Featuring Nancy Woolever, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and Vivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM, The Commission for Case Manager Certification
In some professions, it’s common for individuals to reach retirement and either want to stay active in the field, or find they ultimately need to return to the workforce. In these cases, some certifying bodies offer a retirement status for the individual’s certification.
We spoke with Nancy Woolever, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, and Vivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM, to learn more about how their respective organizations approach certification for retirees, and the value it brings to their constituents.
Woolever is the vice president of certification operations at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), working to help advance the HR profession and provide competency-based certifications for early- mid-, senior- and executive-level practitioners. Campagna is the chief industry relations officer (CIRO) for The Commission for Case Manager Certification, a certifying agency that oversees the process of case manager and disability management specialist certification.
In your organization, why was adapting certifications for the retiree population a strategic move?
Nancy Woolever: A fair number of folks work their entire career in HR, and achieving and maintaining certification is important to them. However, once a certified individual truly retires from the workforce (i.e., not working at all), we believe it is important to allow those who had been certified for a long time to retain their certification, but in retired status. For us, this simply means that, unless they come out of retirement (to, for example, become an HR consultant) their certification is “suspended” and they no longer need to accumulate professional development credits in order to recertify. This status is rarely used, but it is incredibly important to those who want to keep their certification, albeit in this state. If the person returns to the workforce, they can ask to be reactivated. In those cases, they would then again start earning credits to recertify before the end of their next cycle.
Vivian Campagna: We found that many of our case managers were reaching retirement age and leaving behind their certification, only to find that after a short time they were returning to case management for various reasons. It was beneficial at that point to reactivate their certification, but until recently they had to retest. Within the past few years the process was revisited, and certified case managers (CCMs) were able to take retirement status and reactivate the credential without retesting. If the retirement status changes and they wish to regain the use of the CCM certification, they would simply need to meet the renewal criteria and pay the renewal fee at the time of reinstatement.
What is the value of offering a retiree status certification?
NW: It has a customer experience and user satisfaction value for both the examinee and the organization. Our approach is to implement reasonable programs that don’t violate our accrediting body standards, and as a human resource professional society, it’s the compassionate thing to do. Considering how important the certification is to even a small number of individuals who have retired, we think it’s important to accommodate their desire to remain certified. We also make sure each understands the parameters for achieving and maintaining a retired status.
VC: Choosing the CCM-R [retired] leaves the door open to reactivate the CCM in case they want to return to the workforce within the renewal period (five years from expiration date). For example, if they return to full-time work, part-time work, volunteering, mentoring or consulting, they would have the option to renew without retaking the exam. It also allowed them to pay a lower fee for the retirement designation.
What considerations were taken when adapting certifications (challenges, successes, etc.)?
NW: We have not had any challenges implementing the program. We do not actively offer it, but we include the program as an option – meaning the certificant has to “opt-in” to it. The consideration that it satisfies the needs of some certificants was an important consideration for SHRM.
VC: It was considered a value add for our certificants who wanted to retire but not completely give up the credential. For the Commission, they still remained in our certificant population.
What were some of the results or response from constituents?
NW: Those who use the program and exercise the option are very happy with it, and in a way, no one else even notices, until it’s time for them to take advantage of it too. I estimate we manage only a handful of cases each year.
VC: Our certificants have been pleased with this status, particularly since they did not have to retest if they wanted to be able to use the credential again.
Have you seen a change in retiree certification in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and what has followed?
NW: We have not. Overall, our recertification is currently running slightly above 72% for the year, and we’re very pleased with that, but there has not been a massive increase in HR professionals retiring — mostly because I think folks are pressed to help their organizations navigate COVID-19. Some have been RIF’d or furloughed, but even those folks are still working to maintain their certification rather than retire.
To that end, SHRM has implemented two programs since March that allow certificants to earn either all or a fair number of their professional development credit requirement to recertify, leveraging educational programs about COVID-19, or how to help their organization leverage their management of or response to COVID-19 for its employees; and to also document work projects that have been implemented specifically about COVID-19.
HR is on the front lines of business continuity and workforce management through COVID-19, especially with several new employment laws. For right now, our examinees seem to be engaged in working rather than retiring.
VC: I did not see an uptick in the spring renewal class that closed earlier this summer. It’s yet to be determined if we will see an uptick for the November renewal class.
Nancy Woolever, SHRM-SCP, joined SHRM in 1997 to plan SHRM’s conference, seminar, e-learning and executive education programs. In 2006, she began leading SHRM’s academic initiative to raise HR educational standards and led the test development and administration of SHRM’s student capstone exam before joining the certification team as director of exam development in 2017. In 2019, Woolever became the vice president of certification operations as overall product and project owner with responsibility for exam development, certificant care and testing administration. Before joining SHRM, Woolever held various management positions in industry and academia. Her specialty areas are test development, training and development. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in HR both from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Vivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM is the chief industry relations officer (CIRO) for The Commission for Case Manager Certification. As CIRO, Vivian’s primary focus is to work with individuals and/or organizations that are interested in Certification (CCM®/CDMS®), related products and services through CCMC’s broader marketing and promotions efforts; foster strategic partnerships and alliances; and provide insight and guidance related to industry trends and developments. Vivian has been involved in case management for more than 20 years. She is a member of the inaugural class of certified case managers (CCMs) and served on the Commission for more than 10 years. She is a former commissioner, and former Chair of the Commission.