What are your biggest HR Pain Points?

We had a fun time at #ALSHRM16 learning from some HR thought leaders. In keeping with our tradition to learn more, not only from the conference presenters but also from attendees at the conference, we asked people to respond to the question, “What are your biggest HR pain points?”


Although in no way a scientific study, here is what we got:


First of all, as a comparison to last year’s pain points gathered at  #ALSHRM15 we see:

  • Compliance training lost the number one spot by a landslide to one of last year’s number two contenders- Employee Development (thank goodness, employee development as we call at Horizon Point, is “fun HR” instead of legalistic HR)
  • A rise in concern over Benefits (ACA issues anyone?)
  • Other categories seemed to remain consistent, with leadership training continuing to be high on the list and a slight uptick seen in challenges related to talent sourcing/acquisition AKA- recruiting


How do we address these pain points? 

The list of challenges and the list of potential solutions in any field, not just HR, could be endless, but one theme emerged from the conference that could potentially help address all areas, in particular the top two pain points of employee benefits and employee development. And this is to FOCUS ON STORY. Help tell your company’s story and get your employees to tell theirs. 

Whether it was the “Black Guy in the C Suite”(Marlin Smith) talking about diversity challenges, the hysterical Kristin Scroggins talking about addressing generational issues in the workplace, Laurie Ruettimann talking about what HR should measure or Cord Sachs discussing recruiting, all emphasized the human side of HUMAN resources, which starts with story.

  • Want to address benefit issues, do you know what benefits your employees find valuable? This is found in their story. Who are they? What do the need and want for themselves and their family? You’ll be likely to find a variety of responses if you have a diverse workforce. So, design an al a carte benefits plan where employees can self-select what they want and need, but select benefits that are in keeping with your company’s culture in that list of options (see the recruiting challenge bullet). This can help you save on benefit costs and definitely control rising costs.  Give employees a pre-defined amount they can spend on benefits and let them self-select. A good podcast on this concept can be found at HR Happy Hour.
  • Want to develop employees, it goes back to the same point, find out who they are through the solicitation of their story. For resources on how to do this, see below. When you know the answer to “who” you can then better design the “what” and “how”.
  • Having trouble with talent acquisition? Define your company’s story and focus on relational recruitment by sharing this story at the beginning of the recruitment process and getting the candidate to share theirs.  Is there a fit? For example, job postings at Kenetix tell a story- case in point, this one.
  • Make sure your numbers/analytics tell a clear story. Measure and address the numbers that can be predictive, not backward looking. This helps shape your company’s story by letting numbers give credibility to that story. Numbers can tell a story about what benefits you should and shouldn’t offer as well as what type of employee development needs to take place.

Here are some tools that help you convey the importance of story and/or solicit your company and employee’s story. We suggest you incorporate some of these into any employee development, teambuilding and/or leadership training you utilize:

Story and Empathy

The Privilege Walk

Wildsparq Leadership Development Platform The first module of this platform starts with STORY.

Project Implicit

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work The appendix of this book has great questions designed to engage people in a discussion of their story.


What’s your story? What’s your company’s? Are you allowed to tell it?

Mary Ila Ward

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