How Toronto Police’s HR strategy is inspiring our city

Authentic motivation is all about inspiring people to be emotionally invested

Authentic motivation is all about inspiring people to be emotionally and spiritually invested in an organization. Making that connection between people strategy and individual values, without becoming entrenched in bureaucracy, is difficult.

Gloria Pakravan, head of people strategy and performance at the Toronto Police Service and speaker at our upcoming HR Tech Summit, seems to have mastered this beautifully.

“This is the most rewarding position that I’ve ever held,” she told HRD Canada. “I live in Toronto, so to be able to work for an organization which serves the city you love – it’s incredibly fulfilling. Just seeing the impact the People Strategy has on the organization is extremely rewarding.”

Pakravan explained that the organization recently underwent some major restructuring in their HR department – aligning initiatives to a more people-centric value system.

“As part of our new HR model, we have a whole unit which focuses on wellness – looking at it from a holistic point of view,” she added. “That’s physical, mental and spiritual wellness –there’s a lot of great work that we’re doing in this area.”

The issue of mental health awareness and wellbeing has taken the fore in 2019 as more and more companies start to realize the impact psychological health has on their people. For Pakravan, an authentic focus on the mental wellbeing of her employees is of paramount importance.

“We have three psychologists on staff,” she explained. “As a role, psychologists are extremely in demand, right now. Mental health went from being a very taboo issue in the past, to now having the presence of psychologists and mental health awareness throughout the employee experience.”

This transformation of the Toronto Police Service’s HR processes began, Pakravan told us, with a self-assessment style review.

“We started to look at whether or not we were delivering the kind of function that we should, or could, be. From there, we worked with a vendor to analyze the strategic model of HR – what exactly does that look like? From here, we created a people and culture three-year roadmap – which I have to say, we’re all very proud of.”

This roadmap highlights that in just three years, HR in the organization has taken on 27 key initiatives – starting with an authentic competencies and core values framework.

“We knew that to build a strategic HR function, we need to define excellence. What behaviors do we want to build on? That became the core of our roadmap.”

And, in a bold and inspiring move, Pakravan explained that she made the organization’s core competencies open to public viewing – that everyone can learn from.

“This essentially means that any other person or company in our community can take a look and see what excellence means in the people who serve them and our city. This framework wasn’t built by a vendor dictating a set of competencies. Instead, we utilized our community and our members to fully understand what excellence in policing looks like at all levels.

When Pakravan joined the organization, she revealed that the HRIS system wasn’t necessarily being used to the best of its ability.

“Just like any HR transformation, there’s a technical transformation which goes alongside it. Our HR tech team is undergoing a huge systems overhaul – making a lot of self-serve functions and looking at different modules’ usability. We’re going into our data and building up our internal analytics.

“We, as an organization, have decided to dedicate extra time to going through all systems to ensure that we have the correct data and nomenclature to build authentic reports.”