The role of HR within organisations has evolved and expanded over the last two decades. It is now seen as a critical part of running a successful organisation. Human resources directors are responsible for far more than hiring and firing or smoothing over internal incidents! In fact, given the breadth of their responsibilities there are several challenges that affect HR directors and their teams.
In this article we highlight five challenges that HR directors and their teams face:
1) Leadership Development
Creating an environment to nurture talent and develop leaders from within is a key responsibility for the HR function. Not only does it save money on hiring the right leadership – incurring huge head-hunter fees – but it also ensures you have experienced people in positions of responsibility who understand the business and how it works.
A great way to stay on top of this is through your reward and recognition programme. Not only does this enable you to keep an eye on your best performers but it also highlights those members of staff who have been recognised by their peers and could be potential future leaders.
Furthermore a reward and recognition platform is a great way to train and develop your existing leadership team to embrace a culture of teamwork and recognition – with resulting organisational benefits such as improved productivity and employee engagement.
2) Understanding Benefits Packages
When millennials entered the workforce they fundamentally changed the future of work. A job for life became a thing of the past. Millennials usually don’t stay with an employer longer than a few years, aren’t afraid to ask for what they think they are worth, and demand their employer offers them more than just a pay check.
This has forced HR directors to get a better understanding of their workforce and how they can utilise benefits packages to increase employee engagement. HR teams need to ensure that they have an employee benefits partner who provides a platform that appeals to all age groups and demographics. An employee discount scheme, for example, should incorporate everything from health and wellbeing discounts at your local gyms, yoga and Pilates’ clubs, to restaurant and high street shopping discounts, to reduced price cinema, theatre and family experience tickets.
There are also many elements of the employee benefits package and changing local regulations that HR directors need to stay on top of – such as governmental tax changes to salary sacrifice. It is an increasingly complex environment but having the right partner and advisors around you can ease the burden and remove the worry.
3) Recruitment and Retention
We all know that attracting and retaining the best talent is one of the biggest challenges organisations face. Currently in the UK 43% of employers feel it has become more difficult to fill job vacancies over the last 12 months, and in turn the cost of attracting the right talent has gone up.
It is common knowledge that it is far more cost effective to reduce talent churn than it is to attract new employees yet most businesses still struggle with this. In addition, the time taken to get new staff up to speed with the way your organisation operates can have an impact on productivity.
The new generation is looking for more than a pay check. They want to know that they can develop as an individual in their new role and that their work is meaningful. In addition, any employer offering flexibility, wellbeing and fair work-life balance will go a long way in reducing its churn.
We all know that a competitive salary will help attract and retain staff. But a great employee benefits package and culture of recognition that speaks to every member of your team is also critical. Things like offering flexibility to work from home, providing access to a discount platform or indeed a reward and recognition scheme can help build loyalty, reduce churn and address the universal HR challenges of talent acquisition and retention.
4) The threat of Artificial Intelligence
A recent survey has shown that HR professionals feel completely undervalued in their role. This is often the case with professionals who work in non-revenue generating roles and is part of the constant battle between fee/revenue earning staff and those that are seen as an overhead. Since HR is often mistakenly seen as a labour-intensive overhead there has been a recent trend to try and automate parts of the function with artificial intelligence.
Within HR many see the first true implementation of AI in talent acquisition – traditionally seen as a very personal and interactive role. And it’s not just HR under threat. With more software than ever before being available in Accounting, has technology removed the need for traditional bookkeepers? All of this is both exciting and fairly unnerving for those professionals who see themselves and their futures affected.
Company culture, as mentioned earlier, is a key driver of recruiting and retaining the best talent. This is a human element that is often embraced and nurtured by HR using reward, recognition, social events, benefits and training. A machine can’t pin a poster up on the wall of the employee of the month or encourage a boss to give a bottle of his favourite wine and a handwritten note to thank an employee for their hard work.
Yes, AI is becoming more prevalent in the workplace but HR will always remain a critical function. Indeed, as the workforce evolves and staff continually look for more from their employers, HR professionals can sleep soundly knowing that their unique skill sets remain highly valued by their employers.
5) Embracing Diversity
Diversity in the workforce is not just about ethnicity and gender but also about disability. For example the FT has just won the RNIB employer of the year award for supporting people with sight loss and its inclusive workplace practices.
We all know that as we move into 2020 all employers must be offering equal opportunities in the workplace. This acceptance of diversity should be part of both the hiring policy and also the employee benefits package each company provides. For example, offering flexibility around religious holidays, support and care options for working mums, equal paternity leave and implementing an employee-led support network.
Much of these initiatives will be driven by the diverse nature of the workforce within each organisation. By running a regular census HR directors can tailor benefits and support packages to their employees making them much more effective.
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