Benefits and Compensation

Certification Brouhaha at SHRM Orlando

Speaking about the other entity, SHRM and HRCI both said to HRDA, “Their interpretation of ‘partnership’ Is not the same as ours.”

SHRM found HRCI intransigent on the issue of adding competencies to the certification process. HRCI says that SHRM defines “partnership” as controlling and their position threatened HRCI’s independence, which they believe is necessary to maintain the integrity of the certification process.

HRCI-certified attendees, who can add the HRM certification at no cost, are wondering just how many initials they’ll want after their names. Those interested in becoming certified are wondering which way to go. Providers of test preparation products were taken by surprise.

HRCI has moved out of the SHRM building to temporary quarters.

The questions and issues and comments below were obtained at presentations by SHRM and HRCI and interviews with representatives of both organizations.


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Was HRCI disinvited from the convention as they claim?
Not exactly, it appears. SHRM says they withdrew at their choice, but admits that the fact that SHRM, because of the severance of the affiliation agreement, was not going to provide HRCI with their usual level of assistance (free admittance for staff and presence for the association, for example) may have influenced the decision.

Doesn’t this weaken the prestige of certification?
HRCI-certified attendees are concerned that expanded access will weaken the importance and prestige attached to certification. SHRM responds that the test will not be easier.

Is it for the money?
Many attendees believe that the new credentials are just a means of creating dollars for SHRM. SHRM responds that the program will be operated on a cost basis and is not intended to generate a profit.

Why did you pick WalMart, not known for progressive HR policies and practices?
Attendees were concerned that WalMart was selected as one of eight firms SHRM used in creating its new certification. SHRM notes that WalMart is the largest employer in the United States and that means it’s an appropriate representative of a large swath of the national workforce.

>What’s an example of a SHRM competencies question?
Situation: Two colleagues are in conflict. HR should intervene by:
A. Improving communication and working to ID the core conflict
B. Providing feedback and sending the two employees to separate corners.
C. Hoping things get better
D. Taking everyone for pizza
A is the best answer and would garner 2 points. B is a second best answer and would glean 1 point.

Is it true that HRCI has been a major supporter of the SHRM foundation?
SHRM responds that it has been the largest supporter, providing office space and other support, but it is true that HRCI has been a major supporter at about $1 million a year. SHRM hopes HRCI will continue to contribute, but won’t be surprised if they do not.

Is the new certification body, a division of SHRM, adequately “firewalled” from the organization?
Many have expressed concern that the new setup will not provide the requisite arm’s length relationship between test makers and test preparers. SHRM asserts that it is following all the rules of the two main bodies that certify certifying organizations. In addition, it has hired expert outside consultants to oversee the development to make sure the standards are maintained. Having a separate division will provide an adequate firewall, SHRM says.


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But what about the fact that Alex Alonso, a SHRM executive, says he will be the “architect” of the new test?
SHRM says that Alonso has been involved in the development of the competency model. He will not be involved in the preparation of prep materials. His role is to make sure that the test mirrors the competencies.

Do competencies really need to be added to the certification?
SHRM clearly believes that they are not part of the current certifications. HRCI says, “SHRM talks as though the word competencies has never been used before. In fact, competencies are ‘baked into everything HR does just like they are baked into the HRCI exam.’”

Will HRCI use SHRM’s competency model?
In looking at competencies, HRCI will look into all models. SHRM’s model is OK, they admit, but HRCI will look at a wider variety of options.

Which certification will prevail?
SHRM says that it intends that its new certifications will be the new standard for HR certification. HRCI says that 140,000 certified professionals value their certifications and that “we are the gold standard and will be for a long time.”

Is there any possibility of reconciliation?
Both sides say, “Sure.”

Stay tuned.