Some businesses do not have an established Human Resources department. That’s where I come in. In terms of recruitment that is. I’m a missing piece in their puzzle. But who is managing all those other important HR matters? And what is the impact to the workforce in the absence of a HR department?

Often the size of an organisation will determine if they have a dedicated HR representative or team. Small businesses generally associate HR with transactional duties such as payroll and benefits. Larger organisations however engage in more strategic decision making and employee welfare functions. Clearly the bigger the business the more vital it is to have a HR department overseeing, or at least advising senior management, about recruitment and performance, learning and development, legal compliance and disciplinary action, policy development and ethics, and diversity and wellbeing activities that lead to a positive culture. A general rule of thumb is that once you employ your twenty-fifth employee, you need to look to engage someone to manage HR functions within.

The majority of organisations do have a HR team, or single employee dedicated to HR functions. Others designate HR responsibilities to staff members whose primary role falls within another realm inside the organisation. The danger of this is that while HR functions may seem to be accounted for, a staff member’s main responsibilities will take precedence. When no one is looking after the welfare of staff, an organisation is at risk of violating several employment laws. And in the absence of a dedicated HR professional, where does staff turn to for assistance?

Without effective HR practices, things can go very wrong and result in serious disruption to the workforce and business operations. Let’s propose a scenario for a moment. Employees who feel unsupported will soon become disgruntled. Absenteeism rises and productivity drops. At this time employees are more susceptible to outside offers where lucrative carrots that meet their needs are being dangled. Loyalty may hold the counteroffers at bay for a while, however a small, unfavourable occurrence may be all that is required to have them seriously considering continuing their career elsewhere. Remember, they’re already disgruntled. A small push and they topple over the edge. So one by one, they begin to jump ship. Soon you are facing a situation where a bulk of your knowledge and expertise has dissipated. Replacing the loss requires a heavy investment of time and money. And there is the slowing of forward momentum not to mention the negative mindset that has crept into your company culture. If only you had a HR manager to oversee the continued wellbeing of your workforce this situation may have been avoidable.

Your HR team is responsible for developing and promoting the organisation’s culture and ensuring staff are continuously engaged with it by echoing the behaviours and values that underpin its ethos. The company events HR initiate and manage further drives engagement and job satisfaction. I don’t think I need to explain to you the relationship between job satisfaction and employee retention. An effective HR manager will listen to employees. They will explore and address issues. They will ensure relevant laws are being applied correctly. They will offer the opportunity to release frustration and improve employee relations. In a nutshell, they will foster positive outcomes.

Human resources bridge the gap between senior management and the workforce. Yet HR only has as much power as senior management affords them. In a growing workforce a senior manager may spread themselves too thin managing their staff and their workload. This can negatively affect their ability to manage the company as a whole. Thus the larger the organisation, the more HR’s worth is proven.

An organisation that lacks human resource management may have difficulty developing and maintaining a stable relationship with employees. Yes, the size of the organisation will impact the presence of a HR team or representative, but in the absence of a HR department, the ultimate decision makers for everything become the company’s executive team. Is the executive team there to reside over every employee matter, or are they there to manage, resource and advance key business operations?

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