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4 key people challenges in business and professional services – and how to fix them

As business and professional services continue to evolve, HR leaders are increasingly facing more complex challenges when it comes to managing their employees and need the skillset and agility necessary to keep up with their demands.

This article will explore some of the key people challenges such organisations are dealing with today, and how to solve them. By understanding and mastering these issues, business and professional services organisations can better prepare themselves for success in the future:

  • Keeping up with new technology and changing demands
  • Recruiting and retaining employees
  • Training and upskilling employees for new roles or current ones
  • Building a diverse workforce to promote inclusivity

Keeping up with new technology and changing demands

As businesses strive to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in their market, they rely on their HR team to help guide them through this ever-changing landscape.

A primary challenge faced by many HR leaders is adapting to advances in technology that are both rapidly changing and highly complex. With technology playing an increasingly important role in how businesses operate, understanding the latest trends and implementing them into their organization is key for HR professionals.

As well as technology, HR teams must grapple with industry trends that can either make or break a business – meaning they must have complete knowledge of their field in order to help drive strategic decision making.

It’s also necessary to consider how employee expectations and demands are changing, and what they need from their workplace today – from better benefits packages to increased flexibility in where and how they fulfil their role.

HR teams must fully understand their employees’ needs and wants, so that they can create an environment where both employer and staff are happy. One of the best ways to do so is by using employee surveys to understand what your people really think about your organisation – as we’ll discuss later on.

Recruiting and retaining employees

The difficulty of recruiting and retaining staff has become a major challenge for HR leaders in business and professional services. This is largely due to job-hopping becoming increasingly common, with many employees open to looking for new opportunities – meaning HR teams must work hard to ensure they’re attracting the best talent and making their workplace appealing to potential recruits.

They also need to find ways of keeping employees engaged and motivated in order to prevent them from leaving. One way of achieving this is by offering attractive benefits packages that include flexible working hours, health insurance, and other incentives.

Staff retention can also be increased by creating a positive working environment that encourages collaboration and innovation. Once again, employee surveys can be used as a tool to understand how staff feel about their work experience, as well as uncover any areas where improvements are needed. This is invaluable information that can help HR teams better understand their workforce and how best to retain them.

Training and upskilling employees for new roles or current ones

With rapid technological advancements, industry trends changing rapidly, and ever-evolving expectations from employees, companies must not only adapt their practices but also ensure that their employees have the skills necessary to meet these changes. This can be especially difficult if a new role requires certain skillsets or qualifications that may not already exist in-house.

In such cases, HR teams must develop comprehensive training plans that encompass all required skillsets and qualifications. This could include everything from traditional classroom instruction to more modern approaches such as online courses, virtual reality simulations, and even gamification techniques.

For existing employees, HR teams must ensure they’re regularly assessing their people’s skill levels and abilities against changing industry requirements, then design training programs accordingly to help them stay ahead of the curve.

HR teams should also look for ways to incentivise their staff to upskill themselves in order to increase productivity. One way to do this is by providing tuition reimbursement programmes or offering rewards such as salary increases based on successful completion of new courses or certifications.

But it’s important for organisations to recognise that employee development takes time. Consequently, they should take extra care when planning out training initiatives in order to ensure their teams are able to learn at an optimal pace without feeling overwhelmed or overworked.

Building a diverse workforce to promote inclusivity

This is essential for any business or professional services organisation wanting to promote inclusivity and foster an environment where all employees feel comfortable and accepted. However, creating a truly diverse team can be challenging for HR leaders as it requires not only recruiting from different backgrounds but also making sure that individuals from these backgrounds are properly supported and given equal opportunities to thrive.

A key part of this process is being aware of unconscious bias when hiring – which often goes undetected if left unchecked. To combat this, HR teams must ensure the recruitment process is fair and transparent by developing guidelines that include criteria based on competency rather than personal preference or existing preconceptions. It’s also important to actively seek out potential candidates from different backgrounds, such as through diversity-focused job boards or networking events aimed at promoting workplace diversity.

Once a diverse team has been built, it’s important for HR leaders to continue nurturing inclusivity by creating an open and safe environment for all employees. This can begin with small steps such as implementing policies that recognise the need for flexibility and respect the boundaries of personal beliefs and cultural values. Companies should also look into offering support systems such as mentoring programs to ensure all staff have access to the same resources regardless of their background.

Understanding what employees really think about your organisation

Understanding what your employees think about your company is crucial – and that’s where employee surveys come in. They can provide valuable insights into how your people perceive their work environment, job satisfaction, and opportunities for growth, and help identify problem areas and address them in a timely manner.

High levels of employee engagement translate to increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and lower turnover rates. Through employee surveys, employers can identify areas that may be causing low engagement levels and take corrective measures to address them.

Employee surveys also provide a platform for employees to voice their concerns and provide feedback on their work environment – including things like the effectiveness of training and development programmes, which we’ve already highlighted as a focus area.

By listening to their employees’ feedback – and acting on it – business and professional services organisations can identify workplace issues and implement changes or interventions that lead to a better work environment. Addressing workplace issues can enhance employee satisfaction and boost morale.

High employee turnover can significantly impact a company’s performance and customer satisfaction. Employee surveys can identify factors contributing to high turnover rates, such as inadequate compensation, lack of opportunities for growth, or a poor work environment. By addressing these factors, organisations can reduce turnover rates and retain top talent.

Finally, as long as your organisation makes a clear effort to address the feedback received, employee surveys can strengthen communication and trust between employees and their employers. By seeking their employees’ feedback and responding to their concerns, businesses can enhance their employees’ sense of value and investment in the company – which, in turn, can improve loyalty and retention.

Why should you focus on employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a deep rational and emotional connection to your organisation and the work you do. It’s the outcome of a great employee experience, and starts during the recruitment process – before you even turn up for your first day.

Engagement is important because it unlocks the potential of each individual, their motivation, and maximises their discretionary effort. If they’re engaged enough to become advocates for your organisation, engagement can live on long after employees leave – which has a tangible impact on commercial outcomes for your business.

You can read more about how to reach and engage employees in business and professional services in our article here, and how to improve employee engagement here.


WorkBuzz helps you can gather real-time feedback from your people through regular employee listening, via our simple, flexible, customisable employee engagement platform. We also offer expert consultancy through our People Science team, so you can action the feedback in a way that drives positive change across your organisation.

Our team comes with a wealth of experience supporting business and professional services organisations of all sizes, including Fieldfisher, Clyde & Co, Osborne Clarke and more.

If you’re looking for more advice on how to support your organisation during these challenging times, don’t hesitate to book a demo today. We can help you devise and implement strategies that will ensure the continued success of your business in the years to come.

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