HR Challenges

The Top HR Challenges to Overcome in 2020

Emily BarrHR Professionals, Leaders


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HR Challenges


The Top HR Challenges to Overcome in 2020


Managing people has never been an easy task, but the digital age and this year’s unprecedented circumstances has undoubtedly complicated this effort extensively. Human Resource management in 2020 has gained even more complexity, with its professionals having to face many unique challenges. However, spending the time, money, and effort to identify and overcome these key HR challenges is still resources well spent, since one of the greatest assets your company can boast is your employees. 


What are HR Challenges? 

Regardless of whether you are a small company or a much larger enterprise, you are likely to encounter some amount of challenges when it comes to managing your people. HR challenges emerge every year in response to changes in the economy, political climate, and social context and circumstances. Recently, a renowned focus has been placed on issues such as minimum wage increases, workplace wellness and safety, violence in the workplace, and updating HR policies on substance use.  In 2020 especially, Human Resource departments are facing even newer, and more unfamiliar, challenges to tackle and manage. 

HR management encompasses the ability of your organization to identify, understand and remedy the needs of your employees – an ability that will ultimately impact how your business competes for talent, both now and in the future. The first step to curating your workplace culture and business values to best suit the needs of your employees, while maintaining productivity and success, is to recognize the key modern HR challenges business owners and HR managers are dealing with in today’s workplace.  


The Top 7 HR Challenges in 2020 & How to Best Deal With Them 


1. Attracting Top Talent 

Not a new HR effort by any means, the attraction and retention of top talent has always been a focus for any business seeking sustainably high results. However, in 2020, attraction and retention require more discernment, time, and work than ever, making it one of the most important, and arguably daunting, tasks of Human Rresources altogether. 

In order to attract the right individuals for your organization, you first need to have a clear understanding of the requirements of the job and the objectives of the companyBut as roles and expectations are continuously changing in the modern workplace, modifying your recruitment strategy to your shifting organizational culture can be difficult. A good starting point to grappling with this challenge in 2020 is to first examine how and where your company is marketing its vacancies. Identify the platforms and mediums your target talent is most likely to be frequenting, focusing most of your advertisements there. The preferred platforms will depend largely on your target talent’s skills, industry, and job level, so advertising in the spaces where candidates with those target characteristics will see it will save you a lot of time in the screening stage. 

Once you have gathered a pool of potential candidates from your advertisement efforts, it is now time to screen them. Rather than sticking by the traditional screening method of assessing how well the candidate is fit for the job, it is more critical than ever to focus instead on how well they will fit into the organizationGenerate interview questions that gauge their willingness to learn, their readiness for taking on challenges, and their comfort level with change and adaption to the current shifting nature of work itself. By focusing on these essential qualities, you are much more likely to create a team of employees who can remain responsive and comfortable with change, even as organizational needs transform and shift over time. Remaining vigilant to the future of your company, rather than assessing they are a good fit today, is critical to overcoming this HR challenge. 


2. Embracing Change  

Aligning with organizational change is essential, affecting every dimension of the workplace from the working environment, to the nature of competition, to customer interactions. However, whether the change is managerial, structural, procedural, or technological, it is likely to invoke at least some amount of discomfort amongst your employees. Especially today, when so many organizations are forced to change in ways they never have before to accommodate the effects of the pandemic on business, the feeling of uncertainty that change evokes can bring about severe levels of anxiety amongst your team. 

Human Resource departments are typically tasked with managing employee morale, happiness, and cooperation through periods of change.  They now need to be consistently upskilling team members, so they are better prepared to meet the constantly changing needs of the business.  

Grappling with this HR challenge is particularly challenging and will depend largely on the nature of change occurring for your business. While many companies are encountering relatively similar demands for change simply based on the global situation, the ways in which your HR department chooses to best prepare your team members will vary. A good starting point for organizations is to simply aim to communicate frequently and transparently before, during, and after periods of change. Provide significant warning and notice of changes that will be coming and equip employees with the skills and competencies they will need to respond to and overcome it.  


3. Developing Leaders 

According to a 2018 survey, employees with poor relationships with their direct managers are four times more likely to separate from their company than employees who feel their leader is competent and skilled. 

Now more than ever, employees look to their managers as a source of inspiration and motivation. But this can be potentially problematic if those leaders-in-the-making stick around long enough to become leaders. And, in an increasingly millennial-heavy workforce, companies are seeing higher turnover rates from potential leaders than ever. This is what makes leadership development one of the largest HR challenges being faced today. 

How you actually go about responding to this challenge will vary, but at its core, retention is largely linked to motivation. Motivating your employees to stay by providing training that aligns with a clear career path is critical, since it demonstrates to your talented employees that you truly value them, recognize their potential for leadership growth, and are willing to actively invest in that growth.  

Leadership Training

4. Fostering a Culture of Continuous Learning 

In today’s workplace, more and more employees are choosing to leave their jobs when there is a distinct lack of development opportunities being offered to them. In fact, offering career training and development programs would keep up to 86% of millennials from leaving their current position, according to this study. Essentially, learning and development opportunities are a critical recruitment tactic for attracting and keeping your team members stimulated, engaged, and loyal to your company. 

But, this hinges on a few key points. Training and development programs will only keep your employees engaged and loyal if it includes engaging content and is available in formats that allow for flexible learning styles. Gone are the days when training was a one-and-done, lecture-style process. Instead, companies that wish to remain competitive need to offer continuous training opportunities. 

But to the modern employee, this may make burnout or boredom all-the-more present. Addressing this HR challenge hinges on your ability to leverage the tools available to you. A great example is to implement eLearning options, or installing a Learning Management System into your company’s bank of resources. With online learning options available to your employees, they can complete their development opportunities from anywhere, and at any time. In addition, the unique features that online learning systems offer are much more likely to keep employees engaged in their training from start to finish. They will appreciate the flexibility of smaller chunks of learning and leverage them at times that are most convenient to them, which generally yields the most effective learning. 

Sprigg Performance Management
Sprigg Performance Management

5. Managing Diversity 

Globalization and diversification are affecting business everywhere. Not only are customer reaches extended past the traditional Head Offices, but talent can now be sourced from across oceans and borders.  

However, diversity in the workplace come with a few HR challenges, including managing diverse cultures in localized teams. While adhering to local policies and procedures, the Human Resources department’s principle goal should always be to foster a workplace environment that is comfortable, welcoming, and free of conflict. Implementing cultural awareness programs can be helpful in making employees aware of the benefits of a diverse workplace, drawing attention to the better ideas and innovations a diverse team yields, and the wider customer reach attainable for a diverse business. Another helpful tool for managing diversity in the workplace are team building activities, which can assist in integrating employees of different cultures and uniting them towards a collective business objective.  


6. Monitoring Health and Safety 

Keeping in line with health and safety standards have always been one of the most obvious HR challenges faced by businesses globally. Not only are these concerns governed by regional labor laws, they are also incredibly important to overall employee wellbeing, an area under increased focus as of late. 

In 2020, health in the workplace is about much more than just hygiene and safety. Higher demands and arduous workloads can cause the psychological well-being of your employees to deteriorate or lead to employee burnout altogether. Periods of stress are to be expected, and some employees may even produce their best work under times of healthy pressure, but high levels of stress are simply damaging over long periods of time. 

In response to the pandemic, employee stress levels are resting at an even higher rate than usual. This means being receptive to their individual health during this time and remaining aware of the need for appropriate levels of organizational lenience, is as critical as ever. Keeping a close eye on escalating workloads and stress levels, and checking in with your employees regularly, is a good way to overcome this HR challenge. An open-door policy where employees can freely discuss their anxiety, issues with their working hours, and any unfair expectations with you is critical.  


7. Creating a Quality Employee Experience 

High turnover rates in fast-paced, constantly changing companies are relatively common. While you may be extremely skilled in hiring the right people, it is keeping them around that becomes the next obstacle, and one of the largest and most persistent HR challenges professionals must overcome. 

When employees are satisfied with their role, responsibilities, workplace, and peers, they are far less likely to consider seeking employment elsewhere. In a 2018 Job Seeker study, over one third of job seekers reported leaving a job within 90 days of their employment. 43% stated that their day-to-day role wasn’t what they thought it would be, 34% reported that they were driven away by a bad experience, 32% cited company culture, and 11% said they had signed onto a new job but later changed their minds. 

While a strong recruitment process, and appropriately directed vacancy marketing, is critical, employers of today need to place the same level of focus on retaining that top talent. This can be done by focusing on fostering an employee experience that is above that of your competition. Offer engaging online training opportunities, benefits for gym facility access, flexible working time, remote work arrangements (though many organizations have been forced into this practice regardless), or other incentives you feel would best keep your employees content in their working environment. The best way to combat this HR challenge is to create a culture that solicits the opinions of their employees and that responds, by building sustainable programs and initiatives that both address and support those needs.  


Face Today’s HR Challenges with An Open Mind 

The world is seeing significant changes left and right, and the way we do business is changing along with it. Being able to adapt to those changes, however unfamiliar or daunting, is critical for sustainable business success. Above all, the biggest HR challenge professionals face is identifying and understanding the corporate landscape of the future. As industries and technologies continue to evolve, as new generations enter the workforce, as globalization increases competition, and as the nature of work responds and adapts to environmental influences, it will be Human Resources that will strengthen an organization’s key requirement: its people


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