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As much as HR departments are concerned with onboarding new employees and handling the day-to-day relations with current employees, they also need to be aware of large-scale economic situations and public relations scenarios. Preparing for the unexpected might seem like an impossible task, but if a company sets up firm guidelines for an array of situations, it is able to adapt quickly. No matter what challenge arises, there should some precedent to turn toward. Small businesses without a dedicated HR staff may not have the resources to develop such extensive plans. Investing in a third-party HR solution may just be the best way to mitigate long-term costs while minimizing risk at the same time.

Challenge 1: Public relations meltdown
As a small business owner, you might not think your company capable of a public relations misstep. After all, you might not have much contact with the public outside of your advertisements and marketing campaigns. Nevertheless, you should have some plan in place should an employee send the wrong email or some unexpected accident causes a problem. Karen Higginbottom, writing in Forbes, called this “reputation management.” Think of it as a way of maintaining your company’s mission statement in light of the worst disaster. If your business isn’t able to live up to its promises because of an accident, a reputation management plan will get you back on track as fast as possible.

It's important to have an employee succession plan.It’s important to have an employee succession plan.

Challenge 2: Aging populations
Highly developed countries like the U.S., Canada and Japan all have aging populations. This is partly due to the baby boomer generation reaching retirement. As such, HR departments have to handle older employees as they transition out of the workforce and into retirement. The Houston Chronicle noted that this means it’s more important than ever to have a succession plan. HR staff should work with upper management members to plan for mid-level training and interview procedures. When an employee in a high position retires, there should be a mechanism that immediately goes into action to begin the process of filling the role.

Challenge 3: Navigating health care
Since the inception of President Barack Obama’s health care law, there’s been a lot of confusion about medical insurance. On one side of the coin, recipients of medical insurance are often perplexed about their coverage while on the other side of the coin, employers may not be aware of every nuance of the law. This can make for some potentially costly problems. Even dedicated HR staffers may need some time before they are completely competent at dealing with the new laws. Finding an outside HR solution may be the best course of action.

Retention rates can be improved by paying more attention to company culture.Retention rates can be improved by paying more attention to company culture.

Challenge 4: Retention rates
In some industries, millennial employees may be more likely to change jobs more frequently than their predecessors. For employers, this means spending more resources on training and onboarding. Entrepreneur John Rampton, in an Inc. magazine column, reported that retention rates are, unsurprisingly, related to company culture, compensation and benefits. As a small business, you might not be able to control the benefits you provide, but you can control the culture in your office. Make time spent in the office enjoyable and you just might see an improvement in your retention rates.