Top seven expert insights from HR Leaders Summit Toronto

We spoke to the industry’s best – here’s what they had to say

Top seven expert insights from HR Leaders Summit Toronto

It was another stellar year for HR Leaders Summit, at which hundreds of leading HR professionals gathered on November 12th and 13th to discuss the most pressing issues facing the sector today.


Recap: HR Leaders Summit Toronto 2019

We caught up with some of our expert speakers to hear their thoughts on the most urgent challenges and solutions at the forefront of HR right now.

1. Changing the prognosis
Dr. Nick Bontis (Award-winning professor of strategy, McMaster University director) spoke about the areas that need attention in HR wellness:

“Wellness is one of the areas in which HR people are losing credibility in. We can sell programs and convince organisations to invest, with all these promises of higher productivity and lower healthcare costs … all these things that often don’t happen.

What wellness programs aim to do on paper sounds good. The problem is that often these programs don’t get to the root cause: what is it that makes a person understand something, but not to be able to change their behaviour?

We really need to reboot our wellness programs to look at how we change behaviour, and once we get to the core of that, then we can layer on big changes.”

2. Analyse this
Sarah Johnson (Vice President of Enterprise Surveys and Analytics, Perceptyx, Inc.) discussed HR taking on a more data-based direction:

“One of the trends we’re seeing is HR becoming more technically and analytically focused. HR professionals want to be able to come to the table with senior leaders with the ability to talk about facts and data – not just what we think will work within an organisation, but using data to identify challenges and solutions.

When we can speak the language of numbers, facts and statistics, it helps us become truly strategic leaders.”

3. Recruiting for success
Nora Mccrae (Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education, University of Waterloo) talked about the importance of preparing the next generation for the workforce during their education:

“We’re seeing different organisations use different methods to attract and recruit students. So there’s more outreach and engagement with students directly. And there’s also more exposure to virtual recruitment, so students accessing information about employers in the virtual space, which is really important for employers to be aware of.

We’re also looking at what the future of work needs, and how we’re preparing our students for that. What are the talents our students will need to be adaptable and resilient in this new world of work, and how can we get them ready?”

4. Traversing technology
Stavros Demetriou (Partner and Leader, People Analytics and Future of Work, People & Change Services, KPMG in Canada) believes that we need to focus on HR tech:

“One of the biggest challenges is the technological disruptions coming up. Because HR professionals are very busy with their day to day jobs, they find it difficult to take their tech engagement to the next level.

This conference has been a great chance to look at some of the ideas out there and put together a plan for how to achieve this.”

5. A force for change
Matthew Lombardi (Head of External Talent Solutions, Bank of Montreal) spoke of the challenge of a changing workforce:

“The workforce is changing. People are often not necessarily looking for long-term jobs but short-term experiences. Organisations need to future-proof themselves to deal with that change, whether it’s the technology we use, how we bring in talent to our organisations or how we move talent through them.”

6. The right kind of insights
Stephanie Hardman (SVP & Chief People Officer, McDonald’s Restaurants Canada, Ltd) reflected on how a more targeted analysis of data is key to future success:

“It’s not just about ‘what are the numbers’, but ‘what are the numbers telling us?’. In lean days where you don’t have the resources, either human or financial, it’s about targeting your approach and using insights to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

Take talent attraction for example – are we attracting the right talent, is our message being received the way it needs to be, are the candidates staying? If the answer is either yes or no it’s a very different outcome, so you adjust your plans accordingly.”

7. It’s all about people
Laura Strickler (Director, Human Resources, ADP Canada) took things back to basic by reminding us of the most important HR element of all – people.

 “People can make or break your organisation! We need to focus on engaging them, on getting them excited about being at work, giving their all and not looking elsewhere. The most important thing is getting the most out of your people and giving them a really rewarding experience.”

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