Daniel Balanescu

Challenges in HR Management

The quite storm-beaten business environment as of & post-2007/2008, the related dismay, the subsequent timid and cautious stabilization or recovery attempts and – last but not least – the present resumption, they have all triggered changes in the HR Management scope, roles & priorities of companies as well.

The present summary touches upon recent challenges in HR Management and shifting trends of HR functions in corporations. The findings are related to the Romanian business market. Some observations may be therefore universally valid; others may have solely a local ‘flavor’ or be limited to a regional CEE or European outreach.


Hierarchical & Functional HR Challenges

  • The most visible and acute HR drift is towards business partnering. Several companies have structured their HR Department as to accommodate and dedicate an HR Business Partner to every main line of business (Commercial HR BP, Production HR BP, Business Unit / Operations / Country-regional HR BP, etc.). Assigned to a specific activity line of the company’s business, the HR Business Partner is closely collaborating with the business managers in the allocated area, gaining access to daily enterprise operations, helicopter-view on targets & goals and measuring her/his contribution against the business targets of the apportioned sphere. The HR BP function is often synonym for an HR Manager role in an e.g. sales & marketing organization (the Commercial HR BP in a sales & production company can easily take over a HR Manager role in a company that solely relies on sales, marketing & distribution; the same goes for a Production HR BP, who can always function as an HR Manager on behalf of a factory or plant operation). The HR BP usually reports both to the HR Manager/Director and to the Business Manager in charge of the dedicated activity line (e.g. Commercial Manager, Plant Manager, etc.).
  • Once an HR BP structure gained ground and leverage, some companies decided to abolish the local country-based HR Manager/Director function. Various companies are functioning now with a sole Regional (Hub) HR Manager/Director (responsible for several countries with regional affiliation) and maintain locally, country-based, an HR BP structure only.
  • Still cautious related to headcount expansion, several companies chose not to employ dedicated professionals for various HR functions (recruitment management, organizational development, training & learning, compensation & benefits, etc.). Many prefer to enlarge job scopes of existing HR employees. The most frequent practice I encountered is for an HR Business Partner to act as a dedicated HR person for the assigned business area and, additionally, to fulfill at company-level & across the entire organization a supplementary functional role (Recruitment Manager, OD Manager, Learning & Development Manager, etc.).
  • The establishment of regional hubs (which has already tradition for multiple corporations) and the more recent set-up of shared service centers (HR included), have also affected local HR Management roles. Romania either hosts regional roles (HR coverage included) or maintains a local status with diminished strategic requests for a Country HR Manager/Director.
  • In-house HR is downsizing and outsourcing is increasing.
  • More and more specialized HR roles are taking over the assignments of HR generalists.

Daniel Balanescu


Career Progression Challenges for Local HR Managers/Directors

Based on the developments previously described, local HR Managers/Directors are facing real progression difficulties within their own companies. Often obliged to firmly state internal career options, local HR Managers are ‘forced’ into international careers and expatriation options, most likely in regional roles with functional HR coverage (e.g. Regional/European Talent Acquisition & Management, Regional/European OD, etc.). Alternatively, they opt for a career shift outside their current company. There are few HR Managers/Directors who desire and succeed to access ‘lateral’ management roles with their current employer (making a transition to business management – in commercial management areas, PR & Communication, etc.).

Daniel Balanescu


General HR Challenges

  • Attracting & Managing relevant Talent and Skills (especially for specialized or niche positions)
  • Retention Planning
  • Employer Branding
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Accommodating Generation Y and (soon enough) Z and managing generational shifts
  • Organizing Internship Programs (to attract and subsequently retain high-flyers)
  • Managing Cultural Transformation
  • Designing and Sustaining a Learning Organization
  • Enhancing Employee Commitment
  • Managing Work-Life Balance
  • Agile working, flex-time arrangements, telecommuting, job sharing, etc.
  • Assimilating intrapreneurship / extrapreneurship
  • Integrating and updating Technology in daily HR Operations
  • Embracing analytics and ‘big data’
  • Incorporating Social Media as means for recruitment & research on trends, behaviors, lifestyle preferences, etc.
  • Empowering & embracing business transparency
  • Succession Planning
  • Managing Outsources HR services
  • Management of remote workforce
  • Performance Management
  • Learning & Development
  • Leadership vs. Management
  • Moving focus from headcount to total workforce costs
  • Creating a regional & global skills supply chain
  • Adopting a consulting model in providing HR services
  • Nurturing collaboration with PR & Communication for engaging employees in CSR activities

Daniel Balanescu


New HR Roles and New Entries in HR Management Roles

More and more companies are employing / advancing non-HR professionals into HR Management roles, aiming thus to better align HR to business and to reinvent HR itself

Lead on Employer Branding is taken over by PR & Communication and/or Marketing specialists

Wellbeing Officer”, a function often derived from HR, aiming to watch over employees’ satisfaction related to work environment, alternative engagement programs, health care, work-life balance, etc.

Ranking first among “Change Champions” in an organization undergoing remodeling / reshaping / resizing / etc. should be HR professionals


Daniel Balanescu


The (open to debate) Future of HR Roles in Romania

Local HR Manager / Director roles will be kept solely if they are strategically involved in business.

Competitive local HR Managers will move into Regional / European / Global HR functions.

There will be an increase of local HR Business Partner appointments in the next few years.

Specialized HR functions will prevail and diminish the number of HR generalists.

Outsourcing companies will employ even more HR functions.

The number of freelance HR Consultants will increase.

New HR-related roles will emerge, relating to implementation of HR technology, data analytics, agile working environments, wellbeing.


I am very much looking forward to receiving your comments, observations and input related to “Challenges in HR Management”!


Featured Artist & Copyright: Daniel Balanescu

“I love textile the most. I imagine the same piece of fabric in various situations. A piece of veil stretched upon a sofa can decorate a room. The same veil, stretched on a frame can be a work of art all onto itself. On a woman’s body it is fashion. I am not afraid of the derisory. My story needs to be told and I tell it no matter what the person who will someday own it does with my drawing. If the story is important, it remains so whatever the context.” D.B.


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