The HRPA 2021 Summer Conference ran from July 27 – 29, 2021, and was focused on the theme, “Emerging Stronger: Burnout, Re-opening Workplaces and the Evolution of Culture”.

Nearly 700 attendees participated in 19 sessions that addressed issues ranging from the importance of emotional intelligence to safeguarding organizational reputation to cultivating productive institutional culture, and more.

“Ontario workplaces are struggling with the impacts of the pandemic,” said HRPA CEO, Louise Taylor Green. “HRPA’s first seasonal conference provided timely, much-needed information from leading experts to help organizations make safe return-to-workplace plans and battle mental health issues.”

Day 1

Certified Psychological Health & Safety Advisor, Lindsay Recknell kicked things off with a presentation titled “How We Got Our Groove Back.” Attendees learned about life-changing habits and activities that can help them rejuvenate themselves and increase their energy, as we navigate the murky waters of re-opening.

Emcee, Keynote Speaker and President & CEO of Mental Health in Minutes, Lindsay Recknell

Attendees also participated in a panel discussion on whole person wellness. Panelists discussed opportunities for organizations to support workplace inclusion, foster cultural values where employees feel supported, and invest in mental wellness post-pandemic.

The panel also underscored the importance of exploring how the pandemic has made us stronger. Echoing the prioritization of mental health, other sessions discussed how mental health initiatives can be a differentiator and an attraction/retention tool for employees.

Day 2

On Day 2, Dr. Bill Howatt and Todd Humber discussed the challenges of accessing in-person, virtual and online mental health resources. This reinforced the need for addressing mental well-being and centering workplace psychological safety amidst the changing landscape of work.

Publisher at Talent Canada, Todd Humber

Several session leaders touched on how to alleviate fears, stress and anxiety in light of re-opening workplaces.

Many advocated for team-building activities, considering hybrid work models and educating employees on health and safety protocols being implemented. Health and safety measures, such as mandatory screening and having a detailed safety plan throughout and beyond the re-opening stage  were also key items of discussion.

Day 3

Topics broached on day 3 included how workplace culture is evolving and new ways of working are emerging. People want flexibility to do the work where, how and (within reason) when they want. Underlying this is a revised understanding of work as an activity (and not a place), where teams are empowered to work based on clear priorities and common values.

Similarly, the shift from traditional cultures to regenerative cultures was discussed. This included moving away from binary thinking and perfectionism, towards growth and authenticity, while asking employees about the best way to support them.

In this context, HR professionals are encouraged to think about how the employee experience has changed and how HR leaders can help people collaborate. This also calls for thinking about how technology can support new ways of working and ways of repurposing the use of office space. All these considerations merit a renewing our understanding of the leadership qualities that are in demand, especially as workplaces re-open and are reconfigured. Foremost among these are being able to manage through continued disruption, and being candid, empathetic, flexible and adaptable.

The final day concluded with a keynote speech from international workplace expert, Jennifer Moss, on the topic of burnout and the need to address isolation.

Keynote Speaker, International Public Speaker, Author and Workplace Expert, Jennifer Moss

This emphasis on burnout was echoed in other sessions, where registrants delved into how burnout impacts employee turnover and explored techniques for managing stress and optimizing performance.

Replay Available

With the exception of the breakout discussions, all conference sessions and presentations were recorded. Registered attendees can access the recordings here. If you did not register for a session, but would like access to the recordings, these will be made available for on-demand purchase in the coming weeks.

Thanks to our Sponsors

HRPA would like to thank our sponsors, event partners and distinguished speakers, for their valuable contributions.