The five biggest challenges in HR and employment law?
Limiting this to the five biggest challenges in HR and employment law is not as easy as it seems as there are so many challenges facing HR.
One thing is certain. ‘The times they are a-changin’. The challenges facing business from increasing levels of competition, technological advances, AI, Brexit, and changing work philosophies requires HR professionals to ensure they are anticipating the changes and creating innovative solutions.
1) Influencing Leaders
The power of influence should not be mistaken for any negative connotation. You can influence with integrity, transparency, and sincerity. The biggest skill anyone can master is that of influence. In a working environment regardless of whether you work in HR, as a supervisor, a salaried Director, a business development manager, the ability to influence the key decision-makers and those around you is crucial.
The only way to meet future challenges is to solve problems and maximise resources. This cannot be done alone and will need partners, buy-in, support. This requires influence. Supporting people, meeting their needs, and influencing emotion with honesty and kindness in business is critical to ensure high levels of connectivity.
This doesn’t mean influencing people to just do what you want them to do all the time. This is creating a positive influence to ensure anticipation, preparation, creativity, and exceptional execution to meet the challenges and problems HR and business throws at you.
Anticipating the present and future challenges to HR is one thing. Improving systems, processes, increasing productivity, performance, innovation, and problem-solving is vital to every HR team. The worth of this is limited unless you can influence the business leaders to engage, brainstorm and work with you on all these areas.
2) Business Culture
In decades gone by creating a company, culture was not very high on the priority list. Once business owners started to see improving company culture started to impact positively upon the bottom-line company culture and engagement with employees became more popular! Who knew!
It is well publicised that Zappos (the US shoe company) provides a four-week induction on full pay that focuses on culture, obsession, strategy, and exceptional customer service. After a week or two of the induction, they offer the employees the chance to leave with their time paid to date and a $1,000 bonus! Judging by Zappos’ success not many take them up on this offer!
How can HR influence company culture? Here are some questions to consider and apply to your business:
- How well do you meet your customer’s needs? Some businesses behave as if they hate their customers! What does the culture of your business say about how you see your customers?
- How effective is your recruitment, induction, and training program?
- Can employees grow and achieve their ambitions in your business? Is there a culture of growth?
- What percentage of the employees are working at their optimum? On a 1-10 level of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement where do you rank?
- How do you help employees with physical, mental, and emotional well-being?
3) Increasing Engagement
According to Gallup, highly engaged workplaces see 20% higher sales, 21% higher overall profitability, 10% higher customer ratings and up to 67% lower employee turnover.
80% of employees who said they have a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organisation’s vision and values, as opposed to 40% of those who don’t.
One of the favourite business stories I heard was from a US entrepreneur. The business had grown from a family start-up and had become very corporate. They worked hard to try and keep the engagement you feel in a family business within a corporate environment. One day the online booking systems failed. Customers could not use online booking systems, and no one knew when the issue would be resolved. Without any requests from senior management the employees, regardless of the seniority or job description, dropped everything and liaised amongst one another to ensure they could jump on the phones and meet their customers’ needs and perform manual bookings.
Creating high levels of employee engagement may be seen as a bonus. This would be naïve. High levels of employee engagement are crucial for every business. Your competitors will be focussing on meeting your customer and employees needs better and quicker.
Improving the method, quality, and regularity of communication is critical.
4) Compliance – New Trends & Amended Legislation
New methods of working and legislation changes (when aren’t there!) will continue to impose challenges to HR.
HR must be aware of key areas:
- Flexibility. The growing trend of freelancers, short term contractors, remote working creates many challenges in respect of employee status and GDPR to name just two.
- Due to the above working changes expect legislation amendments year on year especially for atypical workers.
- Technology and AI. Training and learning new skills will be crucial for every workplace as will adapting to new ways of working.
- Equal pay and overlaps between HR and GDPR. Vicarious liability GDPR claims against businesses for their employee’s behaviour is a huge growth area for claimant solicitors. Gender and ethnic pay reporting requirements and assessments are critical.
- Profiling of candidates, interviewing, assessment processes, and keeping secure records of the same are vital and require regular review.
5) Reducing Stress
HR is the most stressful UK profession wot work within. This is the result of a Perkbox study of around 16,000 respondents from more than 50 British cities.
79% of HR professionals stated they were negatively impacted by their job.
The workload, pressure, need for regular dispute resolution and constant problem solving contributes to this.
- What can you do in key areas of your life to ensure you are operating at your optimum both in and out of work?
- What changes can you and the business make to reduce stress in HR? Are there cultural, systematic, procedural changes that can be made?
- How can the business improve the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of all employees?
HR professionals who anticipate the future, analyse the present, engage, influence, and execute with honesty, transparency, and efficient practices will continue to be well placed to meet all the challenges that await.