Tag Archives: Jessica Lau

My Internship Journey – Part 1

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

I have recently taken on my first HR job in Canada, an HR internship position with a luxury hotel and resorts. It is great timing to talk about my experience, especially following last month’s World Café topic “When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job” in which I suggested taking on internship as a way to overcome this issue.

It’s been five weeks since I started with this organization and it’s been an amazing experience. I don’t even know how to begin in explaining what makes this experience so amazing; there are so many different reasons. But in particular, the three that really sticks out are the organization itself, the culture, values and people and the ability to learn different aspects of human resources.

Let me begin by talking about the organization itself. This hotel and resorts is amazing, being one of Canada’s top employers. During my 5 weeks at the hotel, I’ve learned some of the reasons why the organization has been given this award. To begin, there are many opportunities given to the employees to grow and develop. The organization really cares about helping their employees grow professionally and gives their employees opportunities to cross-train and move within. This is speaking of not just about giving them opportunities to move within one location but throughout all their hotels and resorts around the world. I have met so many employees that have traveled and worked at various departments and locations within the organization. There are programs to recognize their staff, monthly award ceremonies to show appreciation for their staff’s hard work and social events to help bond their organization. I was even given the opportunity to plan a week of events to show appreciation and thank the employees. The week of events involved the executive teams rolling up their sleeves and serving their employees. I know a lot of organizations try to have recognition and appreciation programs but this organization actually make it a commitment and priority to do these things for their staff.

The second thing I really love about my experience so far is the culture, values and people. The values of the organization have built a very friendly culture where everyone works together as a team and respects each other. The values are also shown through the practices and through the people I’ve met. I almost feel like the organization has hired a team of people who actually breathe and live their values. It must be said that the HR and management team do a very good job in their recruitment and hiring process. When we spend so much time at work each day, it is so important to like and enjoy the culture and people we work with.

The last thing I really enjoy about my internship so far is the experience and the ability to learn about different aspects of HR. As the HR intern, I have been exposed to various aspects within this HR department where I have supported everyone from the HR coordinator, benefits coordinator, health and safety coordinator, recruitment manager, training manager to HR director. the HR team has been very open to teaching me their specific area and helping me learn as much as I can. It has been very exciting learning the various aspects of HR and getting a more hands on approach and experience to the HR department of a big organization. I have been given various supporting tasks, as well as different projects such as creating an employees appreciation week. From this project, I was exposed to and learned how this very big organization function. It was different than what I am used to but I was able to successfully learn, adapt and pulled off the week of events. During this internship so far, not only am I learning about the different aspects of HR but also learning a great deal about a big organization and a lot about myself. I cannot wait to see what is to come in the coming weeks.

It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

One of the biggest challenges faced by many business leaders is the struggle to find and retain the right talent with the right skills for their organizations. According to an article The ‘8 Great’ Challenges Every Business Faces (And How to Master Them All), there are no “magic answers.”  There is no “formula with recruiting and engaging the right talent,” which makes sense as everyone is different. This month’s Coffee Shop HR question, “what it will take to retain the best talent over the next five years,” is closely related to this business challenge and is very important for HR professionals and business leaders. Finding and retaining the right talent is challenging enough already, let along retaining the best talent.

I had a few ideas in mind in terms of retaining the best talent but I really wanted to see what others would say. Instead of immediately going out to look at what other business professionals have suggested, I  took this opportunity to speak with alumni friends individuals (to avoid group think) what it would take for their employers to retain them. What truly amazed me is the fact that there was quite a bit of commonality in what they said, what I found in research and what I actually thought.

I am writing this with the assumption that the company has implemented a successful recruitment strategy, which can attract and recruit the right people with the right skills and management have the ability to identify the best talent. Here are 4 ways to help retain your best talent:

Training, Development and Growth

One of the answers that everyone I spoke with was about development and growth. Everyone mentioned the importance of having an opportunity to develop new skills and grow within the company as something very important to them in regards to retention. The inability to develop and grow seems to be a “no-no” with everyone I spoke with. As Mike Myatt stated in the article 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You, “if you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.” So if you want their best talent to stay and grow with your company then you need to provide opportunities for them to develop and grow, perhaps having career planning or professional development initiatives. Show that you care about them and their development.

Challenge Your Best Talent

It is very important to challenge your best talent, allow them to get creative and pursue their passion. This may mean allowing them to explore different ways of doing their daily tasks, trying different strategies for their tasks or allowing to get creative in being innovative on new initiatives, this may add value to the company they work for. For example, Google set up “20 Percent Time” for their staff to work on their own projects they like; this encourages the Google staff to be innovative and have an opportunity to exercise their autonomy.

Allow Your Best Talent to Contribute to Meaningful Work

To retain your best talent, you need to incorporate your best talent in the overall strategic plan and contribute to meaningful work. If you want to retain your best talent, give them opportunities to contribute to meaningful work and make a difference and an impact in the company. Mike Myatt stated that it is very likely that your best talent are interested in improving, enhancing and adding value to the work they do and the company they work for. Failure to allow your best talent to contribute to meaningful work will push them to leave.

Recognition / Acknowledgement

As Dan Ariely stated in What makes us feel good about our work, fail to recognize and acknowledge someone’s work is almost as bad as ignoring someone’s work. If you want to retain your best talent, it is very important to recognize and acknowledge their work. If you fail to recognize their contribution, it is “just as good as asking them to leave,” according to Mike Myatt. Also, I believe that we are so accustom to the speed of technology and immediate feedback nowadays that recognition and acknowledgement need to be made quite immediate as well.

It is challenging to find the right talent with the right skills and even more difficult to find the best talent therefore once you find them, make sure to engage and retain them. Yes, it is important for you to provide competitive compensation but you must also provide opportunities to develop and grow them, challenge them, allow them to contribute to meaningful work and provide them with recognition and acknowledgement.

Related Pages

How to Keep the BEST Ones! by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement, and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Coffee Shop HR World Café : What will it take to retain the best talent over the next five years?

Lesson of “Environment Matters” from Dan Ariely at the 2013 BC HRMA Conference

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

Today, I attended my first BC HRMA Conference and it was an amazing experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet very genuine and experienced HR practitioners, I had the privilege of learning, and sharing experiences alongside them. It was an opportunity to network and attend engaging speaker sessions where I gained valuable lessons.

In particular, the session with Dan Ariely, entitled “Predictably Irrational: How Behavioral Economics Impacts the Role of Human Resources” really impacted me. To begin, I must say Dan is such an engaging presenter with a great sense of humor. If there is any way you can gain access to his presentation from the BC HRMA Conference, you must watch it.  I can’t tell you everything I gained from his presentation, as it would probably be like a 10 page essay but one of the lessons I learned from him is that “environment matters” so try to control it. This is how he showed us his one of his lessons…

Dan showed us a very interesting graph of the percentage of people in various European countries that are willing to donate their organs after they die. There was a dramatic difference between different European countries. I was looking at the graph, trying to figure out the reason for the differences. Of course, with a passion and interest in diversity and cultural differences, I tried to compare if there was a difference in cultures between the areas where donations were lower than countries where donations tended to be higher.  Recognizing that some of the countries where donations were low shared cultural similarities with countries where donation levels were high, I was stuck.

Dan told us that the difference was simply based on the way the form was written. This surprised a lot of us (I could tell through the gasping and shocking reactions around me).  It was a simple “opt-in” and “opt-out” on the form that created such a dramatic difference. What he was trying to communicate was that simple, changes in the environment such as choice architecture, can make a big difference in the results. He later went on to show us other examples to prove what he tried to communicate.

How this links to HR professionals and business leaders is that we may want to be more thoughtful and careful when asking questions: giving choices, designing things and creating processes. But as Dan showed, the environment matters, so I do believe you can utilize it to help you and your business grow.

Advice for Recent Post-Secondary Grads

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

I am a recent grad and if I could go back in time, these are the three pieces of advice I would give myself:

1. “Be open-minded and explore.” It doesn’t matter what career path you took during post-secondary; just keep an open-mind of different possibilities. You may have taken a focus on HR but it is worthwhile to have an open mind and speak with non- HR individuals because there may be other career paths you didn’t think or know about so speak and learn from others. If you have the luxury to travel, this is the time to explore. Many seasoned professionals have told me “you have a whole lifetime to work but this is the only time where you can travel freely for a long period of time.” This is very true.  Once you start to work, it is very hard to take a few weeks or months away to travel. You can learn so much about yourself, and the world at large from the people you encounter, while traveling. If you keep an open mind, you will learn so much about things you didn’t know.  As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

2. “Continue networking, build your brand, increase your online presence and do your prep work.” Prep work includes spending time on your resume, making business cards, perfecting your 30 second pitch, researching the industries and companies you may be interested in. This sounds simple but it takes a lot of time and effort; the prep work pays off.

3. “Stay positive and don’t get discouraged.” It takes time to find a career. I remember speaking with alumni who graduated a semester or two before me and a number of them told me it took them 6 to 8 months to find a job they were interested in. At the time, I thought maybe the economy was bad, this group of alumni were being choosy or were not using the right job search strategies.  After more than two months of job searching, I realized that there is no such thing as the “right” strategy, and it simply requires a lot of time.  After speaking with many seasoned business professionals, they also indicate that it takes more than 6 months to find a job, especially in the Vancouver region, and so it’s necessary to stay positive during the process. Now I truly know what people meant when they say, “the job search is a job in itself” so stay positive and don’t get discouraged.

Related Pages:

1. Coffee Shop HR World Café: What Three Pieces of Advice Should Post-Secondary Grads Take to Heart?

2. Agony and Elation: Searching for Work in a Turbulent Job Market by Nicole Davidson

3. What Three Pieces of Advice Should Post-Secondary Grads Take to Heart? by Bonnie Milne, PhD

Ethically Refusing to Hire Smokers

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

Recently, I’ve read an attention-grabbing article called Should Companies Have The Right To Refuse To Hire Smokers? on Forbes, it is about the debate and ethicality in not hiring smokers. This is of great interest to me, as HR professionals are the ones in charge of hiring and creating policies regarding this.

According to Alice G. Walton from the article, one group, including “Ralph W. Muller, CEO of Heal, argues that it’s high time to amp up our efforts to help people quit – even if new policies bring short-time unhappiness, they will certainly bring long-term health benefits.” Another group, including “former White House health advisor Ezekiel J. Emanuel, says that even though everyone agrees that smokers should be encouraged to quit, it’s fundamentally unethical for businesses, and even hospitals, to refuse people jobs because they smoke.”

I was quite torn with which group I am in support of. But after some thoughts on this “not hiring smokers” debate, I came to the view that it is unethical for companies and HR to discriminate and not hire someone who is a smoker.

I do agree that people, companies, policy makers and leaders should increase their effort to help people quit but I feel that it is unethical to have policies to not hire smokers. To me, this in a way is to force people to quit. As a very liberated individual, I believe people should be allowed to do whatever they desire for their lifestyle and should not be forced to do something due to society’s pressure. Are we, in a way, discriminating and bullying people to be non-smokers? Since if they don’t become non-smokers then they won’t get hire.

It is true that in hospital settings, most patients probably don’t want to smell the cigarette smoke on the hospital employees’ clothes or body. However, I believe the hospital may want to consider making it a rule not to smoke during work hours. As an HR professional, I believe it is more important to try to implement policies to help and support people to quit.

When I read this article, I related the smokers to those people who are obese and unhealthy with high chances of heart attack and strokes. Often, these people may have habits, which continuously contribute to their obesity. Do we need to stop hiring these individuals, as we want to encourage them to be healthier, like we want to encourage smokers to quit to be healthier? No, that’s not what companies are doing. Instead of not hiring them, companies are implementing health and wellness programs to encourage people to live a healthier life. We should do the same with smokers. As HR professionals, we should consider implementing more health and wellness programs to help and support our employees lead healthier lives, let it be due to obesity or smoking problems.

What is the HR policy your company has in regards to hiring or not hiring smokers? I am very interested in knowing what are the common practices and perspectives out there. How are you, as an HR professional, impacting these policies and practices regarding “not hiring smokers” or helping employees quit?

Walton, Alice G. “Should Companies Have The Right To Refuse To Hire Smokers?”   Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

Coffee Shop HR Welcomes Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau is a recent graduate and emerging HR professional with over 8 years of local and International experience in customer service, people management and human resources. Currently, she is participating in the BCHRMA professional mentorship program, exploring career opportunities and pursuing her CHRP designation. Jessica has a passion for diversity, engagement, empowerment and to bring out the best from individuals.

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

Jessica is proud to have been the valedictorian student speaker in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Human Resources Advanced Diploma, graduating with Distinction.

During her studies, Jessica was involved with many extracurricular activities taking on different leadership roles and giving back to the school and community. She was the President and executive member of Capilano HRMA and the Vice-President and executive member of the Capilano Undergraduate Business Enterprise of Students in 2008 to 2011, associations in enhancing the value of the business program and providing professional development for the students. She was also the Capilano University’s student representative with BC HRMA and participated in the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Leaders of Tomorrow mentorship program.

As the 2011 provincial Premier’s One World International Scholarship recipient, Jessica went to study abroad in France where she traveled to more than 20 cities to learn and embrace different cultures. She also participated in a three weeks China Study Tour in 2009, in which she appreciated the Chinese proverb of “walking 1000 miles beats reading 10,000 scrolls.”