Every year HR faces different challenges that they are required to overcome for the benefit of the business. 2013 will be no exception, and with the continued uncertainty about the economic climate, these challenges may well be more substantial than those faced in 2012. Below are some key challenges that HR is likely to experience.
The HR challenges
Attracting the right talent for a position is not only essential to meet skill requirements and fill a vacancy within your company, it is also fundamental to the growth and stability of your workforce and business. Employing the right person can reduce on-going costs relating to initial training, succession planning and recruitment. Having the correct tools in place to analyse and make informed decisions about who to employ will not only save time and administration, but also, avoid high agency costs.
There is also the likely possibility that your workforce already contains the particular talent or skill that you are looking for. Employing from within is far more cost effective and less time consuming than a full blown recruitment campaign and talent search.
With the age of retirement increasing, it is becoming increasingly difficult for employees to move up the ‘corporate ladder’ whereby they fill the position left by those who have retired. HR needs to create new strategies to enable employees to progress in their careers, or face the prospect that top talent may look elsewhere for greater opportunity. A lack of job security and reduced career progression has created a culture of short term performance, and the way in which careers are managed has changed from that which existed 5 years ago as many employees now, do not see a long term career with any one company.
Top talent will maintain their online professional portfolios for other prospective employers to view. With the emergence, and increased popularity, of sites such as LinkedIn, it is easier for an employee to be approached online by any number of competitors or businesses searching for talent.
A clear career development plan and regular reviews will help to engage your talent. Setting goals and challenges will also maintain the interest of an employee and provide them with something to work towards.
Social Media Policies
Although Social Media is seen by many organisations as a huge benefit, allowing them to share information and promotions instantly with a large number of potential clients, it is also a bone of contention when it comes to internal policies regarding the use of the medium. Balances need to be agreed and enforced regarding the use of Social Media at work.
An effective Social Media policy should enable a company to:
- Assist in protecting itself against liability for the online actions of its workers.
- Provide clear guidelines for employees on what they can and cannot say or discuss about the company.
- Assist employees in distinguishing between their private and professional lives.
- Comply with the law.
- Clarify disciplinary rules and sanctions that will be applied.
Employee Attendance and Punctuality
With the growing trend in Flexible Working, HR has its work cut out in administering and enforcing new policies. Inevitably, there will be a small number of employees that will try to take advantage of a more fluid way of working. Administering and configuring HR systems to accurately record this information is also a task that will require careful thought and consideration.
Below is an extract from Opportunity Now’s website regarding policies for planning and implementing flexible working:
- Flexibility is needed on both sides to make flexible working work!
- Assume any role can be done flexibly providing it is not to the detriment of the business.
- Senior commitment is essential – CEOs should review the take up of flexible working options and hold regular focus groups to listen to staff opinions.
- Make flexible working options open to the widest group of people, female and male, not only for caring responsibilities, but for out of work learning, volunteering, travelling, religious commitments, and at all stages of a career, eg, including workers approaching retirement.
- Consider applications for flexible working on a case by case basis, balancing the needs of the organisation with staff wishes.
- Focus on outputs rather than inputs and make flexible working a team approach.
- Flexible working can benefit clients who may prefer to meet outside normal working hours.
- Homeworking enables savings on rent and utilities for both small and large organisations.
- Allowing staff to work flexibly can reduce sickness rates and increase productivity, particularly where unsocial hours are required.
- Having flexible policies may enable the organisation to employ qualified staff who would not otherwise be able to work because of caring responsibilities.
- Agree the Flexible Working Policy with trade unions.
It is a sad but inevitable fact that, in 2013, certain businesses will need to reduce workforce hours or even make redundancies. Planning a strategy to deal with this unfortunate event will prepare HR departments should the worst happen. Below is a prediction from the BBC News website of global economic growth into 2013:
“The IMF downgraded its forecast for global growth for 2013 to 3.9% from the 4.1% prediction it made in April. One of the biggest downward revisions was to the UK, now expected to grow by 1.4% in 2013. In April it predicted 2%. The forecast for growth in 2012 was also reduced for the UK, down to 0.2% from the 0.8% cited in April.”
If the above is accurate then we still have a long way to go before we can start to relax about business stability.
The below is a redundancy checklist from Blue Sky Law:
- The first step of redundancy planning is to try to avoid redundancies altogether. Take a close look at your business. Are your people fully utilised? Would it be better to consolidate your business services and focus on the most profitable areas? Can costs be cut elsewhere without having to look at redundancies? What if sales picked up – could you cope with a reduced workforce? What would be the costs of losing valuable skills in the business?
- OK – you have already considered the above but there is no room to manoeuvre. The next step is considering alternatives to redundancy. This not only makes business sense, but will help you score points at a later Employment Tribunal should there be a legal challenge to the process. Have you considered a pay freeze, reduction of overtime, or temporary lay offs? Perhaps there could be an agreed reduction of hours. You still need to tread warily as these matters often involve a change in contractual terms – however, many employees may be agreeable to this as an alternative to redundancies.
- Assuming you wish to go ahead with redundancies, you need to plan the process. Depending on the size of your business and the number of staff affected you may well need to take on some additional resource to deal with matters. There will be a need to meet and consult with affected staff and also deal with issues of selection for redundancy and any appeals against dismissals. Who will conduct the various meetings and deal with each stage?
- In respect of any dismissals there will often be the right for employees to bring claims at an Employment Tribunal. This is likely to happen if an employee feels that the process has been unfair – you will need to be able to identify that a redundancy situation existed and was the actual reason for dismissal. Not only this, you will need to demonstrate that you “acted fairly” in reaching the decision to dismiss. This can be difficult for employers.
- “Acting fairly” means identifying which employees are affected, using objective and fair selection criteria, consulting with affected staff, offering suitable alternative employment and considering any appeals against dismissal. Our more detailed redundancy guide explains a little more about these steps.