As someone who works in Human Resources, it’s probably fair to say that you don’t shy away from a challenge. Are we right?! HR can be a tricky profession to excel at thanks to its myriad of moving parts and ever changing rules, regulations and concepts.
And whilst some of the issues you’ll face are out of your hands - think changing economics and labor markets - there are others that you can tackle and overcome.
But what are some of those issues? And how can HR department managers successfully deal with them?
Let’s take a look at three common hurdles you may find yourself coming up against in your workplace.
3 Common HR hurdles and how to overcome them
- Your employees are showing signs of disengagement
Let’s start off with the thorn in every manager’s side: Employee engagement. Or more accurately - a lack of employee engagement.
It’s no great secret that disengaged employees are less productive, less profitable, and less inclined to care about customer satisfaction and safety in the workplace. Indeed, there is correlation between their disengagement and your revenue.
So how can you combat the scourge of disinterested employees? Here’s a quick list:
- Check in with employees and see how they’re doing. This is especially important for new hires and remote workers
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. With transparency, honesty, respect and consistency.
- Show your people recognition. Make it clear that you value their contribution.
- Take a good, honest look at your company culture. Is it motivating? Are leaders setting a good example?
- Implement, or invest in, employee training so that people can get excited about upgrading their skills and using their minds.
- You’re struggling to retain employees
Ahh, yes. The other thorn in a business’s side when it comes to its people: Staff retention. Employee turnover is costly. Seriously costly. In fact, losing just one employee can cost the average company anywhere between six and nine month’s of that individual’s salary when you break down the cost of recruiting, hiring and training a new person.
(And let’s not forget the lost revenue while that person is - through no fault of their own - getting up to scratch to become a like-for-like replacement of the lost employee.)
Looking for ways to stop your employees from jumping ship? Try these:
- Ask for, and act upon, employee feedback. If you don’t know what’s making people quit, then how can you do anything to change it?
- Ensure that your employees have a decent work-life balance.
- Make sure that the benefits package you offer your staff is on a par or, ideally, better than similar organizations in your industry and area.
- Consider conducting stay interviews to get greater insight into why your people are leaving - and potentially convince great employees to stay.
- Let people know that your Human Resources department is a safe and confidential place for a conversation and that you are always ready to listen.
- Your people are constantly taking time off
It stands to reason that when your company’s employees are happy and healthy, they will be more productive and more positive. That creates a better working environment for everyone and ensures that deadlines are met, customers are satisfied and your organization gains a reputation for being an awesome place to work.
And that’s not all. As someone working in HR, you know better than most that sick days and absenteeism can play havoc with your budgets and bottom line thanks to a slump in productivity.
Just look at the stats: Employees who frequently experience burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day.
If you’ve noticed a higher than normal amount of people calling out sick - or even just not showing up at all, what can you do in Human Resources to try and combat that?
Whilst genuine illness can’t be avoided, and your staff should know that they are encouraged to take time off to get better in the event they are sick (not to mention to avoid spreading germs around the office!) there are other issues at play.
For example, could it be that people are taking sick days because they’re exhausted? Employee burnout is a very real thing and it needs to be addressed. The domino effect of employee A needing to take time off because they simply can’t face coming into work and thus creating more work for employee B can have a serious impact on your teams.
Here are some ways you can spot employee burnout so you can take steps to address it:
- Your employees are showing signs of exhaustion.
- A previously productive employee has suddenly become sluggish and, well, non-productive.
- Someone that’s always been a pleasant presence around the office is now irritable and miserable.
- A distinct lack of focus seems to be troubling someone that you could always rely on to get the job done.
- And finally, we’re back to our old foe, employee disengagement. If one or more of your employees has checked out, it could be due to burnout.
In all of these cases, you need to speak to the person in question to ascertain whether the issue is being caused by the job or an external factor - childcare issues, a sick relative, money worries etc.
Of course, there is little you can do on a practical basis for many home-based problems, but you can provide your employee with support and advice.
And there are things you can do in the workplace too that will help to combat burnout or fatigue. Examining your company culture and the way departmental heads lead is obviously one. You could also consider introducing duvet days, if you don’t offer them as a perk already.
Yes, it’s true that one day off might not fix total exhaustion but it could mean the difference between someone becoming completely overwhelmed and taking a day off to breathe and come back recharged.
And something like a duvet day policy will also tie in with the other two issues of employee engagement and retention.
3 Common HR hurdles and how to overcome them: Conclusion
As the old cliché tells us, Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t be able to address issues with employee retention, engagement and burnout overnight. Or even in a couple of months. But by implementing changes, as described above, you should be able to see the pendulum swing back in the opposite direction over a matter of time.
Burnout, retention and engagement are all closely linked. Tackle one, and you will be well on the way to overcoming the other two as well.