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Frequently Asked Questions about SHAPE and Excel Awards 

01-04-2016 16:11

Frequently Asked Questions about SHAPE and Excel Awards

Frequently Asked Questions


SHAPE (SHRM Affiliate Program for Excellence)

Excel Awards

Pinnacle Awards

Q:  What is SHAPE?

A:  SHAPE is an acronym for the SHRM Affiliate Program for Excellence. The SHAPE Planning Document is a tool that SHRM affiliates can use to plan at the beginning of the year.  The companion SHAPE year-end report is submitted to SHRM upon completion of the calendar year (due January 31, 2017).  The year-end report will be available during the third quarter of 2016.

There are two sections. 

  • Section I affirms the minimum requirements a chapter or state council must meet in order to be “in good standing” status. All affiliates must submit a year-end report with at least Section 1 completed. 
  • Section II insures a chapter or state council’s use of effective administrative practices in partnership with SHRM.

Being in “Good Standing” is required to be an affiliate with SHRM, receive Chapter and State Council financial support and be a SHRM Recertification Provider. 

Affiliates are encouraged to complete both sections as both sections are prerequisites to any award application. 

Q:  What is new with SHAPE in 2016?

A:  Based on our volunteer leaders’ feedback, SHAPE has been streamlined, beginning in 2016. The entire document consists of twelve items, broken into two sections. Section I is required of all affiliates to remain “in good standing.” Completion of Section II is encouraged, but not required.  However, all twelve items in both sections must be completed for Excel Award and Pinnacle Award eligibility.

One significant change to the good standing requirement is that State Councils must hold a minimum of two board meetings with four preferred.  Chapters must hold a minimum of four meetings and four programs.  Meetings can be virtual or in-person, per year. (This was previously not a good standing item).

There is no initiative section in the SHAPE.  Initiatives are now part of the Excel Award submission process which has been separated from SHAPE.  The Excel Award has a later due date (March 15, 2017).

The size of the SHAPE Planning Document has been considerably reduced compared to previous workbooks. In comparison, in 2015, there were over 25 items to get to higher awards levels.  The 2016 SHAPE Planning Documents have 8 pages versus over 20 pages in previous years.


Q:  What are the SHRM Excel Awards?

A:  SHRM strongly encourages each of its affiliated chapters and state councils to establish goals and strategic initiatives in support of the HR profession and meet the needs of HR professionals.

In conjunction with the redesigned SHAPE process for 2016, the SHRM Excel Award submission process has also been streamlined to focus solely on strategic initiatives undertaken by SHRM affiliates. 

There are four award levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  Awards are based on the number and quality of the initiatives submitted.   The awards recipients receive recognition from SHRM, a press release and an award logo to include in all affiliate communications.

Q:  What’s New with the SHRM Excel Awards in 2016?

A: The Excel Award submissions program will be separate from SHAPE, with its own application process and extended due date (March 15th, 2017.) 

  • The Excel Award program will mirror the Pinnacle Award Program in terms of the categories of initiatives affiliates can focus on, allowing for more flexibility. Initiatives do not necessarily need to be tied to Core Leadership Area (CLAs).
  • The Award Categories are Serving HR Professionals, Advancing the HR Profession and Enhancing the SHRM Community.
  • A minimum of one initiative is required for award consideration, with the number of strategic initiatives increasing for each award level: Bronze (1 initiative), Silver (2 initiatives), Gold (3 initiatives) and Platinum (4 initiatives).
  • At least one (1) initiative must focus on membership (i.e., acquisition, engagement or retention) for each award level. If applying for Bronze, it must be a membership initiative.
  • When submitting initiatives for award consideration, affiliates will be asked to identify the each initiative’s topic, then provide details in three areas: a) goal/objective, b) implementation and c) outcome.
  • Affiliates successfully completing all items in Sections I and II of the 2016 Chapter or State Council SHAPE report by the January 31st deadline have the option to apply for an Excel Award using the online applications process available in the VLRC.
  • All Excel Award applications are due on March 15, 2017. However, an Excel Award application may be submitted any time following successful completion of SHAPE’s Sections I and II, but no later than the March 15 deadline.

Q:  What are the SHRM Pinnacle Awards?

A:  The Pinnacle Awards Program is designed to recognize outstanding achievements in chapter/state council development and contributions to the advancement of effective human resource management. All SHRM professional chapters and state councils are eligible to compete in this program if they have submitted their SHAPE year-end report and meet the applicable minimum affiliation requirements. Winners will each receive a $1,000 grant with special recognition in SHRM publications and during the Volunteer Leaders' Summit. 

Here is some additional information about the Pinnacle Awards.

  • Eligible affiliates may submit one application per year.
  • Award Categories are Serving HR Professionals, Advancing the HR Profession and Enhancing the SHRM Community.
  • There are four Award Levels: three for chapters by size (taking into account the Chapter’s total membership count) and one for state councils.
  • Selection Committees will continue to use established Standards of Excellence to select one winner from each of the four award levels in each category.
  • Applications must be submitted via the online form available in the VLRC.
  • The application deadline will continue to be September 9.
  • Winners will be announced at the Volunteer Leaders’ Summit in November.


Q:  What’s New with the SHRM Pinnacle Awards in 2016?

A:  The Pinnacle Awards Program itself will remain basically unchanged for 2016, but some items to note are as follows:

  • Affiliates must successfully complete SHAPE’s Sections I and II to be eligible to submit a Pinnacle Award.
  • The same Award Categories will now be used for both Pinnacle Award and Excel Award consideration (Serving HR Professionals, Advancing the HR Profession and Enhancing the SHRM Community) beginning in 2016.
  • The Pinnacle Awards are sponsored by Paychex.


Q:  Why did SHRM make these changes?

A: Based on feedback from very busy volunteers juggling multiple priorities, it was time to make this report as administratively simple as possible so that they could focus on running their chapters and state councils effectively.  The changes focus on fewer elements, which will allow our affiliates to focus on the strategic initiatives most important in their communities.  We also wanted to be clear that the minimum requirement for any affiliate is simply to complete Section I of SHAPE.  To go further and complete Section II and apply for an award is completely optional…and encouraged!  And more time is now allowed to complete the awards section.  The later deadline for awards gives our volunteers time to submit a qualitative description of the outstanding initiatives undertaken throughout the year.

Q: How do I get started?  What needs to be done now?

A:  Start by meeting with your chapter or state council board to plan your year using the tools available.  During your strategic planning process, use the SHAPE Planning Document and the Excel Award Program materials to set some goals.  It’s a good idea to designate an “owner” who will be accountable for each step of the plan and the due date.  This could be the current chapter president or the past president, the state director or the past state director. Some chapters designate the president-elect to complete the documents, providing them the opportunity to learn more about the organization.  Monitor progress throughout the year, asking for updates on activity and completion.  Once the online year-end report document is available (mid-year 2016), you can start entering information and saving the report.  The final report is due January 31, 2017, for both chapters and state councils.

Q:  What is the timing of each component?

A:  Here is the new timeline for SHAPE, the Excel Awards and the Pinnacle Awards:

  • Starting in January 2016 – Review SHAPE and Excel documents. Meet with board to plan and check in often on progress.
  • Third Quarter 2016 – SHAPE Year-End Report will be available.
  • By January 31, 2017 – successfully complete Section I of the SHAPE year-end report, acknowledging that the affiliate successfully meets the requirements necessary to be “in good standing”. (Note: This status is critical to our affiliates as it is one of the requirements for continued eligibility for financial support from SHRM.) (REQUIRED)
  • By January 31, 2017 – successfully complete all 12 items in SHAPE (both Sections I & II) to qualify your affiliate for Excel Award eligibility.  This is now a separate program with a later submission date. (OPTIONAL)
  • By March 15, 2017 – successfully complete the number of required initiatives for each Excel Award Level (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.)  Visit the Volunteer Leaders’ Resource Center (VLRC) for more information. (OPTIONAL)
  • By September 9, 2017 – successfully complete a Pinnacle Award Application. Visit the Volunteer Leaders’ Resource Center (VLRC) for more information. (OPTIONAL)

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