by Bimal Parmar, VP of Marketing at Celayix
Startup authority and author of “The Lean Startup” Eric Ries defines a startup “as a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” With a perpetual air of uncertainty and chaos, the typical startup founders are more rule breakers than rule markers. Formality is essentially non-existent.
Every startup entrepreneur believes success is theirs. A measure of success is growth. With growth comes maturity. With maturity comes the need for formality. Formality necessitates policy. Workplace policy creation helps define and articulate your culture.
Having a sense of policy can also keep your startup from unraveling because of misunderstandings, poor performance, or unknowingly running afoul of labour laws. Remember it highly unlikely the first employees will be the same ones with you even 5 years later.
Most startup entrepreneurs aren’t thinking about human resources.. Hiring an HR specialist isn’t a line item in most seed funding pitches. Startups usually can’t justify hiring a non-revenue generating employee early on.
It’s also possible that you’ve had little or maybe no dealings with HR people. In all likelihood you don’t see the value and importance of a human resources department. Startups are usually a collection of self-starters. There’s the sense that day-to-day activities and administrative duties can be managed by the founders.
The downside of non-HR people doing HR relate work means someone is dealing with a distraction. It’s taking away time from key tasks. This means extra stress, inefficiency, turnover, and costly potential legal headaches.
Creating and maintaining a cohesive workplace it tough to accomplish by outsourcing your HR. Someone in house should have ownership of your company’s philosophy, strategy, and purpose. The existing team needs to be onboard, and it’s essential to helping make sure that new hires are the right fit.
Even in chaos and uncertainty a litte structure and a few standard operating procedures can help. Granted, with a small team there’s a lot you can do in terms on one-on-one and group communications, but it’s important to remember that some activities are difficult to scale. HR is about improving the quality of your workplace. Someone with HR skills will help with creating and implementing programs such as incentives, raises, promotions, and even the seemingly elusive vacation time.
Having mantras in place like “fail fast and often” and “ship all day, party all night” doesn’t hurt. But when someone has a clear concern or issue over an issue like their role, responsibility, or pay those mantras won’t help. You don’t need to start creating Fortune 500 like policy and procedure manuals, but you should consider the following:
Legal compliance has to be a priority.
Ignorance is never an excuse. Make sure you’re aware of the laws that will affect your business and employees. An HR specialist knows employee laws, rules, and regulations. Compliance matters. Breaking the rules will cost you time, grief, and money. It could cost you the business.
Have clearly written agreements.
Not having an HR department doesn’t mean you can be lax about employee agreements. Handshakes don’t cut it. Not having clearly written agreements in place will come back to bite you. You need to define things like whether someone is an employee, or independent contractor. You need to be clear about how often they’ll be paid, how much, and when. What are their job duties? Simple, plain-English agreements work.
Have onboarding checklist.
You want new hires up to speed quickly. A checklist makes sure all of the documents (such as tax forms or direct deposit information), and items (security pass cards, passwords) are in place. Getting everyone settled in and productive faster is a win for all.
Create an internal wiki.
Put all of your resources and paperwork in a place where everyone can openly swap work-related information. A self-serve repository of answers and information will significantly reduce interruptions and distractions.
There’s not many endeavours as exciting and energizing than being part of an early stage startup. There’s no shortage of obstacles and barriers on the road to succeeding as a startup. Don’t allow a lack of workplace policy to be the cause of it’s unravelling.
“Fear is the mother of foresight.” – Thomas Hardy
As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing.