HR professionals often get a bad rap. They’re seen as the rule enforcers, the paper pushers and the disciplinarians, or even the party planners. In reality, HR professionals are (or should be) strategic leaders that help keep organizations thriving through talent management, compensation and benefits planning, and a host of other programs and policies that help organizations attract, develop and retain their most valuable assets – their people.
HR leaders face unique challenges in today’s fast-paced, increasingly global and digital world. From keeping up with always-changing regulations, compliance requirements and the latest technological innovations to managing a multigenerational workforce, here are five challenges HR workers face today.
Keeping up with a remote workforce
You’ve heard the news—millennials are disrupting everything, the traditional workday included. While many millennials embrace flexible work environments, they’re only one reason why working remotely has become so popular.
Over the last two decades, new technologies have made it possible for employees to work from any and everywhere. VPN technology allows team members to access business tools from almost any computer, tablet or mobile device, while Wi-Fi connections, video conferencing and collaborative tools make it easy for teams to collaborate from wherever they are. Today, more than 43% of workers say they work remotely at least some of the time.
Remote work helps HR departments open up their pool of candidates to attract a wider array of talent and even retain current employees, but out-of-office employees can also be more challenging to manage. From ensuring employee records are both accessible and secure to keeping employees engaged and building company culture, HR leaders have many processes and policies to develop, implement and measure.
Managing a multigenerational workforce
While the workforce has always been comprised of multiple generations, today’s employees range in age anywhere from 18 to 80—and each generation holds different views and expectations of their workplace. Baby Boomers are competitive, hard-working and like to speak face-to-face, while Millennials demand flexibility, expect learning opportunities and are comfortable making decisions via text or instant messaging. Generation X is independent, suspicious and insists upon work-life balance.
Part of HR’s strategic role within an organization is to identify and understand the expectations of each generation and to develop a culture that embraces the diversity and strengths of all team members.
Elevating HR through digital transformation
Simply using digital products is not enough. To remain competitive and attract top talent, HR departments should fully embrace digital transformation. There are HR technology tools available to help employees work faster and better in pursuit of strategic goals, and now artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are supporting a new wave of HR applications.
So, what’s the challenge? With digital technologies evolving at a rapid rate, HR teams will need to stay on top of the latest digital trends to ensure their organizations remain competitive. Ongoing training and development in the latest tools will help HR become more efficient and attract the best talent across the organization.
Supporting employee well-being
More and more organizations are realizing that their employees’ mental and physical health is critical to their bottom lines. When employees are happier and healthier, they thrive—and the company benefits. But employee well-being isn’t just about insurance premiums or free healthy snacks in the breakroom. To support their team member’s health, organizations will look to HR to lead company-wide health and wellness initiatives.
While benefits will certainly play a role, HR should focus on developing a culture of health and safety. From educational workshops and incentivized wellness programs to cooking classes and health screenings, there are plenty of opportunities to provide employees with activities and a community in which to better themselves.
Proactively monitoring regulatory change and compliance obligations
New regulations that impact workforces are being introduced all the time and at a seemingly faster rate each year. Data protection rules governing personal data collection (such as GDPR), changes in federal immigration policies and new state-specific regulations targeting sexual harassment training within organizations all require the attention of HR leaders. Organizations will look to HR departments to ensure that policies are developed and communicated, and training programs are implemented to stay in compliance.
As in every area of business, HR leaders are looking for ways to work smarter and maintain their competitive advantage. Their strategic initiatives are changing rapidly as their organizations grow and evolve, but their contributions to the success of their companies are critical.