While running a one-person HR team certainly has its challenges – from having to juggle multiple tasks at once to ensuring compliance with various rules and regulations – it also has its advantages. For one thing, as a one-man (or one-woman) show, you don't need to worry about adhering to traditional HR departmental structure and can create your own system that works for you. There is also less red tape to cut through when trying to implement new policies or trying out new software. But even the most independent-minded and organized HR pros need help every once in a while. Below are some tips to help you thrive as an HR team of one.
Create a plan. They say failing to plan is planning to fail, so start by creating a plan with what you want to accomplish and when. Make a calendar to keep tabs on important dates such as EEO1 filing, benefit enrollment periods, form I-9 expiration dates and other important deadlines. Then make a list of short- and long-term goals. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can create a list of steps needed to reach these goals. Maintaining a list of goals, due dates and steps to accomplish these goals will help your HR team of one stay on track – even when unexpected issues arise (and they always do).
Use social media to your advantage. Today, social media plays a big role in recruitment and employee engagement. Companies use social media for everything from researching job candidates to advertising job postings and attracting job applicants. (Get tips on social media recruiting for small businesses here.) Social media can also help you learn about important HR trends and get insider advice when you follow influential HR bloggers.
Find a trusted legal counselor or consultant. As an HR team of one, you have to ensure safe, secure and legal employment practices at all times. Having an attorney on hand whom you can trust can save you time researching issues and provide much-needed expertise as well as an outside perspective on such issues. Many HR teams have legal counsel on retainer to help with matters such as administrative investigations and audits, documentation preparation and review, wage compliance and employee/independent contractor classification.
Stay informed. All HR professionals should make an effort to stay ahead of the latest news affecting HR, but it's even more important if you're a solo show. Subscribe to industry newsletters for articles, tools and tips to help you solve issues and plan for the future. Sign up for free webinars and look for networking events where you can connect with fellow HR experts who can provide advice and input. If you have room in your budget, sign up for an industry conference (such as HR Tech or SHRM) for further learning and networking opportunities.
Get to know the staff one on one. It’s essential to get to know the management team and staff as deeply as possible. Schedule meetings with each division head and anyone else involved in the process of hiring, firing and performance management. While the meetings do not need to be formal, make sure you have an agenda for each meeting in order to stay focused and ensure you get the most out of each meeting. Learn about the organizational goals and how you can help meet those goals. Regular communication with management will help you stay ahead of upcoming business changes that will affect employees and help you plan accordingly.
Embrace technology. Investing in HR technology might be the smartest move you make as an HR team of one. The right HR technology can reduce time spent on administrative tasks by up to 50 percent and save up to 40 percent on administrative tasks. Not only does it save you time on tasks such as running payroll, enrolling employees in benefits, generating management reports and running background checks, technology also helps to minimize human error. While implementing HR technology requires an investment of both time and money, in the long run, it will save you both, helping you become more efficient and avoid costly hiring mistakes.