The new challenges of human resource management


 — March 21st, 2021

The new challenges of human resource management

Change is happening faster than ever and coupled with technological advancement, increased globalization and a competitive jobs market the HR department is finding itself in new territory. Naturally, all of this change brings its own challenges that can impact human resource management.

We’ve spoken before about the evolution of the HR role and how it’s now playing a more active role in an organization’s strategy. This wider remit has also had a knock-on effect on the challenges this busy department faces. So what are these challenges?

The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy

Becoming an agent of change

A global survey by the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations compiled a list of HR challenges, and the results make for interesting reading. Top of the list and cited by 48% of HR professionals was change management. Change management is the effective management of significant change, whether that’s introducing new business models, disruptive products that cannibalize older offerings, or new ways of working. So where does the HR team come into the equation?

In an examination of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Competency Model, Human Capital Institution discovered that the HR department has a significant role to play as a “transformational leader for the organization by leading change“. Meeting this lofty goal will require an intense focus on the training and development of HR professionals who will need to acquire the skills necessary to guide the organization through periods of change.

Creating leaders of the future

A 2014 Global Workforce Study (GWS) identifies a key role of HR as ensuring an organization has the right people performing well in leadership roles at all levels. But this isn’t as easy a task as it might sound; a good leader will possess many skills – typically a mixture of hard skills (strategic thinking for example) and so-called soft skills (emotional intelligence). In a Harvard Business Review study, the ability to inspire and motivate others came top of the list of skills deemed most important for all management positions.

Leadership development within an organization is a vital part of the success of a business: it aids with staff retention in this hyper-competitive job market, maintaining a strong culture within the organization, and helps to identify a pipeline of leaders for future succession planning.

Measuring success

Arguably one of the more interesting results in the WFPMA survey of global HR challenges is number three on the list: HR effectiveness measurement, which was cited by 27% of HR professionals globally.

As the role of HR has shifted, so too has its deliverables. Today’s HR department has more than just an administrative function. With this broadening remit comes the challenge of measuring its role of driving organizational effectiveness. According to the WFPMA, “the shift is significant as it represents the movement from simply counting the numbers hired to determining the ROI of collective and individual hires on a long-term basis.”

Despite its expanding remit within an organization, the HR department is still fundamentally responsible for managing human resources and all of the typical challenges that accompany that function, including recruitment, compensation, benefit costs, retention, health, and safety, ensuring compliance, and learning and development. Finding the balance between efficiently delivering core tasks and adding value to the organization can be one of the biggest challenges for any HR team.

Why HR is important?

HR teams are essential to the running of any successful organization and are at the front line of many key business functions, dealing with everything from seeking out potential candidates, to ensuring current employees have all their needs met. Some of the most important responsibilities of HR include:


There is little doubt that an organization’s number one asset is its employees. As part of their role, the HR department is tasked with sourcing and recruiting the best possible candidates to fill available positions. They work closely with hiring managers, who are also responsible for recruiting top-tier talent, to achieve this. HR provides leadership, training, interview expertise, and selection monitoring throughout the recruitment process. In addition, it is the responsibility of HR to ensure an organization develops and maintains a good reputation to make it an appealing option to potential recruits.

Developing office culture

Possessing a positive workplace culture has numerous benefits for businesses from attracting talent to ensuring employee job satisfaction and engagement. HR is responsible for setting the standard of what this culture will be. This includes practices such as establishing office hours, defining dress codes, and allocating working spaces. Having a clear picture of their offices’ culture and what an average working day entails, allows employees to develop a sense of identity in their roles, and to gain an understanding of how their company is perceived from the outside.

Training and Development

Ensuring employees are equipped and capable of carrying out their roles effectively is another valuable role of HR and includes:

  • Providing orientation to new employees
  • Evaluating skills and performance gaps
  • Assigning ongoing training activities
  • Preparing employees for future roles
  • Improving organizational processes

Employee benefits and perks

By researching and carrying out market analysis, HR teams are capable of identifying and setting competitive salaries for open positions. HR also focuses on the added components of these salaries such as insurance benefits, vacations, transportation, and education reimbursement. These are all extremely important factors when it comes to attracting talent and can ultimately determine whether or not the desired candidate will accept a job offer.

Issue resolution

Unfortunately, there are times when difficult situations arise in the office that require the assistance of a third-party in order for a resolution to be reached. This is why it is critical that competent HR professionals are available when those in the office feel their work is being affected by such an issue and need a place to turn to. If HR departments carry out their duties effectively, they will use their expertise to provide advice and act as supporters and allies during challenging times for employees.

What software does HR use?

Any type of software available in an organization that aids in managing employee data or other HR-related tasks, can be recognized as HR software. The most common software utilized by HR departments are:

  • Poppulo for Internal Communications
  • Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS)
  • Human Capital Management (HCM)
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
  • Payroll Systems

What HR Managers should know

People Management - As previously mentioned, it is the duty of HR to work alongside management, offering guidance and support. This includes HR managers aiding general managers in directing and overseeing their staff.

How to Recruit and Hire – Each employee who goes through the recruitment process will develop different feelings toward the company looking to hire them. HR professionals must be adept at responding to candidates and keeping them updated throughout the process, to prevent them from having second thoughts about the job opportunity.

Compartmentalization - HR is an extremely demanding role, with new problems arising every day that need solving. It is imperative that HR managers are capable of separating their office and home lives, in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and stressed by their heavy workloads.

Compassion – As HR is often the first point of contact for employees who are dealing with a difficult work situation, it is vital the department shows compassion and empathy towards these individuals. In fact, not doing so could even lead to legal issues.

Legal Knowledge – Having a good grasp of employment law is a necessity for successful HR managers. Without this knowledge, costly mistakes can be made when it comes to firing employees or making on-the-spot decisions.

Multi-tasking – As HR is responsible for performing numerous and overlapping tasks at the same time, managers need to have the capability to switch back and forth between these tasks at any given moment.

Discretion – Although not required by law to keep information private, HR managers must be able to make the distinction between what information needs to be shared and which should be kept confidential.

How to fire employees – A good HR manager knows that it is never appropriate to be blunt and insensitive when firing an employee. It is important to be legally compliant, sympathetic, and fair when it comes to this difficult undertaking.

The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy

The Importance of overcoming HR challenges

Without a strong and capable HR team in place, it is impossible for any organization to operate successfully. HR plays an integral role across all major areas of a business including recruiting and retaining talented staff, motivating workers, improving working conditions, and handling employee concerns and needs. The role of HR professionals is multi-faceted, making them highly skilled individuals, who can be considered one of the most important functions in any organization.

However, in today’s world, HR professionals are facing many new challenges, including an increasingly competitive jobs market, advancements in technology, globalization, and health and safety concerns. Organizations must dedicate time, effort, and resources to determining what key HR challenges they are facing and the best strategies that can be utilized to overcome them. By doing so, companies will combat a host of potential problems, and benefit from all that an efficient and successful HR department has to offer.

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