Human Resources is no longer about people

For every business, people are its key resource, value and lifeblood. Get their selection and retention right and you are 90 per cent of the way to having a successful company. Get them wrong, however, and you can sign your own death warrant – I mean this not just in business terms, but possibly literally from the resultant overwork and stress.

It is one of the hardest battles of the small, and especially growing, company. They don’t have the resources in terms of experience or expertise in house. Their budgets are often limited on specialist recruitment or HR advice on structure or job function. Many of the lower-end recruitment agencies are so target-driven that they are only able to force feed a selection of unsuitable applicants – which take up further business time. While HR companies are heavy on recruitment advice, the bills to carry out the recruitment function are too high to be practical. So, however good the advice, it becomes yet another thing for the business owner or some under-qualified in house administrator to carry out.

In periods of growth, a business’s needs are constantly changing. Roles within the business and expectations of the staff often require change as well. This can lead to further problems: performance management, careful observation of legislation on job changes, lack of staff’s ability to develop at the same pace as the company causing further recruitment needs and potential legal issues.

HR has sadly become focussed on legalities. Human Resources was originally about people – now there is little emphasis on culture and training. I have read many sites which suggest that recruitment should no longer be considered an HR function, but should rest with line managers and the business owner. This is frankly ridiculous. While line managers are aware of the business’s goals and vision and need to understand the broad outline of employment legislation, their job is to deliver their team’s performance, not stray into the doors of old fashioned personnel.

You then have the issue of training. Skills training is arguably the line manager’s job.   However, in this legislative age it is hard for the non-specialist line manager to plan, structure and record the training to the required and advised degree while delivering on their actual task of line management.

Under this system, the only winners are those who profit from employment legislation. The risk of a debris of legislation trebles – creating work for those who deal with said debris – as people who are not specialists in employment law or personnel issues straying into these areas. Business and employees will loose out.

One of the best pieces of advice for a growing company is to only employ senior staff. One high-powered part-time person paid more pro-rata but working less hours can cost the same and perform higher than a full-time second rater. While the salary involved may look daunting, factoring the increase in ability, productivity, lack of other management supervision and personnel work can change your perspective. You can have one high-powered employee for the price of two juniors and a better performing team as a result. 

Jan Cavelle is founder of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company.

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