Has Your Business Mastered the Human Resources Function?

As the owner or personnel manager of a small or midsized business, one of your jobs is to manage the human resources function. The HR function includes tasks carried out by recruiters, compliance specialists, bookkeepers and more. It entails focusing on the practices and policies that directly affect the welfare and morale of your organization's most important asset: its employees.

It's up to you to help your firm strike the optimal balance between the strategic needs of your business and the basic needs of your staff. The way you manage your HR function can make all the difference in setting your company apart from the competition. Attracting and retaining top talent can be a critical part of succeeding in the marketplace.

The HR function: challenges and rewards

Recruitment and retention of top employees can be challenging. As business has become more complex, so has the human resources function. The HR function now encompasses everything from assessing staffing needs more strategically to launching effective training initiatives, interpreting federal and state codes, and implementing policies and benefits that safeguard workers while protecting company interests. And the stakes are high. The legal and economic consequences of a major HR function misstep can be enormous.

Managers and business owners with teams that consistently delight customers and generate revenue for the firm aren't difficult to spot. They are the ones who thoroughly understand the company's most important needs. These managers and business owners, either on their own or with the help of recruiters, make timely and effective employee recruitment a priority. They work on making sure employees feel free to draw on all of their competencies. In short, these successful employers are good at managing the human resources function — and the payoff can be a much more successful enterprise.

The first step in effectively carrying out the human resources function is getting the right people on board. Take a look at Robert Half’s hiring advice designed to help you do just that.

Today’s HR function — and tomorrow’s

Every company — regardless of size, location or purpose — must deal with HR issues in a way that's best suited to its needs and situation. If you own a small business, you probably function as your own HR manager. In other words, you personally oversee and conduct each classic human resources function for your company: You and your colleagues act as recruiters and hire employees. You set up compensation and benefits packages. You write paychecks and keep appropriate records.

The chances are good, too, that you're the person responsible for training and development of the people you hire. And although you may not need to publish a company newsletter to inform staff about what's going on in the company, you probably make a point to keep them in the loop with timely, clear communication.

Larger companies have entire HR departments and typically employ specialists in areas such as benefits administration or 401(k) retirement plans. But smaller business owners who don't have the resources for such specialization must ensure that they are solid generalists. They need to possess skills in several areas of the HR function rather than one particular specialty.

The HR function, in general, has undergone enormous changes in the past 20 years. Some companies still take a highly structured, largely centralized approach to HR management. The majority of companies today, however, take a far more decentralized approach, with HR practitioners and line managers working cooperatively to develop and implement policies and programs.

Knowing when to get help from recruiters and others

Keeping up with rapid changes in how the HR function is carried out can be challenging for businesses of any size. Learning about available resources, such as the latest workplace research, can help. So can boning up on recruiting basics to increase the effectiveness of your hiring process.

But for small businesses in particular, unexpected staffing changes, a new project or client, or an especially busy season may require you to focus most of your efforts on your core business — and delegate to outside experts other functions important to your company's success. Doing it yourself is not always the wisest choice. Sometimes, the smartest move may be to get help from outside recruiters and other specialists in the human resources function

Robert Half offers employers expert advice and current research as well as staffing solutions uniquely suited to your situation.


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