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Dilanka Dilanka is a Business Development Manager at IceHrm. You can contact her at dil[at]

HR for Small Businesses vs. Big-Business HR

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Human resources in a small business can be a one-man show. Human resources can be a stressful task, even if you have enough experienced employees. However, in many small companies, HR tasks are handled by a single person or simply delegated to someone with an administrative job title. These individuals are then responsible for a variety of complicated, time-consuming tasks without the training, experience, budget or support that a qualified HR professional - or anyone for that matter - needs to be successful.

In other words, HR in a small company can be a nightmare.

“If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to persevere."

-Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant

The difference between HR in small and large companies

By comparison, HR work in large companies seems rewarding and fulfilling: larger teams that share work, have mentors, and a sense of camaraderie; larger budgets to invest in technology and more support from leaders who learn the valuable role HR plays in building and maintaining company culture.

Of course, HR is never a walk in the park. Being an HR representative in a company of any size is fraught with all sorts of difficulties, from regulatory compliance to the risk of being viewed as "the bad guy" by employees. But HR problems in small businesses are compounded by isolation and lack of direction, making it even more difficult to overcome these challenges.

So how can HR in small companies become more like HR in large companies?

"When hiring employees or supporting internal HR activities, you often have to put the company's interests first and make decisions that are solely for business success. Firing employees and giving them harsh feedback is not a dream job for one HR managers. But it has to be done. So my advice is to accept the fact that you're dealing with real people, with different characters and emotions, and that you can't please everyone all the time."

Jagoda Wieczorek, HR Manager | Resumelab

We interviewed HR and other professionals at companies large and small and asked experienced HR professionals for advice for those starting out in HR. The results helped us confirm some widely held beliefs and provide some new insights. Some of these findings:

The biggest difference between HR in small and large companies is the internal and external perception of skills and positive influence.
HR teams in small businesses can learn a lot about the success of larger, more experienced teams in larger organizations.
A more informed strategy and smart investments in HR software technology could change the perception of HR in small businesses for the better.
These are some of the lessons you'll find in our infographic Tips from the Future: Big HR Ideas That Help Small HR Departments Succeed. In the free infographic, we outline some of the key differences between HR departments at large and small companies in terms of how they are seen, what their priorities are, and how their different strategies impact perception. Ideally, when smaller teams understand what's happening in larger companies, they can improve the perception of HR - and their self-image - within their growing companies.

We will also be compiling more statistics and observations in an eBook, but in the meantime we would like to offer some advice and encouragement for smaller, less experienced HR teams in smaller companies.

Some advice for HR in small businesses
First, realize that you are not alone - there are many individuals and "accidental" HR managers who are struggling with the same issues in their companies.

Second: perception is reality. They can make a big difference and be an invaluable asset to your company - great HR is proof of this. So if you think that you are incapable of influencing the direction of your business because you are just being treated like a paper pusher, you are wrong! You probably won't be able to change HR's negative perceptions on your own. But if you believe in it, you can stop yourself from achieving more.

Third: Pursue a strategic goal. It may sound impossible when you're struggling to keep track of all the paperwork and the thousands of boxes you have to check off for benefits, taxes, continuing education compliance, etc., but even a single forward-thinking report or simple PTO strategy can help Ensuring coverage can change everything. You'll feel strategic, and your company will start to see you as strategic - and that leads to adoption, which leads to more budget and more team members... in other words, success.

Fourth (and perhaps most important): Ask for help. There are literally thousands of HR professionals in your country and around the world, and guess what? They all want to help people! So approach them if you haven't already. Go to an HR event near you. Read blogs and articles they have written... and read our blog because we love you and want to help you!

Finally, when we asked HR professionals what message they would give themselves as they begin their HR careers, Dr. Keri Ohlrich, CEO of HR consulting firm Abbracci Group, offers these excellent words of encouragement for the best:

"Be patient and kind to yourself - you will have good days and not so good days, just like in any other job. In HR, we spend a lot of energy and emotions on our work. Don't lose passion for what you do You do. Get up, dust yourself off, rely on your trusted colleagues to help you through the tough times, and rejoice in the good times. And remember that you are making a difference for the company and the employees."

So, A small business's human resources department must have the tools necessary to manage compensation, benefits, and PTO and shape culture and employee development. IceHrm is always here for your support.

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