Typically, HR professionals look to seminars or conferences to gain recertification points for their Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. And why not? These provide a great opportunity to learn more about the profession, stay up to date on the latest trends and developments and network with colleagues.
But the cost for these events can add up and sometimes professionals are looking for more economical ways to recertify, whether that’s because they’re just entering the profession, budgets are tight or they just can’t make their schedule work. And sometimes the price tag’s not the problem — they’re just keen to develop through new experiences or to contribute to their community.
"In today’s time, everybody’s watching their dollars and they’re watching the dollars that they submit to their employer for professional development, so I think that people are being very prudent about their development," says Chris Codrington, senior manager of professional practice at the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) in Vancouver.
"The purpose is ongoing development and to stay current. In the end, there’s really no shortcuts — while you can save money, everything requires some sort of time and effort and that’s why it’s recertification."
One low-budget way that is growing in popularity, not just for recertification but at many organizations, is mentoring programs. People can receive credits for being a mentor or protégé, he says.
"That’s an important way to look at contributing to the ongoing development of the workforce and, at the same time, get recertification points that may not require a whole lot of money — maybe an occasional coffee to meet somebody."
Also under the category of leadership is supervising an HR student within the workplace, through a co-op placement or internship, says Codrington.
"It’s also an effective way to get some really interesting perspective on your workplace initiatives if you get new blood coming in and helping with projects."
In the same vein, a person could be a conference or board chair, president of an association, board member of a not-for-profit, panel member at a seminar or conference, or a guest lecturer.
"While it’s harder, I think that there’s an appetite for many educational institutions to have guest speakers that have some real-world practical applications that can help students entrench their learnings," says Codrington, adding he recently spoke to an undergraduate class about the application of metrics. That required about two hours of prep time, one hour to deliver the session and then time to respond to emails from students reaching out afterwards.
Another category is self-directed learning, where people can read HR-related magazines, white papers or other types of research. It’s a low-cost alternative though members should maintain a comprehensive log that includes the dates of when the documents were completed, he says.
HRMA also offers free roundtables to members, where practitioners can get together and discuss their challenges and learnings and how they can support each other, often with a guest speaker.
"Many (HR professionals) de facto think they need to recertify, pay money and go to a conference or pay money and go to a course (but) many of these roundtables are a nice alternative from a cost perspective and easier on your calendar too — it’s only an hour out of your day," says Codrington.
And while webinars can be a tempting option, it pays to be skeptical, he says.
"Some of the free ones can often be a tool for marketing something larger. So please distinguish between those that are actually offering content for your development and those that are introducing you to a product to purchase."
While there are low-cost or no-cost seminars or workshops available, sometimes companies offer internal programs that a member can participate in, says Valerie Browne, director of professional standards and registrar at the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in Toronto, and law firms often provide employment law seminars for free.
Leadership is another area where many members participate in continuing professional development (CPD) activities, and this is largely around volunteering, she says.
"It includes things like providing HR advice to an organization, maybe a charity, on a volunteer basis, or participating as a volunteer in an HR association."
Another relatively easy way for people to gain their recertification hours is by doing a significant project at work, says Browne.
"This would be something that’s not like a day-to-day activity, something that you do on a regular basis — for example, if you are providing an orientation seminar three times a year, that’s not something that would count — but if you’re doing a piece of research for your organization or a special one-off project related to your capacity as an HR professional, then that’s something that you could submit because it’s a learning opportunity," she says. "That, in some ways, is effortless because you’re doing it for your job anyways."
Facilitating a course for the first time, being active on committees — either HR boards, sub-committees or even non-profits not related to HR — are other low-budget options, says Nicole Norton Scott, executive director and registrar at the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals Association (SAHRP) in Regina.
The SAHRP also offers, for example, lunch events that are $35 per hour, she says.
"People pay if the value is there for them, so if people know they’re going to get a skill developed," says Norton Scott, adding there have been talks among the provinces about how to better co-ordinate events so people don’t have to reinvent them all the time.
Often members call the HRPA because they are concerned about the number of hours they have accumulated for recertification, fearing they might not meet the requirements, says Browne. But when they fill out their logs and look at their activities, they find they have enough.
"Because they often focus on the CPD, the formal in-class or online training, they may not realize how much other stuff they’ve done. Many of our members do these things as a matter of course — they feel like volunteering or mentoring is just something that it’s important for them to do and they don’t even realize that it might be something they could be applying toward their CPD."
Members are encouraged to review their logs early in their cycle so they can plan and understand upfront "the variety of options available to them and how they might be able to get some experience over the course of the three years, realizing that it’s not just about signing up for seminars," she says.
Other ways to recertify that are low budget and possibly not as well-known are found in the "Research or Publication" category of the National Recertification Log. An HR professional can write a company report or white paper for 10 points, or author a journal or case study for 10 points. They can also co-author or edit a major text for 30 points, or write an HR-related book review, article or editorial — related to the required professional competencies (RPCs) — for five points (see options below, current as of press time).
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CHRP NATIONAL RECERTIFICATION LOG
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CATEGORIES AND DEFINITIONS
Significant work projects/initiatives
•first-time significant contribution to your organization in the development, application or implementation of a program or project related to the RPCs (15 to 25 points)
•significant updates/process improvements (five points each up to 20 points)
•mentoring/being a mentee (one point per hour)
•supervising HR student in the workplace (one point per week)
•chair/co-chair or president of an HR association (40 points annually)
•conference chair/co-chair (30 points annually)
•board membership in an HR association (20 points per year)
•task force member (15 points per year)
•chair/co-chair of an HR committee outside your organization (15 points per year)
•active committee membership outside your organization (10 points per year)
•active volunteer or board member in a non-profit organization (five points per year)
•developing a new and first-time university, college or institute course (45 points)
•teaching a university, college or institute course for first time (30 points)
•developing or facilitating a new course, webinar or seminar (five to 30 points)
•keynote speaker (10 points)
•guest lecturer/conference presentation (five points)
•panel member (1.5 points per hour)
•university, college and institute courses (1.5 points per hour)
•certificate courses with formal evaluation (1.5 points per hour)
•executive/management development program (1.5 points per hour)
•certificate courses without formal evaluation (one point per hour)
•seminars/conferences/workshops/roundtables (one point per hour)
•self-directed learning (one point per activity)
Research or publication
•conducting research (10 points per subject)
•authoring journal, case study (10 points)
•publishing a new text (50 points)
•publishing a new edition of an existing text (20 points)
•co-authoring or editing a major work (30 points)
•acceptance of master’s thesis or graduating paper at master’s level (30 points)
•acceptance of doctoral dissertation (50 points)
•HR-related book review, article or editorial (five points)