Global HR 9 min

Your guide to the most common challenges and issues in human resources

Written by Barbara Matthews
June 13, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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HR professionals constantly face a host of challenges, from retaining talent to fostering a productive workforce and complying with labor regulations. These issues directly affect business outcomes and can quickly spiral out of control if they aren’t addressed.

The good news is the right processes and policies can help you tackle even the most difficult HR issues. The result? A more productive and engaged workforce.

In this article, we cover some of the most common issues in human resources. We'll also offer practical solutions to navigate these challenges, even if you manage a globally distributed team.

The top 8 issues in human resources and ways you can overcome them 

HR issues can stem from internal or external factors. Here are the top issues that HR teams face — and strategies to resolve them.

1. Payroll issues

Miscalculations in payroll and late disbursements can cause major headaches for HR professionals and financial stress for employees. In fact, over 78% of US workers say they would struggle to pay their bills if their next paycheck was delayed by a week. 

To avoid payroll problems, implement a payroll system. Payroll issues often stem from inefficient or manual processes. Using a payroll platform automates your payroll to prevent mistakes. It also helps you meet local payroll regulations no matter where your team resides.

With Remote’s payroll platform, you can calculate deductions, track and manage benefits, distribute payments, and more. Employees can also access their pay slips through a self-service portal at their leisure.

Mistakes happen. Communicate clearly to maintain your employees’ trust. Inform all affected workers of any payroll issues as soon as possible. Provide an explanation of the problem and a timeline for its resolution to meet their expectations.

2. Disciplinary action

When you hire an employee, you have certain expectations of them. You expect them to meet performance standards and adhere to company policies. If they don’t meet those expectations or behave inappropriately, you may need to take disciplinary action.

To address disciplinary actions, implement a clear and fair disciplinary policy. A disciplinary policy standardizes procedures for addressing behaviors that warrant action, like poor work performance, employee misconduct, and absenteeism.

A typical discipline process follows these steps:

  1. Verbal warning

  2. Written warning

  3. Final warning

  4. Dismissal

State which behaviors warrant specific actions. Communicate the policy to your team and add it to your employee handbook. Train managers on handling disciplinary issues to ensure the rules are applied fairly and consistently.

Secondly, maintain records of any disciplinary actions you take against employees. This includes documenting issues, noting the people involved, and describing the outcome. Maintaining records not only protects your company but may also be a legal requirement.

3. Employee engagement

Low employee engagement is a common challenge that HR teams face. In fact, more than 60% of workers are “quiet quitting” — disengaging from their work and only putting in the bare minimum.

To improve employee engagement, practice regular check-ins. It helps managers and employees communicate openly about work-related and personal issues. It also helps employees feel valued by their organization.

Here are some questions you can ask employees during regular check-ins.

  • How are you feeling about your workload?

  • Do you have the resources and support you need to do your job?

  • How are you finding the balance between your professional and personal life?

  • Do you have any feedback for improving our current processes?

  • How do you feel about your role within the company overall?

Aim to talk with your employees weekly and reiterate that you’re available to provide support at any time.

Another effective way to keep your employees engaged is to recognize and reward employees for their contributions. This can include verbal recognition, financial incentives, and benefits.

4. Employee retention

High employee turnover rates are costly. Direct costs for employee turnover include filling an opening position. Indirect costs include a decrease in team productivity.

Employee retention as a common HR issue

To improve retention rates, provide clear career paths. Employees are more likely to stay at companies that support their professional growth. This means outlining a well-defined progression route for individual employees and helping them understand the qualifications they need to advance.

Poor work-life balance is one of the top causes of employee turnover. Consider implementing a flexible work policy to help employees better balance their professional and personal lives. They can also serve as a valuable recruitment tool to attract global talent.

5. Compliance with local labor laws and regulations

Complying with local labor laws is another complex issue for HR professionals, especially when managing a global team. Different countries have different regulations on minimum wage, leave policies, and employment rights.

To make sure your business is compliant with local regulations, consult with a legal expert. Always seek legal counsel if you have a particularly complex situation. These experts can help you understand your obligations and advise you on how to remain compliant to avoid potential lawsuits.

Another way to manage compliance is to use an employer of record (EOR) — a service that allows your company to legally hire and employ people in different countries. An EOR not only handles payroll and taxes but also the legal side of things. EOR services help you hire and pay global workers under local labor laws.

6. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)

About 56% of employees today say that increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a good thing.

Diversity in the workplace

Execute inclusive policies and practices to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. A lack of diversity can make individuals from certain groups feel excluded. It also means missing out on the diverse perspectives that people with different backgrounds offer.

A good place to start is to implement inclusive hiring practices, like proactively seeking a wide range of candidates who represent different cultures.

Next, conduct regular DEIB training. DEIB training aims to help individuals recognize their unconscious bias and foster a more respectful environment. It also promotes more diverse perspectives and encourages open communication. You can set up a committee to organize these sessions.

7. Onboarding and training

First impressions matter. Onboarding sets the stage for an employee’s relationship with the company and affects their decision to stay. In fact, the top reason new hires leave after just six months on the job is a lack of clear guidelines. 

To welcome new team members, create a structured plan for them.

The last thing you want to do is throw too much at a new hire at once. A good way to prevent information overload is to create a structured plan for every 30 days for three months. This helps set clear objectives and benchmarks over 90 days to help new hires gradually ramp up in their roles.

Additionally, assign mentors to new hires. Try using a “buddy system” where you pair each new employee with a mentor to help them acclimate to their new environment. The experienced person then acts as a go-to individual for any questions or concerns the new hire may have.

8. Having the right culture

Building a strong work culture can boost employee morale and foster a more collaborative workplace. However, companies often struggle to create a culture that resonates with their employees. In fact, just 20% of team members say they feel connected to their company’s culture.

Lead by example to build a winning culture. It’s important for leadership to set an example and model the company’s values and culture through their actions. This includes respecting all team members, showing their commitment to company goals, and holding themselves accountable for their tasks.

Next, encourage regular feedback from employees. You can ask for feedback through surveys or private channels. Ask for suggestions on how to improve the work environment, management style, and company policies. This shows your employees that you value their opinions and contributions.

Overcoming human resources issues in global remote work environments

Nearly 50% of companies report that they hire more remote full-time people from outside their home country. 

Hiring remote employees has its benefits, but it also brings a unique set of challenges.

Map of remote employees from around the world

Ways to overcome challenges that come with a geographically dispersed team include the following:

  • Use robust communication tools: Handling a remote team isn’t easy when the team members live in different time zones. One solution is to default to asynchronous communication — interactions that don’t occur in real-time. Tools like Loom can be helpful for recording videos and sharing them on Slack channels.

  • Encourage employees to set healthy work boundaries: It can be difficult to disconnect when working remotely. Promote a healthy work balance by encouraging employees to take regular breaks and avoid work-related communications outside of work hours.

  • Practice cultural sensitivity: Make sure to respect any cultural differences that exist among your team members. This includes acknowledging diverse customs and accommodating multiple communication styles.

Manage a global workforce with Remote

HR professionals handle various responsibilities, from handling payroll to complying with local laws and creating inclusive workplaces. Anticipate common HR challenges and use the right platform to proactively address these problems.

With Remote HR Management, you can simplify your payroll, hire employees in different countries, build engaging onboarding processes for your global team, and much more.

Contact us today to start managing a global workforce with Remote.

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