Human Capital - Fall 2013 - (Page 7)
HR Crisis Response
BY ALY BANDALI, CHRP
THE SERIES OF RECENT environmental crises that have struck
our country over the last month (specifically the floods in Alberta
that forced many businesses to shut down operations in June and
July) caused many companies to have their emergency response
plans and operational health and safety procedures put to the test
for the first time.
Whether your business has an existing protocol for handling
emergency crises, or is lacking a plan altogether, it is very likely
that the recent floods urged your organization to address certain
operational health and safety (OHS) issues such as policy on flexible
work arrangements, emergency recovery procedures, and employee
assistance programs (EAPs).
Canada has already been experiencing growing pressure from the
labour force to introduce legislation that supports safe and healthy
workplaces. Just last January, the Mental Health Commission of
Canada (MHCC), the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ),
and CSA Group officially released Canada’s first voluntary National
Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
Although the standard is currently only a voluntary “best practice”
tool, it has been designed to help organizations and their employees
improve overall workplace psychological health and safety.
Similarly, to better manage employee illness, the federal government
is working on introducing a new short-term disability program to
support employees through illness. The plan is meant to address
concerns of high rates of employee absenteeism, as well as to fi nd
a more effective and efficient ways of helping employees return to
work after an absence due to illness.
At the provincial level, we are seeing increasing efforts to improve
health and safety standards. A private member’s bill on compassionate care is awaiting the last step before becoming law. Passed
on May 27th, it will provide greater security for employees taking
compassionate care; in some cases providing up to eight weeks of
leave from their workplace to provide care or support for a seriously
ill family member if the employee is the primary caregiver. Th is
bill was put forward by Matt Jeneroux, Member of the Legislative
Assembly for Edmonton-South West.
In the Fall issue of HUMANCapital, the topic of workplace health
and safety, or the internal responsibility system as defined by the
Canadian occupational health and safety legislation, is discussed.
The aim is to define the various facets in workplace safety, the role
of Human Resources in creating, enforcing and communicating
the organizational policies and procedures governing a healthy
and safe work environment.
From a leadership perspective, HR personnel have the ability
to bring various stakeholders together and are oft en the recognized mediator between management and workers. HR can
also influence the health and safety policies and procedures by
participating in the health and safety committee, communicating to employees the organization’s commitment to OHS, and by
training managers and employees on emergency procedures and
safe work practices.
For those businesses that were affected indirectly by the aforementioned floods, it is possible that as an employer or HR practitioner you managed a situation in which employees were unable
to go to work, morale was low, and payroll had to be done even
during the crisis. It is times like these that test our professional
ethics and our commitment to protecting the public by ensuring
we maintain our professional standards and carry on our duties
so others can focus on recovering from the disaster. In this type
of scenario, HR personnel may take on an additional role in the
management of an organization by providing advocacy and communication, especially where employees express concerns around
health, safety and wellness.
With the lessons learned from the crisis, and the many impending workforce challenges, there has never been a brighter light on
Human Resources and the importance of the HR Departments. It
has become very clear that how they are structured and utilized has
a direct impact on the success of an organization. As organizations
continue to evolve, HR expertise will be in greater demand than
Aly Bandali, CHRP
Chair, HRIA Board of Directors
HUMAN CAPITAL O FALL 2013 O 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Human Capital - Fall 2013
Shared Responsibilities: Human Resources Management and Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Processes
HR & HSEQ Together: Planning for a State of Emergency
Training versus Competency in the Demonstration of Due Diligence
Synergies between the Human Resources and the Health, Safety, & Environment Departments
Mobilizing HR and HSEQ for Positive Organizational Change in Health, Wellness and Productivity
HR & HSEQ: The Team Approach to Building Effective Supervisory Leadership Skills
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Human Capital - Fall 2013