The past couple of years have witnessed a dramatic and profound change in the way busy professionals access and consume news and information. The online environment, clearly and irreversibly, has become the first port of call. Alongside this change, there has been an explosion in the sheer volume of information available, and a parallel sense of overload for many. All this has been brought into sharp focus by detailed research conducted recently by the CIPD into the changing needs of its members, according to Sue Upton, the institute’s director of membership. “Over the last few years we’ve been making big changes, reflecting what our research has told us about the changing profile of HR professionals and their working lives,” she says.

“We’ve already delivered significant changes to the CIPD’s membership criteria and structure, and also the routes into membership, to better serve this changing profile of the profession. 

“It was a natural next step for us to take a detailed look at how the range of services we offer to members could also better meet changing needs – including the need for members to keep up to date, and informed, and for us to provide the inspiration to support them as they progress to different levels in their careers.”

“The relaunch of both the CIPD website and People Management is the result of many months of work to deliver that next step,” says Upton. “These twin changes will allow us to really deliver the accessibility, choice and relevance in news and information that members told us they needed to do their jobs,” she says.

It’s always been true that HR professionals, to be effective, depend on keeping up to date with the important issues of the day, and knowing where to find the detailed facts and informed opinion necessary to carry out their roles. What’s perhaps new is that busy professionals have less time than ever before, yet are confronted with a wider choice of information and news resources than ever.

“The changes we’re making – both to the website and the magazine – are all designed to help CIPD members navigate the enormous quantity of information out there. The changes will continue to improve our ability to meet the growing demand for ‘real time’ information when it comes to news and jobs,” adds Upton. “But they’ll also give us opportunities to provide more of the opinion, analysis, insight and inspiration we know members increasingly need and expect from their professional institute.”

Also linked, she says, are the launch of a new monthly newsletter, CIPD Digest (of which, more below), and moves to make HR-inform more accessible to members.

The CIPD’s new website
Much more than just a makeover, the website will have a completely fresh structure, making it easier to navigate and much easier to search. New types of content have been added to meet the changing needs members have highlighted to the CIPD. The site will also increase the opportunities for visitors to interact and contribute.

For example, there will be a new “Comment and Insight” section, designed to offer a space for leading HR figures to share their views on key current issues, and inspire debate. It will carry a mix of comment articles, a range of shorter opinion pieces on current issues in the news, and recommendations of inspiring reports and articles that the CIPD thinks members would be interested in – offering what is intended to be a one-stop-shop for the latest insights from leaders in the profession.

The “News and Blogs” section – with a higher profile on the new site – will provide an expanded range of news content intended to keep members right up to date with developments as they unfold.

Two streams of news will each carry updated news headlines throughout the day, with links to the full articles. One will list the latest business and employment stories relevant to HR as they break in the national newspapers and other media. The other stream will be a continuous flow from the People Management news team, covering the HR profession itself and enquiring more deeply into the HR implications of stories breaking in the national media (for more on how PM’s approach to news is changing, see below).

HR news from around the globe will be streamed to the website, and can be selected by continent. The global dimension in general will be more evident, reflecting the increasingly international nature of many HR roles. One third of CIPD members have at least some international responsibilities, and interest in global perspectives is growing fast.Another new area of the website is entitled “CIPD and the HR Profession”. This pulls together, in one place, information, practical development tools and related resources to help members advance their HR careers – all built around the CIPD HR profession map. This area will also provide an overview of major CIPD research projects looking at the future of the profession – such as the Next Generation HR project.

There will, of course, also be sections of the website devoted to helping people access CIPD qualifications and membership routes relevant to their experience and future objectives. Important though the new areas are, high priority has also been given to making existing content from the CIPD website easier to navigate – whether visitors to the site are browsing for the latest research and inspiration, or searching for something specific.

The new People Management
A key finding of the market research is that the majority of HR professionals now prefer to keep track of news and jobs via websites and email newsletters – online daily rather than on paper fortnightly. This has prompted parallel changes in the role of People Management as a magazine.

Changing needs are not restricted to news and jobs. Two other key trends have become clear – both from research with members and in informal feedback, says Sue Upton. “First, there is a clear demand for more in-depth enquiry by PM’s journalists and contributors into key issues facing the profession – all firmly linked to a greater focus on the business context in which members operate.

“Second, there’s a sense that a fortnightly magazine doesn’t allow the time to fully take advantage of that increased depth and context,” says Upton. “It was a desire to deliver a magazine that offers depth, but also the need for time to appreciate and digest it, that made us conclude the magazine would serve the profession better as a monthly title.”

The edition you are reading now is the last fortnightly issue of the magazine. The first monthly, cover date April 2011, will be posted to members at the end of March. People Management has been completely redesigned, taking into account detailed feedback on what members want and need from the magazine.

PM has a unique role as the only magazine serving the full width and depth of the HR profession. An important part of its brief is to enable different specialists and people at different levels of seniority to engage with the profession as a whole, and the magazine will continue to do that, albeit with some differences in emphasis. Among these:

  • PM now will be primarily a features magazine, doing what can still be done best on paper – running longer and more thoughtful articles probing key issues, with the aid of good illustration and photography;
  • It will have a stronger business feel, trying to capture the complexity of how organisations work and providing more insight into how HR people respond to business challenges at all levels of the profession;
  • Alongside articles giving a more strategic and holistic view, it will also track key trends in all the main areas of specialist expertise within HR;
  • For those who like to catch up on news and views from the past month, there will be comprehensive round-ups in the magazine of news and the latest employment law developments – drawing heavily on the content updated daily on the People Management website.
  • All of this will be supplemented with the practical hints, tips and links which we know readers value highly.

The structure of PM’s website (which sits within the CIPD site, but is a separate entry point for many visitors) will remain the same, but the focus of news coverage is changing. We’ll put greater emphasis on the practical HR implications of developments in business, politics and the employment field. We’ll also tap into a wider range of specialist commentators among HR professionals, academics, lawyers and policy-makers.

Put these developments together and institute members will have improved coverage of breaking news and topical views on the PM website, plus more in-depth and penetrating feature articles in the completely redesigned magazine.

CIPD Digest monthly email
Also on the way is a new monthly email bulletin designed to alert members to the most thought-provoking new research and thinking in HR and in the business world more widely.
Provisionally named CIPD Digest, this will be launched in mid-2011, and will complement the two existing newsletters: the weekly CIPD Update, which keeps members up to date with the latest news, research and services available from the institute, and the PM Daily e-newsletter.

Support from HR-inform
Launched by the institute just over a year ago, HR-inform is a premium online package of HR support, designed for practitioners who need quick but authoritative and practical guidance on dealing with workplace issues. It keeps comprehensively up to date with all significant changes in employment law, and offers continuously updated model policies and procedures, letters, forms and ‘how to’ flowcharts that can be downloaded and customised.

Now, alongside the changes to the CIPD website and the new People Management magazine, the CIPD is also making HR-inform available to its members at £425 – this is a 70 per cent reduction on the already competitive non-members price.

“We’re determined to make CIPD membership the gateway to a range of high-quality and relevant services, at affordable prices,” explains Upton. “Making HR-inform available to members at this significantly reduced price will bring it into reach for members working in smaller organisations or as independent consultants. Alongside the array of enhanced services we’re offering as part of the membership package, this move is just one more way we can ensure members have access to the information, tools and resources they need to do their jobs.”

Forty years of evolution

1972 - PM’s antecedents go back to 1947, but it was from the early 1970s that Personnel Management became as familiar a face of the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM) as its annual conference at Harrogate.

1984 - One of the reasons for the IPM’s move from central London to Wimbledon Common in 1981 was to allow more space for the growing library. In 1984 it loaned out 11,958 books and pamphlets, and fielded 10,619 telephone enquiries.

1994 - The IPM merged with the Institute of Training and Development (ITD) in 1994 to create the IPD with 72,000 members. Soon afterwards, the magazine relaunched as People Management and the institute’s first website was unveiled.

2000 - The institute achieved chartered status in 2000, becoming CIPD. As digital technology developed, the CIPD website joined PM as one of the two most valued member benefits.

2011 - The CIPD website and People Management both to be relaunched. Now the main channel of communication with members, the CIPD website has 500,000 visits a month.