These are the five most popular articles Queen’s IRC released in 2017.
1. Best Practices for the Union-Management Relationship in the Workplace
Gary T. Furlong, Queen’s IRC Facilitator
These are challenging times for public-sector finances, private-sector growth in a sputtering economy, and hard conversations at the collective bargaining table. With so many issues on the macro level, we sometimes lose sight of the day-to-day working relationship for all of our employees and bargaining unit members. For the vast majority of unionized and non-unionized workers, it is the day-to-day interactions that determine whether the workplace is a productive, engaged environment, or one that preoccupies everyone with conflict, grievances and problems. Where each workplace falls on that spectrum will largely determine productivity, quality, absenteeism, as well as retention and recruitment. In other words, success often depends on what we do each and every day in the union-management relationship.
Jointly Building a Productive, Constructive Workplace To achieve a healthy workplace that leads to commitment and engagement, there are some important best practices that can be implemented, jointly, by the union-management partnership. Consider some or all of the following five best practices for managing in a unionized workplace.
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2. Performance Management – Many Possibilities…and Implications
Ian Cullwick, Queen’s IRC Facilitator
Performance Management (PM) has become a core organizational strategy and management priority for many organizations. From Boards of Directors to front-line managers, PM can effectively be used to drive accountability, quality, productivity, competence, and rewards and recognition. Going beyond simply a tool to drive “appraisals” and incentive rewards, PM can be complex and not without risk but it can also drive a sophisticated quality and performance-based culture.
Performance management has also become both a strategic imperative and a challenge for many organizations in this data analytics day and age. As a core enabler of performance optimization and accountability, many executive and HR leaders view PM as a core management practice and a key ingredient to becoming a higher performance organization. As a result of various regulatory, methodological and technological developments over the past five years, however, PM has become a misunderstood topic that is confusing for many organizations, especially for those that do not recognize the interdependencies that cut across other management and human resources practices at the enterprise-wide, team and individual levels of performance.
Best practice performance management is clearly not a “one size fits all” endeavor. Rather, it needs to fundamentally reflect the unique contextual needs of one’s strategic direction, business model, workforce profile and leadership preferences. Best practice PM also needs to be thoughtfully configured, and in many cases, phased in and allowed to mature, otherwise, the policies and programs that it supports will collapse and be rendered ineffective – a management risk that could be quite damaging, ultimately constraining front-line performance and of key importance, customer satisfaction.
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3. Creating a Collaborative Workplace: Amplifying Teamwork in Your Organization
Brenda Barker Scott, Queen’s IRC Facilitator
Let’s begin with a question. Are you experiencing barriers to working collaboratively, even though you know collaboration is necessary? If you answered yes, this article is for you.
We all know that contemporary work requires collaboration. In our fast-paced, knowledge-intensive workplaces, success requires people to integrate and leverage their efforts. However, knowing that collaboration is essential and being able to foster collaboration, are two different things. Indeed, collaborative failures are commonplace.
As an academic and practitioner, the question I hold is: how can we design organizations to foster necessary collaborative work? Two core assumptions are inherent in my question. The first is that organizations must understand their collaborative work needs. In other words, to support purposeful collaboration, leaders must first step back and reflect on the basic question: what work will benefit from a collaborative effort? While seemingly simple, this question requires leaders to rethink the very nature of how work is framed, assigned and distributed. A second core assumption is that collaborative work cannot simply be overlaid on top of traditional contexts. Rather, collaborative efforts require a system of norms, relationships, processes, technologies, spaces, and structures that are quite different from the ways organizations have worked in the past.
Below, I share the learnings I am acquiring through my research and practice around how collaboration is changing, and the ecosystem of supports that enable it.
4. The Golden Years: The Aging Workforce and Human Rights Matters
Deborah Hudson, Lawyer, Turnpenney Milne LLP
As the Canadian population ages, so does our workforce. Mandatory retirement programs have generally been outlawed (with few exemptions), and many Canadians now choose to work into their 60s and 70s for various reasons including: fulfillment, financial gains, longer life spans, lack of savings and failed pension plans.
Employers can significantly benefit by retaining and hiring older employees who may offer considerable knowledge, experience and insight, along with dedication and work ethic. All of these benefits are accompanied by a unique set of human rights considerations related to our aging workforce, including age discrimination and age related disability. With respect to age discrimination, employees may experience ageism within an ongoing employment relationship, or when trying to secure a new job later in life. Older employees may feel like they are being forced to retire or may be passed up for deserved promotions on the unverified assumptions they will not be working too much longer. Older employees may also be targeted for termination, when they had intended to work for several years more. Persons seeking new jobs later in life may experience age discrimination during the recruitment process.
With respect to age-related disability, older employees may experience medical issues, and employers must accommodate age-related health issues in the exact same way that any other disability is accommodated. Some disabilities are far easier to accommodate than others. A defined physical limitation may be readily accommodated on a permeant basis by using an assistive device, whereas an invisible disability and/or cyclical disability may require a more flexible accommodation approach. For instance, an employee experiencing certain forms of arthritis may feel significant pain and require time off during flare-ups; however, the cyclical and sporadic nature of the required accommodation could present scheduling challenges. Far more challenging is understanding and accommodating a brain disorder (such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia). In such situations the employee may not even be aware of their own health issues, and the employer will be tasked with determining if any medical conditions even exist and if so, if such can be accommodated.
The aging population may also result in increased requests for family status accommodations, when children or relatives request time off to assist in the caregiving needs of their elders.
This article will explore some key human rights considerations and interesting case-law related to our aging workforce.
5. The Making of the Super CHRO
Philip C. Wilson and Bill Greenhalgh
Today CHRO’s are judged on what they deliver and how they get things done. Aligning talent, fostering engagement, enabling common shared vision and values are critical elements in their toolkit. The CHRO has a vital role in shaping the direction of the organization and ensuring business success for all its shareholders. A tall order for sure but one that I believe we are fully equipped to deliver.
In a previous article, Aligning HR Strategies to Create Business Success, I (Philip Wilson) described a Human Resources Framework encapsulating the five components which I propose are the knowledge competency base that are requisite elements for CHRO success:
- Strategic Business Planning and HR Alignment
- Talent Acquisition Allocation and Management
- People Management
- Compensation, Rewards and Recognition
- Employee and Leadership Professional Development
This article gives more detail on item 1 above – Strategic Business Planning and HR Alignment. The intent is to provide the reader with a deeper insight and focus on the strategic business planning process and how CHRO’s can help align HR with the overall strategic business priorities of the firm. That activity must include consideration of areas such as board governance, corporate vision, mission, values, logic modelling and how the strategy is executed. Bill Greenhalgh, currently President and Chief Executive Officer Stratx Inc., provides insights from a CEO’s perspective.
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