Queen's University IRC

Research Briefs – September 2020

Queen's University IRC - Research Briefs

   Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners

Sept 2020   



In This Issue…

  1. Best Practices for Returning to the Workplace
  2. The Human Resources Business Partner
  3. Participate in our Survey on the State of Labour Relations in Canada in 2020
Queen's University Campus   

Best Practices for Returning to the Workplace
Gary T. Furlong, Kenda L. Murphy, 2020

There are many unanswered questions about Canadian workplaces as we look toward reopening offices. The well-established principles and guidelines that employers, unions and employees have followed for many years will certainly help navigate this process. That said, this pandemic takes us into new and uniquely uncharted waters that may well shift some or all of these principles as we move forward. This article will look at the frameworks in place today, as well as best practices for boldly going where few workplaces have gone before.

Management Rights
An important principle is the idea of management rights, in both union and non-union workplaces. Following this principle, employers, for example, have the right to determine work location – remote, in-office, or a mix. In most collective agreements, for example, the management rights clause typically allows management to set all aspects of the work and workplace, unless specific language has been negotiated in the collective agreement. In non-union workplaces, this right can only be constrained by language in individual employment contracts.

This is, of course, not a blanket right – employers cannot violate employment standards legislation or labour laws, nor use this right in any way that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or done in bad faith. Practically speaking, however, if the employer decides they want the workforce to return from remote work to working in the office, they have a right to this.

It would be a mistake, however, for employers to focus too heavily on these rights as a way to make effective decisions for the organization. As a famous saying goes, “Just because you have the right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.” In addition, this right comes along with some significant obligations.

>> Download Article


The Human Resources Business Partner
Dr. Carol A. Beatty, Queen’s IRC, 2019

The Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) is a popular designation for many human resources professionals in today’s Canadian organizations. However, there seems to be no consistent definition of this role and its responsibilities. This article will attempt to describe the most common organizational structures or models used by HR departments to incorporate HRBPs and will review the strengths and challenges of these models. It will also illustrate the duties and the necessary skills of the fully competent HRBP and make recommendations for organizations considering creating HRBP roles.

Assumptions underlying the HRBP Model
At the heart of the Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) model is the assumption that an HR professional should become a strategic partner with line managers to help fulfill business goals. Its intent is to “help HR professionals integrate more thoroughly into business processes and align their day-to-day work with business outcomes. This means focusing more on deliverables and business results than HR activities.”

A second assumption is that the human side of the business is a key source of competitive advantage. The HRBP model enables the organization to optimize its human capital by bringing human resources considerations into strategic plans.

>> Download Article


Participate in our Survey on the State of Labour Relations in Canada in 2020

Queen's IRC is currently conducting a survey on the State of Labour Relations in Canada. We invite anyone who works in a labour relations role (union or management) to share your insights with us before October 15, 2020.

The survey asks demographic questions to understand the varied roles and responsibilities of people working in labour relations roles, as well as your perspectives on labour relations in Canada in 2020. For your participation, you'll have a chance to win a $50 coffee card (ie: Tim Hortons or Starbucks).

Questions? Please contact our research team at IRCresearch@QueensU.ca.

>> Take the Survey and Enter to Win a $50 Gift Card



Virtual Programs

Building Trust in the Workplace
Sept 15-18, 2020
(half days)

Labour Relations Foundations
Sept 21-25, 2020
(full days)

Coaching Skills
Oct 20-23, 2020
(partial days)

New Collective Bargaining During a Pandemic
Oct 22, 2020
(10am-5pm ET)

Strategies for Workplace Conflicts
Oct 26-29, 2020
(partial days)

Linking HR Strategy to Business Strategy
Oct 27-29, 2020
(full days)

Change Management
Nov 2-6, 2020
(partial days)

OD Foundations
Nov 3-6, 2020
(full days)

Managing Unionized Environments
Nov 16-19, 2020
(partial days)

Performance Management
Nov 16-17, 24-25, 2020 (partial days)

HR Metrics and Analytics
Nov 24-26, 2020
(full days)

Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation
Nov 30-Dec 4, 2020 (partial days)

Organizational Design
Dec 7-11, 2020
(partial days)

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