In the HR domain, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of evolving technologies in the function. The rise of AI is rendering several jobs obsolete while simultaneously creating new job requirements. Employers increasingly need to look for highly skilled workers, and the employment market often seems like it is falling short. Demand, in this case, is higher than supply, causing several challenges to the HR sector. While there are plenty of challenges recruiters can expect in the coming year, I’d keep my eye out on the following:

  • Personalised experiences like employee well-being

One of the newest trends among job-seekers is a focus on wellbeing and workplace culture. This presents a major challenge for enterprises as a whole and HR professionals in particular. It used to be easier to attract and retain good candidates – a solid pay, job security and some additional benefits often formed a complete, satisfactory package. Since this outlook is changing, the HR function’s focus is also shifting from these traditional factors to those which are more challenging to address, like work-life balance and open culture.

A solution to this is to treat employees as separate individuals rather than as a group and personalise their experiences as much as possible. Employees have different needs from their jobs, and to retain a skilled workforce, HR teams could try to be as accommodating as possible while sticking to company policies and ensuring the most judicious use of funds. 

  • Finding and landing high-quality workers

According to XPert HR’s fourth annual survey, nearly 30% of the respondents felt that recruiting and hiring would be their biggest challenge in 2020. It’s difficult to keep up with the rapid changes taking place in the industry, and appropriately skilled applicants are hard to come by. Not only must the candidates have adequate skills, but they must also be adaptable and open to changing their methods with the fast-changing trends in the industry. While unemployment runs rampant, such talent is limited.  Talented individuals available for hire are in high demand, and the HR function’’s major challenge is to attract them towards their company. 

One solution, although also complex and perhaps subjective, is fostering a culture and an environment where people are engaged and committed to their roles. It involves several considerations, such as benefits, incentives and a focus on employee well-being. The biggest consideration here is addressing the needs of different generations of workers and providing personalised benefits to each group rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. Other solutions may include tapping into job markets like older employees, veterans as well as those with criminal convictions.

  • Diversity and inclusion

The diversity question today goes beyond gender, race, ethnicity, religion and age. Rather, it includes differing work experiences, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, upbringing, educational status and even physical characteristics. Managing a diverse workforce while trying to ensure inclusion for all is a great challenge for recruiters. 

Some ways to ensure diversity and inclusion are to keep a fair and balanced recruitment process and to eliminate bias. Biases among recruiters are often subconscious and cannot be easily changed. For example, several surveys show that applicants with “white-sounding names” are 50% more likely to be invited for an interview than others. Such biases can be reduced by leveraging AI – harnessing technology to ensure inclusion is one of the best ways to overcome this challenge.

  • Outdated technology and data security

Although it is 2020 and a variety of advanced recruiting tools are available, several organisations still persist in using tedious technologies to organise their search for new hires. While Excel and email still have their advantages, using newer technologies can prove much more efficient and leave HR managers with time to work on more pressing challenges. Another important challenge which stems from advancing tech is the possibility of breach of privacy of the candidates. Applicants provide a lot of personal information, trusting the recruiters to protect their sensitive information from hackers. Data security is hence a major concern.

An ideal, and perhaps the only way to solve these problems is through improved technologies. Getting rid of outdated technologies for hiring as well as being extra careful about data privacy and security are a good approach to tackling these challenges. 

  • Bad hires

In a hurry to source and hire employees for roles, recruiters are prone to making errors while hiring. While the risk of making bad hires was always non-zero, it is now more prominent than ever, since sourcing candidates with the right skill set is a challenge in itself. Requisite skills and work experience are, of course, not the only aspects that make for suitable candidates. They must also align with the company’s ideals and, in general, be a good fit for the enterprise as a whole. A willingness to learn and adapt to changes and a drive to work hard are also desired in any candidate. Without these essential qualities, no amount of skill would guarantee a good fit. 

The only solution to such a problem is to be more careful while recruiting candidates. It is also essential that the recruiters know exactly the kind of talent they seek, over and above the necessary skill set.

While there are several challenges to the HR sector, the most important one stems from the increasing demand for a highly skilled workforce and the scarce supply. While the above points cover most major challenges and ways to overcome them, some further solutions include:

  1. Adopting more efficient talent sourcing techniques 
  2. Being proactive in building talent pools
  3. Increasing focus on passive candidates through promotions on social media, and
  4. Improving candidate experience throughout the hiring process by actively communicating with them.

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