Every HR team faces problems both in the running of their department and in the consistent enforcement of policies across the company in general. Here are the top ten issues facing HR teams in the UK and how they can be addressed.

1. Retention

Many people think that the main task of Human Resources is to source and employ new talent. However, the truth is that most HR activities revolve around retaining existing talent.

Employees are the lifeblood of every company, providing the skills and experience required to keep productivity levels up. Your business will also have invested significant time and money into ensuring maximum productivity wherever possible. And the key HR responsibility is to protect this valuable asset.

Employee retention is a fine balancing act between company culture, remuneration and incentives. The HR department needs to provide each employee with the right combination of all three to satisfy the employee without compromising company interests in the process. They also need to keep accurate records of these combinations to ensure that the agreed packages are being delivered to employees.

2. Recruitment

Whether to complement the existing workforce or to replace staff lost through natural attrition, the second major challenge facing the Human Resources’ department is recruitment of talent. Finding staff with the correct blend of skills, personality and motivation is difficult, even when the pool of available candidates is relatively large.

Whether recruitment is handled solely by the internal HR department, or with the assistance of a third party, it is essential that the process is managed centrally and effectively. Where there are dozens of applications, the details of each will need to be recorded for review and comparison.

An HR software platform allows for storage of applications, CVs and contact details for easy analysis and comparison. Depending on company data retention policies, applications can be stored for months or years in anticipation of new roles becoming available in that period.

As an added benefit, having the details of a selection of suitable candidates available for easy consideration cuts future recruitment costs and shortens the time taken to plug a skills gap. Speeding the recruitment process in this way prevents drops in productivity and morale.

3. Productivity

With the workforce headcount issues sorted, the Human Resources team must next look at productivity levels to ensure that the business is operating efficiently. Where productivity is low, HR needs to know whether the problem is caused by poor working practices or lack of resources.

This determination is often made by carrying out a Time and Motion (T&M) study to define who does what and how. This study can then be used to identify potential efficiency gains and pave the way for future capital investment to improve productivity and conditions.

Using an integrated HR software platform, senior management and the HR team can store and analyse the T&M data collaboratively. The HR system can also retain this data to provide historical context for later studies to provide a benchmark and to accurately measure improvements made.

4. Training and Compliance

Training is an essential aspect of employee development, both for their own education but also to ensure you continue to get the best from your workforce. Certain roles demand official training and certification, such as CORGI registration for gas installers, many of which also have a lifespan for renewal.

Although the employee bears some responsibility for keeping a track of their own professional registrations, if your business relies on their certified skills, it makes sense to track this information for your own records. If your business has agreed to pay for exams or registration fees, you can keep track of when these payments are due. You can also alert the employee involved, schedule cover for absence during exams, and arrange payments to prevent lapses.

Even where training takes place in-house, recording course attendance in a central HR system allows for at-a-glance assessment of workforce skills and regulatory compliance. Has every member of staff received their full induction training? Has anyone missed the annual fire alarm training and needs a refresher? Have internal promotion candidates completed all the relevant courses for the new role? Keeping details of training can help answer all these questions and more.

5. Health and Safety

Your company is required to record details of health and safety information for legal reasons, similar to maintaining records about professional qualifications and membership of trade bodies. Health and safety records help keep your employees safe at work and ensure that the company is meeting its legal obligations towards both them and the public.

Whenever a health and safety issue arises, HR is called upon to demonstrate that the business has done all that is expected of it. Where proof cannot be shown, the business is at risk of legal ramifications and fines.

Once again, the way to mitigate such problems is through the use of accurate records of courses attended, documents issued, and anything else specific to health and safety legislation that your business does as a matter of course. If an employee attends any course aimed at increasing their personal safety and that of the people around them, the details need to be recorded in case of query or dispute in future.

Because course attendance and training is closely linked to general employee records, the HR department is the best equipped to record this information. And the HR software used throughout your business unifies health and safety data with employee records for quick and easy retrieval and analysis.

6. Discrimination and Diversity

If your business has any involvement with public sectors, or has a company policy regarding diversity, you will need to be able to demonstrate your commitments with hard facts from time to time. Where a company advertises commitments to diversity and a desire to reduce discrimination, they will be required to demonstrate their progress towards these goals.

To avoid these requests turning into a rushed census of the workforce, it makes sense to record demographics data when a new recruit is hired. As part of the employment contract, a simple set of tick-boxes can be added to record demographic and diversity data, which should be stored with employee records in the HR system.

It is also important to record any workplace incidents that appear to involve any form of discrimination. Your business can then carry out disciplinary actions based on company policies and further demonstrate a commitment to these core principles. Your HR software should also help quickly verify whether any staff suspected of participating in discriminatory activities have agreed to act in accordance with company policies as part of their employment contracts.

7. Discipline

Discipline is always one of the least popular issues to tackle in the workplace, and also the point at which the HR department can help resolve incidents satisfactorily for employer and employees. The disciplinary process requires plenty of evidence, and the HR department will often need to obtain statements, records and other supporting data to resolve issues legally and ethically, all of which is time consuming.

It is therefore important to keep accurate records of any disciplinary issue, to ensure that the issue is dealt with properly. This includes minutes of meetings, letters between employer, employee and trade union representatives, and any follow-up activities that need to be undertaken. These records also provide a point of reference to ensure that all parties are meeting their agreed obligations in the event of further disputes.

As before, these records need to be easily stored and retrieved, along with any relevant contract details. By using an integrated HR system that supports your process, much of the evidence gathering is simplified, helping to reduce much of the legwork and time associated with resolving discipline issues.

8. Outsourcing

Freelancers and contracts provide an attractive way to augment your company workforce skills and abilities, without the need to permanently hire new staff. This is particularly relevant to projects and contracts that require specialist knowledge, but which are unlikely to become a routine part of your company requirements.

However, outsourced employees present new challenges when trying to ensure they meet internal standards and requirements. Do they hold qualifications or industry body memberships? Have they undergone standard company induction training? You may need to know this kind of information at some point in the future, even if it does not seem particularly relevant at the start of their contract.

In the same way that you record the employment details of permanent staff, it is essential to keep the same information about contractors, consultants and outsourced employees. Your ideal HR system should let you maintain clearly labelled records of temporary staff for easy retrieval in the event of a future dispute. Or even just to make it easier to re-hire the same people in future.

9. Payroll

Responsibility for payroll falls between the remits of the accounts and HR departments, often leading to problems with accurate payments to staff. HR maintains records about salary, benefits, bonuses and attachments of earnings, whilst accounts are tasked with actually making the payments. This creates a potential disconnect that can lead to the payroll being run late or employees receiving the wrong sums in their wage packet.

To maintain morale and prevent future pay problems, your business should investigate the potential of using a dedicated payroll solution that interfaces directly with your HR software and account system. By uniting both departments electronically, most of the manual headaches associated with pay can be resolved automatically.

Dedicated payroll software helps ensure staff get paid what they are entitled to, when they expect it. Your HR department will also benefit from a reduction in queries, helping to better spread the workload throughout the rest of the month.

10. Employee queries

The HR department provides the interface between “the company” and the staff. This means that when it comes to employment issues, disputes or queries relating to work, the HP department is the point of first enquiry.

Dealing with queries on pay, perks and performance management reviews on a reasonably regular basis is routine, but also extremely time consuming, particularly where data is not readily available. Every time a member of the HR department needs to chase down a payment detail, or the specifics of a contract variation, they are unable to focus on any of their other responsibilities.

A dedicated HR system keeps employment data centralised ready for easy retrieval and significantly reducing the time taken to answer each query. More advanced system allow “self-service” style access to some data, allowing staff to answer many of their own more basic questions themselves.

Easy data access is key to resolutions

The HR team deals with all manner of issues, but the key to resolving them quickly is the same in most cases – easy access to relevant data. In almost all cases, a fully-featured HR and payroll system will provide the storage, retrieval and analysis tools required to answer employment issues and improve departmental efficiency in general.


Written by James Sheehan on behalf of Payroll Software provider SnowdropKCS