May 20 is International Human Resources Day, a time to shine the spotlight on HR professionals and recognize their positive contributions for individuals and organizations on a local, provincial and national scale. Today, we also take this opportunity to thank all our HRPA members and HR professionals who make a difference in workers’ lives and workplaces across Ontario.

Why HR?

With businesses facing a constantly evolving set of demands, risks and expectations, the need for qualified and skilled HR professionals has never been greater. Held to the highest standards in Ontario, registered HR professionals are equipped to navigate organization’s most difficult people-related challenges and catalyze positive change in the workplace.

How is HR Shaping the Future of Work?

2022’s International HR Day theme is HR: Shaping the New Future. To understand how this impacts our members, we asked four HR leaders to weigh in on what the future of work means to them and for the HR profession as a whole.

Christopher Garnett, MBA, CHRL, PMP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Cornwall Hospital 
This is an exciting, yet challenging, time in HR. As we emerge from the past few years of the pandemic, we are able to take some of the lessons we have learned and apply them to improve employees’ lives. I believe that reviewing and re-establishing organizational culture is a priority, not only now but into the future. HR professionals will need to focus on giving employees more choices and getting them involved in more decisions, from hybrid and flexible work arrangements to personal/professional development opportunities. The future of HR also means continuing to champion Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and embracing Reconciliation – which also includes involving everyone in the organization. Finally, talent attraction but more specifically talent retention will also be a key area HR leaders will need to pay attention to. As a HR professional, I am excited and optimistic about how the future of work is changing and proud of our role in HR in helping shape the future.

Ingrid Wilson, CHRL, CMS, Senior Human Resources Executive, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Strategist
If I can reflect on one trend that came out of the pandemic for Human Resources practitioners it is that our work is critical to supporting organizations to prepare for a more agile and adaptive future workspace. In fact, I would say that HR practitioners have finally stepped into the role of business partner. For us as HR practitioners we need to move this trend forward with a broader lens – moving past policy work to business capability and addressing the impact of other areas including digital advancements in people programs and analytics, culture and inclusion and mental wellness.

Ernest Ogunleye, MSc, Chartered MCIPD, CPHR, DHRP, SHRM-SCP, FRGS, Owner & Principal Consultant EON Performance Solutions
It is an intriguing question and it instantly made me think of an ancient Chinese proverb: “The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher.” HR Shaping the New Future means that we anticipate developments in advance where we can but are still agile enough to deal with last-minute challenges. A last-minute challenge was COVID-19 and an anticipated development is the post-pandemic economic recovery. This means the ability for HR to be operational, strategic and put forward a sound business plan will be essential skills. Communicating effectively from the C-Suite to the shop floor and vice-versa to include all stakeholders should also be a paramount consideration. To develop these skills, HR’s role in the future of work must include an entrenched learning culture that encourages more opportunities for HR professionals to exchange ideas, best practices and experiences with other HR leaders, contributing significantly to the increasingly globally interconnected nature of HR. On another note, marshalling respect, influence, empathy, stakeholder engagement, HR metrics and business acumen are all activities that remain a constant struggle for HR. Even the name and role of HR may adapt again in the future from employee welfare to personnel to HR to Human Capital and to People & Culture. Yet no matter what name or role HR professionals may take on, HR must champion better working environments and also have the appropriate practical strategy to communicate and deliver results.

Jamie Kramer, MA, CHRP, CCIP™,  Senior Consultant, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Specialist, Toronto Community Housing
A path forward for HR requires some fundamentally new thinking about what HR does and how it is built to deliver. The way forward may start with discrete adoption of workforce shaping, or piloting a more digital experience in the workplace. Human Resources is an ever-changing career option. There is and will continue to be the creation and diversification of HR job roles. We have seen a need for specialists in areas of data analysis, benefits creation, remote work development, diversity and inclusion, and strategy building, among others. Human Resources does so much more for their employees than just benefits and hiring – they are shaping the way the organization strategizes about priorities. Employee engagement, wellness, and diversity and inclusion are ways that HR can have a great impact on the future of an organization. We are shaping the way forward by doing the work we do for our employees.