HR Role in Startups

Does the Human Resource (HR) function have a role in startups? Let us look at how HR is being handled in the startups today.

Startups, of necessity, are lean with a flat structure. Mostly, a startup consists of a founder(s) and their core team. With no boundaries between roles and blending being a common phenomenon, the concept of structures, functions and policies may not exist.

Take for example, yourself, who is on the way to establishing your own startup. You will need the right people to be able to accomplish your extensive business plans and your remarkable growth projections. James C Collins once mentioned; A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people. Either your growth will define the type of people you should have or the people you have will limit your growth. Top talent, you will find, is available only in the traditional brick and mortar businesses and quite expensive for someone playing with a restricted budget.

Look at the recruitment experiences of other startups. Movers in big businesses have been bought over by relatively unknown startups. Among the reasons that most startups shared for going after these top guns is the process expertise and the credibility they bring with them. Enticing leaders from other organizations is nothing new. However, you should not make the mistake of getting together a group of well-known names with no means for them to add value to your startup. The talent being brought in should be able to perform and contribute in the startup environment. Getting top-level managers is a critical success factor for you and the biggest challenge you will face.

The impression of a new recruit about your organisation is shaped in the onboarding and induction stage. When you are paying big sums to entice people into your startup you may want to ensure that the new recruit is accurately sensitized about the company’s culture. What better person than yourself or one of your co-founders to take up this responsibility? This is the practice adopted by Anand Jain, Founder of Clever Tap; We don’t have a traditional HR person. I double up as the HR manager, among other things.While you are still lean and like a family, it would be a good idea to personally introduce the new recruit to all the other members and show her/him the ropes. Make onboarding a grand event.

Simplilearn recognizes that it takes a crucial thirty days for most new employees to fit into the ecosystem. With their “free look” policy, hires in all levels have thirty days to understand and get familiar with the company. In this crucial period they get a view of the work culture of the company and the demands of a startup. You must ensure that the onboarding strategy is one of the differentiators in your recruitment and retention process.

An often neglected but very significant factor in the HR brief to enhance retention is employee relations. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to lose human resources after investing in that person. You need to work out strategies to stop attrition and pass on the responsibility to supervisors and ensure that adequate steps are taken to keep the people happy and content. Effective measures must be taken to address grievances and erase discontent. Can you think of one exceptional scheme that you would like to implement? Well, you will have to think within as well as outside the box, like some of the startups have done.

Bengaluru-based InMobi started a bridge assessment programme, which provides employees with opportunities to try out alternate functions in some projects thereby gaining new skills. When openings in these functions come up they are given preference along with necessary mentoring support. Big Basket introduced insight sessions every Fridays, where external experts are invited to talk on topics important to business. Their policies include facilities like housing and transport for backend staff such as delivery boys and warehouse employees. Amenities like work from home and flexible timings also exist. Many startups are increasing the number of women employees and building policies around maternity, sexual harassment and day care facilities. More such initiatives are shared in the article 6 offbeat HR initiatives that worked wonders for my startup.