For many entrepreneurs, human resources is the antithesis of startup-style dynamism. Like Michael Scott from the TV series The Office, they often think human resources managers spend time working as nitpicky bureaucrats, rather than as key allies in building and growing a successful company.
But at some point, a company is no longer just a tiny team with an idea or product. The more it grows, and the more employees it adds, the harder it is to manage without a formal framework. Somebody (perhaps you) will end up devoting time working on HR-related duties whether or not you hire a dedicated person. Here are signs that your company could use a full-time HR specialist.
More employees = more regulations
In many countries, companies are subject to different regulations based on their size, determined either by revenue or number of employees.
For instance, in the United States, a number of critical regulations kick in when a company hires its fiftieth worker, notably the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the first case, a company is required to grant its workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave after giving birth or to attend to a medical situation in the family. The ACA requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer workers health insurance or else pay a fine.
Another prominent example comes from the United Kingdom. Beginning next year, firms with more than 250 employees will have to begin providing a report to the government detailing how much their male workers are getting paid compared to their female counterparts.
It’s not just existing regulations that your HR team has to keep up with, but the frequent changes in regulations. You don’t want to be caught off guard!
Handling personnel issues
The more the company grows, the less realistic it is that you or another company leader can deal with day-to-day workplace conflicts between employees. When there were only 10 of you, it might make sense for you to address the complaint from a worker who’s annoyed with his neighbor for playing her music too loud or tapping her pencil against the desk all day. But when there are 100 employees, you’ll need somebody else to handle such things, or at least to try to resolve them without your involvement. Otherwise, personnel matters will keep you from doing your job, which is to grow the company.
HR professionals can be a welcome asset when you’re looking for new talent. Just putting a “jobs hiring” section on your website isn’t enough. Without a dedicated recruiter, the only way to add staff is to ask somebody with other responsibilities to take time away from the work they do best.
An experienced recruiter who knows how to identify strong candidates – particularly using new, online-based strategies – can significantly broaden your reach and quickly deliver you a portfolio of top-quality applicants.
Time tracking and payroll
Time tracking for small business is a very different game than keeping tabs on the hours of a large organization.This is particularly true with mobile workers, who account for an ever-growing segment of the workforce.
Luckily, tracking employee hours has never been easier, thanks to time tracking apps like Timesheet Mobile. And yet, even with a top-of-the-line employee time tracking app, somebody still needs to oversee, and in some instances, analyze the hours being worked. A dedicated HR team can take that off your plate by ensuring that people are getting paid for the hours they’ve logged as well as flagging potentially costly overtime hours. They can also provide vital assistance by helping employees understand new technology relating to tracking hours.
The data revolution that has transformed so many other fields is increasingly redefining the world of HR as well. Those who receive human resources certifications are learning how to harness data to better understand and better manage a company’s greatest resource: its workers.
By tracking data for certain measures, such as productivity, HR professionals can help a large organization identify its strengths and weaknesses. It's that type of analysis that can be used to guide budget and recruitment decisions.
Employees deserve to be treated with respect on the job. You can help ensure a culture of respect in the workplace by working with HR specialists to develop policies that send a strong message to team members that they should feel respected and safe at work. It’s also important that employees know that HR is there for them when they need to report unwanted behaviors, such as harassment.
In recent months, a number of prominent Silicon Valley companies have learned this lesson the hard way. When employees are unable or feel unwelcome voicing complaints about inappropriate behavior, they lose faith in the organization and either become disengaged from work or leave. A trustworthy HR professional can help prevent this destructive situation from materializing.
Remember: Not all HR professionals are the same
Just like the workers they are overseeing, HR professionals are not robots –– at least not yet. These managers come with a variety of personalities and approaches, and it’s up to you to identify the one can help your organization deliver on its goals. In addition to using your own judgement, you should check out the “competency model” developed by the Society for Human Resource Management “to identify and cultivate high-quality leaders.”