The ‘Next Concept’ for HR

Starting January 1 of next year, the Northern California HR Association — one of the largest HR associations in the U.S. — will have a brand-new name: Next Concept Human Resources Association.

NCHRA CEO Greg Morton

There are multiple reasons for the name change, says NCHRA CEO Greg Morton. One of the most important, he says, is that the organization’s purview is moving far beyond its traditional base in Northern California/San Francisco Bay Area.

“We’ve got members in 23 states and three or four different countries, including Poland,” he says. “The HR profession is becoming borderless, and we want to support that and clarify that to the world.”

Formed as an independent organization in 1960, NCHRA became an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management in the later part of that decade. Last year, however, the organization decided to part ways with SHRM.

“I don’t want to bad-mouth SHRM, but we were finding that their focus on certain things was limiting to our relationship,” says Morton, citing SHRM’s controversial decision to stop supporting PHR and SPHR certifications in favor of its own brand-new competency-based certifications several years ago as one of the sticking points. Morton also says SHRM is heavily concerned with serving as a lobbying organization for the HR profession in the nation’s capital, while NCHRA’s focus is on continuing education for its members (which includes resources for those pursuing PHR and SPHR certificates from the Human Resource Certification Institute as well as the SHRM CP and SCP certificates).

With its new name, NCHRA wants to be seen as a source of learning amidst the big changes taking place within the HR profession, he says. Chief among those changes is, of course, the rise of artificial intelligence.

“We’re all going to be working alongside AI, and we’re going to need to know how to evaluate tech and use it for prescriptive means within our organizations,” says Morton. “The world of work is undergoing a ‘hyper state’ of change.”

With the name change, Morton also hopes to engage non-HR professionals, many of whom will need to be well-versed in HR concepts. “Our attitude is, anyone who’s looking to hire and develop talent — as a manager or an individual — is going to need those underlying skill sets,” he says.

These are challenging times for the association model, says Morton. Information that was once disseminated only to dues-paying members is now widely available via the internet, which means that associations need to come up with a new value proposition in order to stay relevant.

“The mid-1900’s association model is just not going to cut it going forward,” he says. “We’re looking to set a new trajectory here and we’re looking for like-minded associations to band together in figuring out how to better create a community for this era rather than 1960.”

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