What is HR?

By Laura Doehle
#1 in a series

In the old days, Human Resources (HR) — formerly known as Personnel — was the place that administered benefits and got people on the payroll. But now companies from startups to global corporations are competing for talent, which means these companies need help creating a culture which helps attract, recruit and retain engaged employees.

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Olsen (CEO, Resourceful HR) and I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator to talk about the human resources function and the role it plays in a successful startup strategy. As we began the discussion with the Accelerator cohort, we offered an introduction to how HR is an integral part of any business, as well as three suggestions to keep in mind.

Suggestion #1: Incorporate HR as a key component within your business. It will help you drive the goals you’ve established.

While some startups may think HR is something you can “save for later” it’s not. You may not need an HR manager or director on day one, but HR is a vital component within your business that, through programs, policies, and procedures, helps increase productivity and efficiency. When you have the right people in place, and you are purposeful about managing their performance, it has a positive impact on what your organization can deliver.

Suggestion #2: Think about HR in terms of the employee lifecycle for a growing business.

HR is a topic that might seem intimidating; there are laws, regulations, and issues that come up when you employ people. But rather than focusing on what can go wrong, Resourceful HR advises our clients to think about HR based on the lifecycle of an employee.

  • Hire: Identify candidates, Recruit, Interview, Select
  • Manage: Onboard employees, Set expectations, Train and develop, Manage, Adjust responsibilities, Separate
  • Retain: Recognition, Benefits and Perks, Compensation

Each of these areas warrants its own discussion; I’ll provide more details in future posts but for now keep in mind that most of what HR does comes down to hiring an employee, managing their performance, and retaining them as an engaged member of your workforce.

Suggestion #3: Stay in the moment, but keep the future in mind.

Even during the earliest stages of your business, you’re creating your culture. While HR does not own the culture, it’s a key driver to ensure employees are engaged and successful people strategies are in place. In the small, tightly-knit environment of a startup, HR emergencies are a disaster. When you launch your business, consider your current HR needs, as well as what you’ll need a year, two, or three from now. You can’t afford to ignore strategic HR questions or postpone them until you have time. The time to build a culture grounded in supporting its human resources begins on the first day.

Have more questions about what startups need to consider when it comes to HR? You’re in luck—this is the first in our HR for Startups series. Check back each month for the next post dedicated to startups.

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Every day, I focus on helping businesses find the HR or recruiting solution that will allow their businesses to succeed, employees to grow, and ultimately communities to flourish.