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Gender Transition, Mental Illness and Marijuana…OH MY!

Kevin said it best from the main stage at the Retail Council of Canada Human Resources Conference yesterday.  “This is the Golden Age of HR in Retail.”  As Kevin opened the Conference and listed off some of the hot topics for 2017 (Diversity & Inclusion: Gender Transition in the Workplace, Mental Health in the Workplace, Legalized Marijuana: How to Prepare to Manage it in the Workplace), just to name a few, it was glaringly clear that times they are a changing…and as Retailers, we have to be aware, informed and nimble to change with them! 

If you missed the Conference this year, here a few things I learned:


#1 The Human is Back in Human Resources

In the past, the idea of an entire conference dedicated to Human Resources might have sounded like a big snore fest.  Immediately we think about policies and procedures, compensation, safety standards and so on…not exactly riveting topics for most of us.  This year, RCC’s HR Conference had the human touch in spades.  The topics were people-centric and the conversations had shifted.  We heard language like engagement, life balance, employee branding, organic follow up, inspired leadership and even lessons on listening. 

#2 Training Old School Style Still Works…Even With Millennials! 

There’s no doubt about it, e-learning has become our go-to training approach of choice for all of the obvious reasons: it’s efficient, it’s cost-effective, it takes care of all geography challenges and solves any broken telephone issues, and it’s sustainable.  For the last 3 to 5 years, we’ve all been turning our noses up at classroom style training, but we heard it loud and clear yesterday, that classroom or workshop style training is making a come-back and has even proven to be effective with millennials!  Imagine that!  At Graff, we built our business in the classroom since 1988, but at the same time, we were the first to market with an online training system for retailers.  We have always believed there is a place for both approaches and, when layered properly, they definitely complement and enhance one another.  We knew it, but it sure was good to hear it from the HR Leaders in Retail yesterday! 

#3 Marijuana Is No Joke

With the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada, it’s no doubt this hot topic made it to the agenda at the HR Conference.  Sure, there were lots of great jokes and one-liners about it on the main stage and there was some good banter in our booth with retailers too, but after hearing the truths and dispelling the myths, the main take-away is marijuana is no joke!

The Truths

  • The effects of a moderate dose of marijuana last much longer than alcohol – 6 to 24 hours in the system!
  • If you think no one is using pot in your workplace, think again!  The survey results may surprise you! 
  • The potency of marijuana has quadrupled in the last 10 years
  • Cannabis is addictive!  1 in 10 users overall will become addicted, therefore, more addicts in the workplace than ever before.

The RCC has pulled off another fantastic Conference that definitely addressed the challenges and opportunities facing Retailers today.  The team at Graff Retail was thrilled to be a part of the action!  To get up to speed on the impressive presentations yesterday,   RCC will be posting speaker slides here.  Now, on to prepping for STORE…Kevin will be emcee once again and this year and our own VP, Linda Montalbano will be on the main stage with an impressive list of retail entrepreneurs!  Hope to see you all there!

Blog Authors: Mary & Kim

Mary GordonKim McCutcheon

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.


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