“Traditionally, a company’s human resources department has played a supportive role. It was considered a paper-pusher job, and often took a backseat to more numbers-oriented departments like marketing and business development. Today’s organizations have realized that this department can do much more to enhance and develop a business, thanks to developments in fields like psychology, data analytics and recruiting.” [Business News Daily]
The start of the year is a good time to think about how you can improve your company’s operations. Whether you need to cut costs, expand, or reconfigure department responsibilities, it’s not just about maintaining your business — it’s about seeing it grow.
One area of focus should be your Human Resources department. Why HR? HR makes critical business decisions about whom to recruit and how to keep your talent engaged, productive and up-to-date on necessary skills. All of these strategic choices can directly affect your company’s overall growth and success.
“The smaller the business, the greater the impact HR can have,” Vinay Couto, leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ People and Organization Strategy practice in Chicago, told SHRM. Smaller firms “don’t have the luxury to have managers think about strategic people management — things like performance management and workforce planning. In those situations, it’s even more important for HR to step into the void,” Couto added.
Many of the leading HR challenges in 2018 involve talent management. Let’s take a look at five of these challenges and what makes them business-critical.
1. The battle for the best candidates
From whom you hire, to how well they fit their role, to how engaged and productive they are once they’re working for you, your talent is arguably your most valuable asset. Small to mid-sized businesses need to make sure they match the best people with the right job for every position on their payroll — and they often must accomplish this with more limited resources than very large companies.
The problem is that attracting, hiring and retaining top talent is getting more challenging. With low unemployment rates, it’s basically an employee’s market, particularly when it comes to the most in-demand jobs in fields like finance, IT and healthcare. You need something that sets you apart—whether that’s offering candidates more flex time, greater career development opportunities or room for quick advancement.
2. Hiring more diverse teams
“78% of talent professionals and hiring managers say that diversity is the top trend impacting how they hire.”—LinkedIn Talent Blo
Studies from McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and others agree that diverse teams generate more ideas that lead to better business results. In a global marketplace, companies with diverse teams are more likely to find solutions that satisfy changing consumer needs.
Making sure you have a diverse talent pipeline means networking and outreach that extends beyond the same career fairs, colleges, and other sources you may rely on now. It means attending conferences where different affinity groups are more likely to be present, hiring people for other reasons besides cultural fit and making sure your managers have the tools they need to leverage those diverse teams.
3. Employee engagement and productivity
Once you have the right employees, you want to keep them — particularly if they excel in their role. Simply having a job isn’t enough — employees want to feel appreciated at work, to be rewarded in both tangible and intangible ways (raises and bonuses are good, but so is regular feedback from managers.) When they are engaged and feel they belong, employees are more likely to be productive.
Managers also need to feel engaged. According to Gallup, “managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement.” The bad news is that according to the same poll, only 30% of U.S. managers are engaged. HR departments need to understand why this may be and what programs or incentives can be put in place to correct the imbalance.
4. Managing non-traditional work arrangements
According to a Gallup survey, 43 percent of employed Americans reported they spent “at least some time working remotely” in 2016. That number is only growing as more companies offer flex time to appeal to younger workers, parents with children at home, and workers who live far enough away from the office that they’d prefer not to have to commute every day. Even if you do not currently offer a work-from-home option, you may in the future. With the ubiquity of Skype and other online meeting platforms, the 9-5 cubicle farm is becoming as antiquated as the Dictaphone. If you are a company that belongs to the so-called “thinking economy” you’ll need to adjust to this new reality, or be seen as woefully behind the times or simply inflexible.
5. Working across multiple generations in the workplace
With Generation Z (those born from roughly the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) entering the workforce, companies today could conceivably have four different generations working for them at the same time (Millennials, Generation Z, and Baby Boomers round out the mix.) Much has been written about the different work and communications styles of these groups, but employers also need to be mindful to avoid harmful stereotypes and generalizations.
Ian Johnson, director of talent management at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, told HR Dive, “People in the workplace must get past thinking in terms of ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ and think in terms of ‘us.’” In order to achieve this, you need to create a workplace where workers of all ages and experience levels respect each other, can learn to work effectively across differences and have access to multiple platforms for communicating.
Eliminate your HR distractions
“The first thing HR should do is figure out how to reduce administration.” —Vinay Couto, PricewaterhouseCoopers, talking to SHRM
Businesses can find themselves quickly overwhelmed with all of these talent-related considerations. Talent management can be particularly difficult for small businesses, many of who try to cut costs by handling all of their HR needs in-house. USA Today cited a recent AP Study reporting that for 70 percent of small businesses, in addition to their core responsibilities, the owner or other non-HR staff member also handles HR administration. That’s despite the fact that most of these individuals have no HR training or experience.
“Human resources tasks, which can include complying with government labor laws and regulations, handling disciplinary problems and administering employee benefits, are no different from chores like keeping the books that many owners could hand off but don’t,” wrote Joyce M. Rosenberg in USA Today.
Eliminate HR Distractions with HR&P
By outsourcing your day-to-day HR, payroll and benefits administration, you and your team can focus on talent management and other, more strategic work that will keep your business competitive. You don’t have to go it alone. HR&P provides experienced, customized services, including PEO, flexible ASO, payroll services and ACA support.
Have questions about outsourcing HR administrative tasks or want assistance with other HR compliance and benefits issues? HR&P can help. Please contact us.