In December I attended HARDI’s Annual Conference. where they unveiled the new Talent Pillar, a transformation of the Education pillar. I was lucky enough to catch HARDI’s Manager of Professional Development Nick Benton to get some more information on the big change.

You just relaunched your Education pillar as the Talent pillar. Give me the 30-second overview.

NICK BENTON: The Talent pillar is the logical evolution of the Education pillar. Education, as a pillar, has been an excellent resource for helping our members develop and train their employees – and it will continue to do that. The Talent pillar greatly expands the scope of how we help our members as it relates to their people. The Talent pillar, which was announced at the HARDI Annual Conference in December, will support every phase of the employee lifecycle, from recruiting and hiring, to training and succession planning.

What initiated this change?

BENTON: Education evolved into Talent as a response to many conversations with members over several years, culminating with our strategic planning meeting last summer.

As someone who helps companies develop training programs, I interact with human resource professionals quite a bit, and one thing I’ve learned is there is a well-established industry need for resources and tools to support human resource professionals. In fact, it’s almost impossible for anyone to engage in a meaningful conversation about the industry without discussing issues and opportunities related to their people, inclusive of everything in the employee life cycle.

And then came the strategic planning meeting?

BENTON: Yes, last summer we had a strategic planning meeting, and a lot of those conversations became solidified into a clear vision. HARDI’s 2016 president, Michael Meier, urged HARDI members to engage in Education. HARDI’s 2015 president, Bill Bergamini, also emphasized people and relationships. HARDI Education had simply become too narrowly focused to support the broad needs of our membership as it pertains to their people.

Earlier you mentioned the employee life cycle. You mean “from hire to fire”?

BENTON: I suppose that’s the pessimistic perspective – then again, “from hire to proper development into a highly valuable employee” probably wouldn’t have caught on. The employee life cycle is much, much more than simply executing an effective training program. HARDI Education has been fantastic on that front, but in order to best serve our members, we had to broaden our focus. How do you find the right employee? Is that person the right fit for the role? Are you preparing your next batch of leaders? Are you ready to replace those retiring? Those are the types of questions that led to the creation of the Talent pillar and they’re precisely the issues it will address.

What’s new under Talent that wasn’t under Education?

BENTON: One of the most significant new components is the HR subscription service. We’ve partnered with HR consultant Pam Krivda to provide unlimited phone consulting, proactive (subscriber-only) bulletins and other educational materials, free policy and document templates, and a discount on any fee-based products and services to members who subscribe to the service. Pam has an impressive resume and is a practicing attorney specializing in labor and employment law.

We also have the Predictive Index (PI) Small Business Plan. The PI is a behavioral assessment that identifies workplace behaviors and motivations, predicting on-the-job performance. We strongly endorse it and we don’t hire without it. The assessments can be used to qualify a potential employee’s fit for a particular position, or they can be used with existing employees to help develop leaders and teams and improve productivity. The assessment is administered as an online survey that takes only a few minutes to complete (it also happens to be extremely accurate). The PI Small Business Plan includes a batch of six PI assessments.

There are also a few partners whose services weren’t previously aligned with any HARDI pillar that now fit perfectly within the Talent framework. The Industrial Careers Pathway job board can help employers target a search to find the right hire quickly. Employers can also create more attractive benefits programs by adding features such as Gregory & Appel’s Health Advocate, which gives them access to a team of healthcare and claims professionals who can assist with addressing a host of healthcare and insurance-related issues; or LifeLock, identity theft monitoring services to help protect employees’ credit and assets. These services all have a home under Talent, making it easier for members to find any of the HR tools they need.

What hasn’t changed?

BENTON: Anything previously under HARDI Education is still there. Our online training platform, HEAT.U, isn’t going anywhere. Our Emerging Leaders program couldn’t be stronger. And our certification programs are all alive and well. We’ve broadened the pillar’s mission without cutting anything; we’ve added services to an already effective core.

Why should HARDI members use it?

BENTON: Our member companies all have unique, complex needs, and they engage with HARDI in a variety of ways and for different reasons. The best advice I can give is for our members (or even potential HARDI members) to contact us to start a dialogue about their workforce goals so we can provide our best recommendations.

Where to next?

BENTON: We have the flexibility to expand in ways we couldn’t before. We’re positioned to launch any number of solutions that can support human resources and training professionals.

Nick Benton is the manager of professional development at HARDI. He oversees HARDI Talent, which includes content and services related to job creation, performance management and development, among others. Contact him at