Education as a Benefit at #SHRM17

This morning I had the pleasure of taking a few minutes to sit down with Rachel Carlson, CEO and Co-Founder of Guild Education and one of her colleagues Zach Rowe. I was interested in knowing more about what Guild Education has going on and what the Guild sponsored session Beyond Starbucks/ASU: The Future of Education Benefits  has in store for us Tuesday morning at 7am!

Education as a benefit could be very valuable in a hiring environment that screams skills gap and talent shortage every day. Without getting into the numbers we can reflect on our own experiences at work and looking for/keeping talent & the challenges our own organizations are facing. Education as a benefit could be an effective strategic move for your organization, but I’ll let you hear it from Rachel and the panel yourself.

In talking with Rachel we covered a lot of thoughts on education as a benefit, so I’m going to do my best to sum them all up. So here’s the break down- Guild Education’s approach is about meeting the employees where they are. I personally think that is vital in considering any benefit for your organization, but I’m thrilled to know that’s Rachel’s approach for education. They are working with some big name companies implementing options from GED through Masters program- options and flexibility go a long way for today’s consumers!

A lot of times there is educational assistance for corporate office employees or executive employees, but RARELY for the front line workers. Hearing that companies like Chipotle (as in hourly food service workers) is using this as a benefit to recruit AND RETAIN employees intrigued me. I mean, this benefit is really doubling the retention of their front line workers? I get how this could help with recruiting right? Pretty obvious without even digging in to the strategy, but retention? Wouldn’t these line workers leave after they finish earning more education? Chipotle has a wonderful program for promoting from within, but there’s only so many promotion spots. Turns out employers will generally see a 3-8% enrollment in the program. Think of it this way, your top talent is taking advantage of this and that means your top talent is staying with you instead of quitting and going to work for a competitor. They’ve also done research that says 20-30% wont use it, but will value it as a benefit. Maybe those 20-30% have plans to use it later or maybe that just means encouraging continued education is a personal value that they appreciate the organization providing.

As for the employer side of this benefit, Rachel and her team sit down with potential clients and work through the numbers. That’s right, they can sit down and see if the ROI is going to be a profit center or just another benefit cost. I understand that cutting benefits when your organization is looking to save money quickly is an easy go to for the purse holders in your organization, but when there is a possibility of a benefit being a profit center you should at least stop and listen.  While I was tossing my skeptical questions to Rachel to see if this was a sound argument and how this might play out in some companies back home she made it real simple for me: “It needs to cost less than turnover.” In this case, it sounds like the Guild Education team is going to equip you with the knowledge and numbers you need to make a credible pitch.

I believe education is so important and I could go on and on about my conversation with Rachel and Zach this morning, but I want you to go to their session Tuesday morning at 7am and find out the details for yourself! Feel free to reach out to Guild directly at partnerships@guildeducation.com

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Should I drop my PHR?

Great news friends! I have earned my SHRM-SCP. I’m super excited about it because I never thought I would ever try to earn a senior certification, but when someone shared with me last year that they thought I had enough years experience to be a mentor I’ve been re-evaluating my life ever since. For instance, now I’m overly aware of beauty regiments and my calcium intake as well as the fact that if I try really hard I can burn 10 calories a minute in a boot-camp class, but still consume about 100 calories a minute without trying. 100 calories a minute hasn’t always been a problem, but I guess as you reach new heights in your career like being considered a mentor or becoming eligible to sit for a senior certification things just work different than they used to. Also, I found my first gray hair so I guess yeah… I’m a senior certified HR professional.

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Proof of my first gray hair

So what does my PHR have to do with my SHRM-SCP and my baby crows feet? Well, I’m currently unequally certified. I wasn’t feeling confident about taking my SPHR before the cut off to basically roll into the SHRM certification level to match my HRCI certification level so I ended up with my PHR and SHRM-CP. A month before my scheduled test for the SCP I had to renew my PHR. Since I hadn’t taken the test yet I decided to pay the $150 to renew my PHR and go from there, so technically I’m re-certified at the PHR level for the next three years & I now have my SHRM-SCP for the next three years. Is it worth it to maintain both when they don’t represent the same level of experience?

When the HRCI/SHRM split happened there was a lot of speculation over which certification would come out on top. There was a lot of badmouthing from both sides and plenty of HR professionals who had strong opinions one way or the other. I shared why my PHR was important to me at the time, but now the circumstances are different. I’ve always seen certification as a commitment to continued learning whether its HRCI or SHRM or some other organization. I’m more concerned about professionals maintaining enough credits to re-certify than I am them taking the initial test (though thats clearly necessary and part of the process, its only a one time thing). If professionals are continuing to earn credit then hopefully they are continuing to learn new things about their field and attend events where they can network with other professionals and learn something new and take their own skills to the next level. So now that the circumstances are different and I have to make a decision for which certification is going to “win out” over the other, I’m probably going to pick my SHRM one. It’s the more senior one, I’m a member of SHRM, and my local SHRM chapter (NASHRM), and honestly I have never used a resource from HRCI outside of my PHR exam. My PHR was very important to me when I earned it, but now I’m in a different stage of my career and it’s time to choose one or the other so yeah, I think I’ll drop my PHR.

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The Fortune is in the Follow-Up (#SHRM16)

In networking marketing we have a phrase that fuels everything we do: “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Basically when we say this we are encouraging our teammates or down-line to follow-up with prospects, don’t let the conversation or the interest die. People need more than one exposure to something before they are comfortable buying whatever it is or acting on whatever it is. It is the way my fellow network marketers drive their business and support their families and let me tell you, it works.

When I first joined a network marketing team other teammates were saying it so much that I became absolutely tired of it, but thinking about #SHRM16 coming to an end has me looking at that phrase in a new light. Because the fortune really is in the follow-up in everything we do. In this specific instance how are you going to use what you’ve learned here at the conference? You won’t if you treat it like “out of sight, out of mind” but if you put some follow-up to it you are way more likely to have some fortune from your experience here. Before you roll your eyes, let me just throw a couple of things out there for you. First, I’m on your side-I want you to be the best HR/business professional you can be. Second, before you do any of this please take time to recharge, unwind, and recover from the conference. You need to take care of you before you start executing some of these ideas! Personally I’m looking forward to spending a whole day by myself soon after being surrounded by 15,000 of my colleagues for 3 days. Back to the follow-up, let’s start with some easy ideas:

  • Follow up with a contact you made. Simple. You connected with someone on a social media platform or exchanged business cards, now follow-up with them. This is how relationships start.
  • Look back through your notes and pick one thing from #SHRM16 that you would like to see in your own organization. It can be small-Rome was not built in a day. If you did not take notes then hop on over to twitter at search the hashtag SHRM16 and use someone else’s notes.
  • Don’t get discouraged. We’ve  heard some great stories from wonderful leaders this week. Some of these executive level leaders already know the value of HR and they include them at their table and in their decision making strategy, but I know that isn’t the case for every single company right now! Someone had to take the lead on showing the value of HR to the leaders and they worked hard to do it. Don’t get discouraged when you take some of these tidbits back and execute them and you’re not immediately welcomed into the circle. It’s going to take a lot of work, focus, and determination.
  • Use some calendar reminders to start picking dates to measure what you’ve decided to implement and when to start executing the next thing on your list. It’s easy to get distracted by our day-to-day stuff, but you have plenty of tools to help you manage your time and tasks efficiently-use them!
  • Have conversations with your team about what you learned here. If all of your team didn’t get to attend the conference, they need to hear about the conference from you! Don’t leave them hanging. Taking 15-2o minutes to chat about some of your takeaways could lead to great ideas that wouldn’t have come up otherwise.
  • Commit to continued education after this conference. An easy way to do that is to get involved with your local SHRM affiliate chapter back home.
  • Be involved in the online HR community. Don’t just follow HR professionals on twitter today and then forget about them until you log back into your twitter account next year for #SHRM17 in New Orleans.

So that’s my simple list of follow up actions for you to use to get the most from your experience here in DC this week. I hope to hear from you throughout the year and can’t wait to hear about what you’re doing with the things you’ve learned at #SHRM16!!!

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See y’all in New Orleans!