The biggest challenges for HR in 2019

What is keeping HRDs awake at night?

The biggest challenges for HR in 2019

The nights are growing darker, offices are rolling out their tinselled trees – and one of your colleagues is playing Mariah Carey on a loop. It can mean only one thing – it’s December.

And whether you celebrate Christmas or not, workplaces across the world are coming together to see out the last of 2018. But once the egg nog’s ran dry and the last of the mince pies has been scoffed, HR’s mindsets inviably turn to what next year will bring.

A recent survey from Cascade HR analysed what topics are most likely to prey on HR practitioners’ minds. The report found that top of list was engaging employees. In fact, 40% of the respondents said that this was a cause of major concern and ultimately their biggest mountain to climb in the coming year.

Employee engagement
The case was much the same in 2018 – though HRDs undoubtedly imagined they’d have this problem solved by now. The issue at the heart of employee engagement is its seemingly immeasurable ROI. There’s no algorithm or rule book that shows how employee input negates organizational acceleration – however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t see the results in your workplace firsthand.

One way of tackling the problem is to invest more time and effort in developing an authentic rewards program. A study from Recruiter Box found that companies with embedded recognition programs have 31% lower turnover – with 90% of employees agreeing that their recognition programs positively impact upon their engagement at work.

One man who agrees is Tom Short, president and founder of Kudos. He told HRD: “Organizations that are sticking to old methods and methodologies around employee recognition and who are afraid to invest in new systems and philosophies because they cannot measure the impact and ROI of a having a better culture, enhanced morale, or engaged team will find themselves at a disadvantage in the competition for talent in millennial era.”

The second and third sources of anxiety for employers in 2019 are recruitment and reward – at 37% and 36% respectively. A competitive global market for talent means that employers can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to sourcing those in-demand candidates.

One way of tackling this headache is to look outside the normal talent pools. Speaking to Nick Cromydas, CEO and co-founder of Hunt Club, he suggested that HR try recruiting older workers.

“Seasoned professionals typically have a wealth of connections that can actually bring the company new networks they haven't built access into,” he revealed. “In doing so, the company is introduced to a breadth of experience that make companies stronger, faster and a better place to work.

“Hiring talent over the age of 45 brings a sense of maturity to an organization. One of the top issues in tech and venture-backed companies is mental health and employee burnout. More senior employees have a more grounded perspective when it comes to work-life balance.”

And, of course, there's the added value of experience. Older candidates bring 20 to 30 years of industry experience, providing insight that could take decades to develop in an organization.

In regards to retention, there’s the age old question of how you can stop your top employees walking out the door. A lot of it comes down to trust – and giving your workers the space they need to grow and develop as people.

A strong company culture has been linked to a lower turnover – as a report form Duke’s Fuqua School of Business found 90% of leaders believe culture to be important in their organization, whilst a staggering 92% claim improving their culture would improve the value of their company.

Finally, absence management seems to be worrying our nervous HRDs. Dealing with both absenteeism and presenteeism is a major problem for employers, with no one solution in plain sight.

A report from Canada Life found that 93% of workers chose to go into the office even when seriously unwell. And whilst they may believe themselves to be showing commitment to their company, in reality they’re costing the economy billions every year.

The report found that 76% of employees didn’t believe themselves to be too ill to stay off work, whilst 31% said they’d panic about their workload piling up if they took time off. It’s important for employers to have open and honest conversations with their staff about their wellbeing – and explain to them that they are certainly not obligated to come into the workplace if they’re unwell. Otherwise, the impact on both morale, productivity and mental health will be devastating.

What issues are your worried about going in to 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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