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What are the new challenges of human resource management?

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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.

Becoming an agent of change

A global survey by 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 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 jobs 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 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.

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