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Top 4 Human Resources Challenges in 2017

13 Feb 2017
Sarah Ferguson

Human Resources Department Challenges

The tumultuous events of 2016 have certainly thrown up some challenges that Human Resources departments will have to face up to in coming year.

Many businesses are having to adapt to very uncertain conditions as the political changes of Brexit unfold and they face up to new legislation around the Gender Pay Gap.

We thought we’d take a look at these HR challenges and what to consider

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The new Gender Pay Gap Reporting legislation comes into force as of April 2017 for private sector companies with 250 + employees. The first reports detailing any pay difference between male and female workers will be due to be published, on both the company and a government websites, by April 2018. Public sector agencies will be subject to approval of Parliament but are expected to follow the same timelines.

This is understandably quite an undertaking for HR professionals, and the wider business, across the country and definitely has potential consequences in terms of brand and image.

Here are some things that will need to be considered when reports are issued;

  • How big a gap is there?
  • How does it compare to competitors?
  • How will the company reduce the gap?
  • How to manage internal/external message?
  • Potential employment tribunals?
  • Recruitment – possible recruitment needs as a result or a negative impact?

What action should be taken now?

  • Ensure pay decisions across the organisation are transparent & well documented
  • Pay decisions made on bonus, promotion and annual pay rise do not lead to discrepancies
  • Pay decisions also includes recruitment and should be fully documented

Staff Retention

Our research has certainly highlighted a focus on staff retention in 2017.

The impact of events such as Brexit have definitely unsettled a number of employees where feelings of uncertainty have crept into the workforce, particularly where there are overseas workers within the business.

It is clear that change is coming but the problem is a lack of clarity which, as we all know, is not something business likes. So with such uncertainly around it’s important to focus on ensuring the company culture and values remain strong.

Some of the key elements proactive companies have integrated into their strategy include;

  • Employee performance – what training, development & support is in place? What is the quality of employee’s management? How are relationships between management and employees?
  • Annual performance reviews – are the managers and employees making the most of this process? Can additional training be provided to management on how to perform a productive review?
  • Employee benefits – Can these be reviewed? With a lot of additional perks and benefits available today, how do the current benefits compare to your competitors? Are there incentives available?
  • Career development - What structure is in place for employee’s personal development?
  • Work life balance – Is there a healthy balance between work life and personal life? Are there flexible options available?

Attracting Talent

The third topic we have come across that is challenging the profession is attracting the right talent. There is a skills gap in a number of industries including Tech, IT, Construction among others and finding the right talent to ensure your business is successful is becoming even harder.

Many of the strategies being implemented by the HR professionals we have met coincide with the key values of retaining staff. However two areas we think are particularly important are:

  • Maximising you brand – What is the public perception of your company and your brand. You might think this is something for the marketing team but the brand is the responsibility of the whole organisation. What is your relationship with the Marketing/HR/Comms Teams? What is the companies’ reputation for developing their employee’s? 
  • Employee referrals – One of the best ways of attracting talent is through word of mouth from your very own employee’s – have you implemented a scheme to reward this approach?


Very much in the news recently but things will start to move fairly quickly now. There are obviously major HR challenges facing businesses as much of employment law in this country is the result of EU legislation.

Areas such as TUPE, anti-discrimination law and family leave entitlements are just a few of the laws that fall into this category. However there are very few people that understand how these will change until the process has started which means as HR professionals it is vital to stay up to date with any industry news.

We plan to publish more in this area with our legal partners in the near future so keep an eye out on our HR blog.


Its clear 2017 is going to be a challenging year with a number of challenges facing Human Resources Departments. It certainly seems that from the conversations we’ve had many of the potential issues can be overcome by tackling the problems early and remaining true to your core values.




Sarah Ferguson
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