SHRM Poll: HR’s Top Challenges in 10 Years Have a Familiar Ring

By Bill Leonard Nov 6, 2012
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When a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) asked HR executives what the profession’s top challenges in the year 2022 would be, the responses changed very little from a similar poll taken in 2010.

In the most recent poll, Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years, nearly 60 percent of the respondents reported that retaining and rewarding the best employees would be their top challenge in 2022. Next was developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52 percent) and creating a corporate culture that attracts and retains the best workers (36 percent).

As a comparison, the top three responses to the 2010 survey were retaining and rewarding the best employees (51 percent), creating an attractive corporate culture (44 percent) and finding employees with specialized job skills (41 percent).

In 2012, HR professionals appear much more concerned with developing leadership in their organization than in 2010. Less than a third (29 percent) of respondents in 2010 identified that as a challenge, while more than half of the survey participants in 2012 said leadership development was a challenge.

The emphasis on leadership skills might be reflected in responses to a question asking survey participants to list the top investment challenges that their organizations will face in 2022: Forty-three percent of survey participants predicted that human capital would be the biggest investment challenge in 2022. Slightly more than a fifth (22 percent) of the respondents reported that organizational finances will be the top investment challenge, while 19 percent predicted that investment in technological capital would be the primary challenge that their organization would face. The top three responses are the same as the 2010 survey with only slight differences in the percentages of respondents.

In addition, SHRM researchers asked the survey participants to predict what the most effective tactics for attracting, retaining and rewarding top talent would be in 2022. Providing flexible work arrangements (40 percent) and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness (37 percent) were ranked as the top two tactics in the most recent poll. The top two responses were the same in the 2010 survey results. The next top responses were tied after 26 percent of respondents listed “having a total rewards package better than competitors” and “offering career advancement opportunities” as the most effective tactics.

According to the survey respondents, the most critical HR competencies in 2022 will be business acumen (42 percent), organizational leadership (40 percent), relationship management (37 percent) and communication (35 percent). Questions about the top future HR competencies were not included in the 2010 survey.

SHRM researchers gathered the survey responses during September 2012. More than 480 HR professionals selected randomly from SHRM’s membership participated in the 2012 poll, while approximately 450 HR professionals responded to the 2010 survey.

Bill Leonard is senior writer for SHRM.

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