12 May, 2020
Why CPD is important for HR Professionals
Why is CPD important for HR Professionals? Effective Human Resource is vital for any business or organisation wanting to build a good team of working professionals. HR departments may deal with regular employee issues, conflicts and disputes which are inevitable within any organisation. It is important that any issues are dealt with quickly, effectively and confidentially in order to come up with suitable solutions and to prevent things from getting out of hand. There may also be legal implications to take into consideration, and up to date training on key policies and procedures is vital for any good HR department.
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development and refers to the process of tracking and documenting any skills, knowledge and experience that gained both formally and informally beyond any initial training. It is a record of what is experienced, learnt and then applied. This article is about Continuing Professional Development as a process of recording and reflecting on learning and development as a HR Professional.
What are the benefits of CPD and why does it matter?
Communication and maintaining a good working atmosphere is an essential aspect of HR. When maintained and completed correctly a safe, clean and healthy working environment can be important for getting the most from employees, helping to broaden skill sets and add more value to the business. CPD can deliver a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional, along with a greater appreciation of the implications of work as it helps to advance the body of knowledge and technology within the profession.
As a HR professional, there is a responsibility to ensure that company policies are consistently enforced across the business. An organisation without good human resources could leave itself open to serious problems, with skills and expertise becoming obsolete very quickly if not kept up to date and this can affect productivity, so investing in time, effort and training is increasingly important in order to set up a strong and effective HR department.
Continuing Professional Development can help to reflect, review and document any learning and to develop and update professional knowledge and skills. CPD can be an excellent self-motivation tool, as it reminds HR professionals of their own development, which can help boost confidence, strengthen professional credibility and help employees to become more creative in tackling new challenges. Additionally, the flexibility and diversity – in terms of the different forms of CPD learning available – provides an opportunity to find a learning approach that fits the individual best.
CPD benefits for the learner:
- Refines your personal skills and helps to plug any knowledge gaps.
- Keeps academic and practical qualifications up to date – keeping skills relevant is integral in today’s fast-moving world, where rapid progression can quickly lead to previous learning becoming obsolete.
- Opens pathways to career progression or potential redirection, including achieving higher salaries and better job security.
- Enhances ability to regularly learn and improve – you’ll learn quicker as you become acquainted with the process and will become a better independent learner.
- Demonstrates aptitude, and a dedication to self-improvement to current and prospective employers and clients.
- Provides valuable examples and scenarios for showcasing professional achievements and growth in CVs, cover letters, and interviews.
- Reduces feelings of uncertainty or worries about change – CPD gives you a plan for future aspirations and the ability to readily adapt.
- Promotes independence – self-directed CPD requires you to consciously engage in learning activities and follow your own plan, while some structured CPD activities can benefit from you engaging in further research and study.
Sometimes CPD may be a requirement of membership of a professional body. Many professional associations put emphasis on CPD and insist on a set number of hours to be completed yearly to keep any accreditations current. It is a personal responsibility of HR professionals to keep their knowledge and skills current so that they can deliver the high quality of service that meets the expectations and requirements of their profession.
How does Training and Development differ from CPD?
Generally Training and Development (T&D) tends to be more formal and instructed by the organisation while CPD can be more fluid and personal. Continuing Professional Development is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that help an individual manage their own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results and the benefits that professional development can bring in the real world. One approach doesn’t fit all. Wherever an individual is in their career now and whatever they want to achieve, CPD is an investment made by the individual in themselves. It’s a way of planning your development that links learning directly to practice.
The key features of the CPD process:
- be a documented process
- be self-directed: driven by you, not your employer
- focus on learning from experience, reflective learning and review
- help you set development goals and objectives
- include both formal and informal learning.
Continuing Professional Development is an ongoing process and continues throughout a professional’s career. CPD is self-directed and requires motivation and commitment to improving one’s own personal standards, which for some individuals can be a challenge. The process can take many forms – attending seminars, HR CPD courses and conferences, undertaking work-based activities, secondments and project management or reading books and journals.
Individuals may have a particular learning style, but to develop their skills should occasionally adopt one that does not come naturally. For example an individual who learns best from active involvement with problem-solving could adopt a more theoretical style and read an article on the subject instead. The ultimate outcome of well-planned and delivered Continuing Professional Development is that it safeguards and benefits the public, the employer, the professional and the professional’s career.
CPD in HR focuses on all areas of employee development and performance, with some of the key functions being:
- Recruitment and staff training.
- Workplace welfare and safety.
- Policies and procedures.
CPD should be engaging and fun too. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a relevant course that fits in with an individual’s other obligations. With these factors in mind, professional development should help professionals engage with learning, helping them to feel more fulfilled in their role and the overall success of a business.
Who is the membership body for HR Professionals?
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the leading body on the management and development of people and CPD is promoted by the CIPD to support the systematic development and accreditation of its members. Unlike that of some institutes, the CIPD’s approach to CPD is not measured in terms of hours or points, but by members showing that their commitment to developing their own competence is continuous, professional and developmental.
CPD is measured on output, with members focusing on the outcomes of any development activity and how their day-to-day practice has changed as a result. Members are expected to show how they planned and identified which areas needed development, and evaluated learning opportunities. It is expected that the benefits of this learning will be noticed by line managers and others in the organisation.
Within the CIPD code of practice is the requirement of HR professional development to encourage and help other individuals throughout their CPD. Personal satisfaction can be gained from having helped someone develop new skills. In order to fulfil our obligations as HR practitioners in encouraging CPD there are several solutions available – becoming a role model, mentor and coach. A role model will lead by example demonstrating to those who are interested how something is done and the benefits to be gained. As a mentor a HR practitioner can provide individuals with the benefit of their knowledge, passing on valuable information of skills and abilities or as a coach positively encouraging an individual to know which paths to pursue.
CAREER BREAK – It’s especially important that you’re able to manage your CPD whilst on a career break. Doing so will ensure you’re able to return to work with the ability to communicate the value of your experience and how you’ve maintained your knowledge and skills throughout.
As a CIPD member, you are required to demonstrate your commitment to CPD and can be asked to submit evidence of CPD at any time.
What is the CPD Cycle?
The CPD cycle is a cyclical process and learning is continuously evolving. However, it’s important to identify what learning you want and or need, that supports your aspirations and plan how you will do this.
Stages of the CPD cycle
- Identify: Understand where you’ve come from, where you are and where you want to be.
- Plan: Plan how you can get to where you want to be, with clear outcomes and milestone to track progress.
- Act: Act on your plan, and be open to learning experiences.
- Reflect: Make the most of your day-to-day learning by routinely reflecting upon experience.
- Apply: Create opportunities where you can translate theory into practice and put your learning to work.
- Share: Share your learning in communities of practice to generate greater insight and benefit from the support of your community.
- Impact: Measure the overall impact your learning has had on the work you do.
Write down your overall career goals – where you want to be in two, five and 10 years’ time. Then write down no more than three specific and achievable shorter term objectives, including the dates by which you want to achieve them. Look at your these goals and make a note of what you need to do to achieve them. This could include further training, job or role progression or changes in direction. For shorter-term objectives, include the first step – what you can do today or tomorrow. For example, having a chat with your manager about a new responsibility or finding out about new technology from a colleague who has experience of it.
It is important to remember that a lot of learning will not be planned. Focus on the outcomes you’d like to see realised, rather than the time spent on activities or a detailed plan of every activity you plan to undertake. Take the time to reflect upon your experience through each stage of the CPD cycle.
Recording your CPD
Keep a learning log and record your thoughts in whatever way suits you best. You may find it helpful to write things down in detail or to make notes on insights and learning points. The process of writing makes you think about your experiences at the time and makes planning and reflection easier. The CPD approach focuses on outputs instead of inputs. You should focus on how you’ve actually applied this new learning and how this supports you, your team and/or organisation. Ideally these will be measurable outcomes e.g. how and what have you done to improve services, reduce costs, save time, increase revenue etc…
You’ll need to set a date in advance for review of the objectives you’ve set yourself. You can either do this from one review to the next or decide to review regularly – once every three, six or 12 months. You can’t review your experiences properly without recording them. Make a note of any outcomes of each learning experience and what difference it has made to you, your colleagues, your students (if relevant) or your employer. Write your thoughts down about what you learned, what insights it gave you and what you might have done differently. Try to include both formal training events and informal learning.
Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- What have I learnt?
- Did I achieve my learning outcomes?
- What kind of unplanned outcomes or challenges arose from this experience?
- Which barriers or blocks did I have to overcome?
- How have I applied this this learning at work?
- What was the impact of this learning to my organisation (tangible measurements, if possible)?
- What lessons can I take from this experience?
It’s likely that your plan will include a mixture of keeping up to date with your area of expertise, learning about the external environment and developing new skills. Don’t underestimate the learning you do every day. Whether you’ve been working on projects, undertaking research as part of your role or recently started a secondment, make sure you make the most of day-to-day learning. Regularly engaging in reflective activities can initially enhance your critical thinking, deepen your self-awareness and improve your communication skills. In time, it develops resilience, creativity and problem solving skills.
Embedding learning requires repetition, so creating opportunities where you can continually revisit learning through application will ensure the benefits are long lasting. Learning is an inherently social process, and the learning doesn’t end once applied. There are still many lessons to be learned through feedback and iteration. Sharing learning is a great way to collaborate with others, build networks and exchange ideas. Put it in your diary and do it! The cycle of Continuing Professional Development has begun.
We hope this article was helpful. This article begins to outline the Continuing Professional Development of a HR professional based in the UK, the professional bodies, as well as how to record CPD. For more information please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development.