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What Are the Most Common Human Resources Issues?

A human resources manager interviewing a potential employee.
Human resources issues may include staff conflicts.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Human resources (HR) issues commonly experienced by employers include establishing productivity, recruiting employees, arranging and carrying out training, and preventing discrimination. Workers in personnel management also face challenges such as resolving conflicts and keeping workers safe. Establishing and distributing benefits, encouraging and maintaining diversity, and handling outsourcing are major concerns as well. How each business deals with its specific human resources issues depends on the HR manager or director as well as company policy. No matter what approach a business takes, addressing these issues usually is an ongoing process.

Productivity

A primary goal of a human resource department is to manage and organize employees so that they can be as productive as possible, as this generally leads to more revenue. HR personnel, therefore, think very critically about the number of people per shift, team assignments, motivational offers like bonuses, and keeping morale high. These factors can have strong correlations, so the difficulty is how to make changes in one area without overly affecting another. It can be challenging to make modifications and “correct” arrangements that don’t strain the company’s budget.

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Recruitment

Personnel management workers have always been responsible for at least some aspects of employee recruitment. They have to find methods, such as attending job fairs and sending out promotional mailings, to generate interest in particular positions and the company as a whole. Many companies face an even bigger problem in this area, however, because globalization means that companies are competing with each other around the entire world rather than just one small area or country. Modern employees also are looking for jobs that provide more of a balance between employment and family. Companies sometimes need to offer more in terms of benefit packages or incentives, as well, because people increasingly look for jobs that reduce their risks in unstable economic situations.

Training

Training is needed in virtually every business and industry because every company has its own policies and procedures employees must follow. It is HR’s responsibility to figure out how to conduct the training so that operations are not interrupted or strained. The department also determines how training sessions and seminars factor into the company calendar and budget. Coordinating with third parties involved in the training is also necessary, in some instances.

Discrimination

Companies often value diversity because it provides different modes of thought and experiences that can generate new ideas and better productivity. It also fosters a sense of equality that is well-suited to teamwork. Businesses look to their HR departments to build diversity into the workplace, as those in personnel management generally are responsible for company recruitment, hiring, promotion, and termination. Many places have laws that make various forms of discrimination in the workplace illegal, so human resources workers have to recruit and train in a way that follows both legal and business standards. Since more employees are aware of their rights, a modern HR department may also need to handle a potential increase in complaints about discrimination.

Conflict Resolution

Even though members of personnel management departments work hard to find employees who are a good fit for the company’s culture, the wide range of personalities, experiences, and skill sets found in the workforce mean that some conflicts are bound to happen. Investigating complaints of verbal or physical harassment is common, but other conflicts, such as those involving broken promises from managers, stolen property, and other problems, also occur. This is one of the biggest human resources issues for companies because it is almost always cheaper to retain an employee than to find and train a new one. If HR doesn’t resolve conflicts when they are present, resignations or firings can result, which ultimately costs the company money.

Safety

Workers often use equipment that, if not properly used, can result in accidents or health problems. Even something like a desk that is not ergonomically positioned can be a potential injury source. The HR department has to take this into account when it organizes workers. It also investigates allegations of unsafe equipment or managerial direction.

Benefits

Virtually all companies offer some benefits to employees, either to appear competitive or to comply with local, regional, or national regulations. HR directors work with the heads of companies to create benefit policies and packages. Common employee benefits include health insurance, life insurance, a dental plan, and employee product discounts. When employees are terminated, their benefits usually are too, so HR must keep records of the exact hiring and termination dates of each employee.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing refers to companies giving work to independent contractors outside the company rather than to in-house employees. Independent contractors are freelance workers who pay their own taxes and insurance. Outsourcing is one of the most common human resources issues, as many businesses are hiring freelancers rather than creating more overhead costs by taking on additional in-house employees. Overhead costs include equipment and workspace as well as benefits such as medical insurance.

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Discuss this Article

anon326296
Post 9

If I report a co-worker, can my HR director tell my co-worker that I am the one who reported them?

anon144567
Post 5

does anybody know when this article was written? year will be enough. thank you.

Moderator's reply: The "modified" date at the bottom of the article is sufficient for a works cited page. Thanks for visiting wiseGEEK!

anon102845
Post 4

Can a higher level employee be transferred under a lower level employee? Can an I.E. managerial level be under a supervisory level?

mick726
Post 3

If i report a co-worker can my hr director tell my co-worker that i am the one who reported them?

mutsy
Post 2

SurfNturf- I agree with you. I think that training will become more automated which will enhance productivity levels.

But I personally think that the biggest challenge a human resource professional faces is with outsourcing positions and balancing the in house employees as well as the virtual employees.

Sometimes productivity can decrease of in-house employees because they feel that their positions will eventually be eliminated because of the virtual workers.

Special care is needed to make sure the in house employee is productive and focused on their job.

surfNturf
Post 1

Great article- I want to add that many companies are offering self-paced training especially for its virtual workforce. Here the employee observes certain training modules requested by the human resource department and a quiz or test is generated at the end of the training.

The score is then supplied to the human resources department and a conference call may ensue to determine if there are any additional training issues.

This new method of training is not ideal for all situations but it does look like it might be a future trend.

Companies save money and time by training this way, so I do feel more and more companies will go this route.

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