By Elizabeth Hang, HR Practice Director, Robert Half

Take it from me, there’s rarely a slow day in the human resources department, especially now. Charged with handling all types of personnel issues — from recruiting to retention and everything in between — HR teams provide the foundation for a well-staffed and smartly managed company.

Like so many business operations, HR was massively disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic as companies shifted the very basics of how we work, where we work and the technologies we use to make work happen. They now provide the go-to guidance for workers, managers and C-suite leaders for navigating workplace change. In a sense, HR leaders are analyzing and defining the future of work for all.

Meanwhile, they juggle a wide range of day-to-day responsibilities that are becoming more complex and challenging. Here are five of today’s most difficult HR responsibilities and how professionals are solving them.

1. Identifying and hiring candidates for open jobs

Job openings remain near historic highs, and the pool of job seekers continues to shrink, so it’s understandable that 90% of organizations we surveyed report their greatest challenge is hiring skilled professionals for their organization, especially recruiting and identifying the right job applicant.

HR teams must be more adept than ever at locating talent beyond placing job ads. At the same time, they must excel at marketing their companies to potential employees so the most skilled applicants are eager to join their team.

Recruiters are finding candidate sourcing success through other channels like soliciting recommendations from their own team and working their personal and professional networks, including social media. This is the time for recruiters to have boots on the ground, exploring their community for potential prospects. Many will start working with an external talent solutions firm to broaden their search even wider.

2. Managing remote and hybrid work

Providing HR leadership in remote and hybrid workplaces requires some new competencies. Critically, HR professionals should consider developing people managers into “coach-leaders” who can manage workforces equitably and effectively wherever they are. This means educating them on unconscious biases that could favor onsite team members over those working remotely.

Additionally, HR professionals are leaning in on techniques for keeping remote employees engaged, motivated and on track through tailored development plans and goals. They are also pursuing new approaches to building a successful organizational culture in a remote environment.

My own company is providing a great model for this. When it was safe after COVID, Robert Half adopted a voluntary remote and hybrid work policy that really empowered employees to do what was best for them, allowing them to work with their teams and supervisors to decide what they wanted their schedules to look like. As long as they're meeting performance standards, I believe our employees have earned some flexibility.

Additionally, I have been so impressed with the tools and strategies they’ve rolled out that enable managers to successfully oversee remote and hybrid teams. Such large policy shifts require strong, all-level leadership from the C-suite to people managers.

3. Managing benefits and perks programs

Our most recent Salary Guide shows 83% of HR managers have added new benefits in response to today’s hiring market, bringing a lot of new tasks to the HR desk. Companies are adding remote work, mental health resources, wellness programs, stipends for home offices and flextime — all of which require HR’s strategic engagement.

Paid time off is today’s most popular benefit behind health care, and it’s clear people are looking for more flexibility when it comes to leave. In fact, it was the No. 1 perk employees want more of. But leave is not a one-size-fits-all benefit, so HR leaders must be able to understand their employee population and the individual needs represented within.

I also see organizations bringing the whole DEI conversation to total rewards packages. HR professionals are always challenged to ensure the benefits they select for the workforce are appealing to employees of all ages and stages of their lives and careers.

For instance, those with more experience may prioritize different offerings than those just starting out or those raising families. Getting the balance right means constantly evaluating and adjusting benefit offerings to ensure they're inclusive and valuable to everyone.

4. Ensuring pay equity

Preventing workers from being lured away by better salaries, impressive titles or attractive perks rests on the shoulders of our HR teams, and they are under more pressure than ever to ensure compensation is competitive.

The hiring blitz we saw during the Great Resignation led to an overall increase in starting salaries as new employees were brought in urgently at higher levels than tenured employees in similar roles. This pay compression has been observed by more than half of C-suite executives we surveyed (56%).

Pay compression can lead to employee disengagement, recruiting challenges and potential turnover. HR professionals are tackling the problem through extensive surveys, salary and benefit reviews, and other adjustments to attract talent and prevent turnover. To close wage gaps for current staff, most organizations (63%) are raising salaries.

5. Staffing HR roles within the organization

Despite the ever-shifting workplace landscape and its inescapable challenges, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be in HR. Over the past three years, HR leaders proved they are essential to the success of an organization. I believe this has opened limitless opportunities in this career path.

Almost 60% of HR managers plan to hire for new roles on their teams in the first half of 2023, but it’s a steep challenge. Even when we aren't facing a talent shortage, it's hard to recruit those adept at HR. We are looking for people who view HR as more than a job. It's a calling, and it takes a person who cares about people as much, if not more, than policies and procedures.

So, when we place HR candidates, I want to make sure it’s a position that will feed their soul and enable them to do the impactful work they’re looking for.

HR leaders don’t want to be in the “personnel department” anymore. They want to walk into an organization where they are empowered to influence leaders, support workers and unleash solutions for shaping future workplaces.

Follow Elizabeth Hang on LinkedIn.