Retail’s Top HR Challenges – Getting There from Here

Everything is changing, and the challenges are in the journey as well as the destination

A recent AON study showed that HR leaders see their main COVID-19 related challenges as:

- Business continuity plans (67%)
- Managing flexible work arrangements (64%)
- Managing employee communication (56%)
- Addressing employee concerns on workplace policies (53%)
- Implementing preventative measures (43%)
- Reviewing current welfare policies (25%).

These have always been important HR priorities, but delivering on all of them in a crisis situation requires a unique set of skills and experience and it’s something few, if any, organizations were prepared for. In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way retailers operate and manage their workforces is changing permanently. The need to be ready for the post-COVID “new normal” and successfully manage the transition adds another significant layer of complexity to HR planning, while reinforcing the need for strong change management capabilities within the HR team.

Recognizing the urgent and critical need for top tier HR talent, in recent weeks the JRoss team has proactively connected with 100s of highly experienced Human Resources professionals from Canada’s largest service sectors to gain a sense of the talent profile available.

To share some of what they found, the candidate profiles below will give you an idea of the types of HR skills and experience that retailers will be looking for.

Vice President of People and Culture – Toronto

Having worked with iconic Canadian brands in both retail and food service operations, this HR business leader has led and directed the entire HR function nationally for organizations with more than 8000 corporate employees. Experienced in corporate and entrepreneurial environments that excel in customer service, they have developed and implemented strategies to ensure the successful implementation of HR client services, policies, practices and programs within store, home office and distribution centre environments for both US/global and Canadian run organizations. Optimistic by nature but also realistic and pragmatic, they have demonstrated success in building talented teams and systems during periods of accelerated organizational growth and transformation. The bottom line is that they are a stellar Human Resources and communications executive who thrives on challenge and change.

Regional Director, Human Resources – Calgary

With a history of premium brand leadership experience, this hospitality HR professional has worked for global luxury brand hotels and gaming/entertainment centres. Transitioning from hotel operations into HR, they have successfully developed into a strategic business partner with a balanced approach to human capital and sales generation. For the past 5 years, they’ve taken on increasing levels of responsibility for the strategic development and execution of talent initiatives within one of Canada’s leading hotel operators, with responsibility for performance management, leadership development, succession planning, talent acquisition and key metrics. Supporting sites in Canada and the US with over 3000 employees, they’ve hired, developed and coached a team of HR professionals to oversee multi-location territories across Canada. A modern-day leader with a sophisticated edge, this dynamic leader thrives in a multi-dimensional role that needs a creative HR strategist accustomed to managing people, systems and resources to deliver on specific organizational goals.

Human Resources Business Partner – Montreal

This outstanding candidate is a strategic and business-focused Human Resources professional with 10+ years of leadership experience within regional & national retail organizations. They’ve developed a track record for success in designing and implementing streamlined people initiatives that optimize performance, drive productivity, and maintain employee engagement during times of change. With national responsibilities, they’ve led up to 80+ stores through corporate transformation and re-branding initiatives with targeted people strategies that align with business objectives. This proven HR professional brings a unique inspirational wit and story-telling style which sets them apart. Overall, they’re a great fit for any role that requires a leader with a clear understanding of the links between employee engagement, customer loyalty, financial performance and shareholder value.

Director of HR and Talent Management – Vancouver

This proven people leader has over 15 years of progressive and varied HR service industry sector experience in advisory support, performance management, employee and people relations, change management, total rewards, and talent management. They’ve learned that linking people with business strategy is critical to long-term success, and they know it takes more than just good intentions. Their key belief is that a solid HR leader must work hard to build trust-based partnerships with the business to be able to identify and influence effective people strategies that align with key business objectives. To that end, they’re known for analyzing HR activities through the lens of business requirements. They act as a critical link between people and processes, influencing decision-makers as a trusted advisor and enabling organizational transformation. They’ve successfully guided and directed positive organizational change in partnership with executive leaders and stakeholders to heighten organizational effectiveness, increase transparency, and create high-performance work environments. They come to the executive table with a certificate in Conflict Resolution in Mediation and Third Party Intervention combined with a CHRP designation.