The 12 Most Pressing Issues in the Workplace

What are the most pressing issues HR is facing in the workplace?

To help you identify the most pressing issues HR is facing in the workplace, we asked HR experts and CEOs this question for their best insights. From maneuvering a competitive job market to creating strategies for effective collaboration, there are several important matters HR must currently maneuver in the workplace

Here are 12 of the most pressing issues in the workplace:

  • Maneuver a Competitive Job Market 
  • Provide Accurate Evaluations for HR
  • Handle Employee Fears of a Recession
  • Place an Importance on Cultural Diversity
  • Respond Appropriately to New Legislation
  • Maintain Employee Retention 
  • Engage Multi-Generational Talent
  • Avoid Organizational Burnout
  • Create a Sense of Belonging
  • Close the People Impact Gap
  • Invest in Leadership Development
  • Create Strategies for Effective Collaboration 

Maneuver a Competitive Job Market

Right now, HR is faced with a competitive job market. Ultimately, job seekers are asking for higher salaries, and HR and employers feel the pressure to offer higher pay in order to fill critical vacancies. However, they risk destroying their compensation structures - or they don't have compensation structures or salary bands that articulate their pay philosophy - so they are just paying people what they or the market demands. Then, the challenge becomes companies are potentially paying new hires more than employees who have tenure at the company. 

Once the tenured employees hear this, they either demand a raise, and the budget may not support it - or they begin looking elsewhere. And if they are successful at finding a new job, the cycle begins all over again. HR needs to develop internal compensation structures and a pay philosophy based on internal equity, market rates, and what the business can afford - and communicate their approach to pay to their workforce.

Eric Mochnacz, Senior HR Consultant, Red Clover

Provide Accurate Evaluations for HR

HR departments spend a great deal of time evaluating many aspects of a business but a pressing issue has now developed in their ability to measure themselves. Improvement cannot happen in a vacuum, as there has to be effective and relevant metrics in place to make comparisons in order to perform comprehensive evaluations. Currently, there is a void, as HR departments struggle to find the tools to measure transaction management, strategic partnerships, and their relation to overall business viability and success. In addition, with many HR departments charged with measuring their own effectiveness, this has created an inherent conflict of interests. As cross department cooperation becomes a mainstay of business, ways of effectively measuring HR performance will continue to be an issue.

Cody Candee, Founder and CEO, Bounce

Handle Employee Fears of a Recession

Fear of a recession is the most pressing issue HR is facing. The whispers of a recession can lead workers to wonder how secure their job may be during a worst-case scenario of company layoffs. It is a significant challenge for HR to provide open and honest communication and work to find ways to ensure employees feel supported and secure. HR can work with upper management to keep a finger on the pulse and be ahead of the curve to communicate quickly and efficiently with employees about any updates or company changes that may impact them.

Sumeer Kaur, Founder and CEO, Lashkaraa

Place an Importance on Cultural Diversity

As companies strive to become increasingly global, transparent, and digital, the issue of workplace diversity and inclusion will become more pressing. In the modern workplace, workers place much more importance on how their employers tackle this issue. Moving forward; HR will be at the forefront of addressing this challenge.

If companies want to keep attracting the best talent, they must have progressive DE&I programs in place, and HR departments must stay on top of any changes that need to be addressed. Fostering diversity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do; it's also business-critical. Organizations must invest in software that facilitates anonymous recruiting, helps to remove implicit bias, and assesses candidates equally. This will help to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workforce for the future.

Ouriel Lemmel, Founder and CEO, WinIt

Respond Appropriately to New Legislation

The most pressing issue facing HR today is responding quickly to the rapidly changing legislative landscape. We've seen a lot of changes to laws affecting employers in 2022, most notably the SCOTUS rulings on vaccine mandates and women's reproductive rights. Employers are caught in the crosshairs of very delicate situations impacting their employees, and they are turning to HR for guidance.

HR's role used to be much simpler, but in 2022 HR is the arbiter and enforcer of policies that have the potential to become inflammatory. HR needs to work with executive leadership to cultivate and frame policies that are not only legally compliant but also capture the hearts and minds of employees and customers alike. The downside to making a political misstep has never been greater for businesses; legislative decisions are more polarizing than ever. It is HR's role to bridge the gap, all while maintaining their balance on the tightrope of public opinion.

Sarah Peck, Head of Talent Acquisition, AEVEX Aerospace

Maintain Employee Retention

The job market is highly competitive, and with all the fancy job opportunities available, retaining employees is challenging for HR managers and professionals. Since global events like the pandemic, the Great Resignation, the Great Reset, etc., talent retention has been a pressing issue in the workplace. Retaining employees can be challenging because either they get better job opportunities someplace else, the employer's company does not ensure work-life balance, or they don't see any career growth opportunities.

You can efficiently retain top talent by providing employees with competitive salaries and work benefits, ensuring they have the work flexibility to balance their professional and private lives, and have training sessions and skills development opportunities so that employees can grow in their career paths.

Madhurima Halder, Content Manager, Recruit CRM

Engage Multi-Generational Talent

The most pressing issue HR is facing in the workplace is engaging multi-generational talent. With five generations now in the workplace, HR serves as an architect to recruit, develop and retain five generations, each with varying views on work, success, and impact. In order to address this issue head-on, HR must be attentive and intentional in its policies, practices and programs. HR must be less rigid — black and white — and more open to the varying views and ideals that exist within organizations. Further, HR must equip people managers towards a growth mindset that avoids assumptions, generalizations, and stagnant thinking.

Chelsea C. Williams, Founder and CEO, Reimagine Talent Co.

Avoid Organizational Burnout

The Great Resignation is still upon us. If Covid taught us anything, it was that employees are tired of policies that make no sense. For example, requiring teams to return to the office a set number of days with no logical reason may not be suitable for all workers.

People are feeling burned out and tired of the Covid surges, which we are still experiencing. This could not be more true of those with immune-suppressed family members, whom they do not want to infect. Banishing organizational burnout has got to be a top priority if it is not already.

Janice Litvin, Burnout Speaker, Author

Create a Sense of Belonging

Belonging is the most pressing issue HR professionals and business leaders face today. While recruiting diverse talent is one step in creating healthier organizations, if efforts stop there (as they often do), newly recruited talent will walk out the door as fast as they came. Another important step to building healthier organizations is creating a culture of belonging. 

Belonging means employees perceive themselves to be fully accepted and in turn feel free to be their authentic selves. Belonging fosters psychological safety which results in higher motivation levels, stronger performance, deeper relationships, and ultimately higher retention rate. Creating a sense of belonging takes intention. Examples include leadership noticing, valuing, and spotlighting individuality regularly, employees advocating for all voices to be heard especially in places where a few voices tend to dominate, and collective participation in celebrating underrepresented groups.

Emily Golden, Founder and Executive Coach, Golden Resources, LLC

Close the People Impact Gap

Too often leaders and organizations make poor decisions about people. Not only do these decisions have tough consequences for individuals, they can negatively impact business growth and success. The people impact gap is the distance between the crucial insights about people that leaders need to lead, and the vast array of valuable people data that is trapped inside the traditional HR tech stack. Closing the people impact gap, so that people and the business can thrive, is imperative for every CHRO.

Ian Cook, VP People Analytics, Visier

Invest in Leadership Development

Preparation for future leaders is a major HR challenge. With a rapidly aging workforce, succession plans for the current leaders are vital hence the emphasis on developing leadership. Poor leadership adversely affects business performance and demotivates the workforce, especially with convincing leadership ratings on existing talent being scarce. Future leaders need to be active in decision-making to necessitate training and preparedness.

Businesses are struggling to provide necessary budgets for leadership training and development initiatives hence a doubtful future. HR is also encountering a shortage of leadership talent, hence the need to develop promotional opportunities to train and create competent leaders who understand their subordinates' needs.

Leah Wanjiku Gathoni, Hiring Manager, NearbyMovers

Create Strategies for Effective Collaboration 

Due to uncertain and changing work situations, while some employees are working from home, some are working from the office and some have flexible schedules, the teams lack collaboration and this is the most pressing issue HR is facing right now. It has been more difficult than ever to keep everyone all together on the same page and to do this, HR is trying to make strategies that will work for all hybrid employees.

Joe Bowab, CEO, Lobster Anywhere

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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