HR Star: Wayne Balshin

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Wayne Balshin
Executive Director of Employee Relations

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Main business

Number of employees

Years in HR
22 years

The worst job you ever had
 It’s a close tie. I worked for the Toronto Sun when I was 12 years old. When the newspapers come off the press I was the stacker, loading trays for distribution. You could never take a break because then the papers would stack up. The other job was working in a car wash in Toronto in the winter – removing salt from cars. It was a very icy job.

Your first job in HR
While completing a law degree I got involved in STIR – Students Training in Industrial Relations – where I was assigned to work for the United Steelworkers of America for a summer. I spent the summer supporting business agents in collective agreement matters, preparing for arbitration and helping with union organizing drives.

The most outrageous (and best) company perks you’ve experienced
The best was when the company, VCH, sent me to Harvard on a course called “Getting to Yes”. I’ve also gone to San Francisco for a course on employee engagement. One program we run is that we provide our employees with transit pass subsidies, but we also supply them with umbrellas so they stay dry at bus stops.

Your best candidate interview story
I’ve had interviews where people didn’t realize which organization they were applying to and constantly reference a different health authority throughout the interview.

Your most embarrassing HR faux pas
I recently delivered a workshop on performance management that required a laptop and a projector. After half an hour the laptop went blank and I had to improvise for an hour before I could call “911 laptop”.

What inspires you
The opportunity to help staff come to a workplace they truly enjoy.

The best thing about working in HR
The sheer diversity of challenges and opportunities that I have. Being able to use my job as a way to make a positive difference from an engagement and productivity perspective.

The worst
Everyone thinks they know it all.

Does HR have a place at the boardroom table
Absolutely, but you have to earn that place.

What are the biggest challenges facing HR?
Like any industry, in healthcare we’re coming up to a tsunami of people increasing demand on services and because we are a labour business we need to make sure we have a supply of staff to meet those demands.

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