Category Archives: Human Resources

Challenges in Human Resources

The rapidly transforming business landscape means that there are currently many human resource management challenges which will continue to evolve for years to come. Tom Marsden, Director of Professional Services at Alexander Mann Solutions says that HR departments really need to be adding real business value to their organizations. “Although the restrictions of the recession aren’t over yet, companies are recognizing that in 2010, they will need to take steps to retain their workforce. This could be through an increased emphasis on training and engagement programs or by investing in areas that will optimize expenditure, such as integrated technology systems or improved candidate attraction schemes. The signs are that HR departments are preparing to maximize their resources and staff as organizations look to grow.”

The Evolution of HR Professionals

Coach. Counselor. Employee advocate. Business strategist. As the business world changes, so does the role of HR professionals. Since human resources is a business-driven function, effectiveness depends on a thorough understanding of the strategic corporate direction, as well as the ability to influence key policies and decisions. In addition, human resource management challenges must be defined and solutions determined in order to succeed.

Today’s Top 10 Human Resource Management Challenges

Due to the fluctuating economy as well as local and global advancements, there are many changes occurring rapidly that affect HR in a wide range of issues. In the Survey of Global HR Challenges: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations (WFPMA), several challenges for human resource management were revealed. This survey, which concluded that “despite national and regional differences, there was remarkable unanimity,” disclosed the following top 10 human resource management challenges:

Challenges % of Companies
1. Change management 48%
2. Leadership development 35%
3. HR effectiveness measurement 27%
4. Organizational effectiveness 25%
5. Compensation 24%
6. Staffing: Recruitment and availability of skilled local labor 24%
7. Succession planning 20%
8. Learning and development 19%
9. Staffing: Retention 16%
10. Benefits costs: Health & welfare 13%

Taking a Closer Look at the Top 3 Human Resource Management Challenges

1. Change Management

Since this is generally not a focal point for HR professional training and development, change management represents a particular challenge for personnel management. The WFPMA finds that “This may also be the reason why it is cited as the foremost issue as HR continues to attempt to help businesses move forward. An intensified focus on training may be needed to develop added competencies to deal with change management.”

2. Leadership Development

As the second of the biggest challenges for human resource management, leadership development needs to be a critical strategic initiative. HR professionals are faced with being expected to provide the essential structures, processes, tools, and points of view to make the best selection and develop the future leaders of the organization. The WFPMA reports that, “Across the globe leadership development has been identified as a critical strategic initiative in ensuring that the right employees are retained, that the culture of the organization supports performance from within to gain market position, and that managers are equipped to take on leadership roles of the future so that the organization is viable in the long term.”

3. HR Effectiveness Measurement

How can improvement happen without the right tools to measure HR effectiveness? As with many other areas of business, this profession also needs to be able to measure results in terms of transaction management, as well as in terms of the positive influence on business. “Utilizing metrics to determine effectiveness is the beginning of a shift from perceiving HR’s role as purely an administrative function to viewing the HR team as a true strategic partner within the organization,” the WFPMA says. “In fact, the next section reports that survey participants believe a critical future issue for HR will be organizational effectiveness – again supporting HR’s critical role as a strategic partner to management.”

This world federation also notes that, “Where HR departments have traditionally focused on measuring their own effectiveness, there is an evolving recognition that they can provide organizational value by measuring the effectiveness of the entire business organization. The shift is significant as it represents movement from simply counting the numbers hired to determining the ROI of collective and individual hires on a long-term basis. Going beyond measuring turnover, this new approach considers ‘bad’ turnover and ‘good’ turnover along with the overall cost of replacement hires.”

The Numbers Speak Volumes

When you start looking at the numbers, you realize the significant impact of trends and challenges in human resource management. There are many variables that influence human resource management. To give you a glimpse at some of the upcoming changes, the HR Leadership Council has released the following statistics:

  • One in four high potentials plans to leave their organization in the next year.
  • By effectively developing employees, managers can be better coaches and improve performance by up to 25%.
  • Three out of five organizations have either restructured or plan to restructure within the next six months.
  • Recent declines in employee engagement further decreased overall productivity by 3 to 5%.
  • Leaders with strong people development skills are 50% more likely to outperform revenue expectations.
  • Delivering on critical onboarding activities boosts new hire performance by 11.3%.
  • 77% of midsized companies use (or plan to use) wellness to reduce costs.
  • 46% of midsized-company CFOs anticipate a merger or acquisition in less than six months.

Advancing Your Human Resources Career with Education

As a degree-holding professional working in Human Resources, a master’s in HR can lead to a variety of potential career advancements, such as senior and executive management positions. It’s also important to note that having a strong résumé is vital to helping you get noticed by potential employers.

One way to strengthen your résumé is to highlight extracurricular activities along with your master’s degree in human resources. If you aren’t sure how to go about it or how to start, here are four different ways to get you started.

1. Earn Certifications and Join a Professional Association

For those of you who want leadership positions in HR, your Master of Science in Human Resource Development degree gives you the necessary skills to become certified and positions you as a valuable member of a professional association.  SHRM, Society for Human Resource Management, is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management, which represents more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries.

As for certifications, the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) provides globally recognized certifications for HR professionals. These certifications require continuing education credits and retesting, at times. Two respected certifications offered by HRCI are:

* PHR® (Professional in Human Resources)
Eligible candidates have at least two years of HR exempt-level experience as a practitioner, educator, researcher or consultant.

* SPHR® (Senior Professional in Human Resources)
Eligible candidates have at four to six years of HR exempt-level experience.

Earn a Better Salary, Get What You Deserve

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, employment for the Human Resource industry is expected to grow by 17% over the next decade. And master’s degree holders who have earned their certification would have the most opportunities.

*Annual salary rates for HR professionals may vary according to occupation, experience, training, location and the firm they work for.

Compensation Outlook from the BLS

Title Median Earnings as of 2008
Human Resource Managers $96,130
Training and Development Managers $87,700
Benefits Managers $86,500


2. Masters in HR, It’s Time to Become a Master Social Networker
LinkedIn and HR Professionals Go Hand In Hand

Recently, published an article about the importance of LinkedIn for HR professionals. LinkedIn has over 37 million members on the site, 450,000 of which are HR professionals. Many are not maximizing the value the site can provide them.

LinkedIn, and other online social networking sites, provide HR professionals with a plethora of options:

* Recruitment
* Professional networking
* Research
* Peer-to-peer help on message boards
* New career opportunities
* Consulting

If you are looking for a new career opportunity, an updated résumé on your profile is crucial. List your credentials (i.e., Master of Science in Human Resource Development, SPHR® certification, SHRM membership) in your résumé profile; credentials can increase your résumés visibility among the masses.

Tweet Your Credentials

Be creative with the 140 character allotment you’re given. Potential employers, recruiters and head hunters search for keywords, and if you have these keywords in your profile you’ll show up for those queries.

If you want to take charge of your job hunt, try Tweep Search. This site searches current Twitter profiles. Some keywords you could use for your search are: talent acquisition, executive search, master’s in hr, sourcing.

3. Climb Up Another Rung on the Corporate Ladder

Your master’s in HR allows you to move from basic management positions to roles that include more authority and responsibility, such as:

* Director of Human Resources
* Vice President of Human Resources
* HR Business Partner
* HR Practice Leader
* HR Operations Analyst
* HR Learning and Development

4. Think Outside of the Box

Remember, sometimes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. You need to know (i.e. be educated), but knowing the right people helps. Social networking can help by reaching out to as many people as possible. Another way to get someone’s attention (networking) while giving back is to volunteer.

Consider volunteering. Look to an issue you’re passionate about and would like to participate in (e.g.; cancer research, blood donation, homelessness). Once you’ve selected a  cause, it’s time to research. Find local organizations in need of volunteers. Contact the volunteer director, pitch why you would like to help out and how you can add value to their team. By volunteering, you will increase your network, your experience, and you’ll feel good.

Create Your Own #5!

What would you add to these tips? Put your thoughts in the comments.