Common Challenges in Human Resource Management

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Human resource management, sometimes referred to as human capital management, is the strategic and logical approach to the management of an organization’s most valuable assets – the workers. Workers individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of an entity’s objectives. But what are the common challenges to the management of human capital? Are there any challenges that can be called common in human capital management? If you were a people manager, what would be the areas that you wouldn’t simply ignore? Let’s consider these common challenges.

  • Understanding the scope of human resource management is a challenge. With rapid changes in the workplace, work cultures, employee attitudes and society in general, people managers need to constantly redefine their scope of work. Your inability to grasp this aspect obviously presents limitations.
  • Attracting and retaining talent in today’s very competitive world is something that a human capital practitioner cannot easily dismiss. Is your organization well positioned to attract and retain the best talent in the market? Are you an employer of choice? What do you need to continue doing in order to get and retain the best people? Do you recruit strategically and manage your talent well?
  • The efficiency and effectiveness factor is another common challenge to people managers. Once you have the talent you need in your talent pool, do you make the best use of it? You should consider aspects of capabilities of staff, employee engagement, workloads, job designs, performance measurement, reward and penalties etc.
  • Employee compensation management is also an issue. Compensation is broad and includes aspects such as salaries, welfare, health, insurance, profit-sharing schemes etc. This can be a challenge to manage in light of factors such as competition, rising cost of living, environmental hazards, economic challenges, poor business performances and other factors.
  • Leadership and managerial setbacks are also common. You may have the best hires but when deficiencies exist in leadership and management you will go nowhere. Don’t you agree with me on this? Imparting your vision, mission, values, etc require good leaders. Developing trust, motivation, employee empowerment etc require good leaders. Training and developing people including succession planning need wisdom.
  • Social and economic issues such as globalization, recession, demographic changes, technological advancements, workplace diversity, health and safety concerns etc provide a handful of issues to human capital managers. I guess if you have not meditated on the impact of these on your workforce in the last six months, then you are not a people manager. Isn’t it?
  • Change management also pretty much occupies the minds and thoughts of human resource managers. With organizations downsizing, restructuring, re-engineering, merging and acquiring, you simply cannot have a free flow as a people manager. The changing nature of work, work environment, staff attitude and mentality etc certainly provide a challenge to any organization.
  • Conflict management in today’s high pressure work environment cannot be ignored. These conflicts can be internal and external. Conflict within a team, between leaders and their subordinates, between departments, with associations such as unions etc will definitely demand your attention as a human capital manager.
  • Legal and statutory challenges also exist. The ever-changing laws on employment and labor such as freedom of association, workmen compensation, equal opportunity, workplace safety and health, non-discrimination, all provide a big challenge. Ethical issues are also vital.
  • Social networking in this modern age is also something that a people manager cannot ignore. Haven’t you come across the type that look and will pretend to be busy on a computer the whole day, yet at the end of the day you hardly see evidence of work done? Hasn’t your organization already provided guidelines to its staffs regarding use of social media while in office?

Well, I guess we have highlighted the key ones. Some other challenges tend to differ with location, industry, level of development etc. However, as a people manager, your knowledge of the common ones is vital towards your human capital management efforts.


Clayton Mwaka

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