What Do Startup Entrepreneurs Need to Know About HR?
by Mashum Mollah Entrepreneurship 17 January 2019
Every big, successful business has an HR department. That’s because while sales, accounting, R&D and everyone else focuses on customers and projects, HR focuses on the most important asset within a business: the people. Too often, startup entrepreneurs are focused on building their business through product development or marketing and don’t waste a thought for HR. Unfortunately, this can stifle growth and even end a startup before it takes off.
Whether your startup is still in development or in the middle of its rise, you need to know a bit more about HR. This guide can help you get started on your HR journey, so you can build a big, successful business with an HR department, too.
What Do Startup Entrepreneurs Need to Know About HR:
“Corporate culture” feels like a buzzword — a fleeting trend that will soon fall out of favor. However, while the precise term might not remain in the corporate consciousness for long, the meaning behind it will persevere.
That’s because a corporate culture exists whether you name it or not. The culture at your business is made up of the organizational structure you choose, the policies you enforce and the written and unwritten guidelines you and your staff adhere to every day in the office. Cultures are exceedingly complex and also supremely fundamental to how different types of employees enjoy their work and feel motivated to perform better in their roles.
It’s likely that you already have an idea of how you want your business offices to work — how employees will behave, communicate, dress and feel when they are on the clock. To achieve this vision, you need to understand how carefully curated human resources will get you there. That’s why many startup entrepreneurs enroll in HR training seminars: to learn how policies, structures, and other business decisions affect the corporate culture. Otherwise, you are likely to make random choices that never manifest in the workplace culture of your dreams.
Recruiting and Onboarding:
How hard can the hiring process be? You advertise your open position, candidates apply, you choose the best one, and everyone is happy — right? Not exactly…
Every step of recruiting and onboarding new employees is difficult. First, you need to know how to determine when it is the right time to open a new position, which can be an especially difficult decision for startup entrepreneurs who only have experience working on their own or within small teams. Next, you need to know how to advertise the position, such as what words to use, what qualifications to demand and where to post your listing. Then, there is the unendingly complicated process of sifting through application documents and conducting interviews with potential hires, and even if you are capable of selecting the best candidate, you still need to devise a strategy for training them and integrating them into your team quickly and seamlessly.
Perhaps one of the most significant elements of HR training consists of developing and executing the recruitment and onboarding process. You should understand how hiring works before you expect to do it at your startup.
While HR departments have dozens of responsibilities, this is the one that most people know: employee relations. Even if your corporate culture is friendly, empowering and overall exactly what you wanted, not every day at work will be bright and smooth for every worker. As your business grows, more employees will need more help navigating relationships with fellow employees, with business leaders or with the business as a whole.
Employee relations isn’t easy for an entrepreneur to conduct because, often, the entrepreneur him-/herself could be a party involved in a grievance. Furthermore, you might feel so connected to your business that you are incapable of accepting employee feedback on certain policies or processes, even if the feedback promises to improve performance.
While it isn’t a bad idea to educate yourself on the issues of employee relations — especially on topics like organizational psychology and communication — you should have a way for employees to submit complaints, concerns or questions without fear of reprisal. For that, you might need to hire an in-house HR professional or have a third-party service to handle these submissions.
There are many other tasks HR handles in large organizations: legal knowledge, employee performance management, outplacement services, payroll, etc. In time, it will be wise for you to develop an HR department within your business. However, while your startup remains small, you should be able to get by with some HR training and a willingness to change your policies and viewpoints for the sake of your employees’ satisfaction and performance.