Human Resource Challenges in Small and Medium Size Businesses

Author: Robbie Field, Eastern Institute of Technology

Abstract: Every business, regardless of size, faces challenges in relation to the people they employ and manage. However, current research suggests that the needs and resources of small and medium size enterprises differ to those of larger organisations and that these differences filter through to the human resource challenges that smaller businesses encounter. This paper examines key human resource challenges faced by smaller businesses in Hawke’s Bay, a New Zealand region. The findings of a study indicate that amongst a list of challenges identified, Hawke’s Bay’s small and medium enterprises place considerable emphasis on attracting and retaining employees, motivating employees, providing a quality work environment and adapting to new technologies. Lesser importance is given to other challenges such as dealing with an aging and diverse workforce. These and other findings tend to both support and contradict some current research regarding existing challenges. The research suggests that large organisations’ human resource challenges need to be viewed with caution, especially when overlaying them onto a smaller business. Furthermore, the tendency to look towards human resource challenges faced overseas and to transport them directly to the smaller New Zealand business context is not always feasible or appropriate.