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What’s the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is an organization whose mission includes educating and informing Human Resource officials, providing them networking opportunities and advancing the ever-changing profession. As part of its work, SHRM continually builds relationships with the media, governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic institutions to affect policy. SHRM is the world’s largest Human Resources industry professional association. Below is a discussion of SHRM’s history, the key benefits of joining the organization and how SHRM helps employers.

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A brief history of SHRM

SHRM was founded in 1948 by 28 individuals who felt the need to create a national organization for the personnel management profession. The organization was originally known as the American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA). The ASPA held its first annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio, and 67 people attended that conference.

The organization consisted of an all-volunteer staff until 1964. That year, Leonard Brice, the organization’s first executive director, also decided to set up the ASPA’s headquarters in his community of Berea, Ohio. The organization moved its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1984 under the leadership of President & COO Ron Pilenzo.

In 1989, the organization finally changed its name to the Society for Human Resource Management. The name change was meant to reflect the organization’s expanded scope, as well as its strong, international influence in business and politics.

Today, SHRM represents over 300,000 members in 165 countries and it impacts over 115 million workers around the globe. Currently, SHRM has 575 affiliated chapters in the United States and over 90% of Fortune 500 Companies have SHRM members. The organization also has offices in China and India.

Key benefits of joining SHRM

These are the key benefits of joining SHRM:

  • HR professionals have access to numerous studies.SHRM offers research publications to allow its members to keep abreast of trends in the industry. Among the publications are the Employee Benefits Survey, the Employee Satisfaction Survey and the Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report. The organization also releases whitepapers and infographics on timely issues that affect workplaces.
  • Professionals have a valuable resource in SHRM’s website.On the website, members can further educate themselves by reading articles, updates and about changes to HR policy. SHRM’s website also features jobs and links to books and practitioner samples. Additionally, HR professionals can find local and national organization chapters through a customized search.
  • Professional members have added perks.SHRM members in the United States have access to SHRM’s monthly HRMagazine through the mail or online. Members outside the US can read the online version.
  • Members can talk directly to advisors online. Through the knowledge center, members can ask an HR advisor for tips and receive help through emails, phone calls or via live chats.
  • SHRM provides its members with networking opportunities. The organization sponsors numerous national and regional conferences every year. At each conference, members can meet other HR professionals and experts who can provide insights about their constantly changing profession. Note that the general schedule might change, but SHRM has consistently held its national conference and exposition in June of every year.
  • SHRM helps HR professionals to advance in their careers.HR professionals can take advantage of numerous educational and training opportunities beyond attending sponsored conferences. This is especially helpful for HR professionals who have germane certifications because SHRM classes can offer continuing education credits.

Related:Employee Satisfaction Surveys: What They Are and Why They’re Important for Your Business

How SHRM membership helps employers

SHRM membership is advantageous to employers because an HR professional who is aware of current trends in their profession and industry will make fewer mistakes, be aware of employee issues and therefore help the company save money in the long run.

How SHRM helps HR professionals

Of course, HR professionals focus on issues that affect businesses, like employee satisfaction, labor and management relations and taxes and wages. Currently, SHRM is concerned with healthcare, immigration and civil rights because these affect employees as well.

To advocate for the profession, SHRM members and representatives lobby state, local and federal governments, form partnerships with these governments to protect the HR professionals who are most vulnerable to discriminatory practices and closely follow legislation.

Beyond following current events and working with governments, SHRM helps HR professionals by promoting the SHRM Competency Model. The organization developed its model with the help of numerous HR professionals and the model serves three basic functions:

  • Defines the competencies and knowledge that HR professionals need to be effective
  • Supports HR professionals in their career development
  • Helps organizations develop methods to identify and promote the best leaders, contributors and teams

Using the SHRM Competency Model

HR practitioners can test themselves in the following eight categories:

  • Relationship management
  • Ethical practice
  • HR expertise (HR knowledge)
  • Business acumen
  • Critical evaluation
  • Global and cultural effectiveness
  • Leadership and navigation
  • Consultation
  • Communication

Related:7 Effective Skills to Help You Become a Better Leader


Below are two likely questions you might have about SHRM:

I own a small business. Should my HR team join SHRM?

Yes, your team should at least consider joining the Society for Human Resource Management. The key benefits to joining are numerous and the membership fee is relatively inexpensive. Professional membership is twice as expensive as regular membership, but just a regular membership gives your team access to helpful information to help your business, no matter the size.

Does SHRM offer certification?

Human Resources professionals can obtain certification through the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), which owes its existence to the ASPA’s board of directors. Through the HRCI, inclined HR professionals can take exams to earn their Professional Human Resource (PHR), Global Professional Human Resources (GPHR) and Senior Professional Human Resource (SPHR) certifications. Practitioners can access practice materials and classes through HRCI’s website to prepare for the exam.

SHRM offers the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) exam for early-career and mid-level HR professionals and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) exam for senior-level and executive HR professionals.

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