Common HR Issues For 2024 Small & Medium-Sized Businesses

Common HR Issues Work Environment

In the dynamic landscape of small and medium-sized businesses, HR issues can often be as varied and complex as those faced by larger corporations. As we move into 2024, it’s crucial for managers and employers to stay ahead of common challenges that can impact their workplace. This blog post explores several common HR issues at work that small and medium-sized businesses are likely to encounter in the coming year. We will delve into the nature of these problems, provide insights on how to identify them, and offer practical solutions to manage them effectively. Whether you’re dealing with performance dips, conflict resolution, toxic behaviors, or attendance issues, understanding these common hurdles can help you foster a more supportive and productive work environment. 



Performance Management

Performance issues rank among the most common hr issues at work that managers and employers encounter, especially within small and medium-sized businesses. Addressing these effectively is crucial for maintaining a productive work environment and ensuring organisational success.


Recognising Performance Issues

To effectively manage performance issues, it’s essential to first recognise them. Here are some scenarios that might resonate with managers trying to identify underperformance in their business:

  • Clear Underperformance: An employee who is not meeting the established job standards, which can be evident in the quality and quantity of their work.
  • Minimum Effort: Some employees do just enough to meet the bare minimum requirements, which can stymie growth and innovation within the team.


Common Managerial Responses

Managers often have instinctual responses to performance issues, which may not always be the most effective approach:

  • Ignoring Minor Issues: Small performance issues are sometimes overlooked or dismissed without feedback. This can lead to significant problems later, potentially requiring disciplinary actions.



Taking action to address current and future performance issues proactively can prevent them from escalating. Here are some strategies to implement:

  • Regular One-on-Ones: Schedule consistent one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and feedback. Use these sessions to adjust goals and expectations as needed.
  • Performance Improvement Plans: Once any performance issues are identified, the manager and employee can develop an improvement plan together.
  • Training: Some performance issues could be due to lack of training for the role, or lack of knowledge in efficiencies like time management. Implementing on-the-job training or upskilling with an external provider can help employees improve performance.

Preventive Measures

Having strong systems in place can also help to prevent performance issues from arising Here are some measures to implement:

  • Frequent Feedback: Provide regular and constructive feedback to encourage employee development. Recognise achievements to motivate continued effort and improvement.
  • Structured Probation Management: Implement a structured 30, 60, and 90-day review process during the probation period to ensure continuous evaluation and support.
  • Hiring and Assessment: Conduct thorough screenings during the hiring process to identify potential underperformers. Utilise behavioral interviews and skills assessments to gauge candidate fit.
  • Effective Onboarding: Set clear expectations from the start during the induction phase. Ensure new hires understand their roles and the standards to which they are held.



Workplace conflict is inevitable, regardless of the size of the business. Effectively managing conflicts can prevent them from escalating and damaging team dynamics and productivity. Understanding the types of conflicts that can occur—both overt and covert—is crucial in addressing them appropriately.


Types of Conflict

  • Overt Conflict: These are clear, open disputes where disagreements or competitive tensions are expressed directly and visibly. Examples include arguments over resource allocation, disagreements about project direction, or open resentment over promotions.
  • Covert Conflict: These conflicts are not always visible but can be just as harmful. Examples include:
    • Passive Aggressiveness: This can manifest as indirect expressions of hostility, such as sarcastic comments, backhanded compliments, or purposeful delays in delivering work.
    • Withdrawal: An employee might become less communicative and withdraw from team interactions, which can be a sign of dissatisfaction or disagreement that they feel unable to express openly.
  • Sabotage: This includes subtle actions taken to undermine the efforts of others. While harder to detect, it can significantly impact team morale and project outcomes.


Strategies for Minimising Conflict

  • Establish Clear Communication Channels: Ensure that there are well-defined ways for employees to communicate their concerns and feedback. Regular team meetings and one-on-one sessions can provide platforms for open dialogue.
  • Set and Enforce Ground Rules: Develop clear rules regarding respectful behavior and conflict resolution. Make sure these guidelines are enforced consistently to maintain a healthy work environment.
  • Promote Team Building Activities: Regular team-building exercises can enhance understanding and cooperation among team members, reducing the chances of conflicts.


Strategies for Managing Conflict

  • Immediate Addressal: Address conflicts as soon as they are noticed, before they escalate. Delay can often make situations worse.
  • Neutral Mediation: In cases of significant disagreement, involve a neutral third party to mediate the discussion. This can help maintain objectivity and fairness.
  • Focus on Problem-Solving: Encourage employees to focus on the issue at hand rather than personal grievances. Structured problem-solving approaches can divert attention from emotional reactions to practical outcomes.
  • Training and Development: Provide conflict resolution training to managers and leaders. Equip them with the skills needed to handle difficult situations effectively and empathetically.


Key Takeaways

Recognising and understanding the various forms of conflict in the workplace is the first step in managing them effectively. By implementing proactive communication strategies and conflict resolution techniques, businesses can not only manage but minimise conflicts, fostering a more harmonious and productive work environment.



Toxic & Bad Behaviour

Toxic behavior in the workplace can undermine a company’s culture, employee morale, and overall productivity. Recognising and addressing these behaviors promptly and effectively is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment.


Identifying Toxic Behaviors

Toxic behavior can manifest in various forms, ranging from subtle to overt actions. Common examples include:

  • Bullying: Intimidation or aggressive behaviors that can be verbal, physical, or psychological.
  • Gossip and Slander: Spreading rumors or making false allegations to tarnish another person’s reputation.
  • Manipulation: Deceiving or coercing others for personal gain or to disadvantage others.
  • Exclusion: Deliberately excluding certain employees from conversations, meetings, or workplace activities without a valid reason.
  • Undermining Work: Habitually criticising or sabotaging the work of others, or taking credit for others’ efforts.


Impact of Toxic Behavior

  • The consequences of allowing toxic behavior to fester in the workplace include:
  • Decreased Employee Morale: Continuous exposure to negative behaviors can lead to a decline in employee morale and job satisfaction.
  • Reduced Productivity: Toxic environments often result in decreased productivity as employees spend more time coping with stress or conflict than focusing on their work.
  • High Turnover Rates: Persistent toxicity can drive employees to leave the company, leading to higher turnover and associated costs.
  • Legal and Reputation Risks: In some cases, toxic behaviors can lead to legal challenges and damage to the company’s reputation.


Strategies for Addressing Toxic Behavior

Effectively managing toxic behavior involves several proactive and reactive measures:

  • Clear Policies: Establish clear policies that define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Ensure these policies are well communicated and understood by all employees.
  • Training Programs: Implement training programs that help employees and managers recognise toxic behaviours and understand how to address them.
  • Encourage Reporting: Create a safe environment for employees to report toxic behavior without fear of retaliation. Ensure there are multiple channels for reporting.
  • Prompt Response: Act promptly and decisively when toxic behavior is reported. Investigations should be thorough and confidential, with appropriate consequences for those found guilty.
  • Support Systems: Provide support systems for victims of toxic behavior, such as access to counseling or a workplace support group.


Key Takeaways

Toxic behaviors, if unchecked, can significantly damage the fabric of the workplace. By recognising the signs early, enforcing strong policies, and supporting affected employees, businesses can create a healthier, more inclusive work environment. Encouraging a culture of respect and accountability ensures that toxicity is minimised and that all employees can thrive.



Absenteeism and Attendance

Absenteeism can significantly impact the productivity and morale of a workplace. Understanding the reasons behind frequent absences and implementing effective strategies to manage attendance is crucial for maintaining operational efficiency.


Understanding Absenteeism

Absenteeism refers to the habitual non-presence of an employee at their job. Patterns of absenteeism can vary, but frequent unexplained or last-minute absences might indicate underlying issues. It’s important to distinguish between legitimate absenteeism (due to illness, family responsibilities, etc.) and problematic absenteeism, which can disrupt work processes.


Common Causes of Absenteeism

Several factors can contribute to high rates of absenteeism, including:

  • Health Issues: Both physical and mental health problems can lead to frequent absences.
  • Workplace Stress: High-stress environments can cause burnout, leading employees to take more sick days.
  • Low Job Satisfaction: Employees who are dissatisfied with their job or workplace environment may be more likely to skip work.
  • Poor Work-Life Balance: Inflexible schedules can lead to conflicts between personal obligations and work, resulting in absences.


Strategies for Managing Absenteeism

Effectively managing absenteeism involves both preventive and reactive measures:

  • Clear Attendance Policies: Establish and communicate clear attendance policies. Make sure employees understand the expectations and consequences related to absences. This includes clear steps for what happens when paid sick leave is exhausted.
  • Monitoring Sick Leave Trends: Actively track sick leave, especially when taken on Mondays, Fridays, or adjacent to public holidays, as these patterns can sometimes indicate less genuine reasons for absence.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible working hours or the option to work from home can help accommodate personal needs and reduce unscheduled absences, aiding in better work-life balance.
  • Extended Paid Sick Leave: Implement policies for extended paid sick leave for those facing longer-term health issues, and outline clear protocols for transitioning when sick leave is exhausted.
  • Employee Support Programs: Introduce support programs that promote employee health and well-being, such as wellness programs, counseling services, and health screenings.
  • Regular Check-Ins and Return-to-Work Interviews: Conduct regular one-on-one meetings and return-to-work interviews to discuss any issues faced during absences and assess the support needed for the employee.
  • Disciplinary Actions: If changes to attendance policies and support mechanisms do not lead to improvements, consider implementing disciplinary actions as necessary to address continuous absenteeism effectively.


Key Takeaways

Managing absenteeism effectively requires a proactive approach that includes understanding the causes, implementing supportive policies, and fostering a workplace culture that prioritises employee well-being. By addressing absenteeism head-on, businesses can improve attendance, enhance productivity, and maintain a happier, more engaged workforce.




Return to Office versus Remote Work and Flexibility 

As businesses navigate the post-pandemic world, the debate between returning to the office and continuing remote work remains a critical issue for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Balancing operational needs with employee preferences for flexibility requires thoughtful strategy and clear communication.


Current Trends and Preferences

  • Employee Expectations: Many employees have come to prefer the flexibility that remote work offers, appreciating the better work-life balance it can provide.
  • Business Needs: On the other hand, certain business operations may benefit significantly from in-person collaboration, leading some employers to advocate for a return to the office.


Challenges and Considerations

  • Productivity Concerns: While some roles see increased productivity in remote settings, others might suffer due to less direct supervision and reduced team interaction.
  • Team Dynamics: Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness, which can affect teamwork and company culture.
  • Technical and Security Issues: Managing remote work also involves logistical considerations, such as ensuring robust IT support and secure data access.


Strategies for Balancing Needs

  • Hybrid Models: Implementing a hybrid work model can be an effective compromise, allowing for part-time office attendance while still offering flexibility.
    • Fixed and Flexible Days: Some businesses establish fixed days for in-office work and flexible days for remote work, which helps in maintaining consistency while accommodating employee preferences.
  • Clear Policies and Expectations: Whether fully remote, in-office, or hybrid, it is crucial to have clear policies that outline expectations and responsibilities.
  • Regular Reviews and Feedback: Engage with employees through regular feedback sessions to assess the effectiveness of the current work arrangement and make adjustments as needed.


Key Takeaways

The decision between returning to the office and offering remote work flexibility isn’t just about individual preferences but about finding the best fit for the business’s and employees’ needs. By adopting flexible work arrangements and regularly revisiting these decisions, SMBs can ensure they remain dynamic and responsive to common hr issues at work that may arise. Effective communication and clear guidelines are essential to make any work model successful, enhancing both productivity and employee satisfaction.



Employee Retention & Attrition

Employee retention is a critical concern for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as high attrition rates can significantly disrupt operations and incur substantial costs. Understanding the factors that contribute to common hr issues at work such as employee turnover and implementing effective strategies to enhance retention is crucial for business stability and growth.


Understanding Attrition in SMBs

  • Consequences of High Turnover: Frequent employee turnover can lead to lost productivity, increased hiring costs, and diminished morale among remaining staff.
  • Common Causes of Attrition: Attrition can often be attributed to factors such as inadequate compensation, limited career advancement opportunities, poor management practices, and lack of recognition.


Strategies for Enhancing Employee Retention

  • Defining EVP: Your Employee Value Proposition should clearly articulate what employees can expect from working at your company in terms of compensation, benefits, career development, culture, and work environment
  • Competitive Compensation and Benefits: Offer fair and competitive salaries along with benefits that could include health insurance, retirement plans, and performance bonuses.
  • Career Development Opportunities: Provide clear career paths and promote from within whenever possible. Offer training and development programs to help employees advance their skills and careers.
  • Positive Workplace Culture: Foster an inclusive and supportive workplace culture. Encourage open communication, recognise employee achievements, and promote work-life balance.
  • Employee Engagement: Regularly engage with employees through surveys, town hall meetings, and one-on-one sessions to gather feedback and address concerns.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Continue to offer flexible working conditions where possible, such as remote work options or flexible hours, to meet the diverse needs of your workforce.


Key Takeaways

To mitigate attrition and enhance retention, SMBs need to adopt a holistic approach that addresses both the professional and personal needs of their employees. By investing in a supportive and engaging work environment, businesses can not only retain top talent but also attract high-quality candidates, thereby securing their operational capabilities and competitive advantage in the market.




Get in Touch with Inject

As 2024 presents its unique set of HR challenges—from managing complex employee relations issues to navigating the intricacies of workforce flexibility—it’s clear that small and medium-sized businesses need robust support to maintain a healthy and productive workplace. Implementing comprehensive HR strategies is essential but can be daunting without the right expertise.


If you are noticing any of the issues discussed here in your workplace, it’s crucial to address them with precision and insight. This is where Inject can make a significant difference. Our team of seasoned HR advisers and experts specialises in identifying and resolving the common hr issues at work that SMBs face. We provide tailored, actionable solutions that are integrated directly into your business operations.


By partnering with Inject, you gain access to a team that is committed to understanding the nuances of your business and implementing effective strategies that foster a vibrant, high-performing work environment.

Other Blogs Recently Posted