HR – A Hindrance or Necessity

“To Win The Marketplace You Must First Win The Workplace” – Doug Conant

Many small to medium size businesses often face unique challenges in the area of HR. Larger organisations can afford the luxury of a specialised individual or department solely responsible for looking after its HR needs. However, this is not a viable option for many smaller companies due to the costs. Thus, HR responsibility is often left to the business owner or a general manager who may not have the knowledge or expertise in this area, which can be dangerous and costly if things go wrong.

HR is a vital part of any business and can influence key factors such as performance and productivity; therefore it is crucial to an organisation’s success to ensure that that HR is managed effectively.

For many small to medium businesses costs are inevitably a key consideration in their business strategy, yet they often do not consider that making investments in their employees can bring increases to their revenue, profit margin and overall bottom-line.

HR is not only about the traditional ideas of the definition of recruitment, grievances, disciplinaries and redundancies. HR is about investing in people, identifying individuals’ strengths and leadership skills, together with the contributions they make to the overall business objectives and strategies. It is important for HR to engage with employees as the relationship with the organisation should be a two-way relationship encouraging loyalty and confidence from both sides. Employees that are emotionally engaged with their employers are more likely to commit their time and effort to ensure the organisation succeeds. It is therefore important that HR takes responsibility to build a great workplace and increase employee engagement, there are a few innovative practices including an open door policy, listening and engaging with employee suggestions, socialization and rewards which help to encourage employee engagement.

The foundations in the working relationship will fundamentally lie with the organisation’s HR policies. Whilst such policies may seem onerous for small to medium enterprises, they are not only a legal requirement, but also play an important role in practically and effectively implementing an organisation’s HR strategy. They provide consistency and transparency for employees and managers, helping to enhance the psychological contract and create a positive culture within the organisation.

It is essential to ensure that your policies are well written and legally compliant, it is also imperative that they are implemented and communicated effectively throughout the organisation. Your HR policies will provide general and practical advice and guidance for managers and staff on a range of employment issues.

Such policies will help to foster a culture of trust and fairness by outlining the responsibilities of both you as an employer and your employees. They can also support the business strategy and can impact positively on employee motivation and retention, which will, in turn, have a positive impact on the productivity of the organisation. Clear policies and procedures also assist with issues that may arise and help to speed up the process where disputes may arise and provide employees with a consistent approach to HR matters and their business grows and develops. So if you don’t already have your HR policies in place now is the time to do it. If you do have policies in place, maybe now is the right time to review them.

So what to do? Firstly, identify an individual that may have an interest or ability to manage HR, if they are not qualified why not enrol them on a CIPD course to equip them with the skills and knowledge they will require for the role. This will show your team that as an organisation you are willing to invest both time and money into their professional development, whilst helping your organisation at the same time. Secondly, have a backup plan for if things go wrong, which hopefully you will never need. Why not look for a specialist HR advisor who can step in if required to assist with any complex issues. There are many freelance HR advisors who will work on a case by case basis to support your in-house HR manager as and when required. Organisations such as Effective HRM who offer support, consultancy and training. Further information can be found at Alternatively, there are companies such as Peninsular who offer a comprehensive service for a monthly fee. More information can be found at

Information on CIPD courses can be found at CIPD courses can be undertaken at local colleges, however, they also offer online course run through organisations such as AVADO allowing employees to complete the courses at home or in work with the flexibility of studying around work and home.