While the issues may be unsurprising to many HR leaders, sourcing and landing high-quality applicants, along with managing future healthcare (especially the Affordable Care Act) and diversity, are predicted to be HR’s toughest challenges during the coming year, according to a survey of more than 700 HR professionals.
The survey, XpertHR’s fourth annual, reports that nearly 30% of respondents named recruiting and hiring as their most critical challenge. Most of all, of those who reported recruiting and hiring needs, 51% are “extremely challenged” in finding high-quality candidates–more than twice the number (22%) from just two years ago.
“Finding skilled, qualified applicants is a struggle for many,” says Beth Zoller, JD, legal editor at XpertHR. She adds that building a culture where employees want to work; seeking out untapped job markets such as older employees, veterans and those with criminal convictions; and taking advantage of non-traditional candidates (for instance, gig workers, remote workers and job shares) might be a few solutions.
“These are all tactics that employers can implement in order to meet their talent-acquisition needs,” Zoller says.
As for healthcare, 50% of respondents are feeling “extremely challenged” by costs, while 27% are extremely challenged when it comes to preparing for the future of healthcare and the ACA. In fact, compared with prior years, concern over the future of healthcare and the ACA has grown considerably–only 17% found this a top concern in 2017.
“In addition to the rising cost of benefits, employers must address the needs of different generations and provide benefits that each group finds useful,” Zoller explains. For example, she says, older workers may be more interested in long-term disability, while younger workers may want benefits such as daycare and gym memberships.
“Today’s employers need to strike a balance and determine which benefits are most valuable and attractive to their workforce,” Zoller says.
Next up on the difficulty scale is diversity and inclusion. Zoller says this issue today goes beyond race, sex, ethnicity, age, national origin and religion, and includes differing work experiences, sexual orientation, educational status, marital status, socioeconomic status, physical characteristics, life experiences, background and upbringing. XpertHR’s survey found that 38% of respondents reported managing diversity to be extremely challenging.
Zoller believes it’s incumbent upon HR to lead the way and incorporate diversity into the organization, with the goal of creating an inclusive and tolerant workplace.
“Diversity efforts start at the top with the buy-in of key stakeholders and upper management who can see the value diversity can bring,” she says. “It must be tied to business goals and aligned with corporate strategies.”
Other strategic HR concerns survey respondents characterized as “extremely challenging” include employee engagement, morale and satisfaction (34%), employee retention (31%) and managing work/life balance (20%).