SHRM – Not Sexy, But I’d Settle for Interesting…

The SHRM National Convention is right around the corner with Lionel Richie performing on Tuesday night…

I’ve let my SHRM membership lapse, and truthfully I’m not sure if there’s any reason to belongShrm anymore. I mean, what do I get out of SHRM that I can’t get from my colleagues, folks on the web, or other free resources? No disrespect to SHRM, really, because that would be like dissing my grade school teachers. They certainly helped me tremendously when I first started out in HR. But after a while, their monthly HR Magazine started stacking up, once I realized some of the content was dated… or dare I say it, boring.

I have a short attention span and I need to be engaged, and oh yeah, I wouldn’t mind some inspiration, people! Yes, sometimes I need a little sumpthin’ sumpthin’ to get me a bit more energized about being an HR pro.

SHRM is in need of a major makeover and some rebranding. What’s scary though is that they actually have those efforts underway. Yep, they’ve been hard at work at an evolution. But is anyone feeling re-energized yet? Is the new logo doing anything for ya?

According to an article in Workforce (full disclosure, a sponsor of this blog and at times a competitor to SHRM), SHRM took in $95.5 million in revenue in 2006. They also ended that same year with $138.3 million in their asset reserves. That’s a lot of money! Doesn’t it make you wonder what they are doing with your dues? And isn’t that an ample amount of cash to do a little sumpthin’ sumpthin’ about the resources they provide, let alone their image?

No doubt SHRM definitely has value for those just entering the world of HR – when you are learning about different practices within the human resources function and need to master the fundamentals related to employment law and whatnot. But sadly, the institution of SHRM just doesn’t have any appeal, particularly for those HR yearlings who likely turn to it the most. It still feels old, stuffy and boring (read: unsexy). SHRM needs to find a way to appeal to the next generation of HR pros through progressive, cutting edge and fresh means – otherwise, how else are we going to help foster HR-rockstar mentalities in the uninitiated?

Stay the same and I caution us all that we’re going to continue cloning personnel drones who spit employment law as being the bible for our each and every action… or maybe worse for SHRM, someone else with a fresh approach to the HR profession is going to start taking those $160 dues from them one member at a time.

Bring sexy back (or to) the HR profession!

FOT Background Check

Jessica Lee
Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don't be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she's still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life... she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat. Talk to Jessica via EmailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook... See Jessica's riffs and rants on Fistful of Talent here...


  1. Lance says:

    I think you’re spot on with your analysis Jessica. SHRM is great out of the gate but if you are THE HR organization, shouldn’t you be catering to all levels of HR. It just doesn’t seem like they do that well enough. I think of well written compelling magazines and HR Mag isn’t one of them. Like you say, it becomes dated quickly because of the environment we operate in.
    Now I do subscribe to both Workforce and SHRM e-mails for various topics and those are incredibly useful. I get information to start planning now, not in a month, for changes in legislation.
    Let’s hope the rebrand works.

  2. Sharlyn says:

    I can’t argue that SHRM isn’t in need of some pizazz. But I think the way to bring the organization to life is not by leaving it…it’s by getting involved.

  3. William says:

    I had a difficult time looking beyond my local chapter (N. CA HRA) to begin with, let alone the national org. Thanks for call this out on a larger level, though I doubt the leadership is listen (but we hear you). All the best 8~)

  4. Jessica Lee says:

    Lance – out of curiosity… for HR execs, or other HR seasoned pros, what are good reads? who do you turn to?
    Sharlyn – but the taint of being involved or affiliated with SHRM kills me! i dunno, for me it feels a bit more entrepreneurial and progressive just to strike it out on one’s own and try to come up with something new and different/more effective and sexy as an alternative… and then see what SHRM does from there. i think we at least know that they aren’t oblivious… or maybe in the future, HR will have two camps and SHRM will just be the institution for one of them. hmmmm. that’s something i haven’t thought through but will now have to ponder. thanks for making me think about this further though!
    william – local chapters… i can’t do it. i have tried to get involved, but i didn’t feel like they were my peeps. not like minded, at all. but you, the talent alchemist! “alchemist”… i love it! love love love love it. i will have to use that term more often.

  5. laurie says:

    I’ll be blogging about my experience at the convention, next week. Want me to grab any extra pens, paperclip holders or stress balls for the FOT team?

  6. Tim Tolan says:

    I too will be in that “Toddling Town” this weekend attending the conference. Not sure why – just curious mainly. Not sure what to expect..but then again…I love Chicago in the summer:-)

  7. When did it become trendy to slam HR people who specialize in employment law? Jessica is not the first to do it. As unsexy as it may be it is a basic foundation of HR. Companies need to abide by the laws otherwise they get sued. And they do, tens of thousands of EEOC and Wage and Hour suits per year. Mostly mistakes by supervisors who would run unchecked without HR. Even recruiters need to abide by the law. So someone needs to know it.
    Does that mean they shouldn’t be more well-rounded, more interesting? No. Does that mean they shouldn’t know more about talent management and performance? No, they should.
    I realize recruiters are the talent mavens and the sales wing of HR, but just because you are good at that doesn’t mean you should not know the law.
    Now as to the subject of SHRM being stuffy and unsexy. I agree. Needs some work. But so does Workforce and Human Resources Executive. HR in general needs to have some appeal. They are all resources at various times but I don’t jump up and down when they arrive in the mail or in email. Blogs are helpful, but they are sort of like Wikipedia, to be confirmed by other sources or your own experience.

  8. Jessica Lee says:

    oh, haberman. i’m not slamming people who specialize in employment law… i just think that HR folks shouldn’t align the heart of what they do as being employment law enforcers. i’m not advocating for discrimination or saying we should have free reign to harass or saying that we shouldn’t ensure OT gets paid to those who should be paid it… i just think that what we do as HR pros is so much more than all of that. employment law is fundamental and can be foundational for our work – but we’re so much more than that. aren’t you?
    laurie – i’d like some free toothbrushes from any dental insurance providers that may be there. those always come in handy for visitors and guests.

  9. Jessica:
    I agree with you. I have never approached my HR work as just the “cop” saying you broke the law. I always approached it more from the trusted advisor asking the question “What are we trying to accomplish here and how can we get there.” But there were times where I had to say “NO.” One of the reasons I left corporate was because I got frustrated with people who saw themselves as administrators only. So yes I want so much more out of HR. But we all have to remember what the bedrock of our responsibility is.. keeping the company out of trouble.

  10. HR Wench says:

    Great post and great discussion here. I will have to email this post to the SHRM execs. They need to hear this stuff. I hope they will listen.

  11. Jessica says:

    Reinventing a company’s brand and image is so important these days as it allows us to stay up with current trends and communicate in ways we need to. Companies like Pepsi, Best Buy, HP, etc are re-branding themselves so they can remain ahead of the curve. Companies like Circuit City however, well, you know.
    SHRM is a great organization and what they have done with the HR industry is great. But times have changed and I hope they will reinvent themselves and provide greater value to HR in the near future.
    Thanks for the wonderful post!
    – Jessica
    Akken Staffing software and Recruiting software

  12. excellent publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector don’t notice this.
    You should proceed your writing. I am sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

Comments are now closed for this article.

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT