When You’re Missing the ‘H’ in HR: How to Survive Without an HR Department

When a company too small can’t afford to establish an HR department, the responsibilities of anything HR-related from hiring to payroll ends up falling into the hands of (1) the employee who deals with the company’s finance and numbers, or (2) the managers of each department and leaders of the team. Every talent professional reading this should already know the consequences of a bad job-fit, however. Imagine assigning a software developer the job functions of a sales rep. How well do you think your employees would manage tasks that are totally out of their own expertise or interest?

The Challenges Without HR

Many business owners believe they can deal with employee issues themselves. Some modern firms, specifically, refuse to bring in an HR professional because of how HR is viewed as ‘old-fashioned’ and a killjoy to their so-called ‘fun and casual’ work culture.

“HR departments are disappearing, particularly among companies with flat management structures which want to encourage more accountability among their employees.” – Chris Lennon

Not having HR, however, is like missing an arm. In the end of the day, no employee – let alone an employer – would want to look over an outrageous amount of résumés or approve every single vacation request themselves in addition to their expected workload. Not only does it slow down the flow of the company’s operations funnel, it also takes away the individual’s time in fulfilling other responsibilities that may be more crucial to its business success.

To understand the challenges without HR, we must first identify the purposes of it. HR covers areas beyond the roles of an organization’s ‘corporate police’. On top of making sure that everything is going strictly by the book, it also plays a significant part in recruiting, coaching, and ensuring a safe work environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued. In other words, businesses without an HR department are exposed to the potential risks of:

  • Bad hires and consistently high turnover
  • Lack of diversity in the company
  • Miscommunication within teams and ineffective employees

What Else You Can Do Even Without HR

In cases when your company only houses 15 to 20 employees, having a fully functioning HR department may be too much of an immediate investment. In the interim, to keep your business in the safety zones of a healthy and thriving workplace, here’s what you can do alternatively:

  • Utilize online management software such as pre-employment testing for recruiting, onboarding, and handling payroll to help automate and facilitate your HR process
  • Hire third-party HR consultants and career coaches to create employee strategies that well-fit the needs of the company
  • Train your managers and employees on dealing with conflicts and maximizing shared effectiveness within their team

As a business owner, it is always important to put your people first. Never underestimate the cost of a single employee mishap. It is why HR exists in the first place.