How many of you already know what the term “human resource” really means?
Most small businesses are actively engaged in human resources on a daily basis without realizing it. HR Awareness Month might be in October, but now looks like a great time to dive into the key business functions that make up this specific discipline. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out a series of blogs to help business owners better understand the world of human resources and the ways they can make or break your business.
In this version of “What the heck is HR?” So, we’ll get to the basics. If you look up a definition of human resource (HR), you will find something that goes like this: a business field that deals with the recruitment, management and training of the human capital of a business. Simply put, the HR department’s focus is on maintaining the relationship between the employee and the employer, becoming a focus for keeping employees informed, paying wages and safety. In small companies, it is common to find this role divided among several people, whose main area of focus is not human resources.
Here are the areas of HR that every company should regularly focus on.
From attracting and selecting candidates to hiring a new employee, hiring is the first and most important step in an employee’s life cycle. It’s not easy to find people with the skills you need, the flexibility to adapt and the orientation that compliments your work culture. Even experienced HR representatives struggle with this from time to time. Making the wrong hiring choice not only impacts your portfolio, but it can also completely throw off the rhythm of a well-functioning workforce. Creating and advertising job advertisements, reviewing and recommending candidates for management selection, while communicating with applicants is an integral part of the hiring process and can be very time consuming, especially if you have a high turnover.
The ability to create and maintain positive relationships between employees, management, and the employer is the goal of all employee relations efforts. Specifically, we are talking about creating fair workplace policies and consistently enforcing them. We also want to make sure that employees are valued and respected by managers and the employer, in the same way as customers, as it grows loyalty and increases engagement throughout the workforce. An example of a properly done employee relationship might seem like a manager taking the time to speak with an employee when they see behavior that violates company policy or standard operating procedures rather than ignoring them, hoping that that changes and gets frustrated when it doesn’t. By addressing the problem promptly, the manager is able to communicate constructively without emotion and create open lines of communication with the employee. This conversation will also be the first step in moving an employee through the employee’s life cycle toward separation if the behavior does not improve.
In small businesses, compensation and benefits roles are often handled by a team that includes the employer, human resource representative, and benefit brokers. In addition to working with managers and business owners to develop job descriptions, HR is often tasked with researching national and local compensation trends and helping to create a compensation structure that remains competitive while maintaining organizational budget requirements.
Whether it’s employee enrollment, updating payroll deductions, managing open enrollment efforts, or coordinating with service providers to provide resources and answers to employees when they need them, HR acts as an in-house person for all benefits related to benefits. In addition, they are often mandated to respond to unemployment claims and represent the employer at unemployment hearings.
A prosperous and engaged employee is good for business. From day one, employers focus on ensuring that employees have the tools and skills needed to feel confident in their role while maintaining productivity. Human resources play a large role in assessing, tracking, developing, coordinating and documenting these training efforts.
By law, every employer is responsible for providing a safe workplace for their employees (Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970). Depending on the industry and workload, it may make sense to hire a dedicated safety manager to maintain workplace safety, and to work with Human Resources to document incidents and maintain consistency when applying established safety policies. When it comes to workers’ compensation, human resources are often an integral part of filing claims and maintaining documentation of workplace injuries and insurance claims.
For each category mentioned above, there is a set of laws and rules that must be followed in order for your organization to remain compliant. Part of the HR function is to ensure that the organization is aware of and follows all applicable laws because non-compliance can lead to employee complaints, legal battles, penalties and fees.
At this point, you should have a good understanding of everything related to human resources. If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it’s too much. As your organization grows, plan to dedicate more resources to recruiting the dedicated staff needed to properly support this role or consider outsourcing professionals trained in these disciplines. As a small business owner planning to handle this on your own, it’s always a good idea to spend time and money working with an HR professional in order to properly create robust systems and policies that support your growing business. Just as important as working with a lawyer and accountant when starting your business, a little bit of human resources now can save a lot later. Stay tuned for the next episode of “What the heck is human resources?” And if you can’t wait, get in touch!
Do you have specific questions about HR and your business? Consult today With one of our HR advisors or attorneys, let us help guide you through your employee’s concerns.
Author: Vanessa Loewinger
Vanesa is an innovative, experienced and self-motivated HR expert, skilled at creating and nurturing an employee-oriented culture of professional excellence, focusing on achieving goals, and using a process-oriented approach to obtain win-win results. Vanesa has more than ten years of progressively responsible HR experience, including employee relations, payroll entry / processing, benefits administration, human resource information systems (HRIS), policies, 401k administration, and workers compensation administration.