One of the most popular features here is a series answering reader questions. If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question
See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about starting an HR department when the company doesn’t have one yet.
Hey there! Hope all is well with you and your family! My name is Demee and I just finished watching your video on YouTube that you posted several years ago. I will give you some quick background on myself.
I was a Business Manager at a massage business for almost 2 years and decided to step down because I had a feeling that I was on a sinking ship–and it turns out that I was right! So I took a huge leap of faith and changed fields completely! I am now an Oral Surgery Assistant (I had no experience & they trained me) for an oral surgeon group with 9 locations. I’ve currently been at my position for almost 2 years now and I realize that there is no HR department so I see the need for this and want to start one.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I would have to convince my manager of this and he would then have to probably bring it up to the doctors. I have experience hiring/terminations, processing employee verifications, doing payroll, creating/editing the employee handbook (which we desperately need), and I used a payroll technology vendor in the past.
For those of you not in the know, an HR department of one is just what it sounds like: an HR department where one person covers all the bases from an HR, talent, and recruiting perspective.
I have a special place in my heart for the HR department of one, because that’s where I came from. When I worked in the HR profession, I had the opportunity to wear all (and I mean ALL) the hats, and while it was challenging it was also a lot of fun. I love building a function and growing from the ground up, and it was an amazing experience. That is one reason I’ve worked on podcasts and other free resources to help a department of one to survive and thrive.
An HR department of one (or DOO) is a special kind of person. They are doers and are the kinds of people employers need to hire. And while we assume these are all tiny companies, we found that these individuals work for companies of all sizes (as our new research shows) from 5 to 750 employees!
5 Things a DOO Will Never Say
That said, there are some things that an HR DOO is simply unlikely to say. Read this and try not to smile!
- I’m done for the day so I’ll take off early.
- Sure I’d love to take on security and finance in addition to HR. Got anything else we can add to my plate?
- Since I don’t have any competing priorities I’ll go ahead and attend that “optional” meeting my coworker invited me to.
- I wonder if accounting needs help with anything?
- I love when I get to recruit for two new openings, investigate a harassment claim, run a training class, send a new baby congrats card, celebrate an employee service anniversary, review a payroll exception report, reconcile our benefits statement, onboard a new employee, and send out our engagement survey all on the same day.
At the end of the day, this is just a reminder that while you see so many companies in the news for their flashy benefits or their “cool” culture, the truth is many firms exist that are run by 1) no HR person 2) a department of one or 3) a department of one with a very small team.
Don’t get caught up in what the “cool” companies are doing. Make work great for your team. As the head of HR for the nation’s best midsize firm likes to say, you need to create the right environment for your specific workforce to perform and thrive, and that environment isn’t the same at every organization.
What else would you add to this list of things an HR department of one will never say?