Challenges Facing Modern Human Resources Managers

The job duties for human resource managers have evolved quickly in the 21st century. Those in the profession now take on larger roles in developing strategy for their organizations, working with executives and other department leaders to reach business goals.

That’s created even more challenges, particularly in a data-driven business world with a tight labor market. Those seeking to earn a degree in the field—including undergraduate and graduate degrees or an MBA with a concentration on human resource management—should understand those challenges as they prepare for careers in this complex field.

Challenges for HR Managers

It’s worth taking on those challenges, as there are many opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% gain nationwide in the number of HR managers by 2026. The mean annual salary for the position as of May 2017 was $123,510, according to the BLS.

Here is a look at some of the biggest challenges facing HR managers in the modern business world.

Finding Talent in a Tight Market

The unemployment rate has reached 40-year lows, meaning job applicants have the upper hand in the job market. For companies competing to fill critical positions, attracting and retaining the most talented employees is a priority. HR managers are leaders in this area. This is especially true for managers in organizations that have entered rapidly emerging markets, many of them related to technology, where the battle for the best will only intensify.

Robust Training and Reskilling Programs

It’s imperative that HR managers develop a strategy for training new employees and providing reskilling for current employees. In the modern business world, employees can expect they will need to learn new skills 15 to 20 times during the course of their career. Learning now is a continuous process that lasts throughout a worker’s life. HR managers must provide the opportunities for employees to constantly upgrade their skills.

Incorporating Online Learning

As part of the training and reskilling process, HR managers can take advantage of the flexibility allowed in using online learning with employees. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that this area has “tremendous potential,” especially with the younger workforce.

Leveraging Data

HR is increasingly asked to use data, just as other areas of an organization put it to use. It can not only support better decision-making but also give an accurate analysis of the return on investment of moves made by the HR department.

What Do HR Managers Think?

All the above are issues for HR managers, according to experts in the field. But what about current HR managers themselves? What advice would they give to the incoming generation of HR managers?

A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers offers some insight. PWC surveyed HR managers around the world for a report called “Survey of Global HR Challenges: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,”

The HR leaders came from 16 different industries, providing a broad spectrum of opinion. But on certain issues, they agreed. The following are the top three challenges they saw for HR leaders in the future.

Change management. This incorporates a wide range of issues, including the ones listed above. It also involves HR managers taking larger roles in business strategy as it relates to how companies invest in both new and current employees as they transform in a technology-driven, global market.

Leadership development. HR managers must identify and support potential leaders in an organization. This also involves developing the tools needed to foster their growth.

HR effectiveness measurement. This plays back into data. HR managers need the right data analysis tools to effectively measure the performance of HR decisions. This includes the return on investment long-term from hiring decisions, as well as the collective performance of the organization.

HR management continues to provide strong opportunities for graduates. The increasing importance of the position makes it a more challenging career than ever before. Those who commit to earning a degree are taking the steps necessary to prepare themselves for this rewarding field.


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