Working in Human Resources is not easy. Having to answer to every employee, those in HR must be able to communicate with multiple personality types and constantly adapt to changes in this high-pressured field. On top of that, one small mistake could have profoundly negative implications for not just an HR career, but for the entire organization. These high stakes are amplified by the top HR challenges currently frustrating HR leaders everywhere.
One of the biggest difficulties for a professional in any field is attempting to prepare for the unknown. For HR departments, nowhere is the water murkier than in healthcare changes constantly being discussed in the news and debated on political stages. Currently, there is total uncertainty about what healthcare in America will look like in the near future. Just when it appears concrete changes will be made one day, the next day’s news wipes the slate clean. With the rising cost of benefits continuing to impact businesses’ bottom lines, HR will have a large role to play in interpreting and enacting whatever changes come out of the chaos.
Abiding by any new healthcare laws is already a huge undertaking, but there’s a vast number of other compliance areas that are giving headaches to HR Directors in 2017. Workers’ comp cases are a nightmare to deal with because, even if it is found a violation did not actually occur, the amount of time and energy that must be put into paperwork, meetings, and other activities surrounding a case is massive. And when those cases are lost, it is costly.
Each day in the news there’s a new example, such as this contractor fined $3.5 million. The same can be said of OSHA violations, with one manufacturer recently fined $1.9 million and another plant fined $200,000. The scrutiny on compliance is greater than ever, and has sparked many business leaders to invest in effective employee compliance training to avoid such devastating fines. Whether it’s changing overtime laws or a heavy focus on eliminating discrimination, there are many more compliance issues that HR departments have on their plate.
Turnover is one of the biggest avoidable costs for a business. In fact, losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213% of the salary for a highly trained position. When employees leave, Human Resources is the department that talks to them as they exit. That is a key time to try and understand the reasons behind a resignation. Is there a distinguishable pattern? If so, has it been brought up internally? With so much work to be done elsewhere, gleaming valuable insights from exiting workers can be neglected.
Similarly, while they may not be conducting interviews with the specialized knowledge of each role’s tasks, HR still owns the hiring process that a candidate must go through. The better the experience here, the more likely a candidate is to both accept an offer and stay longer. It’s difficult, but organizations must adapt to changing worker preferences, including those from Millennials and even the youngest generation, Gen Z. For example, is there a no personal cell phone policy at work? That may be a problem with digital natives in Gen Z who are used to multitasking and relying on their phones and apps extensively. When something like this could be the cause of poor retention, the burden falls on HR to identify issues and communicate solutions.
Just as in healthcare, laws surrounding worker visas have been making headlines this year as they are debated in Washington. This uncertainty is leaving many organizations feeling unstable, unsure as to what effect this will have on their workforce. While some organizations may think that changes to H-1B visas will not affect them as they generally don’t hire anyone through a visa, the topic still needs consideration. What if a change to the visa program makes it harder for a competitor to find staff, and they go after the same candidates you do? It’s very difficult to navigate these waters, especially right now when nobody knows what to expect.
In industries where it’s feasible, roles are trending heavily toward telecommuting. 60% of organizations now offer a remote working option, and that number will continue to rise. Whether it’s just one day per week or per month of working from home, the modern workforce desires this benefit. That means organizations must adapt or risk losing top candidates. This is most challenging for organizations who currently have no remote working options, and are looking to start from scratch. It will take a great deal of forethought, planning, and strategy to introduce a telecommuting benefit into a company, but may be necessary to remain competitive.
The variety that working in Human Resources brings is what keeps the field exciting, but it is also precisely what brings about HR challenges as well. There are so many areas of concern and red flags to consider that even the largest and most seasoned HR departments can be overwhelmed. Instead of dealing with the chaos alone, partnering with a PEO is often the most efficient and cost-effective way of tackling not just the above challenges, but the countless unforeseen ones that appear every day.