Canadian HR Reporter

March 23, 2015

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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Canadian HR RepoRteR March 23, 2015 INsIGHt 15 Stephen Cryne Guest Commentary Brian Kreissl toughest HR Question New immigration rules threaten Canada's competitiveness Immigration is vitally important to every nation looking to improve its competitive standing in today's global economy. e challenge is mak- ing sure the right programs are in place to at- tract the brightest and the best. Yet in Canada, the government's overhaul of the Temporary For- eign Worker Program (TFWP) in 2014, coupled with significant restrictions of the new Express Entry system, are creating havoc and uncertainty for thousands of highly skilled workers and execu- tives who are employed by some of Canada's top employers and are seeking permanent residency. While the federal government is promoting Canada to the world — aggressively negotiating free trade agreements that include contemporary rules to facilitate greater mobility of workers — it is also invoking immigration re- forms that make it ever more dif- ficult for highly skilled workers admitted under these programs to remain in Canada. The Express Entry system is intended to provide expedited permanent residency to highly skilled workers. While we ap- plaud the general direction, there are significant concerns emerging as details of the program become clearer. To qualify under the new scheme, applicants are awarded up to 1,200 points. No candidates with fewer than 800 points have been selected in the initial selec- tion draws. Of the total points available, 600 are awarded for a qualifying job offer. Problematic assessments One key concern is that before an employer can provide an ap- plicant with a qualifying job offer, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) must be se- cured, which requires the employ- er to post the position (for which it has already hired a foreign nation- al under one of Canada's free trade agreements) on the government's job board and prove no Canadians are available to perform the work. In many cases, these individuals have held the positions for several years so there are no negative con- sequences to the domestic labour market. e same goes for foreign grad- uate students looking to make a permanent life here in Canada. ese are the very people who create employment opportunities for Canadians. In a competitive business cli- mate, it is highly unlikely com- panies want to repost jobs and send any signals to investors or competitors that there may be upheaval in their leadership ranks. We are fearful these new re- quirements may lead some mul- tinational companies to re-evalu- ate the viability of Canadian op- erations, leading to potential job losses as key positions are moved outside of Canada. e new system is also doing a disservice to the thousands of in- ternational students who gradu- ate from Canadian universities and would like to make Canada home. In the absence of a pro- vincial nomination or qualifying job offer, there is no bridge to permanent residency for these individuals. In the case of one of our mem- ber firms in the IT industry, the new rules mean that more than 100 international graduate and post-graduate students who were LMIA-exempt will now have to leave Canada as their work per- mits expire. What needs to be done? e TFWP must be revised to provide a separate stream that is not wrapped in red tape to expedi- tiously evaluate and process em- ployer applications for high-skill foreign workers. High-skill workers with valid work permits who have been working in Canada for more than one year should be deemed to have a qualifying job offer for Ex- press Entry, without the employer having to repost the job. International students with Canadian degrees in science, en- gineering or management studies should be given a clear and rapid path to permanent residency. Work permits for students on post-graduate work should be extended to allow them to qualify under Express Entry. For decades, Canada has been fearful of "brain drain syndrome" — homegrown talent moving abroad in search of better op- portunity. Today, we now have companies successfully attracting or moving highly skilled talent to this country. We should be grateful when those individuals choose to make a permanent contribution to our economic success and, therefore, seriously question the merits of any new application process- ing system that puts up road- blocks and impedes our global competitiveness. Stephen Cryne is president and CEO of the Canadian Employee Reloca- tion Council (CERC), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to removing barriers that restrict mobility and de- ployment of human capital. For more information, visit HR's role in driving innovation It's about creating a culture that rewards and incents creativity Question: How can Hr help drive innova- tion within organizations? Answer: While HR isn't generally responsible for product develop- ment or business process im- provement, it can help to create a culture of innovation throughout the organization. It can also help by creating innovative HR pro- grams, implementing policies and creating organizational structures that help foster innovation and creativity, and facilitating work- shops that encourage employees to come forward with new ideas. Innovation is a huge concept in business right now, for a num- ber of reasons. Most importantly, with the continuous advancement of technology — especially so- called "disruptive technologies" — businesses increasingly need to rely on creativity and innova- tion as a means of differentiating themselves from the competition. 'Disruptive innovation' Disruptive innovation is when goods and services that are expen- sive and complex are transformed into something much more af- fordable and accessible, according to Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and au- thor of e Innovator's Dilemma. He argues that such innovation has caused some great companies to fail. Indeed, there are many re- cent examples of large organiza- tions that failed to innovate — or finally decided to change after it was too late. Such companies in- clude Kodak, Polaroid, Blockbust- er Video and Borders bookstores in the United States. In a constantly changing econ- omy, the message becomes "Inno- vate or perish." While companies that don't respond are doomed to fail, companies need not be facing extinction in order to innovate and improve. It is also important to under- stand that innovation need not be "disruptive" in order to capi- talize on new ideas or emerging technologies. Multiple incre- mental changes and small proj- ects can have a significant impact on an organization's success and profitability. Out-of-the-box thinking e first step in helping to drive innovation is by fostering a cul- ture that respects and promotes out-of-the-box thinking. is is challenging for many large, tradi- tional employers that are gener- ally very formal, hierarchical and resistant to change. While many organizations can point to companies such as Google and say they want to be innovative like them, this kind of transformation doesn't hap- pen overnight — nor is it even appropriate for every organiza- tion. High-tech companies are staffed mainly by knowledge workers who thrive in a creative atmosphere. Such an environ- ment might not work as well, for example, at a bank or retailer. Having an open office with slides, pool tables and pods for napping isn't for every employer. But that's not to say others can't learn from innovative organiza- tions such as Google. Aside from the built environ- ment — which can inspire and fa- cilitate creativity — organizations can create a culture that helps fos- ter and reward innovation. And HR is positioned to help drive and manage cultural change. A culture that truly values in- novation is one where it is safe to speak up. Innovative cultures can be less hierarchical and have an empowered workforce where front-line employees have the au- thority to make routine decisions impacting their own work. It is also important for senior leaders to respectfully listen to and consider ideas — no matter where they originate. After all, front-line employees are generally the ones closest to the customer. In fact, innovative organiza- tions are generally highly cus- tomer-centric. Such employers recognize that innovative ideas and suggestions can also come from the customers themselves. Organizations that are serious about driving innovation have a healthy attitude towards risk and tolerate a certain amount of fail- ure. Being too afraid of failure can lead to a culture that's too conser- vative and risk-averse. If you're not willing to take at least some risk, you will never be able to in- novate or grow. Cultural change needs to be re- inforced with proper change man- agement interventions and com- munications. Senior leaders and HR also need to be seen as mod- elling appropriate behaviours. Promoting innovation The organization needs to re- ward and incent creativity and innovation in its total rewards management and performance management programs. Sug- gestion schemes can also be set up whereby employees receive a bonus for making suggestions or recommendations that ultimately result in increased revenue or de- creased costs for the organization. HR can also help foster innova- tion by creating and implement- ing an appropriate organizational structure and design. For exam- ple, a divisional or product-based structure might be best suited for driving product innovation. While you can't really train someone to be innovative, HR can facilitate innovation forums and workshops in which employ- ees are encouraged to come up with new ideas. Once all of the ideas are documented, they are typically ranked and voted on by the executive team, with the best ideas moving on to "proof of con- cept" stage and eventual approval and implementation. Another idea is to develop a corporate "skunkworks" program to develop and champion innova- tive product ideas that are then developed outside the organiza- tion's traditional hierarchy and infrastructure. Similarly, some employers have "intrapreneurship" programs in which employees are encouraged to act like entrepreneurs within the organization. At Google, employees have reportedly been empowered to spend up to 20 per cent of their time on side projects that don't necessarily relate to their everyday roles — though some commen- tators suggest there are param- eters around those projects, which should relate somehow to Google's overall goals and objectives. Regardless of which types of innovation programs are imple- mented, however, organizations must be prepared to spend money and provide sufficient funding to the projects that are ultimately chosen to move forward. Brian Kreissl is the Toronto-based product development manager for Carswell's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions. For more information, visit It's important for senior leaders to respectfully listen and consider ideas.

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