UCS Forest Group’s chief human resources and administrative officer discusses the complexities of the post-pandemic workplace, training managers to adapt to the new working environment and ensuring her dogs live their best lives.

Q: What top challenges do you face in your role?

A: In this post-pandemic world, employees are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and complexity and in a very different environment than what they were dealing with prior to this health crisis. Our leaders are faced with that complexity, so our greatest challenge is ensuring we’re equipping them with the tools to be as effective as they can be and to provide an environment where they can respond appropriately to the changing needs of employees.

Read: Remote working, distributed workforces could be part of new normal post-coronavirus

Q: What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?

A: We’re looking to implement a variety of new programs, including an education and training program for our large operations team. Another program we’re looking to build out is a coaching program for our team leaders. Part of the complexity our leaders are facing is leading a dispersed workforce, so that’s one of the skillsets we want to enhance.

Q: How do you judge the success of a program or initiative?

Career crib sheet

February 2023 — Present
Chief HR and administrative officer, UCS Forest Group

November 2017 — Present
Chief HR officer, UCS Forest Group

September 2016 – November 2017
Director, global talent, Johnson Controls

September 2014 – September 2016
Director, global talent, Tyco International (a Johnson Controls company)

March 2007 – September 2014
Director, HR/senior HR business partner, Tyco International

2007 – 2008
Senior manager, HR, Tyco International

1995 –2006
Co-worker relations manager, IKEA Canada

A: It’s important to take a 360-degree view of what the company is trying to achieve — from both an employee and employer perspective — to gauge whether we’ve moved the needle on those targets. It’s also important to hear from employees. We have a system we use for surveying staff, which we launch post-training or program deployment to get a good understanding of their experience. If they enjoyed the experience and took some learnings away from it, then I think that’s a success.

Read: Q&A with LCBO’s Lilian Riad-Allen

Q: What programs do you consider the most successful or that you’re most proud of?

A: I’m really proud of the work we’ve done expanding the use of technology in HR. We’ve implemented a new learning management system that includes a catalogue of training modules and a virtual solution for tracking and communicating health and safety. We have also launched our digitized employee engagement survey and we have multiple compensation incentive plans that employees can access through a digital dashboard. We want our resources accessible to all employees and increasing our digital HR capabilities helps us achieve that while working in a way that’s aligned with our talent philosophy.

Q: What key HR issues do you expect in the coming year?

A: Keeping employees connected with their managers and helping managers stay connected with their teams. In this post-pandemic world where there’s more competition for talent, people tend to be a little bit more transient, so creating that connection with the company is important. With employees working in different facilities, locations and time zones, it’s imperative we find ways to build team camaraderie.

Read: Q&A with PepsiCo Canada’s Jaye Calder

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

A: My family is my No. 1 priority. We have a new granddaughter who has been living with us for a little while, so I get the amazing opportunity to see my son become a father and develop a pretty special relationship with my granddaughter. We also have three rescue dogs and I’m pretty committed to having them live their best life.

Q: What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?

A: We offer volunteer days to every employee and that’s become a little more important for people post-pandemic. We see it applied differently; some use the day to volunteer together for a cause, while others use it to support individual causes close to their heart.

Lauren Bailey is an associate editor at Benefits Canada and the Canadian Investment Review.