The Ground-Breaking HR Formula

By Tracie Morris, CHRO, BMO Financial Group (BMO)

Tracie Morris, CHRO, BMO Financial Group (BMO)

What according to you are some of the major trends that have been impacting the HR landscape lately?

The term human resource management (HRM), just like its meaning, has evolved drastically over the last decade. With the increasing intricacies of demand in the corporate sector, various aspects of HRM, which were previously less valued, have come forth as significant factors today. For instance, the role of the Human Resources Business Partners (HRBP) has moved from merely managing administrative work to more critical tasks such as building the right skills to create maximum value for the organization, designing the HR function to deliver strategic contributions with greater impact, analyzing and measuring human capital, building engagement and talent strategies as well as utilizing change management skills. With these trends shaping the HR domains, cultivating a good work culture while staying relevant and dynamic becomes imperative. Although, it might look like a huge canyon to cross, employing the right strategy and solution can make this task simple yet impactful.

Could you talk about a few imminent challenges that are currently perturbing the HR space?

There is a constant war for talent. Organizations are always on the lookout to acquire the best employees that will help contribute to the success of their organization. Amidst this, the HR officer’s work is to attract, develop and retain the best talent not only through perks and incentives but also inspire them to make meaningful contributions to the organization through job rotations, civil responsibilities and career development.  As I interact with various industry leaders, and a multigenerational workforce to understand their mindsets and perspective around their needs in the workplace, I am reminded that the needs are different and how HR functions deliver to the business is more relevant than ever before.  We as leaders are empowered to make changes to the way we conduct business and improve our employee’s experiences. I believe in learning and development at every step of the career journey to have an informed and wholesome future. So, we are always on our toes, looking at trends shaping the market, benchmarking and listening to our employees, and empowering our most valuable asset (our employees) to “Boldly Grow the Good in Business and Life” which is our purpose here at BMO.

"For transformation to take place, it is paramount to be more agile and adaptive to the emerging changes"

Give us an overview of some of the latest projects you have been working on. Are there any technological and process elements that you have leveraged to make the project successful?

From a technological point of view, the use of robotics, for one, has created more efficiency by cutting down the transactional work for HR professionals, giving them more time to be a consultants to the business, change management agents, talent and diversity advisors.

The cloud has also brought rewarding outcomes in the HR delivery model—both for new hires as well as existing employees. Today, just by using an iPhone or iPad employees can take training modules when it is most convenient for them, without having to physically attend sessions which are usually taxing to their daily schedules.

To what extent do you think technology plays a role in the HR arena?

On the talent acquisition spectrum, we aim to invest in the communities we serve.  We partner with universities, community leaders and industry leaders to recruit talent from various areas around our cities including under-resourced areas where we can provide job skills to potential candidates and adequate training. An approach that I have seen work very successfully, is partnering retirees with colleges and universities to hone the skills of the graduates. So, technology is helping us connect to different communities and find the right fit to our puzzle while mutually elevating the hired individual’s knowledge and skill base.

What are some of the key focus points that leaders in the HR domains must pay attention to? 

Inclusion is important. It is, in fact, the need of the hour. We, as leaders should be more open to ideas coming from every corner of the room. We can get great transformational suggestions from different sections of a workgroup, including from the ones that are working from various locations. We appreciate people jumping in to challenge our ideas and help us come up with better solutions. For transformation to take place, it is paramount to be more agile and adaptive to the emerging changes. We value every aspect of diversity in a workgroup for wholesome decision-making. I encourage a work environment like that because it is the best place for free-flowing creative ideas to take shape, which can, in turn, transform our business and take the organization forward.

What is your advice to young professionals or graduates who aspire to work in the HR domain?

The first and foremost advice would be to be curious. Ask a lot of questions without any hesitation because the industry is changing at a dynamic pace. There is always space to learn. I have always been curious about the way a company functions. That curiosity has worked wonders for me in my career, as well as given me several life-lessons.

Moreover, do not hesitate to take the lead on something you believe will offer excellent results. It does not matter if you are just out of college or a new employee, if you have something that could benefit an organization, always bring it to the table. And lastly, take a stand for what you believe in. After working with various urban organizations in different fields, I have realized that these aspects are essential in an employee to build a team or achieve an organizational goal.

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