A Playbook for the 4 Big HR Challenges Facing Today’s Leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our organizations in ways none of us could have imagined. Together, we’ve had to navigate a complex combination of HR challenges that affected our businesses at all levels. And together, we’re asking, What do we need to do next to thrive?

As the dust settles, we’ve identified four key challenges facing today’s HR leaders — and how to solve them.

Meet your playbook for the next stage of work.


4 Big HR Challenges Today’s Leaders Need to Tackle

hr challenges 1 -- maintaining connection and culture without proximity

Culture and connection

In the new abnormal, we’re grappling with one of the biggest HR challenges. How do you create community without proximity?

As a leader, you must focus on celebrating your team’s milestones and achievements. You’re also tasked with preserving the professional relationships that keep your employees engaged.

Your concerns

  • The shift to remote work has hurt your culture.
  • Employees are disconnected from you, each other, and your company.
  • Communication and manager-employee trust are at all-time lows.

What to look for

In this new world, connection and culture look and feel different. Answer these questions to gauge where you stand:

  • Have your employees grown quiet? Are you talking with them less? 
  • Is communication breaking down? Are things lost in translation?
  • Are teams working in silos?

What to do

Maintaining strong culture is one of the toughest HR challenges in the best of times. In 2020, it’s even harder. At Kazoo, we understand what it takes to build a culture you’re proud of. Here are some tips:

  • Take a hard look at your employee recognition and performance management programs. Done correctly, these programs provide the right framework for facilitating communication.
    • Recognition programs encourage appreciation across all levels (and locations) of your company. Make meaningful appreciation visible company-wide to help your employees feel seen for their efforts. (It’s the key to driving motivation and engagement.)
    • Performance management programs foster connection, innovation, and employee growth. How? Frequent check-ins and 1-on-1s connect employees to their work. And multilevel feedback promotes a culture of accountability and collaboration. 

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HR challenges #2 -- maintaining productivity and alignment

Alignment and Productivity

Setting up your teams for peak productivity doesn’t get any easier when you’re working remotely. Plus, in the pandemic downturn, workforces are slim and every penny counts. So it’s crucial your employees are working hard on the right things.

Your concerns

  • Your team isn’t sure how their goals are connected to the larger company strategy. (Or, you’ve abandoned goal-setting all together.)
  • Teams lack consensus on priorities.
  • Performance and productivity are both down, and there’s little accountability.

What to look for

We’re working in a high-stress environment. Our personal and professional lives have merged. So now, it’s hard to draw clear lines between the two. As a result, it’s harder to focus, and easier to lose sight of what needs to be done. Ask:

  • What is your process for accountability? Is performance slipping across your team?
  • Does your team set and then ignore goals until the end of the quarter rolls around? Are the goals set at the executive level unknown to the rest of the company?
  • Do teams have separate, disconnected priorities? Does each team know what’s most important right now?

What to do

Need to align priorities and knock down silos? Your key is goal-setting and OKRs. An effective goals program provides the foundation you need for successful continuous performance management. And, a high-performing culture. 

Here’s how goals and performance management help you drive alignment and productivity:

  • Use goals to create alignment. Whether you’re a SMART shop or OKR converts (or a combination of the two!), goals create alignment across teams and locations. When everyone is working towards the same goals, you’ll have more impactful outcomes.
  • Incentivize the right behaviors. Goals improve focus on what’s most important for your business. And, then encourage the behaviors to best help you get there. These high-value behaviors increase performance and create opportunity for meaningful feedback and employee growth.
  • Demonstrate meaningful impact. So now that your employees are aligned with the rest of the business? They gain visibility into how their work impacts the success of your team and the company — a key employee motivator

Design a goal program that drives alignment.
Free E-Course: Creating a Company Goal ProcessAddress your HR challenges: Learn to create company goals and manage them in your employee experience platform

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HR challenges 3: up-leveling managers

Up-Leveling Managers

Your managers play a crucial role in keeping the train on its tracks. And they can’t do it alone. As a leader, you must equip managers with the tools they need to create high-performing, engaged teams, no matter where or how those teams are working. 

Your concerns

  • We’ve been running employee surveys and the results are…not good.
  • Employees aren’t engaged. It seems they’re just going through the motions.
  • Employees don’t see clear career growth paths or feel their opportunities are limited.

What to look for

Poor management can drastically impact your culture and your bottom line. Watch for: 

  • Are your employees becoming less and less engaged? 
  • Do you see a lack of collaboration or low performance within specific teams?
  • Is there higher voluntary employee attrition? Are your Glassdoor scores falling?
  • Is your culture weak? Is your culture toxic?

What to do

Managers are the crucial link between your employees, their levels of engagement, and the business outcomes tied to the employee experience. When your organization undergoes change, strong leaders make the difference in how well you’ll fare.

Use these tips to help managers succeed:

  • Prioritize 1-on-1s. Consistent and meaningful conversations create the trust and openness necessary for greater engagement and higher productivity. 
  • Train managers to model your values. Managers who effectively set expectations and model the desired culture have more productive, profitable, and innovative employees.
  • Equip managers with brand tools. Strong managers are custodians of your culture and ambassadors for your brand. As they better understand your business strategy and brand promise, they’re proactive in effectively promoting your company.

Want to become a better manager?
Free E-Course: Kazoo’s Manager Master ClassOvercome your HR challenges! Our manager master class is chock full of management tips and more!

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HR challenges 4: talent retention

Talent Retention

Across industries, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to restructure and reprioritize. Unfortunately, that was often at the cost of the employee experience. Now, it’s time to focus on how to attract talent back to your company. (And, how to make talent stay.)

Your concerns

  • The job market is unpredictable and really competitive right now.
  • We’re worried about losing our top talent.
  • We can’t afford to lose good people. Hiring, onboarding, and training are a time and cost we can’t afford, especially right now.

What to look for

Some HR challenges are the same whether you’re remote or not. For example, when your employees don’t feel heard or as though their work matters, they’ll look elsewhere. When the job market becomes uber-competitive like it is today, your top performers will have their pick of where to go next.

  • Are you experiencing high voluntary turnover?
  • Do you have a lot of open roles that are proving hard to fill?
  • Are your Glassdoor scores falling? Do you have consistently poor reviews? How is your leadership rated?

What to do

Delivering a winning employee experience is key to retaining your high-performing employees. And, to becoming an employer of choice for new top talent. Make long-lasting investments in your employees and their time at work. This will help you build a strong market- and internal-facing employer brand. 

  • Get your employee experience in order. A well run, scalable employee experience program provides structured focus on recognition and career management. It can tip the scales in your favor and help you become a talent magnet.
  • Implement an employee experience platform that enables both recognition and performance management programs. This can boost your Glassdoor ratings and employee NPS scores. Not to mention, your employees’ desire to stay put.
  • Invest in recognition and performance management. Recognition and performance management programs improve productivity and profitability. They also greatly reduce the costs associated with hiring new people and retaining your existing talent.

Your next steps

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally shifted our existing HR challenges. And, it accelerated changes that were already happening. Now, leaders are charged with the greatest of HR challenges: the enormous task of delivering a positive employee experience as they navigate the intricacies of their new abnormal.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. To thrive, companies must:

  1. Create an organization that can grow in the face of future disruptions
  2. Put people and your employee experience at its foundation
  3. Make getting there a priority

That’s where we come in.

In COVID-19 work era, companies need simple solutions that embrace the whole employee. That’s why Kazoo built the all-in-one Employee Experience Platform. With it, Kazoo has helped hundreds of businesses tap into the power of employee engagement through continuous performance management, recognition & rewards, and employee engagement surveys. 

So if you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized strategy talk. We’re here for you.

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