Life Long Learning
for the HR Professional

by Barbara Mitchell, Managing Partner The Mitchell Group

The human resources field is becoming more and more complex and compliance driven. Much of the work that HR professionals do revolves around helping organizations comply with new laws including the Affordable Care Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Compliance is only one part of the work that HR professionals do on a daily basis but it requires that those of us in the profession keep up to date on laws AND keep up on all the other work that we do.

Learn more about human resource management degreesI don’t know about you but I love to learn new things!  It is energizing and exciting to expand my brain to include something new. I learn new things all the time in my HR consulting practice and when I research and write human resources/business books.  If I didn’t love learning, I am not sure how I would keep up!

Hopefully you are not the kind of person who thinks that as soon as you finish your degree, whether it be from an online program or in a more traditional setting, that you won’t need to learn anything again.  It takes a tremendous amount of studying to complete a degree, but you can’t stop learning at graduation.

I recently read about a 101-year old woman who was attending a class at her local community college.  She certainly is the definition of a lifelong learner and she encourages others to “keep educating yourself”. 

Having a well established network of professionals you can turn to when you need a resource is critical

According to the January 2015 issue of ”HR Magazine”, the trends for HR for this year will be: “culture, diversity, engagement, retention, performance management, overwhelmed employees, corporate learning, talent acquisition, talent mobility and career management strategies necessary to compete, talent analytics and workforce planning, HR technology, and professional development.”

That is an amazing list of really important topics and HR professionals need to find ways to stay relevant and to make the maximum contribution to their organizations.  The list doesn’t even touch on the compliance issues I referenced above so add those to the list of what HR management needs to know. 

There are many ways to learn and stay current in HR. Take advantage of all the wonderful ways we have to expand our knowledge these days including online HR degree programs and certifications. There are lots of free webinars available on a variety of topics. YouTube is filled with interesting subjects. Professional associations such as the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) are valuable resources for keeping current. Of course there are books in print and for your eReader.  My book, The Big Book of HR, is a comprehensive collection of information that covers everything from hiring to terminating employees and everything in between, including employee development, engagement, retention, performance management, compensation benefits, risk management, and labor relations.

I learn a lot from my peers in the HR field and hope you will as well.  Having a well-established network of professionals you can turn to when you need a resource is critical—no one person can know everything!  I attend a lot of professional networking events and HR organization seminars and always try to meet new people who are experts in areas where I know I need help.  Then, when I need information on that topic, I have a resource—be it a referral to a product or a first-hand account of how that person solved the issue I have ahead of me. 

Whatever is your favorite method to learn, I hope you take advantage of all the great opportunities available to be a lifelong learner!


Barbara Mitchell, Managing Partner of The Mitchell Group, is co-author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook.