Challenges in HR Operations

One reason companies don’t invest in creating a dedicated HR department is because they fear too many challenges will render the effort useless and create more problems than it’s worth to have HR professionals on staff. Once identified, HR operational challenges can be minimized and even eliminated. Overcoming HR operational challenges involves looking at all of the factors involved in making an HR department work: recruitment and selection, automatic processing of employment actions and hiring staff that can address the challenges head-on.


Ineffective HR technology can create havoc in HR operations. Technology solutions — meaning the human resources information systems — are supposed to streamline the recruitment and selection actions, improve payroll efficiency and protect the confidentiality of personnel data and records. An HRIS that doesn’t meet the needs of an organization can be ineffective because it’s outdated, improperly installed or too complex an application for HR staff with limited skills. HR operations become challenging when the technology simply doesn’t work for the organization.

Staff Qualifications

Companies can’t always train HR staff, particularly when they’re in start-up mode, and they require HR employees whose ramp-up time is minimal so they can get a new company off the ground. Experienced recruiters, benefits and employee relations specialists, training experts and HR managers are critical to smoothly running HR operations. Absent a well-qualified staff, an organization risks losing employees who become discouraged with the lack of expertise in handling simple or routine employment matters. Also, inexperienced HR staff might not be trained to handle employee relations issues properly, which can cause employers to become embroiled in litigation or formal complaints about their employment practices. These types of challenges are time-consuming and costly.

Manager Support

HR departments are only as effective as the company’s leadership team that supports its activities and heeds advice from HR management. HR operations that include direct contact with employees must have support from department supervisors, managers and executive leadership. Lack of support undermines HR operational effectiveness. HR operations, such as disciplinary review, performance standards and appraisals, termination meetings and exit interviews, cannot progress smoothly unless the leadership team’s goals are parallel to HR departmental goals.


HR has never been a revenue-producing department, therefore, it’s difficult to justify expenditures for capital purchases, technology and even staff salaries that support the HR operations. HR managers must demonstrate a return on investment when they propose operational budgets. The challenge for HR operations includes having enough money to sustain department activities, such as background investigations and drug testing for new employees, candidates’ skills assessments, salaries for recruiters who can source applicants and improve the selection process.