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SHRM Looks Beyond the Recession

By Dori Meinert  11/22/2010
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Henry G. "Hank" Jackson

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has emerged from the recession stronger than many associations, with a projected increase of several thousand members by the end of 2010 and a stable financial picture, the association’s president and CEO told volunteer leaders at the 2010 SHRM Leadership Conference Nov. 20 in Arlington, Va.

“We have weathered the economic storm,” said Henry G. “Hank” Jackson, CPA. “Our most recent figures show that we’re projecting year-end revenues of nearly $102 million, and our operating expenses will be somewhere in that neighborhood as well.”

In addition, SHRM invested 7 percent of its reserve funds to jump start implementation of its five-year strategic plan.

“We had a choice here,” he said. “We could have said, ‘The economy’s lagging. Things are tough.’ We could have retrenched. We could have said, ‘Let’s just hold on to what we got and see what happens.’ ”

He credited members of the SHRM Board of Directors for choosing to invest in the organization’s future, a move that he said sets SHRM apart from other HR organizations.

Jackson defended the first increase in annual membership dues in two decades. “The dues increase had to be implemented to close a small portion of the gap between membership dues and the costs of providing member services,” Jackson said.

SHRM is providing more as part of the membership package, he said. For example, when the health care reform law was enacted in March 2010, SHRM offered free webcasts to help explain the new legislative requirements to members. The cost of serving an individual SHRM member went from $174 in 2005 to $224 in 2009, a 29 percent increase. That cost is offset through other revenue sources, he said.

The dues increase “helps us serve you in 2011 and beyond, and I believe it was the prudent thing to do, and I hope many of you agree,” Jackson said.

By the end of 2010, SHRM leaders expect, the association will have almost 254,000 members worldwide, an increase from about 245,200 members in 2009, maintaining the Society’s position as the largest human resource organization in the world and enhancing its influence on Capitol Hill and in state capitals, he said.

As the organization continues to grow, it will be important to determine “where we operate and how we are structured,” he said. To do so, SHRM has selected a consultant to study whether changes are needed to ensure long-term growth and to serve members most effectively. After gathering member comments, the results are scheduled to go to the Board of Directors by late summer 2011, Jackson said.

“Do we need more chapters? Do we need more chapters outside the U.S.? Or do we need to consolidate? I don’t have an answer to that question yet,” he said. “However, I do know that it is the strength of SHRM’s chapter structure … that separates us from other HR organizations.”

SHRM leaders are working to bring in more HR professionals under the age of 30 to ensure the future of the organization, he said. SHRM has started young professional chapters in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. For college graduates new to the HR field, SHRM will launch in May 2011 the Assurance of Learning Assessment, an exam to demonstrate that graduates have the knowledge needed for entry-level HR positions, he said.

Later in the day, incoming SHRM Board Chair Jose A. Berrios told the volunteer leaders that SHRM realizes that businesses need to think globally to remain prepared for changes in the workforce. With its increased presence in India and China, SHRM is accomplishing a key goal of its business plan.

“We can’t afford a narrow vision,” Berrios said. “To be a thought leader, to create successful strategies for the workforce of the future … we must be where the people are.”

Another main focus for SHRM is to be tech-savvy, because that’s what the workforce demands, he said. The next generation of workers, who have grown up with technology, will choose an employer “with the best technology, the most flexibility and the greatest opportunity to make a difference.”

Dori Meinert is senior writer for HR Magazine.

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