Top HR Concerns

A new study reveals what problems haunt HR executives— and ways to solve them.
 
By The Editors
 
With the world economy still in sluggish recovery and headlines heralding mixed jobs reports, companies continue with tentative hiring, stingy salary adjustments, and too
few bonus programs. So the importance of people to the health and growth of organizations—and the professionals responsible for talent management programs—become even more important.
 
A recent survey by SilkRoad, What Keeps HR Up at Night, explores and identifies the issues that haunt the talent management community. In this environment, talent management professionals are facing challenges driven by changing workplace conditions and a rapidly altering marketplace. The report was compiled from 853 responses over a one-month period.
 
What are the top issues?
 
• Creating an attractive organizational culture to engage employees (53 percent)
 
• Sourcing the right candidates for the company (51 percent)
 
• Ability to attract and recruit the best talent (41 percent)
 
• Developing leaders and managing skills gaps (45 percent)
 
Tony Presto, vice president of strategy for SilkRoad doesn’t find this surprising. “With ‘human’ in the department’s title, one would expect human resources to be focusedon just that—the people,” he notes. “For so long, HR has been a transactional department with companies viewing employees as an expense, not an asset. Now that many companies have turned to technology to automate transactional HR processes, they have more time to focus on the strategic aspect of talent development. “
 
And that strategy lies in building a strong leadership culture to hone the overall employee experience to drive engagement, retention, and low turnover, he says.
 
When it comes to the HR functions that concerned respondents most, recruiting and performance each weighed in with a 25 percent share of the responses. Preston says, “With talent being high on CEOs’ agendas, HR’s role is more critical than ever. The ‘people’ aspect of HR is on the rise, and HR professionals are expected to move retention, engagement, and development to the top of their priority list for 2014.”
 
Concerns—and Overcoming Them
Changing workforce. Here come the Millennials. Professionals perceive a distinct challenge in attracting Millennial talent as baby boomers retire. The majority of respondents (56 percent) identified as concerned or very concerned about the “graying of the workforce.”
 
“The oldest members of the Baby Boomer generation will reach the average retirement age of 67 this year and, as they leave the corporate world, they’ll take with them years of valuable experience and industry-related knowledge,” says Preston. “In an effort to archive and share this indispensable knowledge, companies are looking to technology, such as enterprise social networking platforms, to create an easily- accessible resource to house this knowledge for current (and future) employees. Companies are also fine-tuning their workforce, focusing on succession planning and mentoring emerging leaders, as well as facilitating a healthy workforce development culture.”
 
Technical difficulties. The majority of professionals expressed their need for a clear picture of the workforce via sound data and analytics (54 percent). This was followed by a concern regarding integration of HR systems, chosen by 43 percent. Social technology simply was not high on the radar screen with only 21 percent showing concern.
Preston says the era of big data analytics is a dichotomy: While the majority of HR executives look to leverage big data, only 26 percent of organizations have the ability to effectively execute. The culprit? Key workforce data is spread throughout several systems.
 
“Centralizing data is no easy task, but making connections between siloed HR data is the key to effective talent management,” reports Preston. “Beyond centralizing data, great analytics require consistent data input and access to obtain actionable analysis and strategic outcomes. Leveraging data and analytics will not only win HR its seat at the table, but help to keep it there through effective decision-making and strategy.”
 
Strategically speaking. Professionals are concerned about HR’s role within the business. Most would like HR to act strategically, rather than tactically (53 percent), followed by those who want HR to have a seat at the table (41 percent).
 
“To get a seat at the table, HR leaders must offer knowledge beyond their vertical HR prowess, understand additional business functions and the overall performance of their company, and make themselves visible to those who matter,” says Preston. “Staying at the table requires consistent, game- changing contributions.”

Posted January 29, 2014 in Sourcing

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