What’s really behind the split between SHRM and HRCI

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What motivated the Society for Human Resource Management to cut ties with the Human Resource Certification Institute? SHRM claimed it was a matter of needing more competency-based certifications, but HRCI executive director Amy Dufrane said the HRCI exams have always been competency-based. “In fact,” she said, “for the past two years 89% of HRCI certificants have recertified their credentials because they hold them in such high esteem.”
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However, Dufrane ducked a question on whether SHRM had ever raised concerns about the certification process with the institute. In a press release announcing the change this month, SHRM CEO Henry Jackson said the society had been working towards the change for several years, but he was not available to make further comment.

Xceptional HR CEO Jessica Miller-Merrell has been certified by HRCI for 11 years, and is also an approved provider of credits. She said the requirements for courses to be approved for credits weren’t perfect, and that she had raised concerns with HRCI a number of times. “In a way I agree with the change,” she said, “I just don’t like how it was communicated.”

Miller-Merrell, who has SPHR certification, said she was unsure of where to go from here for her own credentials. “In addition to taking the test, I’ve probably spent in excess of $5000 over my career on the certification... It’s going to be another likely fee and, I’m certain, a process for me to go through,” she said.

SHRM has not released pricing or a detailed course structure, but there is no doubt it will benefit financially from the change. “SHRM is a business, just like everybody else,” said Miller-Merrell. “They say there isn’t a monetary side to it, but it’s likely that there is.”

It’s been around for 38 years, but HRCI’s existence may now be threatened by SHRM’s lack of endorsement of the product. Miller-Merrell commented that it’s likely to be a death sentence for the organization, but Dufrane disagreed.

“The future looks great,” said Dufrane, “HRCI is here to stay.”

  • Sabra Smith on 5/30/2014 2:57:51 PM

    Disappointing that our professional organization has flubbed up on the basics of "change management" - something Human Resources Professionals should excel at. This will cause confusion among hiring employers, degrade the value of any certification, and create (further) ill-will toward our industry. How can we ever expect that "seat at the table" so many of us have worked so hard for when the organizations that represent us /certify us can't even communicate properly. I am disheartened - and embarrassed.

  • Steve on 5/29/2014 8:08:57 AM

    I am disgusted at the way this all went down. I worry this move by SHRM is going to hurt the profession more than help.
    I fear a brand new certification will not be recognized right away by employers, who may decide to not even reimburse for it. A new certification system will have its bugs due to the fact these things cannot be developed, tested, and deployed quickly.
    My Questions:
    Who certifies the workshops for credit
    Who provides oversight, as SHRM now seems to control everything
    What do we tell our members who have asked for refunds from our upcoming workshops and next months conference.
    Making a move like this could have lasting effects on members, associations, and state chapters, but I am sure SHRM has a plan to help with that.
    I have decided not to attend SHRM 14 and rather follow the announcement on Twitter.
    SHRM can spin it however they want, but if it quacks like a duck...

  • Paul Bamford, SPHR on 5/29/2014 8:08:05 AM

    Thanks for an informative article. Reading between the lines, it sounds as if there was fault on both sides: the HRCI team didn't want to respond to the SHRM team's suggestions and/or concerns; and the SHRM team has pulled whatever "plug" it may have.
    Guess we'll have to find out, over the next several years, which team is going to win this battle of wills. The new SHRM certification may fall flat on its face; HRCI may go under. As my old econ professor used to say, "the market will decide."
    As a long-time SPHR nearing the end of my career, I'm continuing to maintain this credential, and will until it becomes obvious that the new SHRM credential has become the industry standard -- if it does.

  • Pat on 5/28/2014 4:16:39 PM

    I have had my SPHR certification for years and I am also certified with the IPMA. I have always considered HRCI to be the credentialing body for SHRM and that the test and on-going certification credit requirements helped increase the HR body of knowledge and was already competency based. I feel that the certification process was a step personal growth and development and motivated you to continue to learn and accumulate more knowledge regarding all aspects of the Human Resource field. Certification sets you apart from others in that you achieved a milestone in the HR field and linked you professionally to SHRM. Now it appears that SHRM no longer values those dedicated people who are presently certified. It is very sad and I for one have lost respect for the SHRM organization in the way it has handled the whole situation with HRCI. SHRM has developed a money making "certification" for SHRM and by divorcing themselves from HRCI will force members to choose SHRM certification based on the national recognition. I think that employers will start to have doubts about SHRM because they no longer "support" the current HR certifications that SHRM had recognized for many years. I think that this will hurt the credibility of SHRM in the future.

  • Richard Sherwood on 5/28/2014 4:07:36 PM

    Last week as we all know the Society for HR Management (SHRM) announced that they were withdrawing their support for the HR Certification Institute an organization they founded almost 40 years ago. This decision to no longer support this independent organization and create a new certification process along with a new testing program should be of a concern for all HR professionals that have pursued the certification process.
    What is troubling is that the organization has provided little information to support their decision. Based upon communication from HRCI and various SHRM affiliate chapters, SHRM has managed to confuse and dilute the certification process by changing the rules and offering no alternative to HRCI. SHRM has agreed to outline a new replacement program at the annual conference this June; however, this is yet another example of the organization not discussing and obtaining the support from the membership prior to the roll-out of a new program.

    Another issue that should concern all HR professionals is how this will be perceived by our employers, colleagues and the greater business community? How will this impact our relationship with our manager who has supported the certification process by paying for additional training; specifically the SHRM Learning System and the certification test? For years SHRM has been promoting the certification process as a way to improve our profession, add credibility to our work and add value to our role within our companies. This abrupt change in their support for certification process would appear to call into question their years of promoting this key business tool. As a result of this decision by SHRM, we will need to explain to our company leaders the reason for this change, how it impacts our ability to support our employees and the whether certification is necessary in today’s business environment.

  • Wally on 5/28/2014 3:03:01 PM

    Can you please share the survey results? I am very interested in seeing how HR professionals feel collectively about this new certification.

  • Joy Knutson on 5/28/2014 1:31:59 PM

    This change concerns me greatly. I have held my PHR for over 7 years, and was just recently SPHR certified. This was an expensive and extensive process. Now what? I truly don't want to spend any more money or time on this. Which will be the "preferred" certification? Which will be more widely recognized? This situation has me nervous and frustrated. I look forward to getting more information and clarification. BTW: I have always taken great pride in my certification. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • K. Michael Janas on 5/28/2014 1:26:01 PM

    I agree. It was the manner in which it was communicated and without a proper Communications Plan obviously. The response that I have gotten from my network questions SHRMs robustness in the future. Connections wonder what's next? When is the next shoe gonna drop? And what will it be? In another area, many figure it was the $$$ that spoke louder than good business rationale. Some have said that they figure everything is going to get more expensive (membership, certification, program support, et al.). It could impact their desire to be a member. Another interesting comment I received was about 'where were the Boards heads at" during these discussions and final decisions. Especially regarding the manner and mode of delivery of the message. Sad. Time will tell....stay tuned...

  • Michael A. Gerlach, MBA on 5/28/2014 1:19:19 PM

    I see nothing more than a revenue producing training and certification process for SHRM.

  • Carolina Bunyea on 5/28/2014 12:57:11 PM

    The new certification divides what HRCI & SHMR have worked for. It used to solidified HR professionals cohesiveness on competencies. It seems like a distrust of curriculum to have another institution provide another certificate for the same thing.

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