Last week, the Avanti team attended the CPHR BC & Yukon HR Conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre – that’s right, IN PERSON! After two years of being “together apart,” it felt surreal and gratifying to finally be together… together! The energy and excitement of so many like-minded people gathered in one space is really incomparable and hard to replicate in a virtual setting.

Emma, Cindy, and Hasham at the Avanti booth
Emma, Cindy, and Hasham at the Avanti booth

Avanti has been participating at the CPHR BC & Yukon annual conference for years, but for me, it was my first time attending in person. Here are some of my top takeaways and learnings from the conference.

Adaptation is key

In the session titled “The Pandemic, the Workplace and the Horizon – Lessons from the Pandemic and the Future of Work,” the panel of speakers started the discussion by sharing the biggest lesson they learned from the pandemic. One of the panelists, Jabeen Boga, Regional HR Business Partner with Revera, shared a personal anecdote that resonated with the majority of the audience – the trials and tribulations of sharing a one-bedroom home/workspace with her partner and child.

During the pandemic, companies and industries weren’t the only ones facing a lot of change – their employees were also at the forefront. And whether it was accepting that your child may crash your work meeting, or discovering that your loud typing can be heard in the next room, learning to adapt was and continues to be a critical and valuable skill for an individual and organization. Jabeen also emphasized that being adaptive goes hand-in-hand with equipping your team with the right technology to succeed.

The power of collaboration with employees

In the same session, another panelist, Shawn Stouten, VP of Operations at Henry Schein One - Exan Software, shared one of the changes from the pandemic that their organization plans to keep: more employee collaboration and feedback.

The typical decision-making process in a company is often top-down, followed by getting the data to back it up. However, by engaging with employees at an earlier stage, you can gather more structured, unbiased data and truly learn what’s working and what’s not.

At Avanti, we regularly welcome feedback and ideas across all departments and organizations. Although we’ve adopted a fully distributed workforce philosophy – meaning you can permanently work from anywhere across Canada – we surveyed how many days in a week team members would like to work in an office. Based on the results, we’ve re-opened our head office in Calgary and created more flex desk stations to accommodate those who’d like to work from the office.

Performance is a journey, not an event

In the session “Performance on Purpose, a Value-Driven Approach to Performance Management,” Serena Morphy, Principal and HR Consultant at Awaken HR, brought to light that many organizations struggle with the same pain points around performance. To make the conversations around performance meaningful and open, employers must integrate performance practices into their culture and foster accountability, inclusion, and trust/psychological safety. Performance isn’t simply a box to check off once a year as an isolated event, these conversations should be frequent and be revisited and reflected upon regularly.

Of course, how performance is measured, evaluated, and rewarded will vary depending on a company’s circumstances and priorities. However, Serena shared that one common goal to focus on is for people to see the value in their roles and how they contribute to their organization, beyond simply a job description. This fosters employee empowerment and encourages discussions around growth and pathways to advancement.

You have more power than you think you do

Keynote speaker Vivek Shraya, an artist and educator on self-expression, identity, and inclusivity, shared how being a leader often means you need to think outside the box, even around the definition of what a leader is. There are many ways to be a leader, and many incredibly impactful leaders are those you never see on a stage. Leaders can provide value by being someone who shows support, by respecting confidentiality, or by creating opportunities for others. It was inspiring to hear this spoken in a room full of HR professionals, ranging from students and recent grads to experienced industry veterans. To raise the standard of workplaces, solid leadership is a must-have, and this session encouraged attendees that leadership can be demonstrated regardless of your role, seniority, or identity.

Be well to work well

This takeaway wasn’t from a specific session or speaker, but hearing from so many of the speakers and fellow conference attendees about the challenges people face in the workplace reminded me that doing your job well greatly depends on how well you take care of yourself. HR and payroll people are definitely some of the hidden, unsung heroes in any organization, and a recent survey by Workvivo revealed that 98% of HR professionals have struggled with burnout in the last six months. In addition, 73% of HR professionals say they don’t have the tools they need to carry out their job effectively.

Facing a global pandemic and the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle is definitely taking a toll on HR, and of course, it takes more than a conference for HR professionals to get the resources they need. But as a Silver Sponsor and exhibitor of the conference, we did want to find ways to sprinkle in some relaxation and self-care in the midst of a busy conference schedule. We partnered with CPHR BC & Yukon and Soulful Indulgence, a mobile massage and spa service, to create the Wellness Lounge. We hope the massages and our popular eye masks provided an opportunity to relax for all the hardworking HR and payroll heroes that visited our booth!

Relax, it’s all under control with Avanti
Relax, it’s all under control with Avanti. Our hot/cold eye masks were a hit with CPHR conference attendees!
The team from Soulful Indulgence, a mobile massage and spa service in the Avanti Wellness Lounge
Can’t beat that view! The team from Soulful Indulgence, a mobile massage and spa service in the Avanti Wellness Lounge.

This year’s CPHR BC & Yukon Conference was a wonderful way for Avanti to connect with the HR community and learn from the leaders who care about building better workplaces and supporting their people. As a Brand & Content Specialist who also advocates for all things People + Culture, I was soaking up everything I could. Our team is looking forward to seeing where all these connections and learnings take us in the future.

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