Despite the improving economy in 2015, stagnant wages, high benefit costs, and regulatory uncertainty made it a challenging environment for human resource professionals. 2016 will be equally challenging as the economy and businesses orient to growth, which will include greater competition for talent, demand for flexible benefits, and pressure for productive and healthier workers. Technological innovations will provide new solutions to these challenges as well as new risks. Below are a few of the top issues that human resources will have to tackle in the coming year.
Talent, Talent, Talent!
Employers are reporting that attracting and retaining top talent is becoming increasingly difficult with the improving job market. This is especially true, but not limited to, high demand fields like technology and healthcare. According to Jennifer Schramm, Manager of the Workplace Trends and Forecasting Program at the Society for Human Resource Management, “labor market research shows that recruiting difficulties are at pre-recession levels and going beyond that now.” Although there is technically not a labor shortage in the U.S., a number of sectors are having trouble filling positions.
Companies are overcoming talent management challenges through creative and upgraded benefit packages focused on improving recruitment and retention. These include flexible work hours, expanded benefits, more vacation or medical leave options, and more. The most forward thinking companies take it a step further. They focus on culture because any company can expand benefits; few companies can build strong cultures. Companies with strong cultures are more unique and their strengths are more defensible and harder to replicate.
Many employers are increasing their investment in wellness. The reasons for expanding this benefit range from the traditional driver of financial (lower medical spend) to a broader approach that includes productivity, employee happiness, and culture building. Regardless of the reason for each specific employer, more and more companies are including wellness programs as part of their benefit package. It is slowly becoming a must have rather than a nice to have.
Directly related to the recruitment and retention issue is the problem of providing benefits to workers of different generations, who may have very different expectations and needs. Employers are starting to recognize that each employee is different and there is no one-size-fits-all benefits package. Employers will need to continue to offer a wide array of benefits knowing that some appeal more to one group within the company. By offering a diverse set of benefits that includes something for each generation and type of person, the employer will be able to let employees pick and choose to construct a benefit package that appeals to them.