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Top HR Challenges from 8 Business Leaders

Miranda Nicholson
July 26, 2016
Min Read

Human resources is much more than a headhunting entity within your organization. HR professionals also play crucial roles in ensuring the success of each employee, maintaining a productive and positive work environment, and championing your company values and culture. Since HR is an essential part of your company, it’s important to understand the challenges your HR department may face so you can be proactive about eliminating any obstacles to success. But what are these potential obstacles?To find out what these global HR challenges look like for many in the HR arena, we reached out and picked the brains of a few experts on the topic. We asked eight HR professionals and leaders one simple question:

What is the biggest HR challenge you feel organizations face today?

The experts had a lot to say (and a few even offered tips for working through a top problem). Here’s what we learned about the challenges for human resource management:

JoAnn Corley, The Human Sphere

JoAnn Corley, Founder and CEO of The Human Sphere

"One of the greatest challenges I see is with HR professionals being able to be meaningful strategic business partners, particularly in the area of training and developing talent and helping to align that talent in a way that gets needed business outcomes.

There is a profound knowledge deficit in understanding how behavior impacts a company's bottom line, both with a company's key leadership and their HR partners. And yet the expectation is for the HR department to help leadership best utilize their 'human resource.' In many cases, this is barely happening—if at all. The role and contribution of HR professionals has not evolved beyond being administrators and policy police."

David Niu, TINYpulse

David Niu, Founder and CEO of TINYpulse

"The biggest HR challenge that organizations face today is a lack of transparent communication. When leaders don't collect feedback from their team on a regular basis, not only are they missing opportunities for growth and collaboration, but they are letting potential issues fester and develop.

Employees who don't feel their management is transparent have a higher risk for turnover as well. In our research, we've found that transparency is one of the top factors tied with employee happiness. Another survey found that 71% of employees felt management wasn’t adequately communicating with them. An easy solution to overcome this challenge is to hold regular one-on-one meetings with employees, be clear about both the good and the bad, and recognize and reward valuable contributions."

Guy Ellis, Courageous Workplaces

Guy Ellis, Director of Courageous Workplaces

"The biggest HR challenge for businesses today is creating people structures, programmes, communications, policies, and processes that allow employees to feel as though they are being treated as individuals whilst also being cost- and time-effective as well as efficient."

Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

Maren Hogan, CEO of Red Branch Media

"Recruiting and sourcing is a massive challenge. It’s complicated, and there is so much misinformation around hiring that jobseekers are confused. Recruiters, on the other hand, seem overwhelmed. Most recruiters are also being squeezed by rising costs and are unhappy with the results they are getting from job boards.

Automating sourcing and search (either with technology or a solid process) will avoid wasted time. New tools that specifically analyze the bottlenecks and breakdowns within your tools or processes can be used to quickly identify and fix issues. Businesses that implement lean processes in their recruitment marketing and recruitment function will benefit not only from the process itself but from the resulting impact on additional processes."

Jacob Shriar, Officevibe

Jacob Shriar, Director of Content at Officevibe

"I think the biggest challenge HR faces by far is attracting and retaining talent. There is such fierce competition these days to attract talent, and many employees aren't getting what they need at companies, leading them to leave.

The two most important things for HR to do to fix this is focus very hard on building an employer brand and come up with a strategy for attracting/engaging passive candidates. This is usually done by creating amazing content.

A big part of building your employer brand is fixing issues within your culture, so that could help with the retention issue. Otherwise, just being honest and transparent and deliberately focusing on employee happiness will help with the retention issue."

Michael Sanders, We Are Mammoth

Michael Sanders, Co-Founder of We Are Mammoth, the software design firm behind Kin HR and DoneDone

"The biggest HR challenge that organizations are facing, and it's one we're continually working though, is how to maintain a healthy and empowered company culture as your team grows. It's fairly easy when you're operating as a team of seven. It becomes exponentially difficult, but no less important, as your team scales to 30, 50, and beyond."

Cassie Whitlock, BambooHR

Cassie Whitlock, Director of Human Resources at BambooHR

"HR’s biggest challenge right now is creating processes that meet immediate needs but also align with strategic organizational goals. So, for instance, a common organizational goal is long-term employee engagement. Studies show that one of the best opportunities to create long-term engagement is through effective onboarding. So HR is tasked with developing an onboarding framework with processes that not only tick the immediate tasks but also set the stage for long-term engagement. Ensuring that HR outcomes contribute toward strategic goals helps HR professionals elevate their current job duties and align them with organizational needs.

We’re currently facing this challenge when it comes to growing the leadership skills of our front-line managers. This is critical in meeting our strategic organizational goal of continuing the employee communication and award-winning culture we created as a startup. We depend on our front-line managers to promote and grow that culture. It's a great challenge to have as we’ve almost doubled in size year over year. We’re creating a strategic plan that will help us meet our immediate training needs as well as power our strategic culture and communication goals."

Corey Berkey, Jazz

Corey Berkey, Director of Human Resources at Jazz

"Winning talent is the number one challenge that organizations have to overcome today. It’s become a lot more complex than simply offering snacks and drinks. The talent pool is full of candidates who know what they want and exactly how much they can demand from a prospective employer. Candidates who are selected to receive offers often know how far they can push the envelope and have a level of confidence that says, 'If you won’t, maybe the next one will.'

Being a competitive employer in today’s world requires the perfect alignment between the candidate’s skills and your ability to offer enticing perks, compensation, culture/environment, development opportunities, and flexibility. As we continuously redefine what constitutes 'benefits,' we will see organizations becoming more and more creative in their offerings—which will continue to make this arena even more competitive. Winning talent today is so much more than a salary or an alignment of skills—it’s creating the work-life that candidates are looking for in today’s world."

We want to give a huge “Thank You” to all who took the time to share their insights with us. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? We’d love hear about your biggest HR challenges as well. Reach us on Twitter at @Formstack.


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