Most Common Issues Facing HR And How To Deal With Them

15.02.21 11:47 AM

HR – The unofficial psychologist, event planner, peace maker, lawyer & teacher! In this post we look at the most common issues facing HR and how to deal with them

The swiss army knife of any business, nobody said working in HR was going to be easy. Every day throws up a new challenge, something that will take a huge amount of your time. As a result, that ever-growing list of to-dos just keeps getting bigger as deadlines are missed and the pressure starts to build.

You try to get your head down but there is always someone screaming for your attention (or someone hassling you on the phone) making each day feel like you are going into battle and sacrificing your productivity.

Gone are the days where HR used to be purely admin-driven. Just checking boxes whether people were conforming with policies and employment law. 

HR is now much more commercial. They have to know their organisation inside and out. The main task of HR is to now get the most out of the company’s greatest asset – it’s people. 

There always seem to be the same common issues that keep cropping up, but if you are prepared you can take the stress out of the situation and get your productivity back on track

Common issues facing HR

Employee queries

Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from it. They can be the most easily answered questions right down to the most random query you can imagine. 

The HR department is the interface between the business and the staff so any issues relating to their employment or brewing disputes must be channelled through the HR team to ensure it is dealt with quickly, fairly and importantly with accuracy

With the right systems in place, any questions surrounding contracts, wages, policies and procedures can easily be accessed to provide consistent data – data which is key to function working smoothly. 

Employee retention

You’ve spent years training an employee, investing time and money into them only to watch them leave. Now you have to put your hand in your pocket and start all over again. 

Why did they leave? What did we do to stop them leaving? How will we prevent the same thing happening in the future? These are questions that will be asked of HR but sometimes it’s just simply out of your control. 

Was it lack of progression? A dispute? Was it lack of training? A pay issue? Maybe simply it was time for them to move on naturally? 

Was it lack of progression? A dispute? Was it lack of training? A pay issue? Maybe simply it was time for them to move on naturally? 

Remuneration, incentives and culture are the three areas you need to focus on in order to improve employee retention. Wages should be fair, consistent and in line with market expectations, incentives should be inventive and the culture should foster a family feel one team one dream kind of feel about it.

Everyone wants to feel wanted, so the more wanted an employee feels, the more of an emotional connection they will have with the business which in turn drives longevity in their employment.


Employees are either productive or they are not, there’s no two ways about it or an in between.

To address poor productivity, you must first zero in to where and how it is happening

Which departments are suffering from the poor output? Can you trace the source to a particular employee or group of employees?

Once low productivity points are identified, you can now look to rectifying them with a simple ‘time and motion’ study. This can be carried out to review how tasks are performed and who is in charge of their completion. Inefficiencies will quickly become clear during this process, as will any lingering personnel issues.

Sometimes just a focus on motivation or additional training may all that’s needed to get that productivity back on track.

Health & Safety

The mention of Health & Safety brings thoughts of mountains of laborious paperwork and can lead employees to take no interest in the safety of the workplace. This in turn is going to give you big head aches should something happen.

Yea paperwork is boring, who wants to read through a 60-page book about the do’s and don’ts of Health and Safety in the workplace. 

But who said it has to be boring? How you present the policy will determines it’s buy in. You must create health and safety regulations with supporting documentation which are fair but make sure it is engaging!

Try swapping lengthy boring policy documents for something more visual and brighter. Your imagination is the only thing holding you back here. As long as you are getting a clear and concise message across, how you deliver that is pretty much up to you. 

Finally, make sure the policy is fit for purpose and up with the times! If your business is forward thinking then so should your policies. If you try to modernise something from the stone age, you can forget any buy in from your employees.

Diversity & Discrimination

Unfortunately there is no escaping the fact that one off the common issues facing HR is diversity and discrimination which remain key problems in business.

Any modern business should have a policy in place relating to diversity in the workplace. With the policy in place, you’ll always have a formal document to turn to in the event of an issue. This will ensure fairness and transparency so there are no grey areas that can be misinterpreted

It is also sensible to record demographic data when bringing on new hires. Make it part of the recruitment process and you’ll quickly build a business that demonstrates its commitment to diversity.

Also make sure every incident involving discrimination is fully recorded and stored for future reference. If you’re following company policy, you need to demonstrate that you have done so in the past, and that will only be possible with good record keeping.

Disciplinary procedures

Another common issue facing HR is every incident that requires a disciplinary process should follow the same process without fail. Keep records of communication, follow the procedures and make absolutely no exceptions which will leave you potentially exposed to legal action being taken against you.

Disciplinary processes are only the bane of HR departments if they’re open to interpretation or not followed correctly. Make life easy for yourself by keeping things consistent.


Well of course I was going to talk about Recruitment! This is another common issues facing HR as finding the right people is incredibly challenging and time consuming. There may be an abundance of CV’s on the market at present, but recruitment is just one of many plates you are spinning to keep your head above water – and keep those productivity levels up!

Recruitment at the moment has gone internally purely because budgets have been cut so the elaborate recruitment agency spend is no more. But that responsibility is now at your feet and another task for you to complete by the deadline.

I wrote an article about why you should use food recruit Vs relying on job boards In this article I detailed how job boards alone can work, but do not always get you the intended results. With Food Recruit you can have the support of an agency service but without the hefty price tag. Clear, transparent and honest. 

I also wrote about 10 tips to recruit directly and do it right This gives you a step by step walkthrough of how to recruit directly, but ensuring you do the process correctly and so hire in the most effective way and not compromise your companies brand or image


There is a grey area between Accounts and HR and that is Payroll. HR hold the records about salary, benefits and bonuses for example whilst accounts are responsible with actually making the payment and interfacing with HMRC. This divide can sometimes lead to payroll delay or payment errors to staff, god help you if you get that wrong!

To prevent any issues or potential pay issues which is a sure way to damage morale, you should invest in a dedicated solution that interfaces between HR software and your accountancy system. 

By uniting both departments electronically, most of the manual headaches associated with pay can be resolved automatically.

Dedicated payroll software helps ensure staff get paid what they are entitled to, when they expect it. Your HR department will also benefit from a reduction in queries, helping to better spread the workload throughout the rest of the month.

So to conclude

So I have listed the most common workplace HR issues. Of course, there are more, HR is a tough job and the challenges are endless. Thankfully, you now have all you need to tackle them head-on, reduce the number of occurrences and ensure you can help build a business that has a productive, happy workforce at its heart.

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Scott Williams
Director of Food Recruit 
07835 426149
[email protected] 

I’m an independent owner of Food Recruit. Passionate about the Food & Drink industry having spent time as a Supply Chain Manager and Business Development Manager for two of the UK’s largest meat importers. High Care, Low Care, Chilled and Ambient I have worked across all markets including B2B, Foodservice, Wholesale and Retail.

I fell into recruitment in 2016 to start a Food & Drink desk in a long standing Engineering Recruitment business in the West Midlands. Progressing on to Business Development Manager covering multiple markets before starting my own agency in September 2020.