On November 14, I had the privilege of attending the 8th edition of the Grand Rendez-Vous RH Manufacturier in Drummondville, a day rich in insights and perspectives. Through the inspiring conferences, three major themes emerged, each with significant implications for HR professionals and business leaders, whether already initiated to HR challenges or rather new to the field.
1. Anticipating labour shortages: a strategic imperative
Kateri Champagne Jourdain, Minister of Employment, began by highlighting an imminent challenge: by 2031, 1.6 million jobs will still need to be filled. She urged us to think together about the solutions to be created to fill this considerable future gap. In fact, by 2031, all baby-boomers will be over 65, whereas they currently represent 20% of the workforce. In other words, another 20% exodus is expected in less than 10 years, while the shortage is already acute.
Companies, aware of this reality, are starting to invest heavily in innovative programs. This is one of the reasons why Saputo has decided to invest massively in its internship program, creating dedicated cohorts to provide an extraordinary employee experience. For HR professionals, this inspires us to revisit the “academy” and “university” projects that were all the rage a few years ago, but often ended up on the back burner given the scale of the effort involved. The Saputo example presented by Julianna Antonucci was inspiring, and demonstrated that it is possible to bring this type of large-scale project to fruition.
2. Technology as an ally (with surmountable challenges, I promise)
Digital transformation in human resources was a central theme, highlighting the potential of technology to improve HR processes. However, implementing these solutions is not without its obstacles. Among the solutions available, Anne Marcotte reminded us that you have to have the courage to change things. And that if we lacked the courage, all we had to do was do it… without courage. What a great way to put fears and limiting beliefs into perspective!
“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky
I add to courage the ingredient of perseverance to overcome challenges and see a project through to the end. If you run out of steam before the end, the investment costs will be in vain and the technology projects will be labelled as unprofitable, potentially substantially delaying the implementation of other new technologies.
To help companies make the digital shift, management can take the training route. Not only can we train resources on artificial intelligence, but we can also train them on the key skills needed to cohabit with advanced technology. Nancy Cameron cited a few examples of skills to be prioritized in talent development over the next few years: ethics, good governance, critical thinking and compassion, a subject on which my colleague Caroline Thomson recently wrote.
Finally, companies can benefit from the expertise of external professionals to manage the double-triple constraints that arise in project management. And by the way, which projects can be digitized this year? We can think of the performance appraisal and competency matrix, which very often tend to be on Excel or Word, and which for the most part are difficult to keep up to date and are becoming outdated.
3. Onboarding and integration is THE topic of the day
The third pillar that has emerged is the increased emphasis on welcoming and integrating new employees. Not only did the Iceberg Management team conduct a survey of its clients in the summer of 2023, revealing that 50% of respondents were in favour of selecting their onboarding and integration process as a priority project for improvement this year, but the panellists at the Grand Rendez-Vous RH Manufacturier showed us the priority they had given it in the past year, and how they were positioning themselves at the forefront of the market with their innovative practices.
With or without the implementation of new technologies, their common goal was to simplify processes without losing value. Thus, in the quest for greater speed, meaning and quality, recorded training is becoming shorter (following the trend towards micro-learning), directive and instructional e-mails are becoming automated, employee manuals are becoming interactive, data is being collected to assess treatment gaps between the majority and minority groups, and so on. All this without forgetting that managers are re-trained on the subject, and even coached on the best ways to integrate talent.
[To find out more about the innovations on offer, we’ll be bringing you a full feature dedicated to the subject in December 2023.Stay tuned for its release date via our newsletter].
Why use external human resources consultants?
The Grand Rendez-Vous RH Manufacturier clearly showed that HR issues are complex and require specialized expertise. Most of the companies on the panel presented their external partners as key instruments in the success of their innovations. Indeed, hiring consultants offers several advantages, such as adherence to strategic direction, efficient project management (including time and cost management), and the possibility of benefiting from subsidies to facilitate the digital transition of HR processes. Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a manager looking for specific advice, HR coaching can be the key to overcoming internal skills shortages and the inherent challenges ahead.
Final Bonus: Women need to stop making excuses
In conclusion, the Grand Rendez-Vous RH Manufacturier plunged us right into the heart of the crucial issues that will shape the future of human resources. But the conferences also highlighted another worrying phenomenon: women speakers often tend to apologize, or worse, devalue themselves when they speak publicly. Indeed, most professional panellists, when they took the floor, expressed doubts about their future performance. They would “try” to do as well as their predecessor, and/or they mentioned being nervous or goofy.
Why should we, as women, apologize for being novices on stage, when we were expressly invited? The women panellists were all very articulate and well prepared. So why the almost sine qua non “disclaimer” when a woman takes the microphone? I think, and I’m afraid, there’s a training effect. One woman does it, it seems reassuring, and other women imitate her. As human beings are profoundly mimetic, they quickly reproduce what makes sense and adds value in their eyes. This trend, while perhaps perceived as harmless, raises profound questions about established norms and the impact they have on individual and collective self-perception. What if we changed the established standards so that women stopped apologizing for being who they are? That is, excellent even on their first time?
In an ever-changing business environment, innovation and challenging established norms are becoming major assets. Human resources, as an organization’s pivotal function, is called upon to play a central role in this transformation. And therein lies our opportunity, as HR professionals: to push back the boundaries of the status quo and create more inclusive, high-performance work environments.
Together, let’s meet tomorrow’s HR challenges with confidence and vision.