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5 Ways an HR Team of One Can Connect With the Rest of the Company

If you’re an HR team of one, here's how you can effectively humanize your department to the rest of the organization.

Kathleen O'Donnell

by Kathleen O'Donnell - July 31st, 2023

Sometimes your small HR department needs a bit of PR. While you’re busy keeping the paychecks flowing, the benefits admin running, and the talent pipeline full, your peers, managers, and employees can feel disconnected from HR. 

But if you’re an HR team of one, with so much already on your plate, how can you effectively humanize your department to the rest of the organization? Building and strengthening those relationships is a critical part of the HR function — just as critical as benefits admin — but it’s more challenging in many ways.  

So what’s an HR team of one to do? Here are five ways to connect with everyone at your company, from the C-suite to front-line employees so that you can offer the most value to your organization. 

1. Build Relationships With Your Internal Peers 

Leaders in most departments are not experts in workforce issues. They have many other strengths, but they rely on HR to help them recruit, plan for future growth, manage and engage employees, and determine appropriate compensation — just a few of your many tasks.  

But your leaders may not know exactly what they don’t know, especially if they’re new to the leadership role or the company. Seeking them out and working to build strong relationships helps them understand exactly what your role as HR is and how you can help them across the employee lifecycle. 

Plus, those strong relationships help you when needed as well. A good bond with the CFO, for example, can help you both come together to make processing payroll simpler and more automated so you have more time and finance has greater insight into the business’s most significant expenses. 

2. Become a Proactive and Strategic Leader 

Another way to connect with the people at the top of your organization is to show that you’re a proactive and strategic leader, not just the person who runs payroll every two weeks. Asking leaders about their priorities and vision for the business can help you create a strategy that aligns your HR priorities with theirs, like expanding into certain markets or regions. 

Checking in often with your leadership can help you make proactive decisions instead of reactive ones, which will help you earn the trust of your top teammates. They can help you make the case for expanding your HR team of one down the line or simply sign off on an increased HR budget so you can purchase the tools and tech that help you do more of what they value. 

3. Empower and Educate Employees 

Connecting with your company is about much more than focusing on executives — your rank-and-file employees are just as vital. If you want to humanize your HR team of one to them, focus on empowering all of your employees so they can take charge of their own career paths and development. 

Your HR resources are likely spread thin, but that doesn’t mean your critical employee engagement and support tasks can fall by the wayside. You can encourage employees to take advantage of external development and learning resources, such as by communicating what they’re eligible for, like tuition reimbursement. Or help them set up their own series of lunch and learns on topics their teams find interesting — you can guide them and let them do the heavy lifting. 

This way, they get the learning and development opportunities they crave while feeling your support and expertise. You don’t need to add everything to your plate — you can strategically empower employees so everyone benefits while they get to know what you can offer them. 

4. Listen to  – and Learn From – Employees 

If you’re unsure what programs would resonate with employees most, this is a great opportunity to ask them for their feedback and opinions. Employees at all levels love to feel seen and heard by their HR teams, and it’s an effective way to humanize yourself and get to know what employees truly want and value. 

These check-ins can be formal or informal, done via an emailed survey or in-person focus groups, focused on one topic or broad — but they should be frequent and authentic. If employees sense you’re ticking off an item on your list instead of genuinely listening, they’ll feel less connected with you and potentially form a negative view of HR. 

Also, taking action on the feedback you receive (and communicating those changes to employees) is vital. Otherwise, employees may feel their feedback went unheard, which is a frustrating experience. Of course, you won’t be able to act on every desire employees express, but within reason, you can advocate for the changes they value most and show you’re on their side too. 

Ensure You’re Visibly Adding Value 

As an HR team of one, there’s a lot on your plate — sometimes, there’s too much. It’s easy to focus on what seems like the most urgent issues, such as processing payroll and managing employee status changes. But people issues, such as recruitment, talent acquisition, and performance management, are your most important tasks for the success of your employees, your leaders, and your company as a whole. 

Showing that you’re adding value in these critical areas helps show the rest of the organization what you add in ways they can appreciate. That might mean holding open office hours for employees with benefits questions, coaching managers on performance reviews, or walking leadership through your recruitment vision for the next six months. 

If you can’t imagine adding even one of those elements to your workload right now, look at what’s taking up most of your time today. Those highly demanding tasks, like payroll or benefits administration, should be outsourced — and the good news is, it’s now easier than ever to do so. 

Strategic use of technology and tools like GoCo allows you more time to be available for the tasks your leaders and employees value most, so you’re there when they need you. You’ll gain time that you can spend on human-centric tasks while critical functions flow smoothly in the background. 

Want to explore an all-in-one HR solution that helps you save valuable time on tasks like onboarding, time tracking, payroll, and benefits admin? Take a tour of GoCo today and see how we can help your HR team of one shine!

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