Three Emerging HR Challenges and Lessons

by James McDonough

HR Expertise and Support,  Member Matters

After a year of chaos, many HR professionals are exhausted. Yet they are still working hard to balance the business objectives of their organizations with employee demands, along with making sense of a flurry of state and federal laws. Recent surveys identify emerging challenges for HR professionals to focus on in 2021 to enhance organizational effectiveness.

Challenge: New hire support

The National Employee Journey survey reports that 50% of new hires never hear from HR after Orientation. Similar dismal results with new hire satisfaction around orientation and onboarding practices indicate a problem with HR practices that are self-defeating. New hires are more likely to bond with their new workplace in the first few weeks of employment if there are authentic and meaningful efforts made to welcome them and jumpstart relationships. If this does not happen, engagement and retention are far less likely to occur and an early voluntary termination is assured. There is added urgency given the additional complexities of onboarding and engaging remote workers.

Lesson: HR would do well to follow-up with new hires with a simple low-tech approach: demonstrate personalized care by simply calling them and asking, “How are you doing, and what can we do to support your success?”

Challenge: Remote Worker Support

With upwards of 60% of Americans working remotely, an IFEBP survey and another by Seyfarth finds how some employers are adjusting benefit plans to support their newly distributed workforce. These include:

  • Flexible scheduling to allow for working parents to balance childcare and work
  • Stipends for ongoing home office expenses
  • One time payments for home office set-up
  • Expanded mental health and leave benefits
  • Training and coaching for employees to adapt to new technology and work processes
  • Investments to upgrade the technology employees are using to remote work

The results of these efforts are impressive: Seyfarth finds that 83% of employers enjoy high productivity from remote work teams, and morale is good according to 77% of respondents.

Lesson: HR enhances workforce effectiveness by responding to evolving employee needs and expectations as business conditions evolve.

Challenge: Disconnect over “getting back to normal”

A LiveCareer survey suggests a major disconnect between the expectations of leaders and employees around the future of remote work.

  • 79% of employers want to call their employees back to the office full-time
  • 29% of remote workers will quit their jobs if forced to return to the office full-time

Despite employees reporting higher levels of productivity and satisfaction with remote work (81% satisfaction, 65% better work-life balance), many employers are clearly struggling with the idea of a long-term remote work model.

Lesson: With a disconnect of expectations between Leaders and employees looming in the coming months, a pro-active approach to identify workable plans and compromises to balance competing needs and priorities will demonstrate HR’s role in organizational effectiveness.

Employers Council provides an array of expertise, resources and services to assist with workplace challenges. Contact us today for help.

About the author
James McDonough

James McDonough, HR Research Consultant, consults with Employers Council members to provide guidance and support on their organizational practices. He writes articles, conducts presentations and trainings on HR compliance, organizational effectiveness and business management topics. A graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, James has worked in the public and private sectors in HR and business management.