Top 8 HR Challenges (and Simple Solutions)
HR challenges in today’s fluctuating global economies affect every aspect of business, and this includes meeting strategic organisational business imperatives that HR departments never faced in past decades. The following top-eight HR challenges – while seemingly complex – actually have relatively simple solutions for companies with the right HR software and organisational cultures that emphasize leadership, engagement, diversity and flexibility:
1. Retaining Top Talent
Most companies view recruitment as the most important of their HR challenges, but retaining the talented people whom you already have certainly ranks higher than organic recruiting. Employee retention not only reduces the need to find new talent but also provides the raw materials for promoting people in-house to leadership positions.
Solution: Focusing on retention can strengthen staff loyalty over longer periods of employment and reduce recruiting, training, orientation and operating costs. Employee retention strategies include fostering an appealing company culture, engaging employees in two-way communications, offering incentives and recognition and showing respect for workers at all levels of the company’s operations. For example, many restaurants reserve their highest honours for popular front-of-the-house servers and acclaimed chefs, but no restaurant can operate without dishwashers and pot scrubbers in back-of-the-house operations. It’s important to provide motivational recognition throughout your organisation and not just to employees with the highest job profiles.
2. Attracting Top Talent
Attracting talent is certainly one of the most visible of HR challenges, and today’s mobile, digital culture often fails to generate the kind of corporate loyalty that helped companies retain staff in past generations. Millennials are especially susceptible to job turnover – often for reasons that don’t involve money – reasons like company culture, and business reputation.
Solution: By using effective & appropriate HR software and HR tools, companies can create attractive online presences that showcase each company’s culture, accomplishments and core values. HR departments can contribute by helping to develop strategic recruitment plans that take into account business goals and competitive recruiting efforts. Fostering high levels of employee engagement is the single strongest solution to many HR challenges including recruitment efforts. Those who are responsible for hiring can share information with targeted recruits even before they’re ready to change jobs. This includes publicising professional development opportunities, company-sponsored events and peer-to-peer sharing. Fostering a culture of diversity, transparency, support of social causes and inclusive hiring practices is an effective way to attract top talent.
3. Building Leaders from Within the Company
Top HR challenges include attracting and retaining top talent, and the easiest way to do this is to develop leaders from within the company. Leadership has been globally identified as one of HR departments’ most critical strategic initiatives, and company managers, senior executives and HR managers are in prime positions to instil leadership characteristics in existing workers.
Solution: Building teams creates opportunities for workers to step up and take ownership of new ideas. Managers can build leadership values by demonstrating them, supporting them and encouraging team members to develop those leadership qualities through practical exercises.Senior executives can support the process by funding administrative support services, and HR departments largely administer these initiatives, which include training programs, cross-training, educational opportunities, certification programs and chances to lead special projects.
4. Creating a Healthy, Value-Driven Company Culture
Company culture takes an increasingly important role in every aspect of business. Today’s competitive recruiting often focuses more on company culture than on salaries and benefits because millennials consider culture as a prime influence when changing jobs. One particularly powerful example of this trend is Google’s corporate operations, which dominate the search industry. The company fosters a unique culture where staff members enjoy benefits such as free meals, dog-friendly offices, on-site gyms and employee trips and parties.
Solution: You don’t have to offer trips to outer space to build a value-driven culture. The process begins by fostering two-way communication and developing ways to engage employees. Depending on your industry, engagement might mean supporting community-based charities, political change or work diversity. Ask your employees about their outside interests, and develop company-sponsored programs to support them or allow workers to pursue these activities on company time. If you want to build a team-oriented culture, empower managers and teams with real-world incentives, recognition and power to influence and change company policies.
5. Fostering Diversity
Fostering diversity should involve more than setting quotas for new hires. The process will seem hollow unless your HR department takes ownership of cultural diversity.
Solution: Apply strategic advertising and marketing, internal and external communications that highlight different cultural practices and efforts to target communities with campaigns designed to attract diverse candidates. Of course, you need to make sure that you’re not violating any local employment laws with unlawful trigger words, but your HR department should look beyond compliance to foster an inclusive workforce to meet diversity HR challenges. Encouraging empathy and curiosity about others is a strong way to foster diversity. Companies can publicise cultural differences by posting alternative lifestyle information, identifying new talent pools, networking with alternative enterprises and providing key training and learning programs that can bring those without certain skills up to standard proficiency levels.
6. Managing Change
Change management might seem to align more closely with project management than HR, but HR departments and managers now provide many of the support services for managing change in agile businesses. HR challenges in regard to change management include providing the structure for change, administering changes in company policies and explaining the changes to sceptical managers and rank-and-file workers. HR departments are ideally situated to manage operational changes because they often field experts in organisational and personal behaviours.
Solution: HR departments can ease the impact of changes by identifying formal and informal company leaders who can act as catalysts for change. These human resources are often leaders – but not always – who can influence and motivate other workers. Best practices for managing change include the following steps:
- Address ‘human’ concerns quickly and systematically.
- Explain why change is needed and what the benefits are.
- Enlist the identified agents of change to support the changes in public pronouncements.
- Begin at the top of the command chain, and work down to every affected area of operations.
- Identify any cultural or diversity concerns that might arise, and manage them proactively.
- Understand that change is personal, and reassure people about how the changes will affect performance assessments, hours, team assignments, pay and other work concerns.
Fostering a culture that embraces change simplifies the process of change management, which is a useful and worthwhile characteristic of today’s rapidly evolving and agile business operations. Encourage workers to adopt the attitude that change is essential for job security and market agility.
7. Measuring HR Effectiveness
Measuring HR effectiveness might seem straightforward, so it’s not obvious that it ranks among the greatest HR challenges. However, it’s astonishing how many companies don’t measure their results objectively, and even fewer measure their results based on how HR policies affect people. CIPD research shows identifiable links between HR policies and people management.
Solution: Your HR software can often automate data collection for objective results, but measuring effectiveness involves a two-pronged approach that includes incorporating more subjective assessments into decision-making such as considering employee potential, identifying candidates for training and advancement and planning succession management strategy. When assessing HR challenges and potential solutions, it’s critical to consider whether existing workers have the necessary abilities, motivation to perform and opportunities to develop essential skills. It’s also critical to assess whether HR policies align with the company’s long-term business goals. That’s why measurement must include both objective facts and subjective assessments from managers, team leaders and senior executives.
8. Encouraging Effective Learning
Effective learning increases employee skills, makes workers more versatile, fosters staff loyalty and provides transparent opportunities to earn skill-based promotions and salary increases. Performance management assessments should focus on recommending opportunities for skills training, earning industry certifications, participating in mentoring and coaching sessions and accessing educational opportunities.
Solution: Learning and development activities should be monitored and measured to determine the objective benefits of the programs, and some HR department effort should focus on subjective accomplishments that can be attributed to effective learning. HR departments should use these results to push for additional learning programs to foster stronger employee engagement.
Young Markets Leave Room for Growth and Developing Appealing Reputations
Your company has plenty of room to grow and develop its HR department and earn a reputation for brilliance by simply managing the top HR challenges. The simplest solutions for all HR challenges combine software applications with leadership skills, and this collaboration doesn’t require science fiction-inspired Vulcan mind melds because all you need are common sense, curiosity, empathy and the right software tools. Research shows that only 55-60 million of the 450-million potential users of HR software are currently using these tools, so the market leaves plenty of room for forward-thinking companies to master HR challenges and distinguish their companies in the competitive drive to recruit and retain top talent.
Throwing money at HR problems won’t solve them; however, taking an active, employee-centric approach and using the right software tools will simplify and solve most of them. Include employees, managers and other stakeholders in executive-level decisions, resist the urge to micromanage, offer flexible working conditions, provide recognition and other incentives and focus on training and employee development. These best practices will cut through an astonishing range of HR challenges in today’s rapidly evolving business environments.