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What Ails You? HR Professionals Name Their Pain Points

Human Resources

Even if you love your work as a human resources professional, every job has its “pain points.” We asked a number of attendees at the 2015 Society for Human Resource Management Conference in Las Vegas what irks them—and may bother you as well. And while it’s therapeutic to vent about your issues, we also suggest possible remedies.  

Recruitment and Retention


HR pros said finding and retaining talent is an ongoing challenge.

  • Younger workers are less loyal than baby boomers to their employers. The younger generation wants career flexibility and will readily leave for a better offer. 
  • Retention is difficult when a company can’t match pay and benefits with those of competitors. Surprisingly, one HR director improved retention by allowing some employees to wear flip-flops to work.
  • Colleges and universities are not always fertile ground for recruiting. An HR manager in the manufacturing industry said he finds most applicants on Craigslist.
  • Employees often leave because they don’t feel valued. HR must strive to hire supportive managers.
  • It’s difficult to recruit and retain applicants that have a positive attitude, are a “fit” with the corporate culture, and will take ownership of their work.


Consider adopting online recruiting and applicant tracking, background screening, and employee checking, as well as an efficient new-hire process to provide necessary documents and communicate key information. Establish an employee recognition and reward program and study approaches methods that other successful companies use to recruit and retain their own staff.

Technology Troubles


Automation gets mixed reviews from HR practitioners as it can sometimes present new problems in the wake of those it solves. For example:

  • Workers who are used to old ways of doing things may resist change and have difficulty adapting to the latest technology and methods. 
  • Software may not work as fluidly as vendors portray. Problems with automated payroll and other personnel systems can disrupt a company.  
  • Technology can result in the loss of valuable staff. One manager lost two administrative employees when her CEO laid them off after installing a new HR system.
  • Separate systems for HR functions such as payroll, applicant tracking and expense management create headaches when the programs don’t work well with each other. Buying automated support in a piecemeal fashion can create a tangle of duplicate data entry, hard-to-find data, and the need to train people on multiple systems.


Research integrated programs to carry out various HR, finance, and communication systems. Work closely with the vendor to ensure its products are appropriate for your company, user-friendly, and reliable, and that customer service will be prompt, effective, and available whenever you need it.

Time-Consuming Employee Issues Prevent a Strategic Role for HR


Working with unhappy employees is a necessary piece of HR job descriptions, but many professionals we talked with believe it consumes far too much of their time.

  • One HR professional described her work day as a “revolving door” of discontented staff. She and others said that dealing with worker grievances keeps them trapped in minutia, making it difficult, if not impossible, to move into a more strategic role.
  • Time-consuming staff issues make it hard for HR pros to quantify productivity. It also perpetuates senior management’s belief that HR is primarily administrative.


Help employees become more positive, constructive, and engaged. Work with managers to set clear expectations, assist individuals who need extra attention, and reward achievement. Provide management-training opportunities. Promote from within the company whenever possible. Establish an incentive program to stimulate achievement. As noted above, hire for attitude as well as knowledge and technical skill.

It’s true that if a job was all fun and games, it wouldn’t be called work, but it doesn’t have to be pure drudgery either. Human resources experts can apply these and other tactics and resources to ease their pain points and increase opportunities for strategic contributions.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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