Whew! I’m one half of the way through my plan to study for the PHR exam, and I feel pretty darn good! Last week I spent an HOUR reading each night. I was able to finish the chapter in the PHR study guide by the end of the week. I had a very busy weekend, so I did my best to finish as early as possible. I have human resources on the brain 24/7. I am starting to see everything through an HR prism. It makes life interesting, that’s for sure!
This is week six of twelve in my PHR study journey. If you have not read the other portions of this collection of articles, they can be found here.
A New Resource
This week, I didn’t really find a new place to find more information on taking the PHR or SPHR exams. However, I did find a few places to get some great information on the human resources profession in general. I found and joined the human resources networking group at HR Guru.
HR Guru has some wonderful articles on getting a job in human resources, and the 10 Steps to Becoming an HR Professional guide is wonderful if you are trying to decide if human resources is the right career or what portion of the field would most interest you. I joined a group that is similar to a support group for those studying for the PHR exam and the SPHR exam.
I look forward to getting some human resources networking contacts out of the site. And even if I do not, I will still read the articles and learn what I can from other professionals in the human resources field. I look forward to learning about becoming a functioning member of the human resources community and passing the PHR certification exam.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
This week I studied Total Rewards. Total Rewards makes up about 16% of the total PHR exam weight. In the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) PHR practice test, I scored a 58% on this section.
According to the PHR study guide, the Total Rewards section of the PHR exam tests the human resources professional’s knowledge of:
1) Applicable federal, state, and local laws, including FLSA, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, FMLA, FICA, etc.
2) Total Rewards strategies involving compensation, benefits, wellness, rewards, bonuses, recognition, employee assistance, etc.
3) Job evaluation methods
4) Job pricing and pay structures
5) External labor markets and other factors uncovered during the process of environmental scanning
6) Merit, incentive, variable and other pay programs
7) Benefits programs, such as health, retirement, wellness, EAP, paid leave, etc.
My Take on the Material
I have always had an interest in the money and benefits side of the employment equation. (Most of us do, because it’s our paycheck!) However, being interested in the topic is a world apart from actually having to administer a total rewards plan in the workplace. There are laws covering almost about every imaginable nuance of the benefits package, and just thinking about all of them makes my head spin.
When I was taking human resources classes in college, I learned about legislation that was relevant to total rewards like the Davis-Bacon Act (requires a minimum wage for federal construction workers), the Walsh-Healy Act (requires a minimum wage for federal suppliers and details overtime pay requirements), ERISA (requires employers to hold retirement savings in a trust separate from operating funds), and so much more. However, the human resources study guide showed me not only what the laws mean, but why the laws were enacted.
For example, the PHR study guide says that ERISA was legislated to protect workers from losing their pensions in case their employer went out of business. That unfortunate problem affected the employees of the Studebaker company back in the 1960’s. To prevent employees from losing their pensions, the law was created. It now helps employees to keep their pensions even if they lose their jobs.
Being able to see the origins of a piece of legislation helps me to be able to remember the purpose. It’s easier to connect something in my memory to an actual event instead of an abstract law. Because human resources deals with many types of legislation, I have to often make those connections.
The Upcoming Time Crunch
I am a little ahead of schedule, and I’m glad, because with Christmas coming up, I will be very busy. I think that instead of reading all of the relevant chapters from my human resources management textbook, I will probably skim the chapters, catch the high points, and close them for the week. I have several practice tests for each chapter that I would like to catch up on. It is easier to take a 10 minute practice test than to sit and study for an hour.
Now that I am halfway through my human resources certification exam studies, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can beat this thing; I’ve just got to keep slogging through! I’ll be back next week with week 7 of my PHR study guide, Total Rewards (pt. 2 of 2).
If you have a remark or question about human resources or the PHR or SPHR exams, feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message. I’d love the feedback!