Published Articles

Conference 2018

  • A More Intelligent World of Work

    We Are undergoing a paradigm shift in the workplace – and preparation is the key to keeping pace

    By Karen Stone, CHRE

    It’s often been said that change is the only constant – and when it comes to our economic models and this concept we call “work,” the pace of change is accelerating more rapidly than ever before.

  • The New Year Brings a New Entitlement to Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Chronic Mental Stress Injuries

    Employees must meet the required criteria to qualify for entitlement

    By Malcolm MacKillop, Hendrik Nieuwland and Amelia Cooke, with assistance from Seth Holland

    As of Jan. 1, 2018, Ontario workers will be entitled to claim benefits from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for chronic mental stress injuries arising out of and in the course of their employment.

  • Welcome to the Revolution

    The next economic epoch is already on our doorstep. Is your organization ready to cross the threshold?

    By Liz Bernier

    You wake gently, the silent alarm in your smart device rousing you with minimal disruption to your sleep cycle. Any other morning, you would feel peaceful, well rested and relaxed.

  • Decoding the DNA of Drug Efficacy

    Pharmacogenetics – the future of drug benefit plans

    By Liz Bernier

    Imagine a doctor’s visit where you need a new prescription. It’s for depression. You receive a prescription with a number of caveats about side effects – take it before bed if it makes you feel too drowsy to wake up in the morning. Take it with food if it makes you too nauseous to concentrate. Come back in six weeks to touch base about how it’s working; call if you have any pressing concerns.

  • Giving the Gift of Life

    This year’s annual conference CSR initiative will be in support of The Organ Project – a worthy cause benefitting the 4,500 Canadians waiting for a live-saving transplant. But organ donation is no longer solely the domain of medical professionals – there’s plenty you can do to help as well. Here’s what HR professionals need to know.

    By Catherine Shaw

    As a human resources professional, and as an employer, organ donation and transplantation may not seem like an obvious concern. However, the shortage of transplantable organs in Canada presents a potentially expensive and disruptive issue.

  • Talent Matters

    Hiring the right talent is the cornerstone to success, no matter what your business is

    Hiring the wrong talent is not only a risk to your reputation and long-term success – it’s also pretty pricey. It costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee, $10,000 to replace a mid-level employee and $40,000 to replace a senior executive, according to statistics from

  • Future of HR

    Avoiding misguided transformation strategies

    By Hamoon Ekhtiari

    These days, there is no shortage of talk about the fact that HR needs to change, innovate and transform. It makes for great headlines and also great business for consultants.

  • Intelligence Matters

    Social media intelligence gathering & HR

    By Keith Elliott

    Picture a conversation:

    “I was on Jane’s Facebook profile, and according to her status, she plans on suing our company for being fired. Meanwhile, LinkedIn shows she just ‘checked in’ at a new job with Acme Inc. How is that possible when she posts gossip and inappropriate comments about her co-workers and employer that she gets a new job that fast? Did the people hiring her not do any due diligence?”

  • The Intelligence Revolution

    Are you worried about a new world of work?

    By Bill Greenhalgh

    Hardly a day goes past without a new study warning of “jobmageddon” – new technologies, robots and machine learning eliminating 20 or 40 per cent or more of today’s employment. Every report is valuable and useless at the same time – they are similar enough to indicate that the world of work will change; but they are different enough to cause not just confusion but paralysis.

    It’s a bit like predicting that an asteroid will hit the earth. We can be sure it will happen at some point, but when? What will the impact be? What should we do about it?

    Most of the current research deals with these questions, at best, peripherally. They also miss some critical issues.

    First, there haven’t been multiple “Industrial Revolutions,” there was only one. It happened in the mid-19th century and it was all about the application of technology to our “muscle.” What we are seeing now is an Intelligence Revolution, the application of technology to our “mind.”

    Second, the Industrial Revolution created the whole idea of a “job” as we know it today. The Intelligence Revolution is systematically disaggregating what a job is and that is evident today in the growth of the gig economy, contract work and portfolio careers.

    Be absolutely clear about your core business. Misunderstanding this is the biggest threat to (and, in many cases, opportunity for) the organization.

    Third, technology changes happen much faster than social acceptance of those changes. There is little or nothing that affects our lives in a significant way that hasn’t been around for a decade. Airbnb, for example, dates back to 2008 and as successful as it has been, even today, it represents less than half of one per cent of the hotel industry. The first self-driving vehicle came from Daimler-Benz more than 40 years ago and drove 1,000 km from Munich to Copenhagen in standard heavy traffic at speeds up to 130 km/h with minimal human intervention.

    Fourth, they miss the elephant in the room. New technologies do eliminate jobs through automation; but many more are lost because new technologies eliminate companies. In 1973, Kodak had 120,000 employees. Today, they have 6,000. They were so “invested” in recording the Kodak Memory™ on film that they ignored the industry-changing impact of digital cameras.

    And fifth, at worst, they imply that there will be a net loss of jobs and raise the spectre of mass unemployment. At best, they offer vague suggestions of the types of new jobs to come. The reality is that technology and automation cut costs, increase incomes and, inevitably, demand for new services and products and new jobs. This has been ongoing for hundreds of years and while we may not know precisely what new work will appear, we can be confident that it will. In 1800, the global population was around 1 billion; today, 7.6 billion humans inhabit the planet. If new jobs had not been created, there would be billions unemployed.

    However, the most critical question missing – like worrying about an asteroid hitting the earth – is “what should we do about it today?” This is an issue that goes right to the heart of what HR professionals do. It’s about people strategies; leadership; talent management; education and training; organization development; employee engagement; and counselling business partners.

    To quote Bob Marley, “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.” However, this is not a prescription to sit back and do nothing, but a reflection of the fact that whatever happens, it will not be tomorrow or next week. Through thoughtful planning and creation of effective strategies, organizations can make sure they are prepared for the future.

    There are four actions that companies – and HR professionals – need to take today and they need to be integrated and systematic:

    • Be absolutely clear about your core business. Misunderstanding this is the biggest threat to (and, in many cases, opportunity for) the organization. Kodak’s business was not “film,” it was “recording memories;” newspapers are not in the “printing” business, but “information delivery.”
    • Track technology changes that may impact your organization. Disruptors will come from outside your industry, so it is vital to make sure someone in your organization is tasked with this.
    • Based on the understanding of your core business and the implications of changing technology, define your skills and talent needs two to three years out, audit what currently exists in your organization to create a gap analysis and put specific training, development or hiring plans in place to meet your needs.
    • Identify your organization’s current products and services and assign each to one of three categories – those you will selectively discard; the ones that you do today and have to be done as efficiently as possible; and those that you need for the future. This is based on work by Vijay Govindarajan and offers a methodical way to ensure you future-proof your organization.

    In summary, there will be changes to every job – what a job means, old ones will vanish and new ones will appear – but this has been happening for generations and the future will not be fundamentally different. In technology, we all suffer from “macro myopia” to some extent – overestimating the impact in the short term and underestimating it in the long term – and that means we either do nothing or panic (and, effectively, do nothing). Above is a recipe for a middle ground that makes more sense. 

    Bill Greenhalgh was the CEO of the Human Resources Professionals Association from 2006 to 2017, and is currently the president and CEO of Stratx Inc. Attend Greenhalgh’s presentation at #HRPAAC, “The Intelligence Revolution – A New Age of Opportunity,” on Jan. 31 at 3:00 p.m.

  • Who Will Be Replaced by a Robot?

    What business and HR leaders need to know

    By Michelle Moore

    As the barriers between man and machine continue to dissolve, how work gets done and who does it will continue to change dramatically. To prepare for this significant revolution, HR leaders need to understand how to leverage technology to replace or complement the human workforce to improve productivity and business results.

    How technology can impact jobs

    Technology has the ability to positively impact jobs in three ways, each of which provide potential costs savings as well as opportunities to better leverage human workers (see Figure 1 – How Technology Improves Job Performance).

    1. Replacing human workers

    The first way that organizations can use technology to improve the outcome of a specific job function is by completely replacing jobs with technology. In these situations, organizations automate the tasks associated with a particular role. The workforce is either reduced, or people are reallocated to higher value jobs. For example, driverless trucks are now able to deliver goods to customers. In the short-term, drivers will still be in the truck, but they spend their time doing paperwork and other higher value activities versus driving. Another example of jobs that have been replaced by technology can be seen in retail organizations and hotels who are turning to life-like robots to greet guests and perform certain service-oriented duties (e.g., concierge). While using robots to replace human workers is not new, in the past the types of jobs that were replaced were usually physically intensive, and in today’s world of advanced artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics, more knowledge or customer service jobs are being impacted.

    2. Automating specific tasks of a job

    The second way organizations are changing jobs is by using technology to automate certain tasks. In this scenario, other tasks associated with the specific job are still performed by a human worker, and in some cases the worker may supervise the completion of the automated tasks. Organizations may consider automation as an option in effort to:

    • Complete tasks more quickly or accurately
    • Eliminate low value or unenjoyable work, and free up time for higher value work
    • Reduce the number of human workers required
    • Increase overall productivity of the human worker

    For example, in the legal profession, AI is used to do labour-intensive research. Technology is able to do in seconds what it would take lawyers hours or days to complete. This allows lawyers to spend time on higher value tasks.

    While many organizations focus solely on how technology can improve job performance, it is important for leaders to remember that performance can also be improved by continuing to invest in developing the more human skills.

    3. Enhancing employee performance

    Finally, organizations are also using technology tools to specifically enhance or super-charge the performance of human workers. For example, IBM Watson (a cognitive-based computer) is being used by physicians to identify the best cancer treatment at an individual patient level. Watson combines attributes from the patient’s file with clinical expertise, external research and data and identifies potential treatment plans for a patient that the doctor may not have otherwise been aware of. The doctor then considers the treatment options provided by Watson and makes a final decision for the individual patient.

    What HR leaders need to do

    While many of these changes to the nature of work have already begun, the pace of change will only increase. Leaders need to think about how this next revolution – one where the barriers between man and machine are eliminated – will impact their organizations, and identify what they can do both short- and long-term to capitalize on the opportunity.

    HR leaders must:

    • Understand the types of jobs that exist at all levels of their organization.
    • Look at the tasks associated with each job to understand the capabilities required to complete the task as well as the time spent on each task.
    • Identify jobs and/or activities that technology could help with.
    • After identifying potential jobs or tasks, the feasibility and business value of using technology to change the way the work gets done must be considered. Leaders need to answer questions like:
    • Is technology to replace the job or automate tasks readily available?
    • How easy or difficult is it to find the IT talent to implement the technology?
    • How much will technology cost (versus the cost of human workers)?
    • What is the long-term viability of the job or task? Are there changes occurring in the market that would eliminate the need for the job altogether?
    • What are the regulatory implications?
    • How easily would technology be accepted? What are the social implications of making the change?
    • Will improving task performance deliver more value or is the current state good enough?

    Don’t forget the humans

    While many organizations focus solely on how technology can improve job performance, it is important for leaders to remember that performance can also be improved by continuing to invest in developing the more human skills and knowledge that are less likely to be replaced by technology – e.g., creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and agility or flexibility. For example, teaching employees how to apply creative thinking techniques to solve problems or generate ideas for innovation can also positively impact business results and drive growth. By taking a balanced approach, leaders will be able to ensure humans and machines can work together to achieve better results than either could achieve on their own. 

    Michelle Moore is senior vice president, Global Product Development at Lee Hecht Harrison. Attend Moore’s presentation at #HRPAAC, “Who Will Be Replaced by a Robot? What HR Professionals Need to Know,” on Feb. 1 at 3:00 p.m.

  • Artificial and Human Intelligence

    The cautionary tale of Hollywood and the future of work

    By Brian Byrne

    We’re bombarded by the headlines: record low movie attendance in theatres, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the news goes on and on. Where will it all end?

    Meanwhile, streaming subscription media such as Netflix, HBO and Amazon are spending more on content production than the traditional Hollywood studios earned in top-line box office revenue in all of 2017!

    The lessons are clear: linear thinking that the status quo can go on forever is simply wrong. Aside from technology, the way motion pictures are made has not fundamentally changed in almost 100 years.

    New technology and social constructs have ignited massive change in the future of society and work. Who will pull the strings behind the curtain to shape this new future? A handful of tech titans, or “we the people”? Who will lose? Who will gain?

    A trip to the Scotia Theatre complex in Toronto illustrates how work is changing. In the entry hall, where almost a dozen human beings used to sell tickets, provide information and interact with theatregoers, human workers have vanished, replaced by ATM-like self-serve kiosks dispensing pre-ordered and on-demand tickets. Ironically, this transition preceded the opening of Blade Runner 2049, a movie about a dystopic artificially intelligent future where humans are subordinate to technology.

    Is such a future inevitable? What if you were given a blank canvas and asked to design the world that you and your friends and family would like to live in? A blank canvas that was rendered into a Renaissance painting, “Salvator Mundi,” sold for $450 million to a Middle Eastern investor. Besides being painted by Leonardo da Vinci, what made this artistic design so incredibly valuable?

    Design thinking is the answer. Our modern era of linear thinking is giving way to a “Renaissance 2.0.” There are three competencies that drive this change:

    • Empathy: The ability to put oneself in the shoes of the end-user and understand what are their jobs to be done
    • Problem-framing: Asking powerful questions to determine what, at a deep level of insight, is the real problem
    • Agile thinking: The ability to flex and think holistically to solve a problem
    • A good example of work that will grow in importance in the future is that of curators. Traditionally the domain of museums and art galleries, the skill of curation has now become valuable in event management, fashion and beauty and industrial design. In another case, the demand for data scientists has outstripped supply in just about every major economy worldwide. Some of these positions command starting salaries of $500,000.

    The future is in your hands: there are many blank canvases awaiting the power of your human intelligence to create a future that everyone wants to live in. 

    Brian Byrne is the founder of Aviador Group Inc. Attend Byrne’s presentation at #HRPAAC, “Fourth to the Fourth Power: Leading the Way to AI + HI = Renaissance,” with co-presenter Mark Polson, on Feb. 2 at 12:00 p.m.