Remember when we rolled out our 2018 HR Audit Checklist last week and I said that I would be talking a lot about how HR practitioners can get out of the weeds this year? Well consider this post a primer.
Hands down, the thing that sucks the time (and often life) out of small business HR practitioners more than anything else is the day to day fire fighting that never lets them come up for air. Let me paint the picture.
In a team of 73, the HR department consists of a manager and a receptionist. The receptionist has to deal with all incoming traffic and phone calls as well as traditional admin tasks. She is technically an HR headcount but spends very little time on actual HR work. Which leaves the HR Manager to do what – everything else. Recruiting, onboarding, data entry, filing, benefit administration, terminations, maintain legal compliance and handle workers’ comp, FMLA, harassment and any other claim you can think of.
And then there are the questions. The endless questions from employees about their paycheck or their benefits or why their manager is a jerk. The HR role in a small business is the sounding board for every employee. A mediator. Judge and jury. Often feeling more like a tired parent than a professional practitioner, their office is a revolving door or person after person needing something from them….if they even have an office. The days are long. The years stretch on forever and before you know it burnout is something they are way beyond.
If it does you either are currently or have worked in an HR Department of One. I have filled in for enough HR leaders on leave or businesses in between leaders to feel the pain of being the sole practitioner in a growing business. One too small for a bigger HR team but too big for one person to handle effectively alone. One lacking a real budget that allows them to leverage help, either technologically or in an outsourced capacity.
It is these practitioners who are stuck in the weeds. The ones who can not get out from under the compliance and tactical blanket to be able to really affect change in their business.
In our work with these businesses, we have the luxury of a few things that have allowed us to cultivate ideas on how every practitioner can get out of the weeds. Those luxuries include:
A Bird’s Eye View:
As consultants we have the great luxury of offering an outside perspective. We didn’t create the policies and procedures in place. We aren’t close with any leaders or employees. We have no history with the company that could cloud our ability to look at things objectively. We take a look at all processes and can break down where we see opportunities for improvement without the burden of emotion. This allows us to lay everything out on the table. Sometimes, that act alone is very eye opening for the client.
A Large Community:
Being in business for a few years now, my brain is racked with case studies of what other small businesses have done in certain situations. A very common question I get is “what are your other clients doing around…”. Between our online community (subscriber and social media base) and clients, we have an ongoing list of things that have been tried and tested in nearly every aspect of HR, all in small business. Unless you are an HR Department of One that also has a strong network and is constantly reaching out for ideas, this luxury alone is worth it’s weight in gold.
The Ability to Focus:
We are often working with a business on one specific project. Based on the way we schedule projects, we are able to give our undivided attention to a project. No HR Department of One can give their undivided attention to anything for more than a minute or two. This focused time is probably our greatest luxury. The fact that we come in for a set amount of time to work on one project, and one project only (most times) is the gift of time most practitioners will never see.
I tell you all of this not as a sales pitch (although if it works for you that way, great). I tell you so that as we roll out initiatives this year that are focused on helping HR practitioners get out of the weeds, you will take note. We know what we are talking about. We are culminating our years of business into the best advice we can give. We thought about giving the blog a theme each month or quarter, and while we may still do that to some extent, we have one overarching theme driving us this year – how to get out of the weeds.
To do that effectively we need your help. We need to know which area of the weeds, bog you down the most. We know that every small business HR practitioner faces different challenges. We want to focus on the areas that are most common – at least initially.
Earlier in this post we asked a question about the area of the weeds that fill your time the most. If you haven’t already, could you answer those questions now? It will help us make sure we are focused on the areas you need the most.