The function of the HR department has changed over recent years. More businesses have realigned the role of HR to better manage and grow their company while controlling costs more effectively. Many companies have decided that outsourcing some of the traditional HR training and development functions to third parties makes sense so that internal staff can focus their expertise on strategic issues. Currently, the issues providing the biggest challenges to HR leaders are the areas of recruitment, knowledge transfer, retention, and leadership development.

Recruitment: The Skills Gap and Incentives

The skills gap is defined as a significant discrepancy between a business’s current capabilities and the skills needed to achieve its goals and meet consumer demand. Moreover, it is the point at which a business may not be able to remain competitive since it cannot fill system critical jobs with appropriately skilled employees. 

“Two-thirds of HR professionals are having a tough time recruiting skilled workers.” -Hank Jackson 

To bridge this gap, Hank Jackson from the Society for Human Resource Management suggests taking a fresh look at the unlikely candidate. He goes on to say that to tap into the truly unlimited resource of human potential; we must first reevaluate those who were underestimated or screened out. 

“As HR business leaders, we will need to judiciously tap every available talent pool to fill the 6 million job openings in this country.” 

In a recent report citing recruitment trends, tuition assistance is becoming favored over traditional signing bonuses. These may appear more valuable to employees wishing to get out of debt faster. Upcoming legislation, if successful, may make this option more attractive for businesses as well, by offering tax incentives to those providing such benefits and by making the benefit tax-free to the recipient. As the skills gap widens, due to increasing retirement rates, organizations will need to consider employee retraining initiatives. Strategies involving online training, as well as tuition assistance for skilled degree and certification programs should be considered.

Training: Multigenerational Workforce and the Transfer of Knowledge

In today’s economy, intellectual property is critical to the sustainability of many organizations. These organizations stand to lose large amounts of knowledge assets, as Baby Boomers retire in greater numbers—leaving behind a less experienced workforce. Knowledge transfer becomes a more complex issue because of a multigenerational workforce. The “digital divide” makes mentorship or apprenticeship a more difficult process. In their research report, The Conference Board (TCB) outlines this problem and offers the following strategies; Online training programs are proven to be especially helpful for the transfer of knowledge when designed with input from both demographics. Working with an outside firm to develop custom training content can be beneficial in creating the right materials to reach all learning needs and styles. 

“While many companies fear the loss of knowledge that comes with massive retirement, few have plans in place to address the issue.” -Mary Young, Gray Skies, Silver Linings: How Companies are Forecasting, Managing, and Recruiting for a Mature Workforce 

  • Understand the generational differences, including learning styles and use this awareness to build training programs that include input from all generations of workers.
  • Take time to discover the younger employees learning needs. Understanding exactly what knowledge they need and how they best Recruitment it is critical to retention and utilization of that knowledge.
  • In older employees, create awareness of the benefits they gain from engaging in mentorships, such as recognition and legacy.
  • Reciprocity and recognition are instrumental for bettering the way knowledge is transferred.
  • Emerging education methods like reverse mentoring can provide opportunities for behavior change in both groups.
  • Don’t wait too long to begin. This can limit the usefulness of certain techniques and inhibit the transfer of critical knowledge.
  • Try to integrate the knowledge transfer into your employee’s daily routine to increase the chance that the knowledge will be utilized. Otherwise, the extra work may seem lacking in usefulness.


Retention: Engagement and Workplace Culture

For the past few years, HR leaders have discovered the importance of creating a workplace culture that matches the company’s purpose, mission, and values. By focusing on understanding and creating a shared culture, an HR department can design a work environment engaging to all employees. A recent Deloitte survey found that keeping employees happy used to be a simple matter; offer more pay or benefits. The millennial-aged workforce has shifted that strategy, as it has been said time and again that Millennials work for purpose and recognition, not for pay. It isn’t surprising then that many employers are leveraging rewards and recognition programs, to increase retention. The impact this of this type of program is indicated in the data from a report entitled, A Business Case For Recognition. 

  • 86% of executives rate workplace culture as being very important
  • 82% of executives believe that workplace culture offers competitive advantage
  • Only 12% of executives believe they are delivering the “right” workplace culture
  • Recognition for work well done increases engagement by 50%
  • Engaged employees are 33% more proactive and innovative
  • Engaged employees are twice as productive
  • Employees stay at least two years longer with companies who offer rewards and recognition

Leadership Development: Millennial Style

The Brookings Institute estimates that the Millennial generation will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. It appears, however, that leadership development of Millennials has not been seen as a priority for many organizations. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 State of Leadership Development Study, only 20% of companies polled were focusing on this sector of development —for the upcoming two fiscal years. One of the main distinctions between Millennials and previous workplace generations is their commitment to ideals such as purpose, culture, and concepts like work-life balance. Therefore, organizations wishing to attract and successfully develop leaders in this demographic must include strategies that encompass those values. Encouraging employee fitness programs at all levels with leadership taking proactive roles in creating incentives is one example. Another is empowering employees at the leadership level to discover ways the organization can make a difference in the community. To further differentiate in the area of work-life balance, many companies are turning to flexible scheduling. Millennials enjoy new challenges and learning life skills. Companies should consider investing in training programs that help the employee develop personally as well as professionally. One company, Workday, has found success in their leadership development program by preparing consultants by enhancing their knowledge of the company’s product line, while also training them for public speaking. As the business landscape changes, so does the role of the HR professional. Because HR is a business-driven function, effectiveness depends on a thorough understanding of the strategic direction of the organization, as well as the ability to develop relationships with employees. Recruitment of skilled talent, retention, training, and leadership development continue to pose the greatest challenges in HR today. These are only complicated by the nature of a multigenerational workforce. Fortunately, thought leaders and experts continue to study and develop new strategies to solve these issues. To partner with our experts in creating an eLearning platform designed to meet your unique needs, contact Knowledge Anywhere today.

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