The human resource industry is one of the most dynamic in the world. It is constantly evolving and changing. This dynamism presents numerous opportunities. However, it also throws up problems every now and then.
Every human resource professional who desires to enjoy consistent success needs to stay abreast with the ever changing nature of HR. At a minimum, they need to stay alert to the problems which are constantly emerging. The reason for this is simple: failing to exploit opportunities will not hurt you (except for missing out on the potential benefits of the opportunities). However, failing to anticipate and tackle problems in advance will certainly hurt you.
Generally, there HRs face many problems. However, in recent times, there are 3 critical problems which have emerged. These three problems have to potential to undo any HR professional’s hard work. However, they are even more pronounced in organizations which hire 50 or more people a year.
If you are such an HR, you need to watch out for these three problems:
1. Creating Opportunities For Career Advancement
For a while now, there has been talk of the potential impact of the retirement of baby boomers on the economy. However, many younger employees have been secretly looking forward to it. The impending retirement of baby boomers was supposed to present them with an opportunity for career advancement.
As such, many talented employees have been bidding their time; waiting for the “oldies” to depart, so that they can climb up into their positions. Unfortunately, the financial crisis of the last few years has changed the situation.
There is growing evidence that a significant number of baby boomers are postponing retirement. The reason for their postponement is that the financial crisis a bite out of their retirement investments. Therefore, to secure their financial futures, many are choosing to work for a few more years.
For human resource professionals, this is a tricky situation. They can’t just kick out the baby boomers – given that most are still extremely productive. However, the continued stay of the boomers is making younger talent worry about career advancement.
Unless handled carefully, this situation can lead you to lose your talented individuals. When employees feel stalled in their careers, they are usually open to offers from anywhere. Losing your budding talent can basically place your future in jeopardy.
The best way to handle such a situation is to create opportunities for career development for your top talent. Offer them opportunities for education and training. As they acquire more skills, give them greater responsibilities. This will give them a feeling of growth and advancement. It will also better position them to take over when the baby boomers finally decide to call it quits.
2. Demand For Flexible Working Environments
Workplace flexibility is the latest trend to have emerged over the last few years. Although great in many respects (studies have shown it to improve employee motivation, engagement, job satisfaction and productivity), it has the potential to be problematic for HRs.
The reason for this is the hype around workplace flexibility. Many of its benefits are blown out of proportion. Not that the proponents of flexible workplaces are being dishonest – they just aren’t telling the whole story. For instance, what many don’t talk about is how long and difficult it is to create a fully functional workplace flexibility system.
They simply bill flexibility as a magic system which will unleash a new generation of happy, motivated workers who will produce record-breaking results for companies. Basically, they make flexibility to appear the best solution to all workplace problems. As such, flexibility appears very attractive to employees, managers and even shareholders.
As an HR, such hype around workplace flexibility will likely present you with problems. You may find yourself under increasing pressure from employees (and their unions), managers and even the CEO to provide flexible work environments.
The only problem is that workplace flexibility isn’t the most effective solution for all work situations. In some cases, flexibility can actually lower employee productivity. Even where flexibility can work, creating an effective system isn’t a piece of cake. It requires careful planning, hard work, and most of all, time.
The first step for dealing with the issue of workplace flexibility is to carry out a detailed assessment of your workplace. Ascertain that flexibility is not only viable, but that it is the best solution to your current challenges. Only after you are fully convinced that workplace flexibility is the best solution should you begin thinking of how to implement it. And when it comes to implementation, don’t rush through with it.
Whatever your viability assessment comes up with, you may have to educate your employees, managers and CEO. If flexibility isn’t viable, explain to them clearly why it isn’t the best idea for your work environment. Even if it is viable, make them understand that it won’t occur overnight.
Remember, your job as HR isn’t to follow every industry trend, fad or craze. Your job is to implement what you believe is most effective for your workplace. When it comes to flexibility, follow this simple rule of thumb. Otherwise, you may attempt to create a flexible work environment and wind up worsening things for everybody.
3. Providing Work/Life Balance
The importance of having a work/life balance is something which professionals have known for decades. But then, it is something which has often been seen as a personal issue. Every professional was supposed to figure out how to attain a work/life balance on their own. In fact, sacrificing personal life was viewed as an acceptable price for corporate or professional advancement.
However, there is a new generation of workers with very different views of work/life balance. The generation Y demand a work/life balance as a matter of course. To these workers, attaining such a balance isn’t their responsibility to figure out. It is the responsibility of an employer to structure their work such that attaining such a balance is possible.
As an HR, such views are potentially problematic. If you are from an earlier generation, such a sense of entitlement will appear audacious. But then, this is the reality of today’s work place. If you fail to provide opportunities for balance, then you’ll probably lose your talent.
Therefore, you have to provide your employees with some semblance of a work/life balance. This will mean figuring out how to maximize employee productivity without holding on to them for long time periods. With a little flexibility and creativity, this shouldn’t be difficult. At least it won’t be as difficult as replacing employees who have departed because you couldn’t provide them with an opportunity to attain some form of work/life balance.
In a nutshell, these are the 3 problems facing HR professionals in today’s work environment. However, within each of these problems lies an opportunity. By anticipating and solving those problems, you can end up creating a workplace environment which makes employees happier, more loyal and more productive. Such an environment will make it much easier for you to hold onto your top talent and attract new talent. Ultimately, facing them head on will leave you in a better situation.