Diversity & Inclusion, HR Management & Compliance

Top HR Concerns of American HR Executives

Human resources is an ever-changing field where new challenges emerge time and again. The shift in work patterns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on racial and social justice in broader society are just two recent examples.

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According to the HR Policy Association’s Annual Membership Survey, which saw a one-third response rate, there are some common themes among HR professionals’ top concerns. “Most respondents agree that diversity and inclusion (82%) and cultural transformation in anticipation of the post-COVID work environment (71%) are top issues of concern at their companies,” according to a press release from the HR Policy Association discussing the survey results. “About half agree that executive development (50%) and talent management (49%) are issues of concern. A smaller but still significant number of respondents (32%) report that both digitization of the workplace and employee engagement are issues of concern.”

In terms of how HR professionals plan to tackle these issues, the survey found some considerable variation.

COVID-19 and Return to Office

When asked about approaches being taken by their companies with respect to employee vaccinations, the survey found that “[a] majority of respondents are using two main approaches to encourage their employees to get vaccinated: paid time off (53%) and manager encouragement (50%). Some are not encouraging their employees to get vaccinated at all (13%), while few are mandating that certain populations be vaccinated (7%).”

The survey also found that other approaches companies are taking to encourage, but not necessarily mandate, vaccinations include education campaigns; communication plans; global marketing campaigns; on-site vaccination events; healthcare premium/wellness credits; and encouragement from local experts, scientists, and doctors.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last summer, along with other race-based incidents and associated protests, HR departments around the country have been reconsidering their policies and practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

“Two changes made by most respondents (85%) include the expansion of inclusiveness activities and increased C-suite involvement,” according to survey results reported in the press release. “Additional changes include starting/expanding unconscious bias training (70%), evaluation of disaggregated workforce demographic data (57%), and a focus on hiring from educational institutions with strong minority talent (51%).”

Other approaches taken by survey respondents included listening sessions and sharing experiences; removing names from résumés; community partnerships to help source/prepare diverse talent; creating DEI positions; piloting separate initiatives with the commitment to advance racial equity; and adding/strengthening incentive metrics on diversity. 

Each HR department has unique challenges and issues to address; however, understanding the common issues in organizations across the country and the approaches being taken to address them can help when considering potential solutions.