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Creating an HR Strategy for a Startup

A helpful guide for tips and considerations on creating a strong HR strategy

by Elle Mason

If you’ve worked at a start-up, then you know that wearing many (figurative) hats can often come with the territory. It’s not uncommon for HR strategy to be neglected – particularly when growing from a team of two or several people. The limited resources that the business has tends to be spent on product development, marketing and growth – with HR taking the sidelines. Because of that gap, startups may not have the resources or education on how to create a cohesive HR strategy. But it’s never too early to start working on one. Even if you have an HR department of one – or none – this article will serve as a helpful guide for tips and considerations on creating an HR strategy for a startup.

What are the benefits of having a strong HR strategy at a start-up?

A proper HR strategy can be critical to growing your business. After all, you need people to build or deliver the product. If the business can’t attract or retain the right people, the outcomes will be stunted. And beyond that – a good HR strategy can help create team cohesion and productivity, it can reduce the administrative burden of constantly hiring, onboarding and releasing, and it can save your business money and time by making you aware of key compliance and legal information.

And while many people think of HR as simply focused on areas like payroll and compliance, consider all of the broader areas that a proper strategy can create or influence:

  • Building recruitment pools and funnels
  • Designing systems for hiring and onboarding
  • Defining organizational goals and responsibilities
  • Creating policies and procedures for various business functions
  • Building compensation and benefits structures
  • Managing compliance information
  • Creating a plan for nurturing a positive work culture
  • Managing employee development and performance
  • Building rewards, recognition and other engagement programs

Given the breadth and spread of these areas, even if your team is small, it’s never too early to start thinking about a strategy.

Question and considerations for creating a step-by-step HR strategy for a startup

How is your organization designed? What’s the size?

Are you a company of 5? 50? 500? What departments or teams do you have and what do they manage? What is the organizational reporting structure? Planning and mapping the vision for this out can help contain or avoid some of the confusion that comes with rapid growth.

What are the non-negotiable policies that should be in place?

Does your company have rules or regulations about time off? Dress codes? Technology use? Conduct? Documenting these things can help onboarding go smoothly, prevent performance issues, and give managers a resource to follow if a conflict arises.

HR technology can allow you to easily create policies & edit them as you need — If you’re a startup, you may need to create brand new policies and agreements for employees to acknowledge. GoCo’s Magic Docs makes it easy to create e-Documents with custom fields, drop-downs, eSignature, and more for employees to digitally acknowledge. The policies are all housed in the HRIS so they can reference them at any time.

What do you need to know from a regulatory and compliance perspective?

What are the mandatory documents and due dates for business functioning and compliance? What regulatory forms need to be completed and how often? Who are they submitted to or where are they stored? An HR strategy will help you plan for this in advance.

What is the plan for hiring and recruitment, and what training will be needed?

Onboarding is a critical time for employees – they’re building their impression of the organization and you want them to have a positive one. Some of the questions you might ask are: Where will you source talent? What type of messaging will you convey? What are your interview processes and who is involved in hiring? How long will new hire training take and what should it entail?

What is the compensation and benefits plan?

How will you ensure pay parity? What are the pay differentials for levels of experience, time in the organization, etc.? What benefits can you offer? This can be one of the biggest factors that causes people to accept a job or leave for another job.

GoCo’s HRIS was specifically built for SMBs/startups that don’t have the time to manage the paper-based, admin work. With GoCo, HR admin or even leadership can streamline all of the onboarding, benefits, and payroll tasks and focus on scaling or growing their startups.

What is the employee engagement and development plan?

Beyond their initial training, how will employees continue to grow their skills and develop as professionals? Will there be trainings or workshops? Are resources allocated to using outside materials, attending conferences, or taking courses? What is the roadmap for measuring, understanding and growing employee engagement? Will you introduce a rewards or recognition program? These are also key questions that can drive how satisfied people feel in their roles.

If you previously thought of HR as a function solely limited to hiring and payroll, then these considerations can feel daunting. But you don’t have to do it all alone! HR technology is designed to help. Using an HRIS to help take some of those manual tasks off of your plate so that you can effectively delegate some of the administration so you can focus on growing the organization, keeping employees happy, and all the other hats you might be wearing.

See how GoCo can simplify your HR