The E.N.D.?

Like the Black Eyed Peas’ last album, I’m calling my post The E.N.D.  The first time I saw their album cover I thought, are the BEP breaking up?  Turns out it’s an acronym for The Energy Never Dies.  So just when you think the group may be kaputz, turns out they just keep rocking and better than ever before.

As does this blog.  It may look like the end but really, it’s just the beginning.  What I’m trying to say is that today is the last post for Fireside HR but it will soon be reincarnated to something even better.  Like any good story, this blog had a beginning, a middle, and now an end (or E.N.D.).  Sad to see it go, really.  When I was seven years old, my family moved from East Van to Burnaby during spring break.  I left behind my favourite friends Yumi and William.  I had a hard time making friends at my new school but I think that it had something to do with the fact that I had a Darth Vader backpack and didn’t own a My Little Pony.  In the end, no regrets though.  On the plus side, my new teacher assessed my skill level in the 3 R’s and discovered that I had difficulty reading and taught me from scratch.  What would have happened to me if I stayed at the old school; how long would it have taken for someone to figure this out?

Here’s my point:  this blog is about to get a fresh set of eyes and revamped to be better than ever.  While Fireside HR will no longer exist, a new blog will appear in its place, also owned by BC HRMA.  I would spill the secrets of the new site but at this point the design is under lock and key, like the Caramilk secret.  Watch this space for the new website URL.

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

to all our writers.  You are fearless game changers in the HR world.  And cheers to social media for giving us the medium to let our voices be heard.  See you all on the other side.


Helen Luketic is proud to have been a part of the launch of the HR Metrics Service and Fireside HR at the BC Human Resources Management Association.  As you’re reading this, she’s currently busy at her new gig, working for the coolest HR department in Canada (and secretly hoping her new manager is reading this).  Like BEP and this blog, she’s not kaptuz either and likes to think that she’s still rocking.

Helen feels privileged to have worked with the bloggers:  Agata Zasada, Dana Sebal, Geraldine Sangalang, Holly MacDonald, Krysty Wideen, and Suzanne Boyd.  Stay classy, B.C.

How many S.E.T.H’s are there? Not enough…

In the western world, we have been talking about the boomers since, Boom, Bust and Echo came out in the 90’s.  This demographic bulge is pervasive and will have these implications on HR:

  • Fewer Seth’s to fill jobs – the number of bodies in North America entering the labour force as we know is much smaller than the boomers.  The large-scale retirements may not happen, however HR needs to pretend this isn’t the case.  What we’ll need to do is increase participation in the workforce.  Seniors, women of child-bearing age, Aboriginals, etc.  But, we need to consider what they’d be looking for – is it a 9-5 full-time job?  Or, are there alternatives we are not considering?
  • Immigration/migration – if jobs don’t go to people, people will go to jobs – there will be cultural implications here, which HR should be preparing for and building contingencies. 
  • Sandwich generation – there may be those in management/leadership positions (those poor Gen Xers) that are dealing with kids and aging parents simultaneously. 
  • Diversity – age, place, experience, gender, work status, etc may be a dimension for job design.  Segmenting workers by diversity class might help distinguish what they’d prefer out of a job. 

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Where in the world is S.E.T.H? Logging in from…

Today S.E.T.H. is going to focus on one of my favorite topics:  technology.  Trends that you can’t ignore…

Ubiquity – the horse is out of the proverbial barn – technology is everywhere and the semantic web is what the thought leaders have labelled the future of technology.  The semantic web is suggesting our stuff will be connected to the internet. 

Our fridges, clothes, etc. will do the work for us.  What does this have to do with work?  Maybe customer service jobs no longer have to wait for the customer to notice they need service, their product will do it for them, contacting your organization’s CRM, searching for information and setting up an appointment automatically.  This article explains how the infrastructure is working towards this and 50 billion devices will be connected to the web by 2020.

Back to today’s technology – every company has the ability to connect, communicate and collaborate for a very low cost, even using consumer tools if they choose.  Telecommuting is not solely for the knowledge workers.  Your organization could likely identify many tasks that could be done remotely if it chose.  We see hints of this already in the HEROES – Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives- concept (basically these service reps monitor social networks for comments about their products and intercede at the point of need, not based on their set shift).  We’ve all participated on some kind of online collaboration: Google Docs, Skype, Twitter, etc.  HR needs to stop trying to ban the use of these tools and figure out how to harness the power of them.  Realize your workplace may transcend borders and time zones, even if you are not an international organization.

Mobile – the devices available now enable people to connect from their phone.  The laptop is now a desktop and the tower computer is a dinosaur.  Mobile phones are more powerful than early desktop computers.  You can video call, record, learn, publish, share all with a smartphone. We may not all get a company-owned smartphone but I know of many people who carry their own.  Sometimes in addition to their company owned phone.  Do you?

Expertise location – this applies both within an organization and beyond.  The ability to locate experts in a particular thing is very valuable.  Technology can help this both internally(like Sharepoint 2010 or Cisco Pulse) and externally (like LinkedIn).  Enabling employees to access the web of expertise within your organization, field or industry is the foundation of collaboration.

Crowdsourcing – with services like InnoCentive (problems are publicly posted with payouts for solvers) – the potential for any organization to go global is huge.  There are hundreds of free collaborative tools out there – it really doesn’t matter which one you use.  It does matter that you consider them as you design work. 

People can work from anywhere/anytime and many organizations are still stuck in the face-time mode, where your worth to the organization is measured by how much you show up.  HR is put in the position where we have to create telecommuting policies and play attendance police.  I don’t know about you, but for me, this just doesn’t value my contribution to an organization.  I think it’s fair to say that technology is pushing us to options that might be outside of our comfort zones, but whether you like tech or not, it is going to change the way we design work.


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Weighing in on this generational thing

Cover of "The Global Achievement Gap: Why...

Cover via Amazon

As a member of Generation Y , I have to admit that the conversation about generational differences never really intrigued me that much growing up.  Up until a few years ago, other than my family, teachers, and professors, I had been almost exclusively surrounded by my peers of the generation, so I had yet to really witness the tension between my generation and others.  I learned about it school but like many things, until you really see it, it doesn’t mean much.

In the past year I have been asked to weigh in on how generational differences play out in the workplace and in training and development settings.  You might remember my very first blog post for Fireside HR called “Are labels relevant?” where I shared an example of where this came up.  So, while I appreciated people’s sentiment that I would be an expert in my own generation, I thought I should seek to better understand my own generation from both an insider and an outsider’s perspective.

I thought I would summarize some of the interesting ideas and information I discovered.  You can take it all with a grain of salt, and of course, I’ve sourced it.  At the very least, it makes for interesting discussion.

  • This generation’s brain has literally developed differently as a result of growing up with the internet and other technological advances.  The internet has led to an abundance of information and Gen Yer’s brains have learned to sift through mass amounts of information quickly.  They have also learned to be sceptical and question what they read.
  • Gen Yer’s multitask; this seems to be widely agreed upon.  However, whether or not they are more productive as a result seems to be disputed.
  • This generation has a very different definition of “privacy” than previous generations.  Some people congratulate these people on their transparency and willingness to share.  Others are concerned that people who share too much will regret it later in life.
  • Gen Yer’s expect to move up the career ladder faster than their predecessors.  Understandably, this has seemed to annoy some of those who came before them; many have called the generation entitled (or “the Reality Show Generation”).
  • People in this generation have been coddled by their parents and by educational institutions such that they are not prepared for the work place.  Once again, this is a big area of contention in the literature on the subject.

I obviously have a biased opinion about the work habits and values of my generation, and the interesting ideas that I’ve picked out will reflect that.  So, if you are interested, I’d recommend the sources below (this is the tip of the iceberg).  As a Gen Yer, I’d suggest taking it all in with a healthy degree of scepticism!


Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Failing to leave her day job at work, she often finds herself relating every day, commonplace observations and activities to insights about leadership, business, human resources, and anything, really. Now she has a place to share her observations and insights.

S.E.T.H. says “show me the money” (or does he?)

Marshall's flax-mill, Holbeck, Leeds, interior...

Image via Wikipedia

In this series of posts (SETH), I’m outlining the forces that we need to consider in the future of work.  This post is about the economic forces, but not from an economist, just so we’re clear!  The fact that I’m writing about economics in a public forum is making me nervous.  If any economists read this, I’d really love some input…. So far, we’ve looked at the social component of the future of work.

Some of the economic trends or indicators that I think will shape the future of work are:

Globalization/Localization – some feel the globalization of work will continue and others see a counter-trend to localization.   It’s possible that both will happen and have different effects.

BRIC economy (or the global nature of our economy at the least) – this is a force when it comes to automation and redistribution of work – Dan Pink talked about this in A Whole New Mind.  Accountants and lawyers, architects and other professionals, look out, your job is moving to India/Malaysia/China – where it’ll be done cheaper and faster.  Remember economics 100, supply + demand.  This is it. 

Many of us saw Jeff Rubin at the last BC HRMA conference talk about peak-oil and the subsequent ripples – less shipping of goods, onshoring, localized manufacturing, etc.  This might mean the manufacturing jobs that Canada lost may come back, but we’ve lost the “white collar” work to technological automation.  But, will they be the same manufacturing jobs or not? 

Economic cycles – Recessions and depressions happen every 10 years or so.  Don’t pretend that this one was so different.  More protracted than expected, but it shouldn’t shock us.  The subsequent labour cycles of hiring and layoffs are also predictable.  We’ve seen many people in the contingent workforce, self-employment and micro-work increasing, although seems to be more reported in the US.  Canada has been less impacted but when it comes to the future of work, a more flexible workforce could sustain economic shrinkage.

It is also important to consider specific industries.  Some will face stiff competition, others will experience slow and steady growth.  However, the future of work might also see organizations following talent; perhaps this will mean a different type of offshoring.

The point is, HR folks need to be considering the economic climate as it relates to work.   It’s not just about knowing the unemployment rate for your area but considering the global shifts and trends that may or may not impact your industry/organization.  Outlook 2020 produced some very interesting perspectives, including this economic synthesis

Any economists out there willing to add their voices here?  Am I barking up the wrong tree or simply barking mad?  HR folks – how have you used economic trends?


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Looking for a good book, Part II: Book Club!

Cover of "Grown Up Digital: How the Net G...

Cover via Amazon

Thank you so much to everyone who replied, either on the comments or to me privately, about great books to read!  I really appreciate the suggestions!

Here are some that were sent to me directly (i.e. they were not in the comments of my last post):

I could go on.  The great thing about everyone’s suggestions was that they were so diverse.  I look forward to my now LONG reading list!

So, besides having a great list of books, I found another way to motivate myself to get through some of these business books – sign up for something that gives me a deadline.  In this case, I signed up to attend the BC HRMA Book Club.

This month, we read Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott.  The book is quite insightful, I would highly recommend it (and so would my fellow book clubbers!).  However, more importantly, getting together with some intelligent and thoughtful people to talk about the book was the really inspiring part.  By discussing our general thoughts about the book, our likes, our dislikes, our lessons learned, etc., I felt like I got so much more out of the book.

The great thing is book clubs are so easy to find and to set up.  While joining the BC HRMA Book Club is an option, your company might already have one or would support it, you could get a group of friends together, you could start an online forum, etc.

It is so easy, it is great motivation, and it really brings books to life. I would highly recommend joining or starting one of your own!


Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Failing to leave her day job at work, she often finds herself relating every day, commonplace observations and activities to insights about leadership, business, human resources, and anything, really. Now she has a place to share her observations and insights.

Modern phone etiquette

Do you ever stop and think about how you come across on the phone?  We do so much of our communication these days in the office through email and text messages that sometimes the art of conversation is lost.

People will make assumptions within 60 seconds about your education, background, ability and personality, based on your voice.  And not only does what you say count, but how you say it.  That doesn’t give you a lot of time to come across professionally.

It may not seem fair but hey, we all judge people by their phone mannerisms.  Here is a little refresher on how to improve your phone etiquette:

  1. Try to answer your phone within three rings if possible.
  2. Identify yourself when you answer the phone, “Good morning, this is _____speaking”.
  3. Have a smile on your face when you answer the phone. As crazy as it seems, people can hear a smile in your voice.
  4. Speak clearly, slowly. If you are naturally a fast talker, this may be harder to do (it is for me!).
  5. Actively listen to the other person – that is not typing emails, eating lunch or engaging in other distractions – people can tell if you aren’t fully taking part in the conversation.
  6. Always be polite and courteous on the phone.
  7. Speak with confidence.
  8. When away from your desk, forward your phone to voice mail and make sure to check your messages often.
  9. Return calls promptly.
  10. Remember to treat others as you wish to be treated on the phone.

Once you are conscious of how you come across on the phone, you will sound more confident and professional.   In a judgement-based society, confidence and professionalism are a good thing!


Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.