Human Resources is Vital Even in Small Businesses
Human Resources is a function that transcends all facets of an organization and can include but is definitely not limited to hiring, termination, legal compliance, performance management, personnel recordkeeping, benefits administration, payroll, and overall employee relations. Unfortunately, organizations that don’t place enough importance on the value of these functions are losing out on productivity and efficiency, and very well could be putting themselves at risk of non-compliance and potential lawsuits. But, in smaller organizations where an HR professional is not feasible, how can the function be managed?
The following are some considerations when managing the HR function in an organization without a designated HR Department:
- Who’s your HR Person? Organizations – of any size – should designate at least one person as the “HR contact.” While certain HR duties may be shared among other individuals, at least one individual should be assigned to keep abreast of changes in employment laws and to monitor to ensure policies, practices, and forms are relative and up-to-date. Create and post/distribute a “Who To Go To For What” document if HR is delegated to more than one person.
- Are they trained? Assess the training needs of anyone performing HR related tasks and educate as needed.
- Stay informed. Subscribe to a variety of HR related newsletters, publications, and e-alerts to keep abreast of changes to the legal landscape and to glean information about other best practices in the area of HR. Attend legal updates or sign up for webinars – many law firms offer these at no cost.
- Employee Handbook. Maintain an up-to-date Employee Handbook to document and communicate company policies and benefits.
- Document key processes. In addition to the Employee Handbook, create Standard Operating Procedures to document important tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, personnel recordkeeping, etc. This is particularly important in smaller organizations where the tasks are only completed by one person.
- Checklists create consistency. Create checklists that will standardize and easily guide HR processes. Examples are checklists for New Hire Orientation, Benefits Enrollment, and Termination.
- Pick up the phone. Go right to the source when you don’t know an answer. Many government agencies provide a help desk to answer employer questions on a variety of topics (wage and hour, paid sick leave, equal rights, immigration, OSHA, etc.). Questions can be asked anonymously.
- Get connected. Use social media channels such as LinkedIn or join other online or in-person networking groups to share information, ideas, issues, and to benchmark best practices.
- Bring in the experts. Surround yourself with outside experts and use selective outsourcing. Resources that can provide help to you include, but are not limited to: insurance brokers, HR consultants, employment attorneys, tax accountants, payroll providers, and employee assistance plan (EAP) providers through the health insurance plan.
- Periodically audit. Utilize field experts on an as-needed basis, as well as periodically to conduct audits or “check-ins”, to ensure you stay on track, remain compliant, and run at optimal efficiency.
Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding HR’s role in maintaining legal compliance, efficiency, and an overall positive employee relations environment.
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