What Is HR’s Role in Whistle-Blowing?


Is HR about strategic direction and transactional efficiency? Yes, but it is much more than that — it is really about relationships. HR is the conduit of organizational relationships. The word conduit comes from the Latin “conducere”, which means, “to bring together”.

Think about it — HR’s role is to bring all aspects of business, strategy, and employee performance together into a coherent whole. The tone of all workplace relationships is set by HR. One area that HR may not be functioning as an effective conduit, however, is in its relationship with the whistle-blower.

According to the Cambridge Online dictionary a whistle-blower is defined as, “a person who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening, especially in a government department or a company.”

This definition is helpful, but we can expend it further. From a human resources perspective we might also include things that are deemed immoral, inappropriate, or somehow just not right. In every such eventuality HR must lead the way in protecting the organization as well as the whistle-blower.

Norm Keith, a lawyer from Fasken Martineau, expands the importance of this concept in this article in HRD Online Canada.

Click here to read Keith’s thoughts on the whistle-blower concept.

HR needs to be a leading presence that is responsible for bringing people in organizations together, while also helping to ensure that employees and the organization itself are protected from activities that could tear the organization apart. It is time for HR to make sure it has a proactive whistle-blowing policy in place.

Discussion Questions:

Review the legislation in your jurisdiction with respect to whistle-blowing laws. What have you learned from your research?

Prepare a 3-minute presentation designed to convince your VP of HR that your company needs a whistle blower policy.


Strategic Funding

Money talks.

3d rendering robotic hand holding gold coins isolated on white
Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock

To paraphrase a familiar saying, ‘show me your budget, and I’ll show you what you value’. The allocation of strategic funding sets up the symbiotic relationship between financial resources and organizational goals. Organizations need both the long-term strategic vision and the immediate allocation of resources to achieve that vision for the future.

When organizational planning take place within the broader context of environmental scanning, the future is determined by actions in the present. We can see an example of strategic forecasting through funding when we look to the 2017 Canadian federal budget announcements.

As part of these announcements, the federal government allocated $125 million to develop and promote Canada as a world leader in digital innovation.

Click here to read a summary of the funding announcement.

Click here to read the impact of the announcement on industry. 

From a Human Resources strategic planning perspective, this is a big deal.

The environment of the workplace being shaped now, through both funding and resource allocations is based in the digital world. This means that the workforce will need to understand and develop a proactive approach to artificial intelligence and digital infrastructures. The traditional approach to who performs the work and what work is performed is changing as we continue to deploy digital innovations in Canadian workplaces.

The breadth and scope of the implementation of artificial intelligence and digital knowledge ‎in those workplaces will determine who is part of the workforce of the future. Based on these funding announcements, it looks like the money might be on the robots.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the pros and cons of creating jobs that will be needed in the ‘fintech’ industry?
  2. As a Human Resources practitioner, how can you plan for the creation of jobs that are based in artificial intelligence?
  3. Why does Canada need to be part of a push for digital innovation?

The Giggers: Part 2

Even traditional retirement cannot escape the Gig Economy.

In a recent blog we looked at the new and expanding Gig economy, with this trend being discussed by Faith Popcorn in a Fast Company article. This HRM Canada article takes another perspective and it is called: Are we on a brink of a retirement revolution?

Click here to read more about the retirement revolution.

There are two main reasons: the Gig economy; and we are living significantly longer.

According to Morag Barret, Ph.D. author and seasoned HR professional, “Work is becoming more like tours of duty and statistics from the World Economic Forum say that within the next 10 years, 50 percent of the workforce is likely to be in the gig economy.” This means the Gig economy is strong and getting stronger. Think of the changes that could happen if you took 50% of the working population and placed them in a new employment structure; a structure that is fluid and variable in nature, where individual workers will move in and out of working time disperse with other activities such as sabbaticals, travel and volunteerism.

This is going to drastically affect our current understanding of employment careers. Combine the new Gig economy with the fact that workers in our society are living longer; sometimes 30 to 40 years past the traditional retirement date.  These factors will affect retirement and the system of full stop retirement may have to change.

In addition, the career ladder as we understand it is quickly disappearing. HR departments need to start thinking differently about how they are going to recruit, retain and train workers today and for the future. To succeed HR departments must understanding the new Gig economy and the retirement revolution that is fast approaching.

Discussion Questions

  1. What should HR departments be doing now to assist employees with the new retirement realities?
  2. What systematic changes should employers be considering now to ensure they keep, engage and retain older workers?

Ontario Employment Standards Reforms 2.0

A tired and sleepy man complaining about work and pay

Changes are in the making.

Employment Standards legislation in Ontario may be getting its biggest reboot in decades. The Changing Workplace Review Committee of the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) has been charged with the task to review and make recommendations for updating Ontario’s existing labour and employment laws.

Through twelve days of public hearings around the province, the MOL have heard from over 200 organizations and individuals and received more than 300 written submissions. From that review process, the MOL have developed an interim report on recommendations for the current Liberal Government to consider.

Click here if you wish to read the interim report in detail.

The Changing Workplace Review Committee is reviewing both the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) the Employment Standards Act 2000 (ESA 2000) at the same time.

The CBC has written an article and has done a great job at summarizing the possible changes which include but not limited to:

  • Providing paid sick days.
  • Increasing paid vacation the minimum required paid vacation to three weeks per year from the current two weeks.
  • Lowering when overtime kicks in.
  • If doing the same job, part-time and full-time employees to be paid the same.
  • Schedules to be posted in advanced.
  • Restrictions on use of temporary agencies.

Click here to read the article.

Many organizations get very concerned when the government starts changing rules that make running a business more costly or adds greater regulations. Businesses, especially small business, worry that their existing struggles will be made worse, and that any regulatory increases will decrease jobs, hurting our economy.

Before anyone gets too upset, let’s remember that these are only recommendations. We must, as a just society, remember and review the reality of individuals who work in minimum wage jobs.

According to Statistics Canada:

  • Between 1997 and 2013, the proportion of employees paid at minimum wage increased from 5.0% to 6.7%. The bulk of this increase occurred between 2003 and 2010.
  • In 2013, the minimum wage was around $10 in all provinces. In constant dollars, this rate was similar to the rate observed in the late 1970s.

Let’s interpret these statistics. Less than 7% of the working population are employed in a minimum wage paying job. This means that 93% of workers are being paid and have workplace standards that are already about the minimum standards as covered by employment legislation. When considering these statistics in inflation-adjusted dollars, it seems that it is no more expensive to pay minimum wage workers now as it was in the 1970’s.

When employment laws significantly change there is always be a period of turmoil and unrest. It is the job of HR departments to conduct an assessment to determine what the true impact will be.

Discussion Questions

  1. Review the Changing Workplace Review Committee’s interim report. Focus on the proposed changes to employment standards. Pick two recommendations that you would implement in your workplace, including a rationale for each.

Click here to read the report.

Top HR Trends for 2017

What’s coming next in HR?

Business and healthy lifestyle concept. Portrait of young office woman doing fitness exercise at workplace. Happy beautiful business lady doing side bending posture on her break time

Deloitte has produced a comprehensive document on the top HR trends for 2017. Some would be easy to spot if you are an HR professional that keeps current; others trends are not so easy to see. Here are some of the overriding trends in HR for 2017:

  • No organization no matter what size can survive without some type of HR. HR has permeated all organizations to their core.
  • Continue to move and improve HR systems away from transactional to not only strategic but to applicable, with the creation of technology apps that make workers more productive.
  • People or employee data analytics will become more functional, no longer just storing data but analyzing HR data for organization decision-making.
  • The use of data to influence performance management in a meaningful way. Many organizations will drastically re-invent their performance management systems with real-time assessment and employee engagement.
  • Increased emphasis on the learning organization; according to Deloitte millennial’s rate training and development as the top job benefit.
  • There will be a greater requirement for expanded recruitment sourcing.
  • There will be an explosion in new wellness initiatives in the workplace.
  • One of the most disruptive HR trends will be the incorporation of artificial intelligence into work.

If Deloitte’s trends and disruptive innovations are accurate there will be a lot of HR to do in the coming year.

Click here to read a summary of the top HR trends by HR ONLINE

or Click here to read the complete document.

Discussion Questions

  1. Review the nine HR trends for 2017. Which one do you feel will become readily accepted? Which ones do you feel will be challenged by HR or employees?
  2. Pick two up and coming HR trends and develop an action plan for what you have to do to become more knowledge about the trends.
  3. If you had to pick one trend to implement, which one would you pick for an HR department to implement and why? Defend you answer.