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Top 6 Challenges for HR Departments of One

Learn about the biggest HR issues and how teams of one overcome them

Nick Schurk

by Nick Schurk - September 14th, 2022


A company with just one person in charge of the human resources department faces some unique challenges. This article will highlight some of the major issues people face when they are the only member of their company's HR team. We also asked leaders with an HR department of one about their biggest people operations and recruiting challenges so we could share our favorite answers.

1. Losing Potential Top Talent to Large Companies

It can be difficult for an HR department of one to hire top talent when up against bigger companies. Larger, more well-established companies often have the advantage of more people and resources when it comes to the hiring process, which can make it difficult for a smaller HR department to compete. Additionally, larger companies often have a more well-known name, which can also make it difficult for a small HR team to attract top talent.

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"The most significant HR and recruiting challenges that single-person HR departments need to face are problems with clout and capacity," said Nina Paczka of Resume Now. "A one-person HR department means that one specialist is responsible for finding suitable candidates and carrying out the entire recruitment process. Unlike large companies with multi-person HR departments, the person can experience the problems associated with the fast completion of each recruitment stage, from reviewing resumes to deciding who to hire.

"This makes them lose the advantage over large businesses where these processes happen much faster. Thus, they capture the best candidates who often accept an offer without waiting for your recruitment outcome. As a result, in the worst scenario, it may occur that the top three candidates have already found a job, and the recruitment process needs to be repeated."

2. Lack of Automations that Save Time

One of the biggest challenges for a small HR department is the lack of automation for tedious tasks. This can lead to a lot of wasted time, as tasks that could be automated have to be done manually. This can include everything from tracking employee data to sending out email notifications about changes in benefits or policies.

Gordana Sretenovic, Co-Founder at Workello, knows this issue all too well from her time handling her company's human resources tasks. "I hired a lot of writers and had to manually send assessment invitations, create Google Docs where they write their test articles, send interview invitations, and a host of other back-and-forth messages that took up most of my day," says Sretenovic.

"Automating 90% of these tasks easily saved me 30 hours/week that I can now use to develop my product and work on more revenue-generating tasks. If I could recommend anything, it's to set up workflows that save time (and money) because as the only HR person, I could barely find any time to connect with my team because I was always in recruitment mode."

3. Maintaining Remote Employee Engagement

Maintaining employee engagement is a critical task for any HR department, but it can be especially challenging for a one-person department. Remote employees can be more difficult to engage, so HR needs to be especially vigilant in checking in with each employee and monitoring their engagement levels. A decline in productivity can have a domino effect on the company, eventually leading to turnover. It's critical for HR to keep employees engaged and productive.

4. Balancing the Needs of Current Employees With Recruiting Efforts

Small HR departments often face a difficult balancing act when it comes to meeting the needs of current employees and recruiting new ones. On one hand, current employees are often overworked and need assistance, while on the other hand, recruiting new employees is essential for the long-term success of the company. This can be a challenge for HR departments of one that don't have enough time to focus on both tasks simultaneously.

"Current employees are presently having to work more and doubling up on duties because we don't have enough workers, says Amruth Laxman, founding partner at 4Voice. "They have overtime and are asking for days off because they are tired. It takes time to handle all of that.

"At the same time, I have to put in a lot of time and effort to recruit, which would solve the problems of the current employees. I don't have enough time for both so I'm constantly facing the choice of resolving the needs of current employees, which are urgent, with working on recruitment needs, which is highly important."

5. Low Bandwidth During Seasonal Hiring Rushes

Maintaining bandwidth during busy hiring seasons, such as holidays, is difficult for HR departments of one. This is because the small HR department does not have enough employees to handle the extra work that is needed. As a result, current employees are often overworked when they need assistance. At the same time, recruiting new employees is essential for the long-term success of the company. HR departments of one often don't have enough time to focus on both tasks simultaneously.

"As we prepare for our busy holiday season, our HR person faces the monumental task of screening thousands of applicants for seasonal positions," says Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding. "Leadership, staffing agencies, and hiring software do some of the lift; however, we also believe it is important for our HR leader to be hands-on and oversee the process to ensure organizational fit.

"To better support her in this project, we pause non-essential duties, give clear guidelines and a streamlined system, and delegate less skilled tasks like company culture initiatives to other departments."

6. Onboarding Large Groups of New Hires

It can be difficult for a small HR department to properly onboard large groups of new employees. This is due, in part, to the fact that a small HR department may not have the bandwidth to handle all of the new employee paperwork and orientations simultaneously. Additionally, a small HR department may not have the resources to conduct adequate training for all of the new employees at once. As a result, improperly onboarded employees can lead to decreased productivity and even turnover.

"The onboarding process is overwhelming for the new hires as well as the HR person alike," says Mark Blakey, Founder of Autism Parenting Magazine. "There are a number of things to take care of during onboarding. There needs to be constant communication to be maintained with the new employees to make them join on the right date and time. They need to be made familiar with the company culture after they join.

"The employees may have many questions that need to be answered as well. Handling even five new employees for one HR person gets difficult if required to do simultaneously. Thus the onboarding process gets much more difficult if there is only one person in the HR department."

GoCo's all-in-one HR platform was created to help solve the many challenges faced by HR departments of one. From onboarding large groups of new employees to maintaining remote employee engagement, GoCo's platform helps take the stress out of HR administration for small teams. Additionally, our platform is designed to make tracking and managing employee data simple and easy. Take a tour of GoCo today and see how we can help you take your HR department to the next level!

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