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CIPD membership – is it worth it?

My take on the benefits of CIPD membership and whether it's worth the annual investment
Photo of Membership book on chair

For the last sixteen years, I’ve renewed my CIPD membership without fail. First, you study for your accreditation. Then you pay annually to get the benefits and keep your letters (MCIPD in my case). But as we hit this year’s renewal period, the benefits felt less obvious. So I found myself wondering whether the £195 annual investment is worth it.

And it appears I’m not alone. When I asked the question of renewal to other HR professionals, the responses fell into three main groups:

  • Leavers who believe the CIPD offers no value. You chose not to renew and you have no regrets.
  • Reluctants see few benefits, but you want to keep your letters. You worked hard to get them and clients ask for your credentials. So you feel obliged to keep making payments. And finally,
  • Advocates. To these people, I say thank you. Your enthusiasm about the support the CIPD offers convinced me to do my research. And make sure any decision was balanced and informed. That is, after all, the HR way.

The upshot of my research is, for me, CIPD membership isn’t worth it. I’ve looked into the detail and chosen not to renew. Part of that is due to the shift in my focus. Copywriting takes me a step away from consulting, and my studies and experience give me all I need for now. But, to my mind, the CIPD is still far too in-house focused and there isn’t enough to keep me paying. But for anyone who’s doing the internal debate, there’s still time for a last-minute renewal. So use the benefit of my research, and decide what’s right for you.

The benefits of CIPD membership

It takes a while to hunt through the detail, which in itself is a bit annoying. But the CIPD lists a number of membership benefits. And I have to be honest, a few of them surprised me. That said, there are also a couple that are frankly expected. And it feels a bit like the company that tries to promote 28 days annual leave as a perk when that includes public holidays.

So, we’ll skip over the monthly People Management magazine and case law summaries. Industry highlights and keeping you legally compliant seems the least they can offer in exchange for some cash. But what else do you actually get for your money?

Access to free/low cost branch events. To be honest, this might also be a given, but you can get some good insights here. And build yourself a network of local HR people who won’t judge your eye-rolls at the stupidity of some managers. The quality really does depend on who’s running them though. And as most branches are run by volunteers, there aren’t any guarantees.

Special Interest Groups. Not present in all regions, but a welcome addition. Independent HR consultants, in particular, often feel excluded from CIPD support. But many regions across the country have dedicated groups for independents or other specialisms. So it’s worth seeing what’s available in the areas near you.

Competitive insurance rates. Of all the benefits the CIPD offers, this is perhaps the most well-known, especially for independents. When insurance questions are asked, the name Weald is often flagged. They partner with the CIPD and offer competitive rates to members. And their premiums must be reasonable for referrals to keep coming through. But I don’t need any HR-specific terms, so I don’t really get the benefit from this.

Discounts on HR-Inform. This is a well-recognised name in the HR world for template documents, online calculators and benchmarking tools. It has everything you need to get employers legally compliant without having to re-invent the wheel. And it has a reasonable reputation. But it certainly isn’t cheap at £146 per month plus VAT (one-year deal). So you’ll want to take advantage of the 50% membership discount if you need that for clients.

15% off CIPD learning courses. To be fair, the catalogue covers more than I was expecting. Prices range from £50 to £2,500, so there are decent savings to make. most of us have at least one area we’re less confident in, like TUPE or data analysis. But on the whole, the available options feel a bit basic for someone with over 17 years’ experience in the field.

10% discount on CIPD conferences. Let’s be honest, only a handful of members ever go to these events, so whether it’s a benefit is debatable. But for those who like the look of the speakers, getting a discount’s an obvious plus. And there are always plenty of round tables and talks on the schedule that could benefit the right people.

Access to free Wellbeing support: Now this was something of interest. If Covid’s taught us nothing else, it’s the importance of looking after our people. And HR teams have been stretched to the max, often with no support themselves. So this is an important CIPD benefit. And one I think few know is there. Effectively it’s the HealthAssured Employee Assistance Programme. And it offers the full gambit of health, financial and well-being advice. Admittedly it’s online and phone call only, but if you have nothing else, it’s a damn good start.

Legal helpline. 25 calls a year through a 24/7 helpline. So if you’re a standalone HR professional, this could help with those tricky situations. But it’s provided through Croner, which won’t suit everybody. And, as I understand it, there’s only one call per issue. So follow up support incurs additional costs.

Knowledge hub. This is particularly good for CIPD students. It includes factsheets, reports, and guides to HR. As well as access to over 200 journals. But you don’t have to be a student to get it. So if you’re researching a topic for this year’s key project, you might want to see what you get. But you can subscribe to individual publications which might be as good an investment.

So, to renew or not to renew? That is the question

Having looked at the detail, I’ve decided it’s not for me. And if I were still an HR consultant, I think I’d be making the same decision.

The CIPD has long been criticised for its in-house bias. And it’s a shame so many experienced HR professionals don’t get enough support. There are some steps in the right direction in Special Interest Groups and insurance offerings., but nearly everything here is geared to in-house and students.

I’ll be sad to lose my letters. I worked really hard to get them and I’ve kept them for a long time, but I’ll always have my Masters in HR Management. So, unless you need a product like HR-Inform, personally I’d save my money. And find some local HR networking events where I could get support instead.

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