SOURCE: marcus evans

marcus evans

September 01, 2015 12:57 ET

Redefine Talent Management to Engage & Empower Your Employees

Interview With Laura Bourne, CHRL, Director of Human Resources, Conservation Halton

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - September 01, 2015) - Talent has become the starting place for innovation in Canadian markets. To have a competitive edge, organizations must integrate talent management strategy into their business strategy. The need to develop a holistic approach to talent management and leadership development is crucial for organizations to improve overall effectiveness and identify, acquire, develop, and retain the type of talent required today and in years to come.

Laura Bourne, CHRL, Director of Human Resources at Conservation Halton, recently shared with marcus evans how Conservation Halton is improving organizational effectiveness through a holistic talent management strategy:

Knowing you're passionate about employee health & wellness, what can you tell me about your efforts to achieve a wellness-oriented culture and offer comprehensive rewards and benefits?

LB: The wellness focused culture was identified as a strategic priority for my team in 2015. We were seeing an increase in anxiety and mental health short term disability claims, and usage of our EFAP program. Our training budget has been historically underfunded. The HR team wanted to challenge ourselves to create a training program that could address the gaps in training that was impacting productivity and stress. Wellness initiatives are a passion of mine, and I couldn't create anything without taking a holistic view of our employees -- our greatest asset.

When I reviewed the challenges that our staff were facing on a daily basis -- we needed to corporately address the root cause -- and that was equipping our staff with the resiliency to deal with the challenges they face on a day to day basis. The Path to Success program was an opportunity to look at equipping staff with the tools and toolkits to give them the resiliency and strategies to deal with the stresses and pressures that are inherent in their roles.

At Conservation Health, what initiatives do you take to sustain and stimulate employee engagement?

LB: The concept of measuring employee engagement was a strategy that had not been previously employed at Conservation Halton. We undertook our first engagement survey in the Fall of 2014. The only way we could get started on any initiatives or start to shape a wellness focused culture was to measure and see where we were starting. Only then could the root causes be identified and addressed. The results of the engagement survey were not satisfactory. But the results were shared with staff in a transparent, open and honest way. I see it as a tremendous opportunity to not just raise the bar, but to set the bar at a very high level. It is an exciting time at Conservation Halton. The initiatives, the dialogue and the conversations that have come out of some Divisions since the engagement survey have been very exciting.

In your professional opinion, what area of talent attraction and acquisition would you say has the most room for improvement? What does Conservation Halton focus on regarding your own company environment?

LB: Emotionally we are an organization that is very appealing to work for -- a community based environmental agency. And so there is tremendous intrinsic motivation to work for an organization like ours. Technically our staff have the necessary skills to complete their roles -- whatever that role might be -- Finance, IT, Forestry, Engineering, Construction, etc. The Path to Success in house training program was designed to give the staff the tools and the resiliency to be agile and quick thinkers, emotionally intelligent, and to be strategic -- this applies to all levels of the organization. Giving them the tools and the resiliency to be agile and quick thinkers, emotionally intelligent, and to be strategic -- this applies to all levels of the organization.

I would imagine this situation is not unique to Conservation Halton. It is easy to hire for education and relevant experience. The challenge is always to hire for big picture, innovative, creative problem solvers.

At Conservation Halton, we provide 100% employer paid benefits, vacation and we are an OMERS employer. We have a unique competitive advantage -- we have opportunities to work in nature, surrounding by the Niagara escarpment; pursuing your passion -- skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, camp programming, animal care. So many of our employees say that one of the biggest rewards is the location, the commute and the type of work they get to perform. In addition, we provide free parks admission and seasons passes to skiing and snowboarding for the employee and their family.

What do you hope to take away from this conference?

LB: HR professionals are often challenged to look at the root causes and come up with creative solutions to address them. It's easy to put band aids on situations. As a progressive leader I am invigorated by hearing innovative and creative solutions to challenges that we all face. Training sessions like this provide networking opportunities where I can be inspired by my peers -- I am inspired to hear about creative and innovative solutions to the challenges we all face.

Join Laura at the 5th Annual Talent Management Canada Conference, September 23-24, 2015 in Toronto, ON. View the conference agenda to check out Laura's case study topic.

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