Solo HR pro? Prepare to play big in 2016

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

Problem: Lack of stature within the organization. You’re not perceived as a strategic partner because you’re always bogged down in clerical duties. Solution: Use organization size to your advantage. In a small company, management teams are smaller and more accessible. You see these people every day. Initiate impromptu discussions in the halls about business goals and HR issues. Sound out to executives on your strategic solutions, and call meetings to present them to management. Read the organization’s financial reports.

Problem: Overwhelming paperwork. Solution: Ask benefits vendors and other third-party service providers to lend administrative support. Make it an issue at contract renewal time. Budget to hire a temp periodically, if needed. Use technology. Take advantage of the inexpensive, self-service HR information systems and software to handle tasks such as employment applications, hiring assessments and online benefits enrollment.

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 the recurring issues that take up the most time.

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

Tough Talks D