New survey illuminates top HR concerns

What do you get when you compare different surveys and get consistent results? Hopefully, a pretty reliable measurement.

Today, I ran across a BLR article on top concerns of HR professionals that compared:

  • A BLR Daily Advisor survey, sent to a representative sample of 6,000 BLR newsletter readers
  • Another BLR survey done earlier this year, through the BLR subscription website,, and through a BLR online ezines.
  • Reader interest lists by Susan Heathfield, of
  • Private industry surveys done by firms that included Express Personnel Services and Hewitt Associates.

Findings? “The surveys backed each other up in defining what concerned and interested [HR] professionals] most.

Specifically, top issues were, in this order:

  1. Compliance.
    HR thinks and worries about how to meet the many requirements and restrictions of a multiplicity of federal employment laws, a task complicated by state laws that may differ significantly from federal.
  2. Solutions? Knowledge and training. Wise counsel. Knowing when you need more information and advice because you’re entering an area fraught with special hazards, like terminating an employee with a medical condition that may be a disability, to name an obvious one.

  3. Retention and Recruitment.

    Many predict a labor shortage of more than 10 million skilled workers coming soon, “as baby boomers retire and not enough trained younger workers are available to fill their slots.” The article says: “Local conditions come into play here. You’ve told us that it’s harder to find and retain talent in economically depressed or geographically remote areas.”

  4. Solutions? Note that in those “depressed or geographically remote areas” there are probably also high unemployment rates. What can your business do to fill the needed positions with readily available, but underqualified labor? In some instances, reexamine “qualifications.” Invest in training. Partner with educational institutions and agencies that try to train and place the unemployed. I’m sure there are many more answers.

  5. Performance Management. The article notes: “the traditional performance appraisal, is particularly criticized.”
  6. Solutions: Reevaluate your performance appraisal process, including input from employees at all levels. Research what others have said works and doesn’t work. Figure out what may work for you.

  7. Rising Healthcare Costs. Say no more.
  8. Solutions? Short of major political change to some kind of universal health care, current best bets include the usual increased deductibles and employee contributions. Know what the competition does in this regard. Perhaps it is worth beating them on this score; some employees may take good health care over higher wages. Newer approaches include health savings accounts, various approaches to prevention, and even in-house clinics for large organizations.

  9. Workplace Atmospherics. The article says: “In-house negativity, ‘bad’ supervisors, office politics, and gossip occupy many of your concerns. Our recent article on negativity was one of our most-read, and commented-on features.”
  10. Solutions? Anyone? Surely one can read what others have written about organizational culture and changing it, as a source of ideas. Measuring employee concerns in this area is a great start, too. 360-degree evaluations and exit interviews may help bring out the fact that seemingly successful supervisors are viewed as tyrants. They should be held accountable and aided in improvement.

  11. Developing Leadership and Teamwork. The article says: “Companies talk the talk on these issues, but many never walk the walk. It bothers you, since that’s what HR is there to do.”

Solutions? Training. Treating these qualities as important in evaluating performance. Anything else?


BLR’s HR Daily Advisor:“What Concerns HR? Survey Says …”

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