SHRM to Craft U.S., Global HR Standards

By Kathy Gurchiek Feb 24, 2009

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been named the exclusive national developer of HR standards for the United States.

The designation, by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), puts SHRM “on track to oversee all international development of human resource standards,” says Lee S. Webster, SHRM’s HR standards director.

Leading the creation and deployment of HR standards will advance the profession, according to Webster, by:

  • Setting the agenda on what the standards are for HR organizational success within the profession.
  • Elevating the view of HR practitioners as a vital, learned group of business professionals.

In the past, HR professionals would have many different and sometimes conflicting methodologies for how to handle such things as employee investigations and job evaluations, he said. The Standards Developing Organization (SDO) designation means that SHRM will be crafting “a common approach that all human resource organizations can voluntarily adopt,” he explained.

In addition, SHRM will “actually begin to oversee the [HR] standards across the globe,” Webster told SHRM Online.

Once these standards are created, local HR leaders can use them “to manage their practices more effectively in their workplaces, and [the standards] will be connected to what we do with certification,” Webster said.

Having operating standards rather than using an ad hoc approach to manage HR operations will allow HR to act in a manner similar to other professionals, Webster said. It can lead to SHRM becoming “the arbiter of HR standards not only for the domestic U.S. marketplace but also across the globe.”

Those standards can cover a range of topics.

“It’s really only limited by what the profession says is necessary or not necessary to be a standard,” and the resulting document can be a few pages to an entire manual, Webster said.

A task force will develop those standards. Membership on the task force is not limited to SHRM members. Webster urges those who “want to influence their futures in a deep way” to consider joining the task force.

“They’ll be setting the standards for workplace performance for HR professionals for the future,” he said.

A web site with more information will be posted prior to SHRM’s Annual Conference & Exposition in June 2009. Webster is scheduled to speak about the SDO designation at the conference in New Orleans.

In addition, SHRM is partnering with another standards developing organization—securities professional association ASIS, formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security—to develop standards for handling workplace violence.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at

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