Canadian HR Reporter

March 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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www.hrreporter.com 35 disabilities. They show that unemployment rates for the disabled can be as a high as 80 per cent to 90 per cent in developing nations. People with disabilities in Canada face much higher rates of unemployment and underemployment (26 per cent) — more than five times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities (five per cent). To Alper-Leroux, that gap is an opportunity for organizations to bring in new workers. To do that, they need to expand their ideas of accessibility to encompass geographic access, physical access and cognitive access. "About 85 per cent of people who are on the autism spectrum who have a university degree or a diploma are unemployed or underemployed," Alper-Leroux said, as an example of an untapped workforce. "If somebody doesn't make eye contact with you, you're less likely to hire them," she explained. "Does that mean they're not able to do the job? When I talk about accessibility, I mean that we have to change our idea of what a worker looks like and what we're looking for in a candidate. We have to be much more flexible and open to that." A flexible organization's investments in accessibility initiatives will pay dividends as talent shortages grow. Balance Transparency and Data Privacy We don't trust politicians anymore. We don't trust the news media or institutions of state. We certainly don't trust social media. With nobody else to trust, Alper-Leroux says people are putting trust in their employers. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 75 per cent of people globally say their employer is their most trusted institutional relationship, well ahead of government (48 per cent) and the media (47 per cent). Alper-Leroux thinks employers risk losing that trust if they don't approach their employees with candour. Alper-Leroux explained. But 50 per cent of what an HR professional does today will be done by machines in the next three to five years. So, you can either fight it or embrace it." Leaving technical tasks to the robots means HR leaders can hire the critical skillsets to which they pay lip service. The workforce can grow more self-aware, empathetic and resilient. A culture of lifelong learning can carry through your organization, creating, in turn, an adaptive workforce ready for any technological change. Keep Culture the Key Building holistic accessibility will facilitate a more adaptive workforce. An always-learning workforce will better trust their employer. Earned employee trust will attract the best talent. Alper-Leroux's three trends circle back on each other endlessly. They all point, too, toward the intangible in every HR leader's purview: culture. Alper-Leroux thinks culture will play an enormous role in how organizations manage these three trends. Culture will define holistic accessibility, adaptability and trust and transparency. Every HR leader's plan for these factors needs to take culture into account. It's Alper-Leroux's view that HR leaders need to lift their eyes from the work of day-to-day compliance, ask where their culture is leading them and find out how to steer culture on the right track. "HR needs to be very aware of where people are and meet people where they need to be," she said. "I think that HR has not had the chance to focus enough on that." CHRR "Creating trust in an organization requires authentic, open communication," she said. "But it also requires doing what you say you're going to do. "You have to have open communication about what it is that you're going to do, and then actually measure that. If you say, 'we listen to our employees,' but 80 per cent of their accessibility requests are denied, you're not going to build trust." She explained that communication needs to be balanced against data privacy. Employees need to know that data they share with their employers as part of that "trust contract" is under their control. "We need to think of our employees as customers more," Alper-Leroux said. "And give them control of their data wherever we can." Build An Adaptive Workforce "We've heard about organizations trying to be more adaptable, but we haven't focused on how to make the workforce more adaptable," Alper-Leroux told HRD. "We're focusing on the wrong thing." She thinks adaptability will be key to any workforce's sustainability in the face of automation. Change is a constant in today's working world, but there's been a lack of focus on hiring people who can learn fast, tackle new challenges and change with the times. The first of those changes is automation. Alper- Leroux thinks that, if HR leaders automate what can be automated, they'll be better positioned to lead an adaptive workforce. "HR is guilty of not embracing automation technology, thinking, 'I'm going to lose my job,'" "When I talk about accessibility, I mean that we have to change our idea of what a worker looks like and what we're looking for in a candidate. We have to be much more flexible and open to that."

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