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I had the priv­i­lege of attend­ing a Human Resources Town Hall fea­tur­ing new Soci­ety of Human Resource Man­age­ment CEO John­ny Tay­lor, Jr., host­ed by the Col­orado Springs SHRM chap­ter. Mr. Tay­lor was inspir­ing and impres­sive, and very can­did about the chal­lenges fac­ing HR – every­thing you want in a new leader pas­sion­ate about advanc­ing the pro­fes­sion.

Mr. Tay­lor has a sub­stan­tial back­ground in human resources and law. He sees many of today’s top issues inter­sect­ing the two, mak­ing HR an excit­ing place to be. Issues such as #MeToo, immi­gra­tion, and recruit­ing in a tight labor mar­ket, fit square­ly in HR’s wheel­house. With sky­rock­et­ing costs, health­care ben­e­fits is anoth­er hot top­ic for HR.

At the same time there is a ques­tion about HR’s abil­i­ty to han­dle these pri­or­i­ties effec­tive­ly. Accord­ing to Tay­lor, some com­pa­nies are eval­u­at­ing whether to shift HR func­tions to oth­er depart­ments. For exam­ple, move employ­ee rela­tions to legal, train­ing to oper­a­tions and com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits to finance. How­ev­er, dis­man­tling HR could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Tay­lor makes a com­pelling case for HR’s unique per­spec­tive rep­re­sent­ing employ­ers and employ­ees. Employ­ers per­form best when HR con­sid­ers the whole employ­ee expe­ri­ence and bal­ances the inter­ests of both employ­ees and employ­ers.

Mr. Tay­lor envi­sions a mus­cu­lar HR pro­fes­sion­al with the courage and train­ing to take on these issues. At the heart of his strat­e­gy to advance the pro­fes­sion is SHRM cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. “SHRM cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is an invalu­able asset that should be required to prove enhanced knowl­edge and an abil­i­ty to do a job,” accord­ing to Tay­lor.

On ben­e­fits, his obser­va­tion is that “While most HR pro­fes­sion­als can describe their own Total Rewards pro­grams, they can’t explain the busi­ness case for their ben­e­fit design and offer­ings to either employ­ees or the c-suite. We often don’t under­stand what employ­ees want and that can be cost­ly,” He empha­sizes this impor­tant oppor­tu­ni­ty for HR to exert a lead­er­ship role.

HR pro­fes­sion­als don’t need to be sub­ject mat­ter experts in every­thing. They need to build com­pe­ten­cies that impact their orga­ni­za­tions from the c-suite to the line employ­ee. Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment through con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion and cer­tifi­cate pro­grams with­in SHRM recer­ti­fi­ca­tion will pre­pare HR pro­fes­sion­als to meet today’s human cap­i­tal chal­lenges and guar­an­tee their role in the orga­ni­za­tion.

Author’s note: With the launch of Knowl­edge Ben­e­fits’ new course, Under­stand­ing Health­care Mar­kets: Drugs and PBMs, learn­ers will soon be able to earn a Cer­tifi­cate in Under­stand­ing the U.S. Health­care Mar­ket. Four cours­es in the series describe the role of the major play­ers in the health­care mar­ket includ­ing pur­chasers, providers and health plans. Learn how each play­er behaves and fol­low rec­om­men­da­tions and strate­gies to take con­trol of health­care spend­ing in your com­pa­ny while improv­ing the health of employ­ees and their depen­dents.