Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
human resources online

5 critical issues facing HR directors in 2019

Dave Delaney, keynote speaker, author of New Business Networking, marketing communications consultant and founder at, asks HR managers and directors what their biggest challenges are. 

If you're an HR professional, your skills matter now more than ever.

Unemployment levels are low and companies are becoming more competitive with salaries and perks for new employees. Savvy HR directors must shift with the times in order to retain employees and make strong new hires.

I asked HR managers and directors what they found were their biggest challenges. The following are five key takeaways every business leader should consider, because this doesn’t just affect the human resources department - it will affect your entire company.

1. Communication and culture

Corporate communication and company culture go hand-in-hand. Mark Lewis, Co-founder and CEO of Hellocecil explained: "This challenge focuses on the importance of effective communication skills and systems throughout an organisation. Few things are more frustrating or destructive to the quality productivity efforts of individuals and teams than the failure to communicate. One dimension of this challenge is the communication skills of individuals within a team; another is the communication skills of teams with each other.

An organisation is always well served to invest time and money on training programmes and workshops that elevate skills such as verbal and writing skills.

"The larger the organisation, the larger the potential problem. An organisation is always well served to invest time and money on training programmes and workshops that elevate skills such as verbal and writing skills; presentations; listening skills; dispute resolution skills; providing and accepting feedback; systems for addressing complaints or dissatisfaction; and the like."

I have personally suffered as an employee working for companies with poor communication that resulted in a toxic culture. This was part of my inspiration to launch

2. Time management

HR pros will feel even more time-constrained in 2019. Here's what I'm hearing from industry thought leaders:

Rhian Sharp, President and CEO of Sharp Medical Recruiting and HR Consulting, told me that HR professionals have to do it all. They must find the right people, train new hires, create and reinforce the organisation’s culture. Plus, they must be ambassadors of the company brand, crest policy, employee relations, etc. There is simply not enough time in a day to do it all.

Trent D. Bryson, Adjunct Professor in Human Resources at Long Beach State echoed this concern: "All too often HR professionals wear so many hats that they do not have the time to focus on company culture, strategic initiatives, and supporting future plans. Instead they get stuck doing payroll, basic office management, and reactive tasks."

All too often HR professionals wear so many hats that they do not have the time to focus on company culture, strategic initiatives, and supporting future plans.

HR Analyst Laura Handrick, of FitSmallBusiness, added: "HR folks spend a lot of time managing applicant resumes, scheduling interviews and documenting feedback and offer letters. They should be automating the features that software can do, and focusing on the aspects of HR that only people can do.

"These include things like creating an employer brand, providing tools to improve team member productivity, and providing recognition and reward systems to those who drive the culture and the business forward. HR is about people. HR staff needs to focus on improving people's performance, not managing paperwork, and building powerpoints."

3. Leadership investment

What can a HR director do for employees when they don't have a budget to work with? They must convince upper management to invest. [here's a guide on how to achieve this].

Competitive salaries, workplace benefits, free food, game rooms and staff outings, come with a cost — and HR pros know they're worth it.

Chris Groscurth from Slalom Consulting said: "Reduction of manual HR processes provides lots of promising opportunities for HR professionals. Automation and digitisation will free HR leaders up to do more strategic work like workforce planning, coaching, and talent management related activities.

"The pitfalls and challenges of digital transformation are the amount of change it requires and helping HR business partners learn new skills."

These investments can be costly for any company, but losing employees can cost far more in the long run. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), every time a company replaces a salaried employee, it costs the business an average of six to nine months times that salary.

4. Dealing with the wrong people

When a company recognises they've hired the wrong person, it's crucial to remove them before they do too much damage.

Nate Masterson, HR Manager of Maple Holistics said: "You may be able to choose your friends, but you can't choose your co-workers. This unfortunate truth can sometimes have detrimental consequences, especially when dealing with toxic behaviour in the workplace. It’s crucial to watch out for other toxic behaviours such as possessiveness, explosive temper, acute jealousy, mood swings, and physical violence."

Emna Everard, Founder and CEO of Kazidomi, repeated this concern: "It’s the most difficult decisions to make, but letting people go at the right time is the best you can do for all stakeholders, and themselves included. This is like a (negative) relationship, and trying to make it survive is not the right thing to do."

5. Changing legislation and global reach

As any business begins to grow beyond its hometown, the rules begin to change. It is paramount that a company is aware of the laws of the land in which they are growing into or doing business in.

Stacey Dennis, Senior Human Resource Specialist, Insperity explained: "If a business operates across state lines, the HR team may be faced with several compliance or practical challenges.

"For example, neighbouring states may have separate, and sometimes conflicting, laws related to overtime pay or sick leave accrual. This may require companies to adopt and revise policies or benefits to accommodate all employees, without singling out specific individuals."

Wanda Gravett, Ph.D., academic programme coordinator for Walden University’s MS in Human Resource Management, added: "The world of transactions, including communications, is global. But, companies are simultaneously expanding globally (both virtually and on-ground) and that elicits the transformational role of HR in addressing the many challenges of global expansion that plants domestic companies in multiple geographic world locations."

What does this mean for you, the HR pro? It requires you to step into a new role: "This places HR in a key seat on the C-suite planning team, while also establishing global networks with a whole new set of rules – many different from those used by the C-suite. This creates its own set of inherent and new challenges."

It's a whole new world, according to Wanda: "Adding these complexities to an already transformational role that is still evolving can map a new journey not easily traveled, and, yet, it is the daily life of the HR practitioner."

There is light at the end of the tunnel

Communication and culture, time management, leadership investment, dealing with the wrong people, and changing legislation and laws are all crucial areas company leaders, including HR directors, must consider in 2019.

The rewards of addressing these industry concerns are sure to reduce employee churn, improve company culture and communication, and make your place of business sought after by candidates.

Image / 123RF

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window