Workplace Strategies

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photo: Vicky Sim

Searching for when to hire your first HR officer? You're likely too late

Teams rarely have that magical cohesion that feels self-run that leadership hopes for. A tight, small group of employees that work as close friends eventually scale and the team dynamics are at risk to change drastically, sometimes for the bad. If you have distributed or remote talent, the lack of face-to-face experience can accelerate the problem as well without replacements by rapid informal communications. When asking your company “why” you’re searching for an HR lead, it can illuminate if you’re being proactive or reactive. Did the organization wait too long to take action and wading through the ooze of toxic company culture? Or are plans to scale on the table and it’s time to be proactive to mature the human resource processes? Are you proactively or reactively trying to solve a challenge?

Being reactive and hiring defensively

If the organization is facing a set of circumstances that seems to be off the rails such a high-attrition, employee complaints, or a legal mess of some sort, then it’s in trouble and it’s too late in the sense that damage is already done. It’ll be far more costly and require more time and discussion than the prevention process would have been. That’s bad for business, but the good news is that in these cases too late is still better than never when it comes to bringing an outsider in to put out fires.

That said, business leaders need to confront a few likely facts in these circumstances:

  • The challenge(s) identified is likely more complex than assumed and the HR specialist who comes in will likely need additional resources or tools to solve it properly and effectively.

  • The challenge(s) identified are likely not the only problems at the organization. With a specialized resource in place, they’ll identify several contributing or even non-related challenges that have been bubbling under the hood that will also need attention.

  • he position require someone with significant and relevant experience to diagnose and engage the first two points above, cutting corners or hiring wrong here will lead to far more troubles.

Being proactive and hiring offensively

If there is no dire circumstance that triggers the interest for an HR hire and an event like a future hiring spree is opening the door for an HR lead, then there are a few points to review to understand how urgently your need may be.

Company Size

What is your company size today and what is the plan to have it be within 6-12 months? Somewhere between 25-50 people is where the stress may be great enough on the business leaders to properly transmit their culture without a formal system and hierarchy. If employee number 51 experiences a poor onboarding experience, no internal communications or tools like Yallhands, a lack of direction, no formal training, and no plan of action to assess progress and development, then trouble awaits. Unless these functions are miraculously being fulfilled in whole by other responsible parties, you’ll be setting up the employee environment for failure. Some startups hire too fast and employees can feel personally detached. Take Suzanne Lucas’ advice

“when some employees start to feel disenfranchised, it’s a good idea to have an expert in organizational development to help out.”

Does your organization have a positive culture?

Can you randomly pull 3 employees from your organization to get similar responses to how they feel incentivized, driven, and having a purpose? Strong and experienced leadership has a superpower to emit their brand and culture personality across a company so that the logo sticker on their laptop is a badge of honor. Even if informal, these organizations can tell they’re on the right track as they have constantly get open door feedback, have an effective employee referral program, and a low attrition rate. For a business this means more money going to the right places.

Is hiring talent feeling like a losing battle?

If qualified candidates are declining after interviewing and you are confident that your offer is fair, that should be an alarm. Every job and job description may not come across as completely rewarding in the onset, but candidates who are team players can see the larger picture of the organization that’s driving the product or service. Unless it’s not being communicated and sold as a great employee experience, the organization will need to make theirs better.

Regardless of your position, getting a sense of where your organization is and getting control of your Human Resources operations is key. Being overly proactive to make the efforts to know your employee experience and people operations needs rarely has a downside.