How to succeed as a one-person HR department

October 4, 2022

The human resources department is vital in any company. This is where new employees get interviewed, onboarded, and trained. It's also the department responsible for handling paperwork, employee issues, and many other tasks. Whether you've fallen into this role by chance or you're working for a startup that's just getting off the ground, being a one-person HR department can be stressful. Taking on the HR manager role alone can also have its benefits, but there will likely be struggles to overcome. If you take the time to understand the role, you can succeed as a one-person HR department.

What is an HR department?

As an HR professional, you have a number of responsibilities to perform each day. Additionally, your daily schedule can vary greatly from one day to the next. Those who work in this department need to have administrative skills, as well as strong interpersonal skills. Some of the tasks commonly done in an HR department include:

  • Recruiting new employees
  • Interviewing for open positions
  • Filling out paperwork for new hires
  • Planning employee training events
  • Listening to employee problems
  • Writing an employee benefits plan
  • Solving personnel issues
  • Creating an employee schedule
  • Ensuring all records are up to date

This list isn't exhaustive, and an HR department can take on other jobs that might come up throughout the day. When an employee needs help that they can't get from a boss or colleague, they turn to the HR department. If someone quits and their position needs to be filled, in steps HR. Some days can get a little hectic with all these things coming in simultaneously, especially if you're the only one taking on the job. But there are steps you can take to limit your stress and succeed in your role.

"Fortunately, with technology and plenty of resources available, the job of a one-person HR department is much easier."

Secrets to being a successful one-person HR department

First, take a deep breath, and then tell yourself, "I can do this." Being a one-person show in an HR department allows you the freedom to take on challenges and handle them in your own way and at your own pace. Whether you work at a company with 10 employees or one with 100, there are things you can do to ensure you get your work done and that you don't get overwhelmed. Consider these tips on how to succeed as a one-person HR department:

Understand your role

Every company is structured differently, so even if you've performed HR-related tasks with one organization, moving to another company may present an entirely new set of responsibilities. Therefore, it's important to understand your role. Make sure you know exactly what's expected of you as a one-person HR department. For example, you might need to recruit candidates and read resumes, but perhaps the position's manager will actually do the interviews. Knowing your role can help you stay focused on only the tasks within your realm.

Make a plan

Having a plan for what you need to accomplish each day, month, year, and beyond is key to succeeding as a one-person HR department. It's a good idea to schedule when important tasks need to be completed and keep track of dates to ensure you're always in compliance. Add reminders to your notifications so you don't miss any vital deadlines. In an HR department, things can come up without notice. Leaving blocks in your schedule for these unexpected tasks can help you have time for everything you need to do.

Use your resources

Fortunately, with technology and plenty of resources available, the job of a one-person HR department is much easier. Finding legal information through sources like OSHA and law firms can help you keep your company in compliance with local and federal employment laws. Don't hesitate to use every resource available to you, including:

  • Social media
  • Performance monitoring tools
  • Applicant tracking software
  • Blogs and websites
  • Employee handbooks
  • Personnel files
  • Employee evaluations

All of these tools can help you perform your job better. With social media, you can advertise job openings. Performance monitoring tools give you insight into how employees are handling their workloads. Using applicant tracking software can speed up the hiring process, and reading blogs and websites provides advice from other professionals in the field. If you're not sure what an employee's role entails, the employee handbook is a great reference. An employee's file can tell you whether they've had any warnings or accepted a promotion while at the company, and their evaluation details their performance.

Connect with your team

While administrative tasks are important for an HR role, connecting with the team of people who rely on you is a key aspect of the job as well. You can do this by getting out of the office and interacting with others in the company. Try visiting a different department each week or hosting a lunch that anyone can attend. Understanding the job of each person can help you relate to the team better and make you more efficient at solving problems. Consider job shadowing individuals to get a feel for what they do.

Learn to let go

For HR professionals, knowing when to say no or to let go of those tasks you just can't complete or perform is necessary to keep stress levels low and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. Realizing that the workload will continue to flow, regardless of how much you try to get done, and knowing that you may not be able to do everything that's on your plate is the reality of being a one-person HR department. The main thing is to remember that it's OK to let things go when you need to stay focused on deadlines.

The HR department has many jobs to do each day, and knowing how to succeed as a one-person HR department lets you perform better in this role. Use this guide to understand what the HR department does and find out what you can do to stay on top of everything that's expected of you.

Here are more tips for succeeding in business:

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