I am a big believer that small business HR teams can do nearly everything that large business HR teams can do. The trick to emulating their larger counterparts rests in doing a few different things differently.
First, a small business must be able to scale. There are plenty of examples of what big businesses are doing with large recruiting budgets to attract talent. Smaller businesses can use many of the same strategies, but they will have to scale them down as far as size and budget.
Second, small businesses must be able to hire HR people who can react and adapt very quickly. Smaller HR teams often have individuals doing multiple roles, and this can slow their ability to react and adapt to changes that occur while their focus is on a million different things. Recruiting and hiring talent with a natural ability and desire to react and adapt quickly to the changing needs of a growing business is crucial for HR roles in smaller businesses.
Third, small businesses must embrace, leverage and fully utilize the amazing amount of HR tech that is available to them. Fortunately, new technology and innovations enter the marketplace on a seemingly daily basis. Unfortunately, it is also the one area that small businesses assume they can not afford or simply do not want to embrace.
And that is killing their ability to do those first two things well.
While businesses can use HR technology in many ways, these three are the most important to highlight:
It is mind boggling how many HR teams are still using an abundance of spreadsheets and manual processes to manage daily HR functions such as payroll, time-off tracking and more. There is a new world out there. Apps, “freemium” tech applications (which usually do just enough for small businesses) and a move to monthly subscription services for software has made HR technology much more affordable. HR teams that can automate regularly scheduled daily or weekly tasks will open their time up to focus on more business growth-oriented work.
Align with Business Objectives
Large businesses with large budgets have the ability to purchase technology that does everything for them. They can automate nearly every function and don’t have to pick and choose which technology makes the most sense. Scaling for a smaller budget, however, means that smaller businesses do have a choice to make. That choice should be based on business objectives. Let’s say a company has the budget to invest in only one type of HR technology. If the main business objective includes a plan for explosive growth in the employee population over the next year, a quality applicant tracking system may be at the top of the technology wish list.
Fully Use or Expand Current Technology Applications
One surprising fact about many businesses is that even if they have invested in HR technology, they are not fully using all the features they are paying for. Often this happens if there is a change in HR staff after the initial implementation. HR teams in small businesses should be fully aware of everything offered with their investment and be prepared to utilize it to the fullest. Any areas not utilized should either be used or reallocated to the technology that makes sense for the business.
They also do not realize that for just a few dollars more, their current technology could be expanded to meet an even bigger need. More and more HR technology companies are offering starter packages in the hopes that they can grow with a small business. A few bucks can get you a feature that can greatly reduce the amount of manual work an HR team is doing.
Consider the above three methods a starting point, and then scale from there.
The Future of HR Technology
HR technology is only going to get bigger and better. Companies are going to continue to automate many of the traditional HR tasks that bog down smaller HR teams. Businesses that assume they cannot afford technology — or that refuse to get on board with doing things a new and different way — are going to struggle to grow and innovate.
Your budget may not allow for a robust HRIS system, but it may allow for basic payroll automation that tracks several manual processes and costs one low monthly fee. The key is to assess your need, research options and invest in the area that makes the most sense for the business.
The alternative is ugly. You will continue to drown in spreadsheets and manual processes, the cost of which is greater than technology could ever be.