Is Your Company Too Small for HR?

Jeana Quigley

small business hrEvery company started somewhere. Sometimes it’s a small group of people gathered around a cast-off kitchen table in a basement. Or someone working a regular 9-to-5 job with an idea that keeps gnawing its way to the surface. Perhaps, there’s an actual office space and a bean-bag chair (possibly a CEO reading Louis L’Amour books) where a company was morphed out of a simple “what if.”

Then someone took that idea and ran. Things started to pick up. You got some customers, then hired a couple salespeople. Next, an additional programmer or two and maybe someone to do a bit of marketing. You know you need to hire people in certain positions, but it seems like HR is one of the last to be considered. Because often, someone else adds the job of cutting paychecks to their long list of to-dos while the founder does the hiring.

Sadly, this isn’t the exception. Startups sometimes can go for quite some time without a dedicated HR employee. But what small businesses don’t know is that there’s a ton of value in putting an HR department into place—even if it’s a one-man (or woman) band.

Here are five areas where it can pay to hire a dedicated HR pro early on:

  1. Compliance and legal issues. One of the hardest lessons for new companies to learn is that compliance is no small thing. If you don’t comply with certain laws and regulations, it can have serious (and expensive) consequences! This is one area where a dedicated HR professional can really set things straight! A dedicated HR pro can also keep tabs on the required employee files to ensure compliance.
  1. Recruiting. One person shouldn’t be calling all the shots on recruiting. And the owner(s) have so many other important things to do that they can’t be expected to rifle through a ton of resumes and call references. Plus, it’s always a good idea to collaborate on hiring efforts. Having an HR professional help with the interviewing and decision-making gives a different perspective and offers a balance.
  1. Policies. Whether you’re a startup or not, your people need to take time off. That means you need to have some sort of time-off policy in place or it will just be chaos. HR software can help with tracking time off, but it’s important to create policies (not limited to time off, of course) thoughtfully and HR needs to be there to support those policies.
  1. Benefits. If your company is growing and hiring (as most startups are), you need to be offering new hires great benefits or you probably won’t get the quality of hires you’d like. HR knows what’s expected in your industry and high-quality applicants. A dedicated HR pro can be the one to determine the best plans and be there to implement them.
  1. Strategy. HR has a lot to offer management about business goals and solutions. If HR is considered from the beginning, it can be integral in helping owners determine the course the company will take. HR will be strategically providing ideas for creating a lasting (and awesome) culture that will attract and retain great talent. HR can also be a great presence to keep the focus on training (and continuing to develop) employees and will be willing to implement these programs. Owners and management won’t have the time to do it. HR can step up and help direct the company in a strategic way!

HR shouldn’t be an afterthought. Most companies aren’t too small for HR. It’s one of the most valuable positions to be filled in a growing company. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter the size of the company because every company still needs similar HR functions—just at a smaller capacity. When companies think about HR early, they’ll find nothing (or nobody) slips through the cracks.

Want more on future-focused HR strategies? See The Future of Human Resources.