Information and Research Sources – A Primer for HR Professionals

By Helen Luketic, CHRP  
BC HRMA is frequently asked for information sources, from best practice research to benchmarks to information on “where to start”.  As HR professionals, figuring out where to get research, data, and best practice information can be confusing.  While each of us is aware of some possible information sources, there’s a good chance that with your busy lives and focused roles many great info sources may never have come up on your radar.


Information is not scarce and knowledge-sharing is vital for our profession. If you’re looking to become exposed to new resources (and perhaps add a few of your own), here is your primer:


Workforce demographics, labour statistics & labour projections

If you are doing any sort of workforce planning, you will be looking for labour and economic projections, industry and population trends. For example, you may want to know more about the ageing workforce, who is retiring, immigration and post-secondary graduation rates.


The federal and provincial governments have statistical bodies which gather labour and census data on a regular and standardized basis for individuals, businesses, government and students to use in their research.  Statistics Canada produces this data on behalf of the Canadian government, while BC Stats breaks down that data specifically for the province.  Further, BC Stats in particular has produced some high quality HR research based on the BC Public Service which would be useful to any organization. Most information is free but you will be charged to access some detailed data:






Best practice

Where do you go when you want to learn what the “best in class” are doing?  You can do your own research or you can check out these sources:



This online community has their ear to the ground on the recruitment world.  Top notch articles, best practice information, social networking and recruitment metrics.  This is a U.S.-based site which easily crosses borders. 


HR Executive Online

This free online newsletter features well-written HR articles, the latest research and best practice case studies.


Conference Board of

The Conference Board is sometimes commissioned to do case studies which are then available to the public.  It’s free to search their database but it’s not free to read them.



This website features frequent news updates relevant to the HR professional.  You can subscribe to various topic-related HR articles and have them delivered right into your inbox on a weekly basis.  This site is U.S.-based so many legal and benefit-based updates will not be relevant to the B.C. or Canada-focussed professional.

This online community of HR professionals is an excellent start for basic HR information.  The information submitted is occasionally subjective and based on experience rather than rigorous research.  You must register to view most content but registration is free.



Trends and benchmarking

Most trending and benchmark information (e.g. salary, benefits and HR metrics) are available with a fee.  In this realm, for the most part, you get what you pay for.  So how can you get your hands on some free or cheap information?  Consider the following options:

·         Set up a free Survey Monkey survey and send it around to your network with a promise to make the results available to the respondents

·         Post your query on BC HRMA’s online community discussion board

·         Post your query on the BC Human Resources Management Association LinkedIn group

·         Up until June 20th, B.C. public libraries had a service called “Ask Away” which offered live, online assistance from librarians to help research your question.  This service is now available only through publicly-funded post-secondary students, faculty and researchers but according to their website, they will accept questions from the general public.  Heads up, they focus on teaching you to become self sufficient researchers; they will point you in the right direction but they will not spoon feed you the answer.   

·         Consider getting a free library card for your local public library. You will receive with your membership data sources which may otherwise cost you (e.g. Some Statistics Canada data sets)

·         Consider hiring a university student to gather the research for you. Check out your local university’s career services to post a contract for a research and data savvy student.

·         Contact your industry association. For example, B.C. credit unions have Central 1 Credit Union Information Centre. They can even provide pricey Conference Board of Canada reports as part of the credit union’s membership in the industry association.

·         The Quarterly HR Dashboard displays 23 metric benchmarks (e.g. Turnover Rate, Average Age, etc.) that are included with your BC HRMA membership.



And lastly…


Google is used for virtually searching anything but yet it can be so difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for.  Sometimes the key to hitting big on Google searches is just using the right words or combination of words.  If you don’t find the right information on the first try, challenge yourself to consider synonyms for the words you’re currently using, for example “recruiting” could be “hiring” or “sourcing”.  Also become familiar with Boolean logic, such as when to use “and” or “or” when linking words together.


Happy hunting!


Helen Luketic, CHRP brings more than nine years of HR experience to her current role as HRIS Analyst at Vancity, where she’s assisting the organization implement new HR systems and processes. For her innovative achievements at Vancity, Helen was the recipient of BC HRMA’s 2008 Rising Star Award. In her previous role as Manager, HR Metrics & Research at BC HRMA, she combined her CHRP, B.A. in Economics, HR information systems knowledge and experience in HR metrics to develop the HR Metrics Service and related workshops, presentations and webinars to teach HR professionals about HR metrics and benchmarking. 

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