Human resources professionals have many responsibilities, from recruiting to training to increasing employee engagement. With such a varied workload, it’s no wonder that HR professionals often feel overwhelmed.
Some of the more prominent challenges HR professionals face include developing effective leadership, recruiting and retaining top talent, and managing benefits plans, just to name a few. Read on to learn more about these tasks and how HR departments can avoid common pitfalls when performing them.
Developing Effective Leadership
To achieve lasting success, companies need to develop strong leaders. This means that HR professionals must provide the training, tools, and structure necessary for effective leadership development. According to the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA), effective leadership development can lead to higher employee retention and a more performance-oriented corporate culture. It can also prepare managers to thrive in leadership roles. Further, the HR Leadership Council research organization has determined that leaders with strong employee development skills have a 50 percent higher chance of outperforming company revenue expectations.
When designing an internal leadership development program, companies must first define what qualities a successful leader must possess. The next step is to assess what gaps exist between these desired competencies and characteristics and those available in the company’s pool of identified leadership candidates. With this data, HR teams can construct a formal process to build leadership capacities at all levels of the organization.
Managing Benefit Plans
With more freedom of choice in terms of workplace benefit plans, HR professionals have had to adapt to handling a variety of plan options. From medical to dental to 401K plans, HR teams are responsible for ensuring that these plans not only meet the needs of the employees, but are also cost effective for the company. Because of the breadth and complexity of these plans, over 20 percent of HR personnel find that managing employee benefits programs is one of the toughest challenges of the job.
Due to legislative changes that have taken place over the last several years, HR departments have had to adapt to a growing demand for consumer choice when it comes to health care plans. HR departments also must deal with the fact that employees can now shop for their health care and other benefits outside of the workplace, which often complicates the issue. Employers must maintain available health care options, however employees may find that plans they discover through their own efforts better meet their needs.
In addition to managing employee health care and retirement benefits, HR professionals can easily become overwhelmed as they try to stay informed about regulations and company policies regarding leaves of absence, telecommuting, and a variety of other perks that fall outside of traditional benefits packages. To combat this problem, HR professionals should evaluate their current offerings in order to see how they can better serve employees while keeping benefit costs steady.
Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
Employee acquisition and retention continues to be a major issue facing nearly every HR department. According to one survey, more than 30 percent of HR professionals cited finding the right applicant for the job as their biggest challenge. This is due in part to the inherent paradox involved in recruiting the best talent; these individuals often know their professional worth, and this gives them additional leverage in finding more lucrative employment elsewhere. Thus, HR professionals must go beyond just placing a simple job ad and instead focus their efforts on marketing their firm and selling the merits of each specific position. To successfully do so, they must be keenly aware of what the competition is offering top talent.
Once a company hires someone, HR teams need to focus on ways encourage that individual to stay. This involves identifying and reducing problems that contribute to high employee turnover. Some issues include poor management, which leads to a lack of employee engagement, and failure to meet an employee’s expectations. Other reasons that individuals leave a company are having few opportunities for advancement and receiving little recognition for achievements.
As the American workforce continues to evolve, HR departments must continuously adjust their priorities. Going forward, there will be a renewed focus on employee performance as well as more creative employee retention initiatives. If HR professionals can adapt to the changing environment and stay abreast of industry trends, then they are sure to overcome these challenges.