Innovation Journal > Salon >
in Human Resources at Health Canada
IN HUMAN RESOURCES AT HEALTH CANADA
by Anne Marie Giannetti
(Director, Policy & Advisory Services)
Presented to the Innovation Salon,
November 21, 1996
After significant restructuring and downsizing, many public sector
organizations are trying to regain momentum. They are looking for ways of providing
quality services while at the same time managing change and continuous improvement in a
climate of fiscal restraint. At Health Canada, we have embarked on several change
initiatives to enhance and promote quality services. A number of these initiatives
occurred within the Human Resources Directorate and as a result we have seen a renewal in
the way processes are conducted. New "practices" have been established although
we are careful to ensure that these practices do not become "standardized" as
there is a need to continuously re-examine them to identify improvements and further
streamlining. These processes could not have been implemented without the full cooperation
and support of stakeholders at the operational and senior management level from within
This paper will examine three issues:
- - Best practices
- - Ways of sharing best practices
- - Business improvement process (BIP): Re-engineering process for
classification and staffing function.
It will also offer some examples of human resource innovation at
Health Canada, including:
- - Human Resources (HR) strategic framework
- - Human Resources management strategy
- - New employment relationship
- - The Career Centre
- - Service Standards
- - Leading and building diverse work teams: A diversity management
- - Self-identification campaign
- - Communication tools: News and bulletins
- - Departmental Executive Committee Sub-Committee on Human Resources
- - New orientation to learning
- - Work Force Adjustment (WFA): Employee's Kit
- - Manager's Guide to Employment Adjustment
Best Practices are defined as the most efficient ways to perform a
process and they are assessed in the context of an organization's goals and strategies.
Given that these strategies may vary as a result of constant change, Best Practices are
not the ultimate answer, but rather a creative means that is responsive to changing needs.
The aim of Best Practices is to ensure the improvement of service
delivery and client satisfaction, enhanced employee satisfaction, decreased duplication
and increased operational efficiency, effectiveness and economy.
The sharing of Best Practices is essential to fostering continuous
improvement within organizations. Learning from the experience and knowledge of others
facilitates the improvement of operational performance. If we are going to reshape the way
we serve our clients, we should be using one of our most precious resources TIME to check
and see if anyone else has already gone in the direction we're headed.
The sharing of Best Practices has resulted in a number of benefits
to organizations. It educates leaders and employees on new opportunities and improves
management practices, work processes and services. It promotes networking and stimulates
individuals into action and accelerates continuous improvement initiatives while at the
same time minimizes re-inventing the wheel.
WAYS OF SHARING BEST PRACTICES
What is the most effective means of disseminating best practices?
Though this task may be easily done within a small organization, sharing information on a
larger scale can be a challenge. The use of electronic technology such as Internet will
enhance our ability to share information, but hard copy documentation will probably be the
norm for quite some time.
In February 1996, Health Canada organized an interdepartmental
meeting to share information on changes brought to HR activities such as staffing,
classification as well as the course loading process in the Learning and Development
Programs Division. Over 35 HR managers from various federal organizations attended and
though we plan to organize more of these information sessions, I insist that my colleagues
in other organizations follow this lead - we need to share and not re-invent!.
In March 1996, the Human Resources Branch of the Treasury Board
Secretariat distributed a document entitled Human Resources Strategies in Times of Change:
An Inventory of Initiatives. It highlights Human Resources projects and/or initiatives
undertaken throughout the Public Service and was prepared as an information source to
facilitate information exchanges, collaboration and possible joint-ventures. The guide
comprises 21 subject areas of particular interest to HR managers ranging from career
management, communications, delegation of authority, employment equity, remuneration,
learning, WFA, etc...
A review of the 433 initiatives featured in the document indicates
that 47 projects (more than 10%) were submitted by the Health Canada Human Resources
Directorate team. Of the remaining projects, the majority were similar in scope to those
put forward by HC or even yet, identical to initiatives recently implemented such as the
Career Centre, Self-Identification Campaign, re-engineering HR processes and core
competencies, to name a few.
Business Improvement Process (BIP): Re-Engineering Process for
Classification and Staffing Function
This change initiative was done not because it was
fashionable, but because we knew we needed to do our business differently. We had evidence
- the voice of the client in the 1994 Business Line Review and the 1995 Functional Review.
Our processes were too complex, too rigid, took too long, required too many justifications
and service delivery was inconsistent.
Human Resources undertook to re-design these processes to meet
management needs and expectations, through a business improvement process (BIP). The
mandate of the team was:
to ruthlessly examine, evaluate and improve the classification
and staffing process.
The work was completed with the assistance of an outside consultant,
Tatham Process Engineering Inc., from Toronto, Ontario, which introduced the continuous
process improvement (CPI) model to the project teams. It is a structured scientific
approach to process examination and improvement. It emphasizes that processes must focus
on client needs and expectations, and that all actions in a process must represent 'value-added'
to the client. Value added was defined as:
- the client wants the action
- the action is done once (there is no duplication and no rework)
- the action transforms the product or service.
The team, made up of Health Canada employees, worked full time for
eight weeks. It was established to examine these functions and prepared a report outlining
the changes required to streamline business. The team was carefully selected to make sure
there was a mix of expertise and knowledge i.e. members having expert knowledge and
experience and others with limited expertise.
In a three day boot camp conducted by Thatham Process Engineering
Inc., the team learned the CPI. The team identified the client and client issues, and
mapped out the existing formal and informal classification and staffing process flows. The
formal or official process flow, showed how the work is supposed to be done, as documented
in legislation, policies and procedures. The informal process flow demonstrated how the
work is actually done in the 'real world'. Statistical data and process performance
measurements, including cycle times (from initiation to completion of an action) and
costs, were gathered to create a comprehensive picture of existing processes.
The new process consists of two stages, client contact and recruitment.
A key element of the process is that a knowledgeable and dedicated Human Resources Team
provides service in a generalist environment to an assigned organization and acts as a
consultant to managers on all resourcing issues. The HR Team is familiar with the
structure, plans and challenges facing the organization, and has access to documents such
as the Human Resources Management Strategy and Plans, Business Plans and other relevant
For individual transactions, in the Client Contact Stage, the HR
Advisor (HRA) prepares the position profile which is the work description, statement of
qualifications and the official language requirements in consultation with the manager. At
the same time the HRA, with the manager develops the rating plan and provides the manager
with options including associated risks. The manager selects the position evaluation and
recruitment options which are most beneficial to the needs of the organization.
Since the manager and the HRA work closely together to prepare the
position profile and the rating plan in the client contact stage, the recruitment stage is
streamlined and effective. The various candidate sources are consulted simultaneously to
speed up the identification of candidates. Justifications and paperwork are kept to a
minimum. The HR team provides a hands-on service to the manager throughout the appointment
of the successful candidate.
Eighty-five recommendations were divided into quick, short term and
long term. Recommendations were positively received and an action plan was developed to
implement significant changes throughout the organization. Branches have conducted pilots
and an evaluation is currently underway with results looking very positive to date.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
One of the key factors for success in this project was the
leadership and support from senior management including the Senior Assistant Deputy
Minister, Robert Lafleur and the Director General, Robert Joubert. Moreover, all ADMs were
fully supportive of this work and agreed that those participating on the teams were fully
dedicated to the project and, as such, would not be required to carry out their normal
operationl functions during this work.
The operating values of Human Resources Directorate of respect,
integrity, commitment to continuous learning, creativity, innovation and teamwork were
adopted by the team. It quickly established an environment of co-operation and established
shared roles and responsibilities. Moreover the help of Sandy MacPherson, a trained
specialist in CPI from Revenue Canada, was instrumental in the success of this project. A
The company, Thatham Process Engineering Inc., was chosen because of
its' philosophy - the knowledge and expertise remain within the organization thus the
organization is not dependent on the consultant. This was important. It contributed to the
success of the project and produced new learning which has forever changed the mindset of
the team members.
Another critical success factor was the readiness in the
organization to change and the environment was just right too! Once the work started,
there was momentum and a keenness to do things differently. We now have internal experta
who are ambassadors for BIPs. Once the work of the teams concluded in December 1995 all
members were recognized for their dedication and efforts by receiving a certificate of
appreciation at a ceremony with their peers.
NOTE: Below is a listing of some examples of innovative practices
in human resources management at Health Canada.
SOME EXAMPLES OF INNOVATION AT HEALTH CANADA
Human Resources Strategic Framework
This one page document outlines the vision, mission and operating
values of the Human Resources Directorate. It covers the key result areas which are the
capabilities we need to achieve our vision. They include client satisfaction, employee
satisfaction, and strategies or critical things we must do to reach our goals.
Human Resource Management Strategy
The strategy is a framework to deal with branch and department human
resource issues. It describes the main challenges facing Health Canada, presents human
resource actions to address those issues, and offers factual demographic information on
New Employment Relationship
This comprehensive paper defines this concept and its main themes:
employability, situational employment, support for the mission and shared commitment, and
self reliance. The roles and responsibilities of managers and employees and a list of
questions relating to employee and manager concerns are also included. The document is
receiving wide consultation with unions, management and selected employees. We continue to
work on defining the employee side of the relationship.
The Career Centre
The Career Centre was created out of concern for the future and to
respond to the immediate needs of employees facing new or different career directions. It
provides them with tools to actively manage their careers and better adapt to a constantly
changing environment and job market. Senior Management within Health Canada is deeply
committed to the provision of these services; the source of funding for this Centre is at
a Corporate level.
Human resource service standards were developed for classification,
staffing and WFA, staff relations, and compensation. It was distributed as a Service Guide
for managers, providing average turnaround times and other goals that advisors and
compensation specialists strive to achieve in service delivery. A framework for monitoring
will be put in place in the coming year and it is expected that given the Business
Improvement Process initiative, these standards will improve significantly. Service
standards were also developed for Policy and Advisory Services, Learning and Development
(which includes Official Languages), and Systems, Planning and Administration.
Leading and Building Diverse Work Teams
A Diversity Management Framework for Health Canada
Health Canada is committed to fostering a work environment which
treats employees equitably and is reflective of the Canadian population. In order to
operationalize the Department's Operating Principle of treating each other with respect,
dignity and fairness, managers must be equipped and supported with new tools and
techniques and be recognized for their achievements in diversity management.
The Diversity and Official Languages Unit coordinates a Diversity
Management Framework that will benefit each employee and manager in the Department. This
framework will assist managers in achieving corporate cultural change and implementing
management practices that reflect the Department's Operating Principle.
As part of its commitment to establishing a workforce that is
representative of the public it serves, Health Canada's Employment Equity Plan includes
the promotion and increased awareness of the program at all levels in the organization.
An integral part of this plan is the Self-Identification Campaign
which was launched in February 1996. As part of the campaign strategy, various documents
outlining the benefits of self-identification were distributed and focus groups were held
to generate discussion on EE and self-identification. As a result of this campaign there
has been a marked increase in our representative population.
Communication Tools: News and Bulletins
Targeted to all Health Canada employees, the NEWS communique
provides simple, quick and readable information on human resources, finance and other
issues affecting all employees.
The BULLETIN is a working reference tool for corporate services
generalists that provides guidelines, approaches and interpretations regarding various
corporate services issues. It is also used to communicate with line managers to assist
them in managing human resources, finance and other similar issues.
Departmental Executive Committee (DEC)
Sub-Committee on Human Resources
This departmental sub-committee, chaired by an assistant deputy
minister, was established: to provide strategic direction to the Human Resources
Directorate of the Corporate Services Branch; to provide a strategic framework for
implementing key management challenges; and to consider issues relating to the management
of human resources.
New Orientation to Learning
The Learning and Development Programs Division developed a strategic
framework which integrates a series of initiatives including a review of the Learning
Centres throughout the country and a national "Learning and Development Needs
Survey". The survey covered four major areas: employees' general and specific
learning needs, preferred learning methods, the extent to which employees have used their
regional learning centre and employees' recommendations for improvements to the Learning
Centre and other services.
The survey confirmed that the Learning Centres throughout the
country are very much appreciated and are providing an excellent service. The main
conclusion drawn from the analysis is that learning/training is seen as an important asset
in being a productive employee and in helping to prepare for the future.
Work Force Adjustment: Employee's Kit
This guide was prepared to assist employees affected by work force
adjustment situations. The package provides general information as wells as tips on coping
with change, job searching, résumé writing and how to prepare for interviews.
Manager's Guide to Employment Adjustment
This guide provides managers with a broad range of information
related to employment adjustment as well as the revised Work Force Adjustment Directive.
The package includes flow charts and check lists to assist managers in their daily human
resource management activities.
November 02, 1998