, performance management systems, leadership development programs, and the use of HR technology.

Overall Findings
Overall, the top HR challenges faced by the Profit 500 include (1) finding key talent, (2) managing and feeding talent pipelines, (3) appropriately leveraging HR metrics to inform decision making, and (4) choosing and incorporating the right HR technology.

1. Finding (and Keeping) Key Talent
It may seem paradoxical that finding and keeping key talent is an issue, given the unemployment rates of recent years. However, increased hiring is leading to increased competition, leaving many organizations on the Profit 500 to discover new methods of attracting and retaining the talent they need. According to the survey, a little over 60% of the Profit 500 are looking for innovative ways to increase their ability to fill performance gaps, including the ability to analyze and select for the skills they require. This has led the Profit 500 to consider where and when employees work and how to engage them most effectively.

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Business Intelligence, Big Data, and HR
Ian Turnbull, BA, MBA, Laird & Greer Management Group, 2015

Our people are our most important asset, or so we hear, so data about those people – workers, or employees, if you prefer – should be central to our organization’s total data set! To understand where HR data fits, you first have to understand your organization’s overall data management strategy. How is data collected, organized, and managed? And how do you analyze that data to obtain information?

“Business Intelligence”, the idea of transforming raw data into useful and actionable information, has become an oft-discussed concept. It allows management to gain historical insight and to produce predictive analytics for competitive advantage. And Business Intelligence arises directly from “Big Data”, the process of bringing together raw data from multiple data sources into a single analytical tool. That tool can be used by management to produce Business Intelligence.

The next time that you use Google, or some other search engine, do a search for some unusual item; something that you haven’t searched for before. Then spend some time on sites that you visit often.

You will notice that ads related to the unusual item will pop up beside your search results for the more common items. That is Big Data at work in a marketing context. Google has picked up your first search and is now displaying pages that its algorithm predicts will be of interest to you based on that search. And Google (and other providers) charge advertisers for this. It is the core of their economic model.

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A Closer Look at Resistance to Change
Dr. Carol A. Beatty, Queen’s IRC, 2015

Introductory Case Study: Transition to a Flexible Work Environment
In 2001, all non-computer products and services of the Ottawa branch of Hewlett-Packard were grouped into a new company called “Agilant” and moved out of the existing branch office. The remaining one hundred employees at the Ottawa branch office were solely responsible for the sales and servicing of Hewlett-Packard’s latest computer systems and software programs. At the same time, those at the Ottawa branch embarked upon a change initiative called “New Generation Workplace” (NGW), whose objectives were to reduce fixed office space costs by significantly reducing the number of desks and at the same time to move from a traditional to a flexible work environment. These changes had been mandated by headquarters in the United States. After these two changes, the size of the physical office was reduced by 35 percent and employees were encouraged to spend less time in the office by working from home.

Effective in March 2001, the majority of employees in the sales, servicing and marketing departments were no longer entitled to a designated desk space. In exchange, they were offered a choice between two drawers or space in a filing cabinet. A reduced number of workstations were made available by a reservation for a period of one to three days at a time. When they had not reserved a desk, employees were expected to work from home or out of a client’s office.

Initially, this initiative was met with skepticism. As one employee said: “We’ve lost the privilege of calling a certain desk our own, but the whole project hasn’t changed things all that much. I’m not sure if they’ll be getting rid of more desks in the future or not. For the time being, for all the hype there are still just as many people in the office as ever.” Sales members whose quotas were dependent upon team performance were also skeptical of the new approach. One sales employee stated: “By nature, sales people require high affiliation, so it won’t work.”

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Upcoming Programs

Negotiation Skills
Oct 18-23, 2015
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Building Trust in the Workplace
Oct 19, 2015

Organizational Design
Oct 20-22, 2015
Nov 3-5, 2015
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Organization Development Foundations
Oct 27-30, 2015
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Designing Change
Nov 3-5, 2015

Managing Unionized Environments
Nov 3-5, 2015
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Advanced Human Resources
Nov 16-18, 2015

Strategic Workforce Planning
Nov 19-20, 2015
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Labour Relations Foundations
Nov 23-27, 2015
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Coaching Skills

Nov 25-26, 2015

Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation
Dec 1-4, 2015
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