This Firm is Changing How We Look at HR

Given the spotlight on HR during these unprecedented times, Spark Centre thought who better to chat with than Durham HR Solutions! Keep reading for our interview with Andrea Bisenberger from Durham HR Solutions — a full-service HR partner and consulting division of Durham Recruiting that helps businesses reach their full potential by aligning their HR practices with business strategy.




Q: Some have been saying that the current pandemic is HR’s opportunity to be recognized for what they do, similar to the way that technology professionals were recognized during Y2K. Would you agree with this?

A: Yes we do agree with this! We think it’s an excellent opportunity for HR as a function to rebrand themselves and move away from policy police or event planners! There are some pretty real stereotypes that exist about HR as a function today.

HR needs to be treated and seen by the employees and the management team as a core pillar of the business. If HR is utilized as a business partner within an organization, it can bring tremendous value.


“HR in 2020 cannot just be payroll,
benefits and policies”


HR allows your company to shine during a crisis (and during normal times). With a great HR team in place, they are representing everything you value as a company. It is their job to ensure your employees feel heard, accepted, valued and appreciated (even if laid off). HR has the ability to impact your bottom line and increase profit at every stage of the business if done correctly.


Q: What makes Durham HR Solutions unique compared to other HR firms out there?

A: There are four key differentiators between Durham HR Solutions and other HR firms. Our main difference is that we are here to ensure our HR practices increase your bottom line and profitability through employee experiences. We are not a cost to a company, but rather an investment to reduce turnover, increase productivity, reduce risk and increase employee performance which translates to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, in savings (i.e: WSIB claims, hiring/firing costs, MOL/MOE claims and lost productivity through poor performers, etc).

The other differentiators are that we tailor our offerings to your specific needs rather than follow a one-size-fits-all approach, we offer Coaching/Training/Development for those that make sense within your company (i.e: Supervisors/Managers that impact 80% of your workforce), we’re located in Durham and Northumberland, and we’re readily available by phone, or to come onsite when needed as we’re not a call centre.


Q: How would you say clients benefit the most by using Durham HR Solutions’ services?

A: HR in 2020 is very different from HR in 1990 — modern HR is not just about policies and parties which is how many companies still view, and even, treat HR today. HR in 2020 must be seen as a business partner and have a seat at the Management table. We are here to sit with you, guide you, advise and then implement what you need to do to be even more successful with less stress. We are here to build amazing experiences throughout an employee’s life cycle with the company.

We do the work that no one has the proper time to do (or does not want to do). We take on the 20%-40% that is not getting done from an HR perspective that benefits both the client and employees the most. You are missing out on profit by ignoring that 20% – 40%.

The work we do is all meant to save you money and increase profits by keeping you compliant and planning for the future.


Q: Has that changed since the onset of COVID-19?

A: We don’t feel that our offerings have changed since COVID-19, but there are areas that are being focused on, and some being put on the back burner, while we figure out the new norm. We have been there to support our community with up to date information by providing webinars, one on one council and general advice as needed. 

If anything, this COVID-19 pandemic has brought more visibility and importance to the value that HR can bring to a business. Strategic HR is not just about policing policies; it is about dotting the lines between people and profits. By doing so, this allows companies to build great workplace cultures that prioritize people as the most valuable assets they have. Simply put, people who love what they do will work harder and outperform their peers. 


Q: Given these unprecedented times, what do you think the top HR priorities (aside from the health and safety of your team) should be — now, and when teams return to their offices?

A:  Good question! We feel there are three key priorities for businesses moving forward:

Change Agility:  We are seeing the importance of preparing our business to manage change effectively. Continuous change may very well become the new normal. For companies to succeed, we are going to have to get comfortable navigating the unknown. Ensuring there is effective communication with employees and our clients will be essential, which is done through thought-out policies and procedures that everyone is trained on and comfortable with. 

The unknown is scary to people, and we have to respect and prepare for that. Change doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people.


      “But if you can create a culture that  steps forward,                                   and embraces change, you can adapt                          more effectively and more creatively.


Building Effective and Meaningful Workplace Cultures:  Employees are watching their employers and evaluating how they are managing through the pandemic. There will still be a war for talent once the economy starts to re-open and with this, key talent will be looking to leave if they are not happy with the way their company handled or survived the shutdown. 

Organizations are going to have to fight to hire and retain the best talent. Culture is one way to win; it allows you to stand out and attract the ‘right’ fit for your company. Stand by what you stand for, and hire only if the candidate also fits into the belief. Having the right talent and skill is not enough these days, new employees must also fit in with your culture to be a long-lasting employee. 

Assessment of Current Staff:  COVID-19 has given everyone time to assess their business, their staff and their operations as a whole. It is time to act on those conclusions. Evaluating whether you have the right people in the right positions is essential for your ongoing success. Whether it is training, coaching, succession, planning or restructuring, you need to put those actions into place, and if you don’t have time, you need to hire a company to help you through this process so that you are ready for the next life-changing events that come our way. 


Q: “Fun” is one of Durham HR Solutions’ core values. How do you incorporate fun into the candidate and client

A: We genuinely strive to build an environment that encourages our employees to be themselves — their true selves. We laugh a lot, we dance, we sing, and we eat together… all which relieves stress and enables us to let off steam. We all love our jobs and feel that due to the environment we have cultivated for the team; this then resonates to our candidates and clients with whom we work on a daily basis. 

We also collaborate on everything, and we have “healthy debates”, but it’s in the spirit of one team; we are better and stronger for it. We are not perfect, but every day we try our best to be better than we were the day before. We learn from each other all the time!

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