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The Necessity of Human Resources

The HR function is vital, even if it is a one person department.

Small business owners deal with a long to-do list of tasks and obligations as they wear many hats. As practice has shown, they often put all their efforts into growing their businesses and revenues, but put little or no attention into keeping human resources up to date and making sure that this category is in line with federal and local laws.

One of the common mistakes is not thinking of the hiring process as a complex series of steps that are important for the company holistically and financially. The hiring process for small businesses should have the same components as hiring for a big company. It should start with recognizing hiring needs and then follow a clear job description, which will facilitate attracting the right people for the job. Furthermore, it is part of the firm’s lawsuit-fighting arsenal. A holistic hiring process should include vacancy announcement, interview, reference and background check, as well as the job offer. Hiring the wrong person could reduce productivity and ruin the company’s reputation.

Another mistake small business owners habitually make is not providing proper orientation and training for new employees, which could reduce anxiety in new workers, while developing realistic job expectations. These aspects make new employees feel welcomed and, according to statistics, this practice reduces employee turnover.

The list of regular mistakes continues when the firm doesn’t have an employee handbook. An employee handbook with written rules, policies and procedures should be accessible to all employees. If rules are not laid out in simple language, employees may not follow them and the business owner will not have any legal defense option.

Another slip is not understanding, belittling or ignoring basic employment laws. These include rights, obligations and responsibilities of both sides in an employer-employee relationship such as child labor laws, discrimination by age, gender, pregnancy, disability, overtime and minimum wage, gender-pay differences, sexual harassment, and immigration – just to name a few. Every small business owner has to be on top of all pertinent laws because disregarding them can cost the proprietor millions of dollars.

Not every company keeps employee documentation complete and up to date, which is another slip-up. The term “employee documentation” is quite broad – from performance evaluations to disciplinary actions. Three files – Employee General File, I-9 File, and Employee Medical File – must be created, updated and managed confidentially.

Employees are one of a company’s greatest assets and human resources’ role is to protect and manage those assets properly.

About the Author

Oksana Dlaboha is an HR specialist and owner of “HRTieBreaker”. Previously, she worked at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the HR Section.

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