7 HR Challenges and How Employee Research Can Help

Low unemployment, rapidly changing technology, changing demands from different segments of the workforce, the demand for transparency, allegations of sexual harassment, outsourcing, offshoring, and contract workers. Today’s employment environment is fraught with change, tension, and challenges. Employee compensation and software management platform Zenefits recently released their list of the seven biggest challenges facing today’s Human Resources professional.

  1. The Recruiting Numbers Game. It’s just math – there are far more retiring Baby Boomers than there are new workers to replace them. Building the best talent mix for your organization will be a key HR priority in the next decade.
  2. Sexual Harassment Claims. As we have learned from the many, many highly publicized situations in Hollywood, Washington, New York and just about anywhere else, HR managers will need to find an appropriate response. As employees become more comfortable with making claims about inappropriate behavior, companies must respond with training and education for everyone.
  3. Raising HR’s Profile with the C-Suite. HR professionals will be challenged to show their organizational value to executive leadership, and that may mean evolving from being the corporate police force to become the HR risk manager. It will no longer be enough to say, “do this, don’t do that,” but rather to assess the risk of proposed actions and to recommend modifications to mitigate that risk.
  4. Cross-Functional, Cross-Generational Teams. More than ever, corporations understand and encourage building multi-disciplinary, generationally diverse teams. This helps retain the historic knowledge of older workers while bringing in the more innovative views and different perspective of workers from different generations. “Building cross-functional teams requires organizations to clarify roles, responsibilities and decision authority, create effective communication between team members, and to set priorities so every team member can work better across the boundaries of their individual business units,” says Rick Lepsinger of On Point Consulting. All of which, of course, are the domain and expertise of HR professionals.
  5. Succession Planning. To prepare for the brain drain that will accompany Baby Boomer retirements, companies need to get serious about succession planning. Preparing the next generation of leaders in your company will require not just identifying high-potential candidates, but will also impact everything from recruiting, and training and development.
  6. Embracing HR Technology. Learning, managing and effectively applying HR software platforms, mobile apps, and “people analytics” will be a continuing challenge for HR professionals. And this technology is ever evolving, and competitive, as more and more technology companies understand the potential and enter this market.
  7. Non-Traditional Work Arrangements. The five-day a week, 9-to-5, onsite worker is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. According to a McKinsey research report, 20-30% of the workforce has some sort of “independent” work arrangement, no doubt challenging traditional HR policies for on-boarding, monitoring work hours, training, payroll, and perhaps most importantly maintaining consistent company culture.

How can employee research help with these HR challenges? Ask them! Your employees are your most important source of information not only about how HR is perceived, what you can do better, but also for employee preferences, company culture assessment and engagement – their connection to and loyalty to your company. Additionally, understanding and using employee attitudes and opinions can help your organization be seen as a key strategic resource by the C-Suite. By conducting periodic and topical research that digs deeper into your employees wants and needs, HR can more effectively handle today’s challenges, as well as position the optimal workforce and environment to drive your company’s success.

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