When you’re a startup business fighting to establish cash flow and keep a lid on expenses, a human resources (HR) staff can get left behind. But HR for startups, when done correctly, can bring real long-term benefits.
Attract the right people
Getting the right team in place is important for any business but particularly for a startup. In fact, studies show that over one-fifth of business failures can be traced to personnel issues. Human resources can help you navigate this challenge.
Entrepreneurs are people with tremendous drive and often have unique talent. That doesn’t necessarily make them good judges of other people’s drive and talent. HR reps know how to conduct a good and fair job interview, one that will elicit the responses that point the way to the right (and wrong) hires.
Your HR rep is also trained in understanding the full landscape of salaries and benefits in your industry. Without good information, salary scales can end up being decided based on the personal feelings and biases of the entrepreneur or manager. HR staff is also trained in understanding all the legal nuances that accompany benefit packages—for example, what sort of employee leave is mandated to deal with family emergencies.
The phrase “workplace culture” is thrown around a lot, and it basically boils down to whether or not your company is a good place to work. Again, the fact entrepreneurs have drive and talent is not always an indicator of being able to create a good culture. A trained HR rep has a good sense of warning signs to look for and what activities help build a real and cohesive company culture, the kind talented employees will want to be a part of.
More money, more problems
As your business grows, HR can help manage the issues that come with growth. A big one is developing the career path of employees. If a business is successful, it’s apparent that talented staff is a reason why. You’ll want to keep that staff in place. A part of HR is identifying ways to help employees grow in their careers within your company, rather than taking their talents elsewhere.
It’s also inevitable that as time passes, the need for specific policies to deal with specific situations will arise. Good HR reps don’t immediately establish a ”book” that provides one-size-fits-all “solutions” to workplace problems. But some policies will need to be written down and enforced. A key part of being a good HR rep is knowing what needs to be codified in writing and what can be handled flexibly in each individual situation.
Getting the right HR rep
There’s one thing an HR rep can’t do for an entrepreneur and that’s help them pick the right person for the role in the first place. This is a hire that the boss needs to get right on their own. However, there are some clues to watch for.
If the candidate for your HR rep job uses a lot of outdated jargon and cliche phrases, they probably aren’t who you’re looking for. You want an independent thinker who doesn’t need to use the same “book” and the same jargon as someone at an established corporation. Thinking on your feet and being flexible is vital for a startup, no less so in the HR position.
Not every relationship between a boss and an HR rep has to be like the one of the fictional Michael Scott and Toby Flenderson in the iconic TV series, The Office. Getting the right person in the role and letting them thrive can be the difference between success or failure for a startup.