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Effective Practices for Everyone: 9 Human Capital Standards Now Available From ISO

ISO standards provide a voluntary roadmap to effective practices from which any size or type of organization can benefit, according to Lee S. Webster, Secretary of the ISO HR 260 committee in charge of human resources standards. Attendees of Enterprise Engagement in Action, Oct. 3-4 at the University of Texas at Arlington, will be the first to learn about all these standards live in one place. 
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The International Organization for Standardization has helped revolutionize fields as diverse as quality and safety management through the publication of standards comprised of low-cost effective practices any type and size of organization can use as a reliable roadmap to improve its processes and outcomes. Now, several hundred volunteers from 31 participating and 23 observing countries representing academics and practitioners hope to accomplish the same for the field of human resources. See earlier ESM report: ISO Releases the First Standards on Human Resources Practices
Since its formation in 2011, the ISO human resources group has published nine standards, guidelines, or technical specifications with 10 more under development, covering key topics including assessment, recruitment, workforce planning, and six more already available (see below for a complete list). Under development are diversity, knowledge management systems, employee engagement, and six more all listed below. The goal, says Dr. Ron McKinley, HR 260 Chair, is to bring “effective human capital practices to every organization of every type and size. For under $150 in most cases, organizations can purchase guidelines and standards that provide a very clear roadmap for success and/or a means to benchmark current practices to ensure their effectiveness.”  Click here to review and purchase the standards.

An Open Source Approach to Effective Management 

According to Webster and Dr. McKinley, ISO HR standards offer unique advantages: 
  • They are developed in a highly respected, laborious consensus-based process that has effectively created thousands of standards that help improve organizational effectiveness and commerce worldwide. Webster says it can take three to four years to create a single standard.
  • Most effective practices available to everyone. “For very little money, any organization can purchase the standards online and use them either to establish the most appropriate human resources strategy or to benchmark their current practices. No one need worry about remaining reliant on expensive, proprietary platforms or consultants, and even when they do have those resources, standards help organizations of all sizes, types, and maturity in the private and public-sector benchmark their practices.” Adds Dr. McKinley, “These standards can help organizations of any size, but particularly those that don’t have the resources to hire consultants or the many not large enough to have someone in charge of human resources full-time.”
  • The standards reflect the input of a wide variety of experts selected by each individual country. The process includes both in-person and web meetings that require a two-thirds vote for final approval. The standards are updated at least every five years using the same process.
  • The adoption of standards is strictly voluntary. “A lot of people are under the impression that ISO standards require audits and certification fees. That is true when an organization believes that the discipline of that process or displaying the ISO logo in its marketing and/or talent recruitment is beneficial, or if the standard is a “requirements” standard, but many companies purchase the standards and perhaps some learning materials if available and go off and do it on their own,” says Webster.
Webster admits that ISO standards and guidelines get pushback because in the cases of ISO 9001 and a few others, ISO standards effectively became compulsory because major customers require them of key vendors. “While this may happen in some cases, the vast majority of times companies buy the standards, learn about them, and apply them to their organizations without getting any certification at all because they are seeking an objective reference to ensure they have the right systems in place.”  
In fact, Webster adds, “There currently are no certifications for any human resources standards. The closest certification to human resources is the ISO 10018 at the International Center for Enterprise Engagement at the University of Texas Medical Branch,” of which Webster is a co-founder. “So the only benefit of the human resources standards at the present time is the valuable roadmap and benchmarking tool they provide.”

Webster: Standards Enhance the Creative Process

“We also hear concerns from some of the large providers of solutions who fear that standards somehow threaten their proprietary platforms or unique approaches. There is absolutely no evidence that this has occurred in the quality management sphere, because standards and guidelines provide a route, they don’t do the job of getting you there. Propriety and individual approaches to quality and safety have proliferated despite the widespread application of ISO standards; in fact, one could argue they have proliferated because of those standards as they drew more attention to the need for a systematic approach that required expert assistance.” 
Another advantage of ISO, Webster says, is that ISO welcomes the participation of experts in all areas of human resources, including experts, corporate practitioners, and academics. “The process is highly inclusive. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group is always looking for experts in all areas of human capital passionate about contributing to creating an open-source approach to sharing effective practices. There is a small cost to being part of the process (based on company size), but the rewards of being at the forefront of developing and maintaining standards and guidelines that support better commercial experiences worldwide are great. Almost anyone who participates learns as much if not more than they share because of the opportunity to get perspectives and build new business friendships with people around the world.” Click here to learn more about the ISO 260 committee and contact Lee Webster below for more information about getting involved. 

Effective Vs. Best Practices 

Dr. McKinley is quick to distinguish “most effective” from “best” practices in describing the approach of ISO’s HR activities. “A lot of organizations are too small to achieve what some might describe as best practices…They simply don’t have the money or resources. The standards provide clear guidelines that organizations can manage and audit on their own or with the help of current solution providers that in many cases can save time and improve the overall experience over time by making sure they address all key issues and connect the dots.” 
In addition to their roles at ISO, Dr. McKinley and Lee Webster are, respectively, Vice President, Chief Standards Officer and Director of Standards at the Healthcare Management Institute of the University of Texas Medical Branch and co-founders of the International Center for Enterprise Engagement at They will present highlights of the new ISO HR standards and those under development at ISO 10018: Enterprise Engagement in Action, Oct. 3-4, at the University of Texas at Arlington, about 20 minutes from Dallas Fort Worth Airport. 
The current ISO HR standards include:
ISO 10667-1:2011. Assessment service delivery -- Procedures and methods to assess people in work and organizational settings -- Part 1: Requirements for the client.
ISO 10667-2:2011. Assessment service delivery -- Procedures and methods to assess people in work and organizational settings -- Part 2: Requirements for service providers
ISO 30400:2016. Human resource management -- Vocabulary
ISO 30405:2016.Human resource management -- Guidelines on recruitment
ISO/TR 30406:2017. Human resource management -- Sustainable employability management for organizations.
ISO/TS 30407:2017. Human resource management -- Cost-Per-Hire
ISO 30408:2016. Human resource management -- Guidelines on human governance
ISO 30409:2016. Human resource management -- Workforce planning
ISO/TS 30410:2018. Human resource management -- Impact of hire metric
Standards and guidelines under development include:
ISO/NP 10667-1. Assessment service delivery. Procedures and methods to assess people in work and organizational settings. Part 1: Requirements for the client
ISO/NP 10667-2. Assessment service delivery -- Procedures and methods to assess people in work and organizational settings -- Part 2: Requirements for service providers
ISO/AWI 23326. Human Resource Management -- employee engagement -- guidelines
ISO/AWI TS 23378. Human Resource Management: Turnover and retention technical specification
ISO/PRF 30401. Knowledge management systems -- Requirements
ISO/TS 30411.Human resource management -- Quality of hire metric
ISO/DIS 30414. Human resource management -- Guidelines for human capital reporting for internal and external stakeholders
ISO/AWI 30415. Diversity and inclusion
ISO/AWI 30416. Human resource management -- Workforce management
ISO/AWI 30419. Guidelines for ensuring a positive candidate experience during the recruitment process.
For more information about the standards or the ISO 260 working group:
Lee S. Webster, JD, MBA, SPHR 
Director, Standards Development
409-772-0830 Office

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