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Five challenges faced by human resources management today

Traditional industries are being disrupted, economies are facing headwinds and workplaces are evolving rapidly. ​

These are just some of the many factors affecting human resources management and the time-proven practices of recruitment, performance management and workplace training. To better prepare for these challenges, human resource (HR) managers can strengthen their expertise with a Master of Human Resources Management (MHRM).

Here are five challenges human resource management is facing that HR managers should be preparing for today.​

Government regulations

Human resources management practices around the world are regulated by government legislation that outlines fair practices for both businesses and employees. In Australia, all businesses and human resources managers must heed commonwealth legislation that includes (but is not limited to):

- Fair Work Act 2009

- Racial Discrimination Act 1975; and

- Sex Discrimination Act 1984

However, despite the existence of this legislation, a Fair Work Commission and a Fair Work Ombudsman, mistakes are still being made. 

One of Australia’s biggest single employers, Woolworths, recently revealed that they had been underpaying employees.

They had short-changed workers employed under awards that are protected by the Fair Work Act.

Woolworth’s misdeeds came hot on the heels of a smorgasbord of underpayment cases in restaurants and the hospitality industry. Before that, there were more underpayments at Coles, McDonald’s and KFC.

With such large organisations failing on just one aspect of government regulations, we can expect individuals and organisations to be paying closer attention to these and other regulations in the future.

Economic growth

While international economies are experiencing negative economic growth – that is, the value of the goods and services they produce is decreasing – Australia’s economic growth is being measured in fractions of a per cent

This doesn’t mean those individual organisations can’t turn a profit, but it does put more pressure to perform on every business function. Human resource management is one area of business that has a number of levers to pull that can improve economic growth.

The process of strategic human resources management integrates business strategy and human resource management to achieve economic goals. It’s something that’s been identified as a capability gap across the Australian Public Service (APS) – which includes Treasury, the Australian Tax Office and several government departments. 

To address this gap, the APS has introduced a human resources profession stream, similar to practices in the UK, New Zealand and Singapore. This involves the development of an HR professional network and an HR workforce strategy for the APS.

Outside of the APS, businesses are increasingly looking to human resources management for economic advantages from recruitment, performance management and workplace training. As economic growth becomes more challenging to achieve, strategic human resource management will play an essential role in the success of a business.

Social issues

There are many social issues that arise in workplaces, such as:

  • gender inequality
  • racial inequality
  • wage inequality
  • sexual harassment; and
  • occupational stress.

In addition to affecting employees and becoming a factor that affects human resource management, these issues can also have a personal and direct impact on those in the human resource management team.

Of all the social issues, gender inequality is one of the most significant challenges facing employees in Australia, with no change in the 20.8 per cent pay gap over the past year

This stagnation comes despite around three-quarters of businesses implementing a gender equality strategy or policy. Unfortunately, less than a third of businesses are scrutinising those policies.

Governments are now starting to take action on gender inequality. Meanwhile, Football Federation Australia made international headlines by confirming equal pay for both male and female national teams. 

Human resource managers can also play a role in closing the gender pay gap with a deeper awareness of issues in diversity and contemporary strategic human resource management. You can achieve this by upgrading your qualifications with a Master of Human Resources Management (MHRM).

Employee engagement

Employee engagement has been described as the holy grail of employers, but there’s a wide range of definitions to explain what it actually is. It’s often reduced down to discretionary effort – that little bit of extra care and attention that employees choose to put into their work. This is what can lead to more satisfied customers, lower expenses and improved outcomes all round.

 The challenge for human resource management is that the attitudes of individual employees are usually influenced by those working with and around them, not by someone from human resources. Instead, employee engagement can be improved by human resource managers through better recruitment and workplace training.

For example, transformational leadership is a leadership style that encourages interpersonal communication – something that creates a high involvement workplace and a strong, healthy culture. 

By hiring managers with transformational leadership skills or providing training in transformational leadership, human resource management can play a critical role in improving employee engagement.

Technology advancements

Until recently, the great advancement in technology for human resource management was HR management software. These computer applications store information about individual employees, their goals, training and many other data points. However, while HR management software has revolutionised some human resource management practices, there are some new technology advancements to look out for.

Data security was once as simple as locking the filing cabinet – and maybe the office door for added security. When things went digital, network security protected with an impenetrable, invisible ring around the office. 

Now human resources management data is likely to be stored in the cloud and accessed from multiple locations by laptops, tablets and phones. Data security is now a factor affecting human resources management as Sony found out in 2014 when hackers stole 38 million files – including the personal information of employees.

Another technology advancement that will affect human resources management is AI or Artificial Intelligence. Data science advisors to the Australian Government, Data61, have developed a roadmap for key areas of AI specialisation in healthcare, urban development and natural resource management. 

Unlike the doomsayers who predict job losses from AI, Data61 predict that AI will change what work looks like, but it will create jobs rather than destroying them.

Once the domain of the information technology department, human resource managers must be aware of these and other technology advancements. With a Master of Human Resources Management (MHRM), you can ensure you’re ready to manage these challenges for reduced risk and increased competitive advantage.

Learn more about our online Master of Human Resources Management. Get in touch with our Enrolment team on 1300 701 171.