Are You Ready For The Upturn?

March 16, 2015

There were definite signs of optimism at PDAC. Its true that no one said that they were actually experiencing the challenges that a vibrant industry imposes but people were talking about getting ready for them. That's a good sign right? And our recent client conversations too have centered on preparation rather than the reductions and cutbacks that have been the topics for the last two years.

Of course it's still early and many continue to face huge challenges. None the less we thought it might be helpful to fan the flames of optimism and set out a check list of people related "to dos" as the hoped for recovery gets underway:

  1. Policy Review:  Have your HR policies kept pace? Now is the time to evaluate modifications or those that you have been contemplating, before you start to add staff. Economic circumstances will have no doubt affected the extent of what you can do for employees and there will be others e.g. benefit plans, where administrative savings can be made.
  2. Talent Management:  Do you know what skills are going to be needed and in what order and when? Have you taken stock of what you have? Do you have a future skills acquisition plan and how to find or develop them? The recruitment landscape has changed during the last few years - a few hours on LinkedIn is not going to cut it anymore (even if it ever did!). The recruiters you used to use have reorganized and retooled.  There are fewer people available too, the boomers have quit or retired and this time, they are not coming back. Even if they could they wouldn't be current. 
  3. Cross Border Workers: Are not to be left untended. Details of total compensation for all non-Canadian employees who come to Canada or work away from their home country elsewhere. Put a plan in place that ensures employees are paying their taxes in the locations in which they work and/or reside. Add social security to this too. Revenue authorities sync immigration records with expatriate tax collection an important source of revenue to national coffers. Don't risk your corporate reputation for lack of a little oversight.
  4. Employment Brand:  An increasingly competitive market for talent will mean that a positive employment brand is essential along with a credible employment web presence. New generations look to the web for career opportunities just as they do for movies or music.  Is your brand attractive, are your reward programs and work conditions appealing to these new groups or do they continue to reflect "baby boomer" values? They may need to do both!
  5. Engagement: Yes I know - an overused HR term but it's important and it's not that new. In a world of low salary inflation consider other means to retain employees and realize greater productivity. Having them enjoy their work place is a good start and they will be more productive than if they were unhappy. Happy employees are innovative and innovation means   that you will need fewer people.
  6. Compensation: Another year of modest increases is forecast which is good for the cost base but not enough to retain key skills or high performers. Like you, competitors have identified key growth stratgeies, and will be targeting your talent.  Know who are critical to your projects and ensure that they are rewarded relative to their contribution - and not relative to an index or salary survey. These are the ones who need extra compensation care. LTI values will likely have reduced amongst your comparator group in recent years and so knowing where you are relative to the market is the place to start figuring out what you need to do!

Which of these activities are important to you will depend upon your strategy and how your organization fared during the downturn. Contact us to discover more about our approach to reviewing HR practices in preparation for the upturn:

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