HR Strategy | By Sonus Benefits,

6 Things That Keep HR Up At Night

If you’re in Human Resources, you know there are plenty of challenges you face simply due to the nature of your job. You also know this is true regardless of the your organization’s size, industry, or business model.

Some of these challenges are simply routine, but others can be real insomnia-makers.

As a seasoned HR professional, you may have developed other, more colorful, language to describe these particular situations, but suffice it to say they are definitely not the things you want to find on your desk, in your email, or pacing the hallway outside of your office. Nope. These are the issues that not only affect you at work, but can also creep home with you as well.

At Sonus Benefits, we work with tons of HR professionals. Over time, we’ve gotten a good feel for the kinds of problems that keep them up at night.

The good news is that you’re not alone. These same issues are keeping your competition up at night, too. The companies that prioritize these problems will be among the first to solve them, and benefit from having done so.

As you plan for next quarter or next year, it’s good to be thinking about how you can improve in these areas:

1. Retaining and engaging employees

No surprise here: Turnover is a problem. And an expensive one.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employee tenure is shrinking, especially among younger workers. While the overall median number of years employees stick with their employer was calculated at 4.2, younger employees (age 25 – 34) had an average tenure of 2.8 years per job.

As workplace demographics change, so do employee priorities. Today’s workers care about company culture, work/life balance, and company commitments to good causes, as well as base pay and stellar benefits. Companies that get intentional and creative in these areas will have an edge when it comes to keeping their employees happy— and keeping them around.

2. Recruiting the best talent

This, of course, is the flip side to number one above. Most companies have realized that it costs them less to retain and train their current employees than it does to constantly seek new ones. Still, growth requires an influx of good talent, and that talent seems to be increasingly hard to find.

Recruiting talent in this environment requires much more than placing job ads or asking for leads from your LinkedIn network. It also takes good programs for assessing potential talent, strategies for marketing to the right talent pools, and an attractive compensation and benefits package.

Coming up with a comprehensive onboarding procedure will ensure new hires get to their peak potential quickly and become familiar with your organizational culture and processes.

3. Developing future leaders

According to findings from Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2017 report, 74% of North American companies see leadership as one of the most important issues facing business today. Many organizations are desperate for leaders who are more agile, more diverse, and more digitally savvy.

Still, it’s not clear that organizations are able to develop leaders fast enough, nor do they have the “bench strength” to ensure continuity of leadership. A lot of this has to do with the fact that leaders often have job-specific skills but lack leadership-specific skills in the areas of communication, coaching, and influencing others.

Many HR departments realize this but are afraid to be proactive in fixing the problem.

According to research from Deloitte:

  • Only two in five leaders build talent in their organizations,
  • Only half of all leaders drive change and innovation, and
  • Only three in five leaders execute and achieve results through their people

Companies who want solid, effective leadership structures should focus on establishing a culture of leadership, collaboration, and a more strategic partnership between corporate leaders and HR teams.

4. Battling resistance to change

HR is often fighting battles on two fronts. Employees can be resistant to changes in the workplace, and securing management support for HR initiatives and systems can be a real challenge as well. The issue here is psychological: People tend to prefer stability and comfort over change. But the business world is steeped in change. There is no way around it.

There are literally thousands of articles and hundreds of books written about change management, but a classic article from a 1969 Harvard Business Review issue summarized the problem well.

Most resistance to change is not resistance to progress or technology, but resistance to the social changes that come along with those things. The solution to managing change, then, is to look for vendors who don’t just sell the next-best thing, but are experienced in managing the internal changes that “new” brings.

5. Managing benefits and perks

There has been a lot of experimenting with benefits in the past decade: employee health insurance, wellness programs, retirement plans, disability insurance, paid vacation time, subsidized training or school tuition, and a massive number of “on campus” perks.

According to a survey by OfficeTeam, a full 23% of HR professionals felt that managing these programs was the most challenging part of the job.

Not only is managing benefits and perks a challenge, but HR professionals often take the fall if and when there is a problem. There might be pressure from upper management if a benefit is seen as too expensive or underutilized. On the flip side, there might be pushback from employees if a benefit or perk is changed or taken away, or if there is a problem utilizing it.

Be sure to consult with organizational leaders and secure their buy-in on each aspect of your benefits package before implementation. Once your offerings are in place, clear communication about what they are and how to use them will help demonstrate value and create realistic expectations. Partnerships with outside vendors who can help share the management burdens may also be helpful.

6. Stress…about not achieving the above

There will always be new talent to recruit, employees to engage and retain, leaders to train, and benefits to manage. Even when you’ve got great systems in place, there’s always the worry of the unknown. What might happen next month? Or next week? Or in the next 10 minutes?

Like the insomniac who can’t sleep because he’s awake and fretting about not sleeping, stress itself can become a major cause of worry. And this constant anxiety can take its toll. All the more reason not to go it alone!

If your broker isn’t helping you get buy-in for your organization’s employee benefits or improve your HR and business processes, you should be asking why. And if a convincing answer isn’t there, it’s time to find someone who can be a better partner.

After all, your competition is facing the same challenges. You shouldn’t let them be the first to solve them.


Running into challenges with employee engagement, turnover, and retention? Struggling with benefits administration and compliance? At Sonus Benefits, we’ve got ideas to help you address these issues and more. Get in touch to find out what working with a true employee benefits consultant feels like.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email