October 18, 2017

Why It Is Never Too Early to Bring HR Into Your Startup

As self-professed “innovators” in the tech startup world, we constantly think about new ways to remove ourselves from the confines of a conventional workplace. Break rooms are replaced with ping-pong tables, coffee machines are complemented with beer fridges, and blazers are swapped for branded hoodies. The traditional 9-5 grind is all too uncommon, replaced with flexible work schedules and unlimited paid time off because of productivity and insight work on their own clock.

In an environment like this, it can be difficult to see the benefits of giving HR an initial seat at the table (pun intended). The last thing an innovative, cutting-edge tech company wants is to be inundated with compliance rhetoric, workplace regulations, and heavy performance management or recruiting processes. In reality, the field of HR has evolved tremendously and caters to all the aspects of tech culture that startups are so protective of and more. Here’s why you should consider adding that seat to your initial team.

Recruiting Top Tech Talent Is Pretty Hard

You came up with a brilliant idea, secured your first round of funding, and built up an amazing initial team of employees. Now, you need to continue to recruit the best and the brightest to scale and grow. Many companies initially use recruitment agencies to find new employees, however, this practice does have its limitations. Aside from the fact that agencies tend to be tremendously expensive, they’re not always effective in making quality hires.

Agencies don’t know nearly as much about your culture as you do, making it difficult to screen candidates that may not be a fit for the role and your unique company values. Many agencies juggle multiple companies and roles simultaneously, and it could be harder for your candidates to all receive the “red carpet” treatment throughout their interview process.

Furthermore, there is a large shortage of tech talent in general, so having someone internally devoted to recruitment can ensure that you’re taking into account the full landscape of your company; you have more perspective on your gaps and what nuanced skills you may be looking for.

Finally, with a centralized recruiting function, you’re better equipped to keep diversity and inclusion in mind when building out your organization, which leads to a stronger workforce at every level.

Your Company Can’t Evolve if Your Employees Don’t

Since you’re going to be dedicating ample resources into recruiting your employees, you probably want to retain them. Retention and Engagement is most likely to trend upward when employees feel that they’re continuing to be challenged and invested in. HR can streamline this process by setting up the foundations for this growth through training, performance management, strategic planning, and salary structure.

Training can involve preparing managers to be great leaders or can be focused on company-specific practices to speed up onboarding for new hires. Manager training can be supplemented with the process of building out light performance check-ins that will ensure that all your employees are getting the feedback they need to continue to be successful and grow. This is especially useful for smaller companies since projects can move rapidly when you’re initially starting out.

Thinking about the long-term bigger picture, this perspective is also useful in strategic planning, where people teams can think about the growth they’ve seen in their employees, and how that translates to what the company can do in the future. Your HR team can use performance insight to promote existing employees, structure teams to be efficient, and backfill gaps with new hires.

Finally, it is absolutely crucial to remain competitive from a salary perspective, and understand how to build a robust compensation package whether that comes in the form of equity, medical benefits or merit bonuses. Having a dedicated resource to make purposeful decisions around your compensation philosophy can set a good precedent for your company.

Work Isn’t Just a Place to Get Your Paycheck Anymore

The average person in today’s world is looking for a lot more than a paycheck and free Friday lunches; they’re looking for meaning, fulfillment, and community. There are thousands of companies that potential candidates can work for, so it is the company’s responsibility to define what its vision, mission, and values are so that employees can decide whether they internally align with those goals.

Employees also want to feel a sense of community with those they work with, especially since they spend most of their waking hours with them. An HR team fosters community by identifying and building out a company culture and drives subsequent programs or events to ensure your company’s values are being showcased and practiced.

It is also HR’s job to share your mission with the greater community so that others are aware of your employer brand. Dedicating a resource early on can help reinforce these initial company values and turn them into a corporate identity that feels as strong as it was at 50 people as it will be when it reaches 500 people.

Rasika Rajagopalan is an HR Business Partner at SmartBear Software.