Top HR Challenges That Small-to-Medium Sized Businesses Are Facing Today

Managing people in the workplace is not easy. That’s why HR professionals have such an important role in the workplace. They participate in planning and executing strategies, finding and recruiting new talent, offering career assistance to current employees, advocate for employees, and enforcing workplace policies and procedures.

For this reason, most companies have at least one HR manager to oversee these tasks. When it comes to small businesses, though, managing people is often left to just one HR person or, even worse, the employers themselves.

This is a problem for many reasons. Lack of HR support can lead to a number of performance-based issues. These include loss of productivity and efficiency, reduced staff morale, and higher turnover rate. Plus, if a business only has one HR person, it might be overwhelming for the staff which leads to the downfall of the company.

That’s why, it’s important that business owners are aware of the HR challenges that could be holding them back. It can also help businesses take the necessary steps to avoid these problems. Here are some of the most prominent HR challenges to watch out for.

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Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Every business wants to secure the best talent and keep them for as long as possible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen. Employees find better opportunities, they get frustrated by a lack of training and development, they don’t get along with their colleagues, or they feel that the position doesn’t match their skills. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find out what the causes are, and then take the right steps to create a better working environment.

Ongoing training and support are a great way to keep employees motivated. The best thing is most employees want to learn new skills to expand their knowledge. As long as the training is relevant to their current position and skills, and it gives them the opportunity to grow in the future, they will likely be receptive towards the idea.

Another way to retain top talent is to conduct regular performance reviews. Create a system where employees get regular feedback – both the good and bad – so that they know their strengths, weaknesses, and ways to improve. You’ll need to tailor each development program to the needs of the employees in order to get the best outcome as well.

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Producing More Effective Leaders

Employees aren’t the only people who need ongoing training. Employers should focus on improving themselves, their management team, their leadership style, their communication skills, and their relationship-building skills. By doing so, they can be more well-respected in the workplace, and create a positive working environment.

Of course, to achieve this, employers must want to improve in the first place. They need HR professionals who’re willing to give constructive feedback and practical solutions. Naturally, this means, the employer must be comfortable with the harsh truth, even if they may not want to hear it.

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Reducing Bias and Prejudice in the Hiring Process

Numerous studies show that promoting diversity in the workplace can boost employee engagement and even increase sales revenue.

However, some companies struggle with the concept of diversity. They feel that diversity is forced upon them. They aren’t sure what demographics they need to diversify in (i.e. age, gender) and why it matters. Or, they believe that, by implementing a diversity quota into their hiring process, they may hire people who are not the best fit for the role.

One way to overcome these obstacles is to shift the focus away from diversity and instead focus on reducing bias in your hiring process.

What exactly is hiring bias? It occurs when there is an unconscious bias that affects the hiring process. This unintentional bias can affect the hiring person’s judgement of a candidate, causing them to make an irrational decision.

One example is similarity bias, when you want to hire someone who is most like you. For example, if an employer is a sports fan, and they interview a candidate who also enjoys sport, the employer may (unintentionally) grow to like that candidate more than others – to the point where they want to hire them.

Unfortunately, this kind of misjudgment can cause an employer to hire someone based on their hobbies and personality, even if that person is not the best possible candidate for the role.

Other types of hiring bias to watch out for include:

  • Confirmation bias: When you only take in information that confirms your beliefs and ignore everything else. For example, you may see a well-dressed candidate or resume, and assume that candidate is qualified for the role.
  • Affinity bias: You act warmer or more receptive to a candidate based on similar or likeable traits, which are purely subjective and have no real basis – they are just a ‘feeling.’
  • Halo effect: You assume that just because a candidate is good at Task A, then they must also be good at Task B, Task C, and so forth. In essence, you judge the candidate based on just one trait.

By hiring a HR specialist, they can help you identify the potential hiring biases and prejudices in your hiring process, and then take the right steps to correct them with proper training and support.

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Improving Workplace Health and Safety

Creating a safe work environment is more than just removing physical and environmental hazards. Staying on top of mental health is also important, as it helps reduce the risk of stress, fatigue, burnout, and anxiety. For example, frequent absenteeism is often a sign of low job satisfaction, often linked to concerns for one’s safety.

True, HR professionals are not the only ones responsible for promoting workplace health and safety. But they do play a key role. It is their duty to understand the unique health and safety risks of the business, come up with policies and procedures designed to reduce the level of risk, and communicate the contents of those policies to all team members; so that everyone is fully aware of their health and safety obligations.

Generally speaking, HR should carry out these tasks with help from employers, management and staff. By consulting everyone in the company, the business is more likely to embrace the health and safety policies with open arms. Plus, new recruits will have an easier time understanding their health and safety obligations too.

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The Importance of Effective HR Management

People are a company’s best asset. Companies that invest in their team are far more likely to succeed than the ones that don’t. They have a greater chance of standing out from the competition, and retaining that leading edge for the long-term.

Most important of all, their employees are more happy, productive and efficient, which means reduced staff turnover and recruiting costs.

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Linh Nguyen

Technical/Content Writer

Linh Nguyen is a technical writer who conveys technical matters and information into writing.