In my last post, I covered six big HR mistakes that small businesses make and pointed out that though you may not be in a position to hire a full-time HR person, you still have to take some steps toward personnel management. Using job descriptions and clear policies, streamlining hiring and evaluation practices, and creating an environment that protects both your employees and yourself is crucial to the success of your business.
Now that you know the mistakes to avoid, you may be wondering how you can effectively leverage HR to your advantage. Here are five tips:
1. Educate yourself
If you’re a small business owner, then you’re ultimately in charge of the success or failure of the business. Even if you have no prior HR knowledge or experience, there are a wealth of resources you can use to get started. Reading a book, taking a course, reading articles online, or hiring a consultant are all great ways to identify gaps in your knowledge. By educating yourself, you’ll be equipped to decide whether to handle HR in-house or outsource, and you will have a clearer idea of the major HR issues your company faces.
2. Train your managers
Once you’ve educated yourself on the HR fundamentals you’ll need to do the same, if not more, for managers who make decisions. In many small companies, line managers handle the basic personnel issues like discipline, giving performance feedback, and even hiring and terminating employees. If this is the case, then without proper training, managers can make mistakes that cost the firm in productivity or leave you vulnerable to lawsuits. Even minimal training in the most crucial HR issues can have a big impact in a small firm.
3. Hire HR part-time
Let’s say you can’t justify hiring someone in HR full-time. What about a part-time employee? Many skilled workers are looking for part-time work in order to utilize their skill set while working fewer hours and thereby increasing work-life balance. If your organization could benefit from HR help but the current management team’s workload is too full to take on personnel duties, a part-time employee could be the perfect solution.
4. Hire a consultant
Maybe your team can, in fact, handle HR on an ongoing basis, but you don’t have anything set up yet in the way of an HR program. This is where a consultant can come in handy. Getting your HR running properly could be as simple as updating job descriptions, deciding on a performance appraisal instrument, and writing out a handful of policies, and a consultant can come in and do a one-time assessment and overhaul of your HR, as well as make specialized recommendations. Coupled with training, this is a great way to start making HR a priority.
It could also be that your team can’t handle HR on an ongoing basis, but you still can’t justify hiring someone full time. If this is your situation, you’re not alone. Increasingly, firms of every size are outsourcing their HR functions. From the basics of processing payroll to more complex tasks like recruitment and hiring, HR firms’ expertise and economies of scale can really benefit a small business.
Outsourcing may be particularly useful if your firm is growing quickly; you can hire out many essential tasks temporarily while you work to bring someone on board to do HR full time. Finally, outsourcing HR is a great way to be sure that you’re doing everything legally. Let the experts take care of some of your most sensitive issues, whether that be sexual harassment prevention or compensation law compliance.