As small businesses and startups grow and add more employees, the need for someone to manage human resource (HR) functions becomes prevalent.
Whether that task becomes the purview of the CEO, an outsourced HR provider or in-house staff member (either part-time or full-time), the person will need to perform a range of duties, recruiting being one of them but not the only one by far.
Sabrina Baker, a human resources consultant and owner of Acacia HR Solutions in Los Angeles, spoke with Small Business Trends by phone and shared these four functions that HR should assume aside from recruiting.
Human Resources Duties
According to Baker, the biggest single function an HR person must perform is to ensure the company stays compliant with state and federal regulations.
“There are always updates and new regulations proposed, and HR needs to think about the impact they will have on business,” she said. “Take the new overtime law, for example. A company can get in big trouble if it does not comply.”
Policies and Procedures
Another important HR responsibility, said Baker, is to work with the business owner and executive staff to develop a series of policies and procedures, and then publish those in an employee handbook.
“Every small business needs a handbook from the minute they have even one employee,” she said. “It should include policies that cover topics like vacation and sick time, leave of absence, performance management, behavioral issues and more. The policies and procedures provide consistency, so the employer does not have to make it up as he goes.”
After developing the handbook, the HR person should train employees on what it includes, Baker said. This should also be part of new employee orientation.
Vision and Core Values
“Typically, the CEO or founder establishes the vision for the company,” Baker said, “but HR can help figure out what those should be, and then hold the staff accountable to adhere to them.”
She used the ethic of collaboration as an example.
“HR has a significant role in making sure we encourage a collaborative climate within the company, and then reward such behavior when we see it being lived out,” she said.
“The CEO or business owner will build the company brand from the consumer standpoint but it’s HR’s job to build the employer’s brand in the minds of the workers,” Baker said. “That includes activities such as checking in with employees, to ensure morale is high, and developing a productive employee culture.”
Another aspect of branding that befalls the HR department is promoting the company as an employer of choice.
“That does go to recruiting, however, regarding why candidates want to work for you over a competitor,” Baker said.
A final area that she indicated was vital to the role of HR regards employee advocacy.
“The HR person should be a neutral party where employees can come, raise concerns, complain and ask questions,” she said. “HR is the go-between that can take employee concerns to management and act on their behalf.”
Even More Human Resources Duties
Here are seven more tasks an HR professional should perform, in addition to those outlined by Baker.
Encouraging employees to stay with the company is another area where HR plays a role. (That’s one reason to brand the company as an employer of choice.)
Activities would include keeping employees engaged at work, providing advancement opportunities, cross-training to do jobs outside the routine and using employee recognition and reward programs.
Compensation and Benefits
Administering the benefits plan once it’s developed is also HR’s job. In smaller companies that often includes open enrollment for health care coverage.
G&A Partners, a human resources solutions provider, says on its blog that employee performance has a direct impact on a business’s success. Therefore, implementing a strategic employee performance strategy is vital, and represents another task HR must shoulder along with the employee’s supervisor.
It’s unfortunate that, sometimes, employees come into conflict with each other or with management. In either case, it’s the HR department’s job to try and resolve workplace issues when they occur. That includes coaching employees on conflict resolution methods and developing policies and procedures for conflict management and resolution.
According to a blog post from When I Work, an HR technology provider, human resources must keep three particular files for each employee: I-9, general and medical.
Required by law, the I-9 is a form used by the U.S. Government to identify and verify employee work eligibility. General files include documents such as resumes, reviews, disciplinary actions, W-4 forms and more. And the medical file contains doctors’ notes, disability information and other medical data.
Human Resources Industry Trends
With the rapid changes taking place in the workplace, it’s important for HR professionals to stay current on industry trends.
One way is to join the Society for Human Resources Management, the leading association for human resources professionals. Another is to read blogs, white papers and articles from HR product and service providers, practitioners and consultants. Lastly, participate in social network groups and forums for HR pros.
Human Resources Photo via Shutterstock