The Top Five Signs you Need an HR Person

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Hiring a full-time HR person for the first time is a big step for a small business. Is it worth the expense? Will there be enough work to keep the HR person busy? Often HR responsibilities are included as part of the owner or office manager’s job. This may work well when a company is really small, but a small business experiencing growth will reach a point when the task of managing employees and HR compliance becomes too much for that person to manage. Let’s look at the top five signs you should consider bringing a full time HR person on board.

The Top Five Signs you Need an HR Person

You Have 50 or More Employees

When it comes to HR, I like to think of 50 employees as the magic number. Once a company hits 50, things like Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) kick in. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will also affect employers with 50 or more full-time employees. If you are asking yourself what the FMLA and ACA are, or if you are wondering how to implement these laws in your workplace, you probably need an HR person. With the additional requirements at this level, it is much easier to have someone managing HR needs full time than to throw such things on a really long to-do list for an office manager.

Some states have additional laws that apply to employers of 50 or more. For example, California requires that employers of that size provide harassment prevention training to managers every two years. A full-time HR person can manage all these requirements.

You believe HR is only about paperwork

Human resources is much more than just filling out paperwork, creating employee files and posting required notices. HR includes the hiring and onboarding process, benefits (not just insurance), strategic planning, employee relations, training and more. HR is about employee development and not just getting them to sign off on a meal break policy update. If you don’t know how to do these things, then an HR manager might be a good hire.

Hiring becomes a Challenge

Hiring is a time consuming process, especially in a company experiencing a lot of growth. If you find that you need to plan for a lot of hiring in the near future, or you don’t have the time to fill any of your openings, an HR person can do wonders to keep your hiring process on track.

Hiring is about more than posting an ad and conducting interviews. All those new hires need to be trained. A good HR person can develop onboarding and training programs to ensure that your new hires have the tools they need to be successful and acclimate to life at your business. HR people can also help manage mass hiring and onboarding effectively, which is much better than heaping that responsibility on an overworked office manager who has time to do little more than throw an I-9 and W-2 at a new employee.

You Find Yourself Googling Labor Laws on a Daily Basis

A certain amount of research on laws and regulations is normal for even the most seasoned HR veteran. There are lots of employment laws and they have the annoying habit of changing from time to time. For an office manager with limited HR experience, knowing what FMLA paperwork to give an employee or when to pay double time can be a challenge. An experienced HR person will know the most common laws (e.g. meal breaks, overtime, discrimination) and can easily guide managers without wondering if what they found online is true.

Managing the People Part of Your Business is All you Do

Do you find yourself spending the majority of your time sorting out disagreements between coworkers, trying to improve morale and handling all the other things that come up when managing people? Is it getting in the way of all the other things you have to get done? This is probably the top sign that you need an HR person. An HR person can take care of a lot of this stuff for you, so you can get back to running your business. A good HR person will work closely with you and keep you up-to-date on any of the bigger employee issues while managing the small issues so you do not have to worry about the.

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Stephanie Hammerwold

Stephanie Hammerwold, is the founder and director of Pacific Reentry Career Services, a Southern California nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated women find and maintain employment. She also blogs on a variety of HR topics as the HR Hammer. When not volunteering for her nonprofit, Stephanie has a day job in HR at a tech startup in Irvine, CA.

Reader Interactions


  1. Tom Bolt says

    Great indicators that a business owner needs to consider hiring an HR expert. The next step is to commit to giving them the trust and autonomy to do it right. I’ve seen misguided entrepreneurs hire the wrong person because their concept of HR is too shallow to make it a successful career move for anybody serious about their reasons to be in HR. Likewise, HR pros going into a start-up HR situation needs to listen… a lot. Understand the mission of the company and vision of its leaders.

  2. Robert Acton says

    I am reaching out for my lady, who works for a construction company that has about 50 employees or more. The situation at the company is the Owner doesn’t know about the issue at hand because the 3 people in charge cover each other backs. 1 of the 3 people I mentioned degrades co-workers, talks down with a disrespectful tone. Do to, this 1 person. Office moral is very low. And what I understand the office employees walk on egg shells around him, I know the company needs a out sourced HR, to basically set the positive energy that is needed. Because it’s a matter of time before a law suit is filed against the company for harassment. What is the best way to achieve this goal? Any advice is welcomed. Thank you for your time hope to get feed back.

  3. Emily Stone says

    A Human Resources department is also there to support employers through more difficult times, as they provide a neutral party for disciplinary meetings, appeals and representation at employment tribunals.


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