CHICAGO—Work on U.S. and international HR standards continues, but input is needed from HR and non-HR professionals for the standards to be effective, said Lee Webster, SPHR, GPHR, director of HR Standards for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), during the June 18, 2013, concurrent session, “Putting ANSI and ISO Standards to Work for Your Organization,” at SHRM’s Annual Conference & Exposition.
SHRM has been the official body for developing national-level operating standards in 12 HR functional areas since 2009, working under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). SHRM also is also spearheading the creation of international HR standards under the auspices of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).
During the session, Webster and a four-member panel updated attendees on the progress of the task forces’ work and emphasized the importance of standards for improving HR performance at all levels.
Standards promote high-quality human resources work, improve HR performance at all levels, reduce costs of HR operations and “further confirms HR as a profession,” Webster said.
He emphasized that they are not best practices and “not the textbook of all things HR” but are “broadly applicable” tools validated by HR experts and supported by research. Companies can use the standards as benchmarks or to compare themselves with other organizations.
Webster explained that they can be used to:
Measure an organization against the standard and, by so doing, “drive an expectation of excellence.” *Educate leadership on HR’s contribution to the organization.
Provide a common basis for comparing an organization to others.
Task forces have completed three national standards that are available for free to the public:
Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention.
By the end of 2013, several American National HR standards will be published and others will be in development, including:
Metrics & Measures: One part of this standard will cover HR metrics and reporting; another part will cover turnover definition.
Staffing & Workforce Planning: One part will cover workforce planning; another part will cover job descriptions.
Diversity & Inclusion (D&I): This standard will identify who and what a top diversity professional is, as well as D&I metrics and D&I programs.
The standards are created, Webster said, by experts such as the following panel members:
Susan Harmansky, SPHR, vice president of human resources at SGS International. She led the Performance Management task force.
Effenus Henderson, chief diversity officer at Weyerhaeuser. He leads the D&I taskforce.
Franz Gilbert, GPHR, manager of human capital planning for a leading aerospace defense company. He sits on the ISO committee.
John Kells, J.D., vice president of product development at ADP. He is a member of the ISO committee and leads the group that is working on international HR metrics standards.
However, while the task forces “create the draft, you all decide what the standard is,” Webster said. And while use of the standards is voluntary, he emphasized that “they have a compelling marketplace use … if you don’t [use them], your competitor might.”
“Everything we do and [that] is convenient in your life probably has an American or ISO standard associated with it,” he said. “We can’t imagine the degree of economic energy that will be released once we release these HR standards.”
It takes about two-and-a-half years before a standard is ready for public review, is returned to the appropriate task force for more work and is sent to ANSI for a vote before it becomes a standard.
Once ANSI adopts a standard, the public may download it for free from SHRM’s website.
During SHRM’s Annual Conference, the U.S. Technical Advisor Group held a U.S. TAG meeting to discuss global standards work and to prepare for the plenary meeting scheduled for late September in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Groups developing ISO standards for HR management convened in Chicago from June 18 to 20 to discuss potential standards and technical specifications in human governance, HR terminology and metrics.
Webster invited others to become involved in standards development, encouraging HR professionals to consider it a professional development opportunity. He also said he would like to see more corporate involvement on international standards.
“We want everyone to bring their standards to the table,” Gilbert said during the session. “We don’t want to have five people in a room and have them make [the standard] up.”
There is no requirement to be a SHRM member to participate on a task force or to use the HR standards.
Information on active projects can be found at http://www.shrm.org/HRStandards/ActiveStandardsProjects/Pages/default.aspx.
Kathy Gurchiek is an associate editor for HR News.