What Every Startup Needs to Know About HR

Anyone who has been there will testify that starting up a new business is an incredibly hectic and stressful time, involving a vast amount of work that needs to be effectively managed and prioritised. It can be all too easy for new directors to focus upon the speed of bringing their business and product to life while skirting over issues such as Human Resources.

Those who do this are making a big mistake as there’s no more crucial aspect to building a company from scratch than implementing an effective HR policy. Here we’re going to look at the core tenants of what a start-up needs to recognise in HR – and the benefits from understanding these from the very beginning.

Recruiting a team

This may sound like a no-brainer but it’s essential that Human Resources understand exactly what skill sets are required for each role, and also the personalities that will fit into the culture of the company. The best way to approach this is not to think of it as hiring employees, but building a group of imaginative and enthusiastic people who will work well together (there’s going to be a lot of work) as a team.

Human Resources should look very carefully at candidates and not necessarily hire on skill sets and experience alone. Most successful start-ups contain motivated people with different attitudes as this fosters debate and constructive thinking – the last thing a director needs is a flock of sheep or ‘yes men’ because they can be sure that organic thinking will be the best means of solving issues when they arise.

Understand job descriptions & hire at market value

In a practical regard the director must know exactly what each position entails and assess it critically. If it’s highly specialised, ask whether the remuneration and benefits are enough to attract applicants. Likewise if there’s a glut of prospective applicants for a role, does the salary need to be so high? Such little decisions like this may make all the difference to the company’s bottom line in the first year or two – and determine if the entire venture is truly viable.

Human Resources & legal issues

It’s important that a start-up has a firm and fully comprehensive policy towards issues such as discrimination, equality, absenteeism, performance reviews etc. The best way to implement these is to have seminars where each policy is explained in detail and then team members acknowledge that they have understood these. Should, in the future, some form of dispute arise or team members claim to have received insufficient training in these matters, the company will be covered.

In regards to this, perhaps the best way to be sure that this is covered is to invest in comprehensive HR systems for business use that ensure employees acknowledge their attendance and understanding of what they are told at these seminars. This is a much more effective means that emails or memos, as the information is centralised and formally collated.

Human Resources can really help form a culture of ‘good practice’ that should be a key component of the future development of the company and in building a genuine culture of success.

Administrative efficiency

One of the major bug-bears of HR is that it needs to be a component of every aspect of the company which can make it difficult to centralise essential and often legally necessary paperwork. This is especially the case with payroll and being certain that benefits are deducted, expenses reimbursed, taxes applied, timesheets are in order and holiday allowances accrued and accounted for. That’s to name just a few.

In the old days HR was able to ‘wing’ it by typically amassing huge numbers of spreadsheets and files that can quickly become Byzantine and inaccessible to those not in the know. This is another reason why a modern and comprehensive HR software suite can make all the difference, allowing information to be at hand across departments and encouraging staff to ‘self-serve’ wherever possible.

Final thoughts

So, as we’ve seen, there’s a great deal that any start-up business needs to be aware of, but also there’s a huge amount that a proactive and efficient HR team can do to help make the business succeed. HR should be there to take some of the pressure off and be a driving force in helping to recruit the staff that will take the company forward in the future.

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