HUMAN RESOURCES: The Function that Found a Front Row Seat in Small Businesses


Stay ahead with a strong HR team.

Not only have major corporations’ human resources teams felt the impact of COVID but small- and medium-size companies have their fair share of challenges as well. Most of the challenges center around the lack of a true human resources function in their organization. COVID has exposed the lack of policies, protocol, and expertise to execute processes. For the longest time, human resources struggled to have their voice heard, to be included in strategy, and seen as an integral part of the executive team.


Regardless of the size of the organization, human resources professionals have been overwhelmed with the pandemic, just like the healthcare and supply chain industry. With a record increase in entrepreneurship, HR will have a continued need to support organizations regardless of industry and size. Lacking in execution of employment laws, labor laws, and safety regulations can cause any organization to be impacted financially or go out of business. Not having a cohesive and engaging culture for employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders to work in the organization can also be bad for business. Business owners need to ensure they have a solid organization and HR is that part of the business that impacts every aspect of the company. So, what should startups, small-, and medium-size organizations focus on when it comes to a human resources department?


Set the Tone - Policies and Guidelines

Provide your team with structure by having policies and guidelines they can use to make decisions and operate effectively. Ensure your employee handbook is updated according to the state laws that your employees operate out of to support your business. If you are allowing for virtual or hybrid working, ensure your handbook supports the way you would like for them to be executed. How are you handling the vaccinations, wearing masks, and leave for those impacted by the pandemic? I am sure this will not be a one-time need. Some employers have found that their employees have moved during the pandemic. When directives were given to work remotely, they did not indicate future working arrangements.


Many startups and small businesses believe that their team was small and many of the employment laws did not impact them because they have less than 50 employees. Unfortunately, that is not true. Approximately 85% of the employment laws apply to organizations regardless of the size of the company. With even one employee, you should have a handbook, policies, and follow onboarding procedures to stay in compliance. If you don’t provide your staff with information detailing what is expected of them, they will create their own understanding that may not be in the best interest of the company. Handbooks and manuals equip organizations with support during disputes and what needs to be enforced.


Stay Ahead - Compliance and Risk Management

It only takes one mistake when hiring or terminating an employee and the business can find itself dealing with a lawsuit. Employment law requires you to remain compliant with state and federal laws. They change frequently and require a professional to stay, engage, and make the necessary adjustments for your organization. Displaying the necessary posters are a part of this compliance.


Have you trained your team with the necessary core operational training? The core compliance training includes sexual harassment, workplace bullying, etc. It is the responsibility of the organization to provide the proper training to employees on code of conduct in the workplace. These are preventive measures and guidelines on the acceptable behavior in the workplace.


Employee files is another compliance area. Do you have the right documents in the files? By now, you should have transitioned to electronic record-keeping. The requirements do not change either way. However, now you must consider access and cybersecurity even if you outsource or use a software tool. Ensure you have the proper coverage to protect your company.


Achieve Your Goals - Rewards and Benefits

Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not required to offer health insurance. However, as the demand for talent becomes challenging, small employers may want to consider some type of intriguing benefits offerings to attract and retain top talent. An HR professional can help determine cost-effective options and manage the offerings to ensure you stay in compliance.


Benefits and other rewards help make your organization appealing and support you in achieving your business goals. The work culture drives performance, innovation, and industry impact. How you reward and develop your employees is important. All rewards are not monetary. Creating a workplace people love to engage, support, and align with personally and as a community should not just be the focus of large organizations. Supporting their career goals and professional development is also important. Small- and medium-size companies need to make this a major part of their strategy to remain competitive. You need the right people to help you achieve your vision. How you treat and reward these people is important. This requires having a constant focus and being present in everything you do. Productivity and execution are key to achieving your business goals. HR representation in your organization and part of your leadership team will help make that happen.


Human resources play an integral role in any successful business by helping to support the strategy, build the right team, maintain compliance, and support the employee engagement to build the right culture. Hire the right human resources expertise or outsource all or part of the function to the right partner. Even if you are a startup or growing company, there are human resources options available for businesses of all sizes. The key is not to make this low on your needs list. The human resources function is just as important as the finance and operations part of your business. In fact, the three should become your three-legged stool to support the success of your company.

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