Med­i­cal Coun­cil of Canada

Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Awards 2009-10 -

Plenty has changed at the Med­i­cal Coun­cil of Canada over the years – its head­count, for in­stance. Es­tab­lished in 1912 to as­sess the cre­den­tials of med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers, the or­ga­ni­za­tion had no more than a dozen or so em­ploy­ees in the 1970s. Fast for­ward 30 years, and the group has grown to about 90.

And while its orig­i­nal HR prac­tices worked rel­a­tively well while the or­ga­ni­za­tion was small, ac­cord­ing to Leeanne Pa­que­tte, di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources, those prac­tices needed an over­haul by the time she joined the team in 2007.

“We have three floors,” Ms. Pa­que­tte says. “There were peo­ple on the third floor who didn’t know peo­ple on the first floor. It was so com­part­men­tal­ized. Peo­ple did their own thing. There was no for­mal­ized train­ing. There was no man­age­ment around it.”

With sup­port from Mr. Ian Bowmer, MCC’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Ms. Pa­que­tte set about chang­ing a few things. First, the or­ga­ni­za­tion con­ducted a com­pen­sa­tion re­view to bet­ter align re­mu­ner­a­tion with du­ties. The or­ga­ni­za­tion then de­vel­oped codes of con­duct and core com­pe­ten­cies, and im­ple­mented flex­i­ble work hours. It in­stalled an HRIS sys­tem for data tracking and record-keep­ing.

“I turned (things) up­side down,” Ms. Pa­que­tte says. “They went from fill­ing out forms to take a va­ca­tion day to us­ing an au­to­mated time-re­port­ing sys­tem.”

But MCC also went well be­yond the ba­sics. The or­ga­ni­za­tion part­nered with lo­cal ser­vice providers to help em­ploy­ees bal­ance their work­days and per­sonal lives. MCC now has on-site mas­sage ther­apy, on-site es­theti­cian ser­vices, and ser­vices that pick up and drop off em­ploy­ees’ dry clean­ing. An­other ser­vice of­fers oil changes for em­ploy­ees’ ve­hi­cles. “It costs MCC noth­ing, but what a big win for HR,” Ms. Pa­que­tte says.

The em­ploy­ees cer­tainly seem to ap­pre­ci­ate those new HR poli­cies. “Em­ploy­ees are a pri­or­ity, as re­flected by great em­ployee ben­e­fits, pro­grams, meet­ings, sem­i­nars, ac­tiv­i­ties, com­mit­tees, so­cial events, ed­u­ca­tion, et cetera,” wrote one re­spon­dent to the Em­ploy­ees’ Choice sur­vey. “Em­ployee feed­back is con­sid­ered in most as­pects of this or­ga­ni­za­tion. Ev­ery per­son is made to feel im­por­tant.”

One ma­jor change fo­cused on the role of HR it­self, and the way em­ploy­ees are en­cour­aged to see the ac­tual depart­ment. Staff mem­bers are trained to com­mu­ni­cate with each other to solve prob­lems – they don’t au­to­mat­i­cally re­quest that HR in­ter­vene if is­sues arise. Ms. Pa­que­tte says that has made a world of dif­fer­ence in MCC’s work cul­ture.

“The com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion now is so dif­fer­ent. Peo­ple are re­ally chal­leng­ing each other. We’ve cre­ated a cul­ture of a sin­gle or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Em­ploy­ees seem to agree. “The or­ga­ni­za­tion has gone through a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion of our cul­ture. It is now more than ever a very pleas­ant place to work. Leaders, man­agers and em­ploy­ees are held ac­count­able for their ac­tions both pos­i­tively and neg­a­tively. There is a re­newed sense of trust.”

Con­sid­er­ing how many changes the or­ga­ni­za­tion had to im­ple­ment to im­prove the HR prac­tices, MCC’s top-10 place­ment is a huge win, Ms. Pa­que­tte says. “For us to re­ceive this award – you have no idea … Now I know em­ploy­ees get it.”

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