When you are a part of the Human Resources team, you will need to keep in mind that you are doing more than just helping with team agendas; you have larger responsibilities to the organization. You have to be responsible to the management team, the staff, and the overall organization.
With this larger breadth of responsibility, you will need to adjust your focus accordingly to ensure the long-term success of everyone involved.
Responsible to Management
In supporting management, you are going to be the professional or the team of professionals that will help collect information for the management team. Since you are entrusted to create recommendations for organizational success, you will need to be the one who finds the data for managers.
For example, you might complete a few needs assessments in different situations, helping to guide the management team to a certain result. You might conduct surveys and questionnaires to amass enough information to show management that something needs to be changed.
You might provide ongoing research into the market to show management how hiring strategies may need to be adjusted or how compensation and benefits need to shift.
Your responsibility to the management team includes:
- Showing management what is and isn't working
- Providing proof of strategic alignment and outcomes
- Being active in identifying areas of improvement for the organization
The way in which you support management might be different, depending on how management wants you to interact, but there is one consistency: You are the one that will help management make decisions.
Find out what they need in order to make decisions and ensure you have that information ready at all times.
Responsible to the Team
In addition, you have a responsibility to the team at the organization. You are the one who acts as the intermediary between the staff and management, so you need to know what the staff wants from you.
You can do this by being in constant communication with staff members, helping to maintain the overall lines of information sharing, which will ensure you are alert to necessary ideas that need to be brought to management.
At the same time, you also need to keep up-to-date on HR policies and guidelines, so you can communicate these to the team members.
Your responsibilities include:
- Sharing information about programs, policies, rules, etc.
- Listening to concerns from team members
- Bringing information to the management team from the staff
- Providing resources for benefits information, compensation packages, etc.
While you're not technically in a supervisory position for the staff (or you might be, depending on your organization), you need to be the one who oversees the relationship of compensation and benefits and the staff members.
This often looks like holding workshops and seminars for the staff to share new information and to update old information. In addition, you will be the one who talks with new hires to explain to them their new benefits and their compensation package.
In addition, some HR teams will create a website or a blog that will help to compile information from the staff to show to management, or for management to share with staff. Then you will be the one who can explain the situation and field any questions that may have arisen.
To support the staff, new and old, you will need to be absolutely clear about the guidelines as they are set up. You need to be the person who will be able to answer any question, and who will be able to provide the resources necessary. The more you can memorize the facts, the more others will be able to come to you for support.
(And the more support you will be able to offer.)
In addition, you will need to have an ongoing relationship with the benefits companies and any staff members who are part of the compensation discussion. You will need to know who the people are at the benefits companies who can help you, and who you may need to help out in order to have them return the favor in the future.
You need to understand the decisions of the benefits companies, as well as how to explain these decisions to staff members, as required.
Responsible to the Organization
In the end, you are responsible for the entire organization and helping it succeed. While you might not be the person making all of the compensation and benefits decisions, you may be the one who is helping to influence these decisions.
By having the information available, by doing the research, and by listening to the needs of management and the staff, you are the one who helps develop the organization and who helps bring it to its long-term goals.
Your responsibilities to the organization include:
- Finding the best benefits programs and prices
- Controlling cost concerns
- Identifying areas of need, improvement, and adjustment
- Knowing the current market strategies and innovations
The more you know about compensation and benefits, the more you can help the organization thrive. It's not just about having the most benefits, or the best costs for these benefits; you need to be the person who understands how the decisions you make today will influence how the company works tomorrow.
You need to be the person who understands the bigger vision, and who also understands what the supporting pieces are. By being able to hold all of this, you are not only the intermediary for management and the staff, but you're also the person who coordinates everyone in service to the company, as a whole.
What Small Businesses Should Know
Sometimes, it's easy for small businesses to think conversations about compensation and benefits don't apply to them. With more limited resources and smaller teams, it seems that these conversations aren't relevant – or possible to implement.
However, small businesses need to remember that, while they may not be multi-million-dollar corporations in the future (and may not aspire to be), they do want to grow, and growth comes from teams. And if you want to build strong teams, you need to have an effective compensation package in place, with benefits.
The Special Needs of Smaller Companies
As a smaller company, you do have different needs. By keeping these in mind, you can support the uniqueness of your organization, while also serving the needs of your current and future team members.
- Smaller budgets – Small companies have smaller budgets for labor and benefits. At the same time, the companies also don't need to hire as many people, so it may not be that the budget is smaller, but that it needs to be distributed differently.
- Less talent attraction – Often, smaller companies will not attract a lot of talented applicants -- not because they're not good companies, but they may not have the same reputation as larger companies in the market. As a result, smaller companies may not need to attract these talented people, so the companies feel they don't have to have a competitive compensation package.
- Less pull with benefits companies – Because benefit companies like to work with organizations that have larger groups, smaller companies can have trouble negotiating better rates for health coverage, for example. While it's certainly possible for smaller companies to get healthcare coverage, if the price isn't low enough, it may not be appealing to employees.
By identifying and assessing your needs at your particular company, you can begin to see where your challenges lie. At the same time, it might be a valuable idea to consider the ways in which you utilize your smaller resources.
- Perhaps there are ways to reallocate some funds in order to offer your team more?
- Perhaps you can look into benefit companies that work specifically with smaller businesses?
- Perhaps you can offer unique benefits to new hires that other companies don't? (i.e. discounts, time off, etc.)
The more you think about it, the more you can see how there may be more flexibility in a smaller company when you're trying to manage compensation and benefits. Because the smallest changes make the biggest impact, smaller companies are actually in a prime position to improve their organization.
Compensation and Benefits Strategies for Growth
By considering what your growth goals may be and how you want to succeed in the future, you can begin to see where your compensation and benefits strategies may need to change.
While you may not be able to take any of these steps overnight, you may be able to create a plan to implement each of these steps (or just some of them) over time.
- Reward talent and tenure – One of the things a smaller company can do more than larger companies is reward success quickly. Since succeed leads to revenue -- which matters more, and adds up to more in a smaller organization -- part of the revenue can then turn into a higher salary for someone's success or tenure at the company. This encourages loyalty and decreases tenure, helping to minimize labor costs and training costs.
- Create new benefits – Sometimes, you need to get creative when you're in a smaller business. You need to think about things you can offer to your employees that others may not be able to (i.e. casual dress, daycare, working from home, etc.). When you can identify fun benefits you can offer to your employees, you may not have to spend any money to get better benefit plans.
- Focus on the most desired benefits – If you are short on money, the best idea is to find out what benefits are more desired by employees. Find out what they want and try to get the best price on those plans.
- Add more benefits with time at the company – It can be helpful to add more benefits opportunities for those who have been at the company longer. At the very least, offering some discounted benefits can help employees feel rewarded and special.
- Continuously review benefit plans (new and current) – Of course, the best thing you can do at a small business is to continuously look at benefit plans to see what is available and what might give your team more coverage for their costs.
When you're in a smaller company, it can be easier to think that you don't need to do the same things that larger companies do. But when you can think and act like a larger company, you might just become one, too.