SHRM’s New Certification Is A Money Grab!

Okay, let’s get real HR geeky for a few minutes.  Last week SHRM announced it was for all intensive purposes taking it’s toys and going home, leaving HRCI out of a viable business model.  The leadership at SHRM woke up and said, “hey, wait a minute, why don’t we just run our own certification program and make all that cash that HRCI is making off all of our members!”  So, that’s what they did.

I don’t think anyone should be mad at SHRM.  In HR we’ve pushed to make ourselves better business pros for the past 10 years, plus.  Now, SHRM decides to make a business decision that’s better for their organization and membership, I can’t blame them for doing that.  This isn’t Show Friends, this is Show Business!

Let’s not confuse the issue, either though.  This isn’t about SHRM thinking they can deliver a better certification program than HRCI.  HRCI has been doing this for years.  SHRM has been doing this for days.  This is about money.  You’re making good money off us, we want that money.  Welcome to America.  I. Love. This. Country!

Here’s where SHRM could potentially have this backfire:

1. People have worked for years to get and maintain their HRCI certifications.  They’ve spent money and time.  If SHRM tries and goes for a money grab on these folks, instead of just grandfathering them in, they’ll have this blow up on them.  I have my SPHR for 13 years, I just re-certified for 3 years.  If SHRM CEO Henry Jackson tells me I know have to pay him more money to get the SHRM certification, him and I will have words! Just give me the letters Henry, and then collect my check when I go to recert the next time.  That’s good faith, plain and simple.

2. HR knows better than anyone that people don’t like change.  SHRM and HRCI have spent years getting the world to believe in PHR, SPHR and GPHR are really, really important to have.  Now, SHRM wants us to believe that PHR, SPHR and GPHR are worthless, but their new certification SHRP (Senior HR Professional) is somehow better (BTW – I have no idea is SHRM will use those letters, I’m just guessing!).  Don’t treat us like idiots.

3. HR pros and the HR vendor community finally figured out how to register events for re-certification credits, and the system was working really well.  It’s all another game to get money, but it was working just fine.  If SHRM screws this up, they’ll have a backlash from a number of sides, including HR vendors who pay millions to sponsor their events.  This wouldn’t be good.  I have a feeling Hank and his team haven’t really thought about this.  HRCI screwed this up for years before getting it right.  My guess is SHRM will do the same.

4. It looks decades for SHRM and the HR profession to get employers to believe that the HRCI certifications were important and meaningful.  Now they have to get industry to believe the HRCI certifications we told you were so great, are now crap, but the new SHRM certification is where it’s at.  No, really, believe us, it’s not like we’ll change the certification, this is the gold standard ‘forever’…

The SHRM National Conference this year will be great because it’s going to be like the old Soviet Union trying to make people believe all of a sudden this is where it’s really at!  All the propaganda, HRCI trying to sell that they are still relevant, when they aren’t, and HR Pros taking sides. Welcome to the Cold HR War!



14 thoughts on “SHRM’s New Certification Is A Money Grab!

  1. I am new here, so I am not sure how much of the above is meant to be sarcastic.

    But am I really seeing people taking the position that the SHRM Board is justified in attempting a hostile takeover of HRCI’s mission because it would increase their earnings? HR people?

    As I have stated many times across the Web on related topics, I do not see any way in which the actions of the SHRM Board can be viewed even neutrally, let alone positively.

    Somebody help me out. Is this post really endorsing the SHRM Board’s actions?

  2. The biggest “blunder” – if you will and in my opinion – was in the execution. For all our proclamations of being disruptive and of thinking outside the box, we are still policy and procedural when all is said and done. Blindsiding everyone with the announcement was not the best way to do it. The initial void was flooded with speculation. The counter statement from HRCI only added to the confusion. If it were me over the communication of this issue, I would have notified the volunteer leaders prior to the announcement. I would have educated those who give their time and energy from every level of volunteer – MAC to local chapter board. Would this have leaked the news? Yes, of course. Someone would have told. The difference would be that many initial questions would have been asked by a group of SHRM members who are already invested in the SHRM vision – their volunteers.

    Perhaps, instead, the idea was to blindside so that the HRCI wouldn’t find out. This is probably the case.

  3. Is it too late to call dibs on writing a book called The HR Cold War? Kind of like World War Z, an oral history of the certification wars? I’m sure there will be plenty of drama from which to pull. It’s HR, after all.

  4. Tim – I was actually at SHRM HQ when the change was announced as a member of the MAC. I think they’re developing a pretty strong method for people to transition to their designation. People can hold both their HRCI certification and the SHRM certification if they choose. There’s still many items to work through and communication is coming. I think both bodies learned through this that this change is a people issue and not a system issue. That’s something that all of us can learn as we practice HR.

    • Steve,

      You know I wouldn’t be passionate about this if I wasn’t a supporter. It’s an understatement to say SHRM is going to take some learning away from this. An organization of this size should have leadership in place that would have anticipated this, and planned this out more carefully, before launching a haphazard communication. You would never allow this to happen in your own organization!

      The reality is, this could have been communicated a thousand times better and spun to be a positive, but it was chosen to be rushed and without detail. That’s a leadership failure. To add insult to injury, you know dis-invite HRCI to attend the national conference when you have 15,000 people coming to collect HRCI credit, just confirms SHRM’s leadership still has no idea what they are doing, or how to handle this.

      But, I’m glad you are there at HQ, too bad they won’t let you in behind the curtain to help them out with this!


  5. I must agree with Matt. After running or help in running many state, regional and local conferences, meetings and seminars, the inconsistency and foot dragging in dealing with HRCI is legendary. Under the new system (as I understand it) SHRM chapters and state councils can qualify to have programs approved automatically, avoiding HRCI’s dog and pony show.

    • I’m all for easier. And what the hell, I have low ethics, I don’t care that the organization certifying happens to be the same organization testing me!

  6. Tim,

    Just because you haven’t run into problems, doesn’t it mean it hasn’t occurred. As someone who has done programming for state conferences and served as President of a chapter, I have seen numerous occasions where the same program that was given HRCI credit at one chapter, was denied a 2nd time.

    • Matthew –

      You continually fail to realize, if it’s not a problem in my world, it’s not a problem. #Merica


  7. A couple of things in a minor rebuttal. First, if you are currently certified at the PHR or SPHR level, you can obtain the new SHRM cert at no cost by watching a webinar, answering a few questions and signing the SHRM code of ethics, so you and Hank don’t have to have words.

    Second, HRCI has not gotten the process for getting events accredited for re certification right. This is an on-going issue for as long as I remember. They are not consistent in applying credit to the same program delivered in different places at different times. Some of the folks I have talked to to straighten out issues like this were, among other things, elementary education majors just out of college. Also the time it takes to get approval is still 6 weeks or more.

    Can’t disagree about this being a money maker for SHRM but wasn’t it for HRCI too?

    • Johnny, Johnny, Johnny,

      What happens if I don’t ‘pass’ the test, after the webinar? Do I get to take it again, for free? How many times? What if I can never pass it? The only right way to do this, which they can’t because it also is fraught with problems, is to just give everyone with a PHR, SPHR and GPHR, the new designations and move on. But if they did that, they would be saying, well, yeah, we actually do think their is value in those HRCI credentials, but we just like our letter combinations better!

      Secondly, I’m one of those kids who does the same preso all over the place and have never run into issues getting the HRCI credits, each time. Part of the deal is knowing the application process and wording that is expected. It’s all a game, you just have to know how to play it!

      Thanks for the comments,


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