Human Resources – Labour Relations

This risk relates to the labour / union relations risk of failing to foster effective management-union relations. This risk may impact service planning for patients as well as the organization’s reputation, and can lead to reduced staff morale and engagement, increase in staff turnover, employment litigation and financial loss. This document contains information entered by HIROC Subscriber healthcare organizations (acute and non-acute) in the Risk Register application to help you in your assessment of this risk.

Ranking / Ratings 

  • Likelihood – 2.83
  • Impact – 2.79

The Risk Register allows for risks to be assessed on a five-point likelihood and impact scale, with five being the highest.

Key Controls / Mitigation Strategies

Human Resources (HR)

  • Retention strategy to attract and retain top talent, including:
    • Competitive compensation package
    • Flexible working arrangements
    • Environment of continuous feedback
    • Positive workplace that is welcoming, inclusive, mission-driven and values-based
  • Programs:
    • Wellness initiatives (e.g. employee well-being session on "self-care", rebrand "sick days" as "wellness days" to focus on physical and mental health wellness)
    • Mental health peer support 
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
    • Succession and contingency planning 
  • Informal communication channels between HR and employees
  • Job description review of union positions through a joint job evaluation committee which includes union leaders
  • Annual performance management process, including feedback tools, ongoing communication, training opportunities and staff support
  • Consider the most appropriate individuals for the bargaining team and assess if those holding positions with access to sensitive or confidential information should be members 

Labour Relations

  • Foster / cultivate a collaborative and respectful relationship with the unions
    • Maintain strong working relationships with bargaining unit leaders to proactively address concerns
    • Involve unions early on in the development of new policies and initiatives (e.g. attendance support program, scheduling optimization)
    • Foster dialogue to gather and incorporate feedback
    • Labour relations management committee meetings (regular and ad-hoc as needed)
    • Informal meetings with HR and union leaders to review and address issues and mutual concerns (e.g. absences and work disruptions)
    • Labour relations / HR strategy to include common goals based on mutual interests with union partners; ongoing strategy assessment
  • Grievance and arbitration 
    • Resolve disputes during grievance process when possible to avoid costly and lengthy arbitration hearings 
    • Utilize alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation
    • Work together with legal counsel prior to arbitration hearings
    • Set time limits for all stages of the process
    • Remain current on labour relations trends
    • Attend information sessions offered by employment law firms 
    • Media monitoring around union activity or staff in the news

Policies / Protocols / Processes 

  • Policy review process to ensure policies reflect current practices and legislative requirement
  • Include union leadership up front for feedback / input on new processes and policies that affect their membership
  • Regular communications regarding mechanisms to raise concerns and complaints as per organization’s policies (e.g. respect in the workplace, whistleblowing), including follow up and resolution timelines
  • Established mechanisms to ensure that policies are followed
  • Workplace policies, services and programs that support employee engagement, retention and productivity
  • Grievance and arbitration procedures 
  • Progressive discipline policy and procedures, including clear responsibilities
  • Annual review of standard employment letter template to ensure compliance with legislative requirements
  • Employee relations protocols
  • HR procedures and management of exit process
  • Guidelines and initiatives to address the 24/7 culture (e.g. designated non-meeting days, expectations related to working and/or responding to emails after hours) 

Education / Training

  • Management education on labour or contract / collective agreements
  • Leadership development program with a learning stream focused on people management
  • Mechanism in place to address conflict in the workplace
  • Training on conducting effective meetings
  • Engage union leaders in promoting resources offered to staff as part of the redeployment process, or those interested in proactive career management
  • Engage key union leaders in just culture and coaching training in order to help them understand the organization’s just culture philosophy and accountabilities
  • Staff education regarding workplace harassment and violence

Monitoring / Indicators 

  • Staff turnover, vacancy, absenteeism rates
  • Staff retention stats
  • Staff feedback
  • Staff education attendance
  • Safety culture survey
  • Engagement survey (pulse survey every second year) to monitor employee satisfaction, engagement and culture; status reports on implementation of action plans
  • Workplace complaints
  • Patient complaints 
  • Grievance reports with trends, total number and percentage of grievances that proceed to mediation / arbitration, resolution rates; review upward trends to identify root causes and develop action plans
  • Monthly redeployment scorecard
  • Track and monitor progress on succession and contingency planning program; review annual updates to the program