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Common HR Headaches and How to Find Relief

For CHROs and human resources professionals, there are serious concerns when it comes to human capital.

  • The top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning (SHRM)
  • 24% of CHROs say engaging and retaining employees is their biggest struggle (Korn Ferry)
  • 46% of HR pros say retention is their greatest concern, followed by employee engagement at 36% (SHRM)
  • 68% of the human resource professionals say last year they experienced recruiting difficulty and skill shortages for certain types of jobs (SHRM)
  • 49% of HR leaders named retention and leadership development programs as the top priority among talent management goals (Saba Software)

Are You Experiencing these Common HR Headaches?  

You’re not alone if you’re experiencing issues related to employee development, engagement and retention.

That’s the biggest problem of all. Since so many companies are experiencing the same problems, it means the problem is even bigger for you.

When a company has a senior role to fill, they have two choices. They can promote from within or hire from outside the organization. If employee development and succession management has lagged the need, the company is forced to hire externally.

BUT… if other companies are also struggling to develop employees and prepare successors for key roles, the larger pool doesn’t provide a proportionately larger number of qualified candidates. Those with the right skills and experience are in limited supply and high demand.

That’s the real catalyst for your headache. Options are limited. If there aren’t readily available, highly qualified candidates anywhere, the only remaining choice is to develop employees and prepare them for future roles.

Easier said than done.

What's Keeping You from Finding Relief?

It takes time, money, and executive support to build and maintain effective strategies for employee engagement, retention, succession management, leadership development, and employee experience.

These responsibilities are often foisted upon HR. But HR can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do all this alone. HR is constrained, right from the start, by a lack of resources and support. 

  • 15% of HR leaders say a lack of funding is the biggest challenge to improving employee engagement (Kronos)
  • 14% of HR leaders say lack of executive support is an additional obstacle to improving retention in 2017; 13% cite a lack of organizational vision (Kronos)

HR has a limited ability to impact how people feel about their work. HR can’t directly impact how prepared people are for next-level work either.

What HR can do is coordinate and oversee efforts to improve employee engagement using a variety of strategies for leadership development and succession management. These strategies are proven to have a positive effect on employee engagement and the employee experience. Ultimately, this focus also improves employee retention.

What HR cannot do is the day-to-day work required for engaging employees. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of managers. No one has more influence on employee engagement than the direct manager.

To get relief from HR headaches, organizations need to equip front-line managers and appropriately resource HR.

Next Steps for Taking Action in HR

Here’s how to put the pieces together so the burden is not inappropriately heaped on HR alone.

Employee Engagement Strategies

  1. Evaluate findings in your Employee Engagement survey to determine what managers need in order to learn and do things differently so employees are more engaged.
  2. Provide company managers with access to this free and customizable tool. It’s a daily checklist with simple activities that increase employee engagement.
  3. Consider additional assessment or use this tool if you don’t have an engagement survey. We recommend the 360-degree feedback instrument on employee engagement that is a companion piece to Patrick Lencioni’s book Three Signs of a Miserable Job.
  4. Develop leaders at every level. Leadership behaviors are highly engaging. Being given the opportunity to develop as a leader also fosters employee engagement. Offer workshops and learning activities for leaders at every level, including emerging leaders. We recommend The Leadership Challenge Workshop.
  5. Let PFPS help you develop a comprehensive strategy for engaging employees. We conduct assessments, facilitate workshops, build processes for people practices, and consult to ensure alignment and culture fit for your selected strategies.

Retention Strategies

  1. Engagement is the key to retention. To better understand the links between employee engagement and retention, check out this free, on-demand webinar presentation.
  2. Take a good, hard look at your company culture. Is it well-defined? Commonly understood? Intentional? What values and vision inspire employees and help create a sense of belonging that makes them want to stick around?
  3. Offer supervisory skills training to be sure company managers are effectively setting expectations, providing feedback, delegating for development, and coaching employees. We recommend Workplace Conversations, available onsite for groups or as a solo, self-paced online course.

Succession Management Strategies

  1. Engagement and Retention Come First! Succession management is much easier when you are developing leaders, retaining employees, and providing a positive employee experience.
  2. Expand your approach beyond the 9-box model. In fact, there may be some downsides to thinking in High Po, Low Po terms. This article may help you think differently about your succession management strategy.
  3. How transparent are you about the career path? Do employees know how to demonstrate readiness for the next-level job? Are they encouraged to consider horizontal and diagonal moves for development? Are managers providing regular feedback about what it takes to prepare for additional responsibilities?
  4. Support your senior managers and their successors with executive coaching. They may not have all the skills and experience needed for their current role or next role. Don’t leave them to their own devices in figuring out how to catch up. Provide credentialed resources so they can continually grow.
  5. Focus on your emerging leaders. These are your future leaders. If you don’t give them development opportunities, they’ll jump ship and find organizations who will. It’s smart business to think long-term and provide leadership development today so people are ready to lead tomorrow.

There’s one more thing you can do to get some relief. Educate your executive team about the importance of employee engagement and why this must be a shared and sustained focus. To download additional stats on employee engagement, check out this comprehensive resource from Access Perks.

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