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4 Common Human Resources Problems and How to Handle Them

If you’re in HR, and you find yourself struggling, you’re not alone. HR is a field that presents many unique challenges. From supporting a positive work environment and mediating conflicts to upholding company standards and guidelines, HR departments cover a lot of ground. With such a wide array of responsibilities, it’s only natural that you will encounter a variety of difficult issues. The problems you face are likely to be faced by many others in your field. Here are the 4 most common human resource problems and some tips to conquer them.

Negativity & Conflict

In HR, you’re going to encounter some difficult people; it is unavoidable. Unfortunately, those difficult people have quite an impact on employee morale. This problem could manifest as someone who just has a bad attitude and brings everyone else down. Or it could be a person who argues constantly with management. It could be a person who churns the gossip mill and talks constantly about coworkers behind their backs. A negative person can disrupt company culture in many ways and ruin a positive work environment, and all of them fall under the umbrella HR responsibilities.
So, how do you conquer the pessimists and troublemakers in order to protect the company culture and preserve a positive work environment for the rest of your team?

  • Listen: Your first objective in dealing with a conflict in the workplace is to speak to the affected parties and get a feel for what’s bothering them. Allowing them to voice their displeasure or concerns will go a long way to help relieve some of the tension, as they simply want to be heard and see that something is bei
    ng done.
  • Mediate: Once you’ve established the source of the problem, it’s time to mediate. Act as a conduit for positive change by communicating the needs of the concerned party and translating those needs into actionable steps for the employee in question. Mediation is about helping two sides find common ground, but to do that, you need to help them understand each other. Open the lines of communication and help them meet in the middle to avoid further conflict.
  • Disciplinary Action: Sometimes, talking just isn’t enough and you are going to encounter difficult people who don’t respond to mediation. In those cases, it’s necessary and appropriate to act according to the guidelines established within your company and take disciplinary measures.

Employee Retention

With employee retention rates falling rapidly in the workplace, it’s important to keep this issue at the forefront of your HR agenda. As the marketplace evolves and expands, workers are inundated with a variety of employment options and companies are finding that they need to up their game to stay competitive. Maybe your benefits package was top quality several years ago, or perhaps you assume your employees are satisfied simply because they haven’t said otherwise. But making such assumptions could cost you some of your best employees if you don’t re-evaluate and make some changes.
If you’re worried about keeping your employees happy and ensuring that they don’t wander off for higher pay or a better benefits package, it’s time to speak with your management team to establish ways to make your team feel they are adequately compensated. Don’t just leave those improvements in the hands of management; talk to your employees and give them an opportunity to communicate their needs. You may be surprised by their responses. Apply that information to your recruitment practices and offerings, as well and you’ll be much more likely to attract and keep great talent within your company.


Compliance tends to feel like a four-letter word in most companies – most don’t understand it and many don’t follow it. Without clear communication of compliance guidelines, you could be piling a lot of extra work on yourself when employees repeatedly fail to meet those guidelines, just out of misunderstanding. Breaking compliance rules could result in disciplinary action not only on the employee, but on your HR department as well, if you didn’t catch and report the issue.
So how do you make those compliance guidelines stick? The answer is most definitely not handing out a pamphlet or emailing a memo to the whole team. Simply put, nobody actually reads those documents. They wind up buried under a pile of paperwork, crumpled up in trash bins or left unread in an inbox. If compliance is an issue within your company, take the time to speak to your team directly about why those rules are in place and the consequences of not following them. Reward employees who are regularly demonstrating their understanding of compliance issues and reward the team when they’ve surpassed an allotted amount of time with no discrepancies.


Productivity is a challenge that all companies face. Keeping a team of employees with different personalities, work ethics and management styles all motivated can be difficult. There are so many distractions at your employees’ fingertips, which can impact productivity as well. When your team isn’t functioning as a unit, productivity suffers. The first part of getting your employees back on track is making sure they work well as a team. Give them time to get to know each other and encourage them to build great working relationships built on communication and respect.
Another way to boost productivity is to give your team something to work towards and reward them for accomplishing their tasks. It’s a simple approach, but positive reinforcement is a huge motivator.
Additionally, studies have shown that people who take regular breaks during the course of their work day are more productive. So, stress the importance of lunch breaks and 10-minute movement breaks to get your team up and moving from their desks. It will help them refocus and stay on track.
Working in HR does mean tackling a wide variety of obstacles, but they don’t have to be total road blocks. With a little creativity, communication, and a lot of teamwork, you can conquer any of the challenges to benefit your company culture and set your employees on the path to success.