Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Employee engagement tops polls as HR’s biggest challenge in 2018

A study commissioned by Cascade HR has revealed the topics most likely to keep Human Resources professionals awake at night in 2018.

Employee engagement topped the list of upcoming challenges for 44% of the 447 participants, followed by staff retention (36%). Absence management and recruitment came in as the joint third biggest worry for 33% of respondents, with succession planning in fifth place (26%).

And it appears the same themes have posed the biggest headache for HR in 2017. When asked to reflect on their toughest encounters from the past 12 months,  professionals ranked recruitment as the clear front-runner (52%), followed by absence management, (43%), employee engagement (39%), and retention (37%), with learning and development the only difference(20%).

Perhaps surprisingly, GDPR seems to be sitting relatively comfortably with the profession, with a different question concluding that 61% now feeling their team is somewhat prepared for the upcoming legislative changes.

When asked for his commentary on the findings, Cascade’s CEO Oliver Shaw said: “There can be no disputing that 2017 has been a very fast-paced and challenging year for the entire business community, not just HR teams. And with matters such as Brexit far from conclusive, the changing landscape will undoubtedly keep everyone on their toes.

“But, let’s face it – there is never a time when organisations do not encounter external pressures of some sort. It’s how companies and their workforces deal with it, which is important.”

HR teams should therefore concentrate on the areas where they feel progress has been achieved over the past year, believes Oliver.

“In a different question within the study, we asked HR professionals which areas they believe their teams have excelled in, throughout 2017. And, interestingly, similar topics reared their heads again.

“Recruitment, learning and development, and absence management were among the top five. So, whilst these issues have been cited as challenging, they also highlight the concerted efforts that HR professionals have made to succeed in these respects. 

“Wellbeing was also up there, which is encouraging given the ever-pressing employee wellness agenda. And employee legislation was praised as HR’s fifth biggest feat, despite 32% of HR professionals claiming they are finding the law harder to navigate.

“It just goes to show that, when it comes to difficulties within this landscape, HR does not sit still. So, whilst 2018 may present ongoing challenges, I think teams are equipped to tackle them.”

All findings from Cascade’s recent research can be found in the full-length report – The 2018 HR landscape: What’s in store?