What Should Be Discussed Instead of Certification at #SHRM14

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The SHRM Big Show begins in less than a week as 15,000+ HR professionals descend on Orlando to hear about the latest in human resource management.  Unless you are a HR professional living under a rock, the topic du jour(s) will be the new SHRM certification being introduced....you won't be able to escape it.  SHRM will have 3 straight days of sessions dedicated to the topic.  HRCI, while banished from the conference, will be holding a Monday night event at EPCOT to share there insights.  Vegas has put better odds of snow occurring during the four days in Orlando than Hank Jackson NOT discussing certification during the opening session.  I fully expect that SHRM will hand out an HR action figure called "Certy" to attendees at their booth in the exhibit hall.

Never has so much attention been paid to an issue that has so little impact on the day-to-day functioning of HR.

I wish a modicum of attention was paid to these issues instead:

1.  Sleep

Did you hear about the accident that nearly killed TV star Tracy Morgan?  It was the result of a Walmart truck driver who had gone more than 24 hours without sleeping.  According to Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, "drivers feel pressure from their employers to drive more than 60-70 hours a week with insufficient rest."  Further, Congress is attempting to make regulation of truck driver rest even more lax:

Days before Morgan's accident thrust trucking safety into the news, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would undo rules that only went into effect last year that mandated certain rest periods for truck drivers. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) added an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill that would suspend a regulation that truck drivers rest for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM, before driving again.

Issues involving sleep are not limited to the trucking industry.  As a parent of 15-month old twins, getting 6+ hours of uninterrupted sleep is a luxury.  The impact of less sleep is huge:


Instead of certification, we should be discussing how the profession can assist employees in ensuring they are properly rested so they may perform at a more productive level.

2.  Wage Theft 

According to the New York Times,

When wage theft against low-wage workers is combined with that against highly paid workers, a bad problem becomes much worse. Data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute show that in 2012, the Department of Labor helped 308,000 workers recover $280 million in back pay for wage-theft violations — nearly double the amount stolen that year in robberies on the street, at banks, gas stations and convenience stores.

Moreover, the recovered wages are surely only a fraction of the wage theft nationwide because the Labor Department has only about 1,100 wage-and-hour investigators to monitor seven million employers and several states have ended or curtailed wage enforcement efforts.

This is a huge black eye for the profession, and we should be discussing how to minimize this occurrence.

3.  A Living Wage

My wonderful blogging colleagues at SHRM14 are putting together a little charity event on Sunday night to raise money for No Kid Hungry.  It truly is a worthy endeavor.

At the same time, how much discussion is going into their Congressional representatives cutting funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families?  Or, eliminating unemployment benefits after a certain period of time, even when unemployment remains high.  Each contribute significantly to childhood hunger.

Recently, Seattle passed a minimum wage increase of $15 an hour.  Given HR's role in setting compensation, what influence, if any, should they have to address the impact of wage stagnation?


Matt, you make some excellent points and I hope some of that will be addressed. One comment on the HRCI is "banished" statement. I hear it was just as much an HRCI decision not to attend as it was SHRM's. Kind of understandable. Are you going to the Tuesday night deal, it isn't Hall and Oates.

by John Jorgensen on June 18, 2014 at 6:01 AM. #

Just to clarify some of the confusion around the recent discussions, I wanted to make sure I provided a link back to HRCI's site (see below). Great post, Matt on areas of HR that have recently been in the headlines!


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