Issue: Many HR professionals run one-person departments that struggle to handle up to 150 employees or more.

Benefit: By managing a solo operation well, you illustrate expertise that's attractive to bigger organizations that offer better pay.

Action: Read on to learn solutions to four of the biggest problems at one-person shops.

When you talk with your HR "staff," are you simply looking in the mirror? At many small and midsize organizations, the HR department is an army of one. And as a one-person HR shop, you face problems that your larger-organization colleagues don't.

HR Memos to Managers: 81 Concise, Customizable Training Handouts for Your Supervisors

Here are four key problems solo practitioners face and how to solve them.

1. Problem: Lack of strategic foothold. It's difficult to become a strategic partner because one-person HR departments often lack credibility. HR may have started as a payroll function and is still viewed as more clerical than management.

Solution: Use organization size to your advantage. Management teams are smaller and more accessible, and you see them nearly every day. Initiate impromptu discussions in the halls about business goals and HR issues. Pass executives interesting articles that explore how other organizations are handling their pressing HR issues.

Sound out executives on your strategic solutions, and call meetings to present them to management. Read the organization's financial reports. No matter how busy you are, read one chapter of a management or finance book each day.

2. Problem: Overwhelming paperwork.

Solution: Ask benefits vendors and other third-party service providers to lend administrative support. If they refuse, make it an issue at contract renewal time. Make room in your budget to hire a temp periodically, if needed.

Use technology: Take advantage of the proliferating number of inexpensive self-service HRIS systems and software to handle tasks such as employment applications, hiring assessments and online benefits enrollment.

This HR handbook – specially designed for supervisors – is an instant company training program. You can customize the handouts for your business, easily remove them from the HR Memos to Managers binder and distribute them to your managers. You'll also receive a Web link to the Memos for easy download. Best of all, HR Memos to Managers costs less than one hour of consulting time.

3. Problem: Managing time.

Solution: Keep a simple log of contacts with employees and supervisors and their issues and requests. Put the notes on a spreadsheet, and sort them by topics such as attendance, health insurance and discipline. The log helps pinpoint issues that take up the most time and occur most frequently.

4. Problem: Complying with the tangle of employment laws.

Solution: First, make sure you're not "overcomplying" with employment laws that don't apply. Many smaller organizations mistakenly spend time learning about and complying with laws that don't pertain to employers their size.

A recent survey said as many as 88 percent of small organizations wrongly believe they're legally obligated to offer benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or its state equivalent. In truth, the FMLA applies only to organizations with 50 or more employees.

Other examples: The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and the COBRA health insurance rules apply if you employ 20 or more employees.

HR Memos to Managers contains 81 concise training handouts covering nine key areas your supervisors must be familiar with:
  • Employment law (basic training)
  • Employee lawsuit risks
  • Hiring and interviewing
  • Performance reviews
  • Communication
  • Coaching and motivating
  • Management skills
  • Managing difficult situations
  • Terminations

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