July 14, 2011

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the HR Professional Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. As an HR professional, your role is to create talent management processes that ensure all employees are engaged and contributing to their full potential. This in turn will help your organization out-perform the competition

You also need to be aware of your responsibility to ensure all employees are treated equitably and provide accommodation as required.

Ongoing Development

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring skilled immigrants are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Along with the regular training and development opportunities you provide employees, skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs that help them put their international experience into the Canadian context. Some initiatives include job-sharing as well as internal and external mentoring.

If language is the primary barrier to a skilled immigrant employee contributing more to your organization, provide specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy.

Performance Management and Promotion

Regular performance appraisals and feedback improve employees’ performance but it’s important to be aware of cultural differences to ensure skilled immigrants are getting the most out of the exchange.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing examples and reiterating expectations. Then, outline a practical approach with dates and targets.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. And remember to include skilled immigrant employees when identifying high potential employees and developing succession plans for senior leaders.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

Legal Responsibilities

Human rights acts across Canada prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on several protected grounds including race and national or ethnic origin. Employment equity is a plan or process to eliminate employment and promotion barriers members of protected groups face in the workplace.

While employers are legally obligated to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, accommodation isn’t just about meeting legal requirements — it’s also a good human resource practice that can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

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