Four More Challenges (And Solutions) For Human Resources Professionals In 2024

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With 2024 well underway, I have decided to cover a few more of the challenges that may confront Human Resources Leaders this year.  It is looking to be a dynamic period in the professional environment in general, and Human Resources has a unique position allowing them to approach organizational developments from a variety of different angles.  Of course, not all of these challenges are urgent, and priorities vary for each Human Resources Professional.  However, a concerted effort towards addressing some of these issues for your organization may go a long way.

Challenge 1 – Communication Across Age Groups

The newest working generation – Gen Z – entered the workforce under the unique conditions of COVID-19, which deeply affected nearly all aspects of the professional world through remote work (see my book here for my information). Every generation of workers, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers to Traditionalists, have been shaped professionally by their times and situations.

The result of this challenge is that different generations often have very different values and can perceive each other through a variety of stereotypes.  Newsweek, for example, reports significantly negative perceptions of Gen Z across mainly older business owners.[i]  For different generations with separate outlooks and perceptions of the professional world, cooperation is a must, and conflict can and will harm workplace morale.

Solution 1 – Mentoring!

There are several solutions to the generation gap in the workplace, but mentoring has the most potential for mutual benefit.  Having an older and experienced employee mentor a younger employee is a great way to close generational gaps.  Naturally, newer hires will benefit from connections and continuous learning even after formal “training” has concluded.  Finding an older, more experienced employee to mentor them is a great way to foster continuous growth.  Human Resources Departments are well-suited to facilitate mentoring and ensure its proper execution within an organization. 

Mentorship helps to connect employees of different age groups who may otherwise stick to their own cadre, and it has proven to be a major boost to workplace culture.  UMass Global has found that 91 percent of workers with a mentor are satisfied with their jobs, and employees who serve as mentors have a 69 percent retention rate.[ii]  Employees on both ends of this relationship will likely picture a longer-term stay at their workplace and feel more purpose in their jobs.  All the while, collaborative mentoring can help reconcile differing generational values, because let’s face it – the best organizations incorporate the values and contributions of each generation.  

Challenge 2 – Measuring Employee Satisfaction

Communication is key for Human Resources.  Knowing what your employees want can be difficult, and employees may feel that without channels for advocacy, their voices are not being heard by the organization.  While practices like one-on-one interviews can be helpful, going case-by-case can often prove time-consuming in gauging employee engagement, workplace satisfaction, and other important metrics for retention and success.

Solution 2 – A Data-Driven Approach

When looking for a solution to this quandary, data-driven survey materials will likely get you the most bang for your buck.  They are easy to create and send out and can be tailored to specific issues or aspects of workplace environment.  Human Resources Departments also have the option between longer, more detailed surveys – which may be ideal for infrequent estimates of employee engagement and satisfaction – or quick “pulse” check-ins meant to accumulate real-time feedback and results.  Either way, the data of these surveys can be easily compiled and factored into actionable plans to improve the employee experience.

 

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Challenge 3 – Developing Future Leaders

A poll cited by Forbes in 2023 reported that only 12 percent of companies feel they have the leaders needed to fill critical roles.[iii]  Post-pandemic, the need for solid leadership in changing times is higher than ever, and it is imperative that organizations ably fill these gaps.  The specifics of this problem are both encouraging and demanding:  good leaders don not just “fall from the sky.”  Leadership can and should be gradually developed from within.  What then are the best steps to developing future leaders?

Solution 3 – Involve Your Employees And Encourage Ownership

Leadership is about the small things:  gradually easing employees into larger responsibilities, building skillsets, and encouraging dialogues.  Mentoring and continuous feedback, which I suggest in this blog, can also be very helpful.  What I also encourage involving your employees in leadership initiatives.  Simply put, make it easier for them to ask their managers or superiors about their responsibilities.  Provide opportunities for employees to immerse themselves in all aspects of an organization, because while a good employee only needs to thrive in one thing, leaders need to master each part of their organizations.  Offer training on such vital leadership skills as speaking, measuring employee development, and communicating.  The point is:  do not give your employees an excuse not to improve their leadership skills.  By providing opportunities to do so, you can and will develop more effective leaders for the future.

Challenge 4 – Communicating Expectations

All organizations have expectations:  specifically, the goals they expect their employees to meet.  (Employees are also increasingly willing to be vocal about their expectations for their organizations.)  Clear and attainable goals are at the heart of any workplace, but it is important to remember that just because you have expectations, does not mean everyone is fully aware of them.  To reduce this gap, it is crucial to explicitly clarify what expectations employers have for their workers and vice versa.  Clarifying expectations reduces confusion, streamlines projects, and can help to distribute work more evenly among different employees who may otherwise be unclear on what to do.  So, what is the best way to do this?

Solution 4 – Clarity And Recognition

Clearly communicating expectations for employees can be a chicken-and-egg situation at first.  I have always advocated recognition as the cornerstone of good managing, but you can only recognize employees for going above and beyond when they know their benchmarks.  My advice is:  do not keep your employees guessing.  Define precisely what the organization expects of its workers and encourage them to ask questions, especially new hires.

Once expectations are clear, Human Resources Professionals should both model and encourage constant recognition.  Go out of your way to recognize great work!  Not only does recognition boost your best employees to keep excelling, it also encourages others to increase their own work standards.  In my experience, key driver analyses from myriad employee engagement survey vendors have consistently ranked recognition as the most powerful driver of employee engagement. By utilizing clear goals for your organization, you can create a framework of reciprocal recognition that increases everything from retention and engagement to better, more efficient work, according to Business Leadership Today.[iv]  If you have already done the work to foster a culture that produces great results, recognition is the single best way to keep those results coming.

Sources:

[i] “Gen Z Is Toxic For Companies, Employers Believe”:  Newsweek.

[ii] “Exploring the Mutual Benefits of Mentoring in the Workplace”:  UMass Global.

[iii] “5 Critical Leadership Skills Every Young Person Needs To Shine”:  Forbes.

[iv] “Why Recognition Is So Important (Top 7 Reasons):  Business Leadership Today.

About the Author

Kevin SheridanKevin Sheridan

Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement.  For six years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement for five years in a row.  Kevin was also the winner of the 2022 Best In Evanston Award For The Category Of Management Consulting. 

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors.  Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement.  His first book, Building A Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to manage remote workers most effectively.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior.  He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Links:

www.kevinsheridanllc.com

Twitter
LinkedIn 

https://www.instagram.com/kevinsheridanllc/

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