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HR as a Strategic Growth Factor

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “HR?” I’m not referring to “home run,” even though it is Opening Day. (Go Red Sox!)

I’m referring to human resources, the department or person in a company responsible for hiring, firing, compensation, training, managing employee performance, and making sure everyone follows company procedures and workplace laws.

In many businesses, the HR department is viewed almost suspiciously. Urban Dictionary has this harsh definition: “Human resources generally spends most of its time justifying its existence.”

The rest is too profane to publish here.

Harvard Business Review has a more level view in “Why We Love to Hate HR…and What HR Can Do About It“:

“The complaints also have a cyclical quality—they’re driven largely by the business context. Usually when companies are struggling with labor issues, HR is seen as a valued leadership partner. When things are going more smoothly all around, managers tend to think, “What’s HR doing for us, anyway?””

But if you’ve been following the PR debacle at THINX, it’s obvious what HR could have done for them: prevented a massive backlash of negative media attention.

But HR isn’t just about compliance, hiring and firing: it’s about helping employees thrive. In this way, HR is a strategic growth factor.

  • It can reduce demands on leadership, allowing them to focus on core business development, strategy, and execution.
  • It can help recruit higher quality talent.
    It can help prevent legal meltdowns that could result in fines or litigation.
  • It can result in a happier team with clear expectations and productive avenues for expressing  grievances
  • It can keep a company competitive by competitive sure employees are caught up on training and certifications.

About 24% of Vermont’s small businesses employ fewer than ten people. There’s no real rule of thumb about when to hire dedicated PR support – opinions range from  10 – 15 employees, while others suggest waiting until there are hundreds of employees.

But this means that the HR person/department in many of Vermont’s small businesses is the owner.

Every Monday going forward, we will examine HR issues from different points of view.

When should you hire HR support? Should your company outsource HR help? What tools can small business owners deploy to help support their HR efforts? What tools should HR pros use to help support their efforts?

In the meantime, watch “‘The Office’ HR Training Video – what not to do! has some excellent and free HR resources. Likewise, the SBA has a nicely organized collection of HR resources.

If you want to see what an employee human resources services department looks like at a large organization, just look at UVM’s HRS page.

If you’re an HR nerd, read Deloitte’s detailed HR Trends report.


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