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Tools and Resources for Small Businesses Without HR Departments

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Contributed by Sophia Conti

Small businesses are used to running on the bare essentials – and too often, those essentials do not include streamlined and well-planned human resources functions. Even larger businesses fail to establish HR protocols and standard operating procedures, believing it to be too expensive to implement for the minimal purpose it will serve. This often stems from a limited understanding of what human resources can accomplish and the benefits it yields for employer and employee alike.

But all businesses can and should benefit from consistently incorporating human resources practices, regardless of business size. While all businesses have some mechanisms in place for the typical processes like hiring and payroll, there is usually room for improvement for the convenience of employer and employee alike. This article will outline the primary human resources functions for all businesses, followed by tools and resources to implement or improve these functions in small businesses without the luxury of a dedicated human resources manager or department.

What is Human Resources?

Human resources can be very simply defined as all the functions that relate to the people of an organization. While large companies and corporations now view human resources as a strategic partner in developing the teams that work for the organization, the essential functions of daily operations for employees remain the same. These include recruitment, interviewing and hiring, compensation and benefits, and job safety and labor law compliance.

Below are some websites and resource centers that cover all elements of human resources and have tons of valuable articles and tools:

Go Digital

Human resources is a complex and multi-faceted role, and small business owners tend to take on these roles in addition to their many hats of CEO, director, manager, and more. In adding these seemingly unimportant roles to an already busy position, many pieces may fall through the cracks or be poorly tracked. Automating these functions relieves a lot of burden on the small business owner, and many are set up to ensure necessary compliance.

Paperwork that runs through HR is also notorious for being inefficient and slow-moving. Converting all HR processes to digital formats will increase speed and efficiency and decrease frustrations for employees. Digital platforms also make it easier for businesses that require or desire remote employees.


Human resources typically plays a significant role in attracting talent to a company. Recruiting is about finding someone who not only fulfills the specific job duties, but who will be a good fit for the overall culture and direction of the company. Before even thinking about the interview and hiring stage, which will be discussed in the next section, employers need to get the right job description in front of the right people.

Since most people search for jobs online nowadays, posting a job on at least one (but more likely two or three) job sites is an absolute must. Do a little research into which posting sites are more common for your industry and location, and focus on the ones that will get the job description in front of the most eyes. Take the time to craft a detailed and compelling job description that will attract the desired candidates.

Here are some resources to aid in this process:

These sources are job posting and recruiting platforms, but also host resource centers and blogs with excellent information and insights for employers on all aspects of the recruiting and hiring process.

Interviewing & Hiring

Hiring managers are typically responsible for interviewing candidates and making the hiring decisions, but human resources often does background work to sort out which candidates to interview. Small business owners need to take on both these roles. Not every applicant should be granted an in-person interview, so employers need to sort out the top candidates quickly and efficiently.

Most job posting platforms will have some mechanism to sort out applicants based on resumé criteria or answers to application questions to easily eliminate candidates without a major requirement, such as a certain degree, certification, or number of years of experience. Phone screens and skills assessments can also be used to pare down an applicant pool without wasting time for an employee interview.

Here are some resources on pre-interview screening processes:

  • How to Conduct a Phone Screen from TINYpulse
  • Best Pre-Employment Testing Software from Capterra
  • Pre-Employment Testing from Forbes

Although interviewing is not a function that is exclusive to human resources, most employers can use a little help in conducting an effective interview. Here are some tips on doing so:

  • Conduct the Perfect Job Interview from LinkedIn
  • Interview Checklist from Workable

Human resources is also generally responsible for factors in the hiring process that are not specifically related to the job duties, such as outlining the salary and benefits package, conducting reference and background checks, and sending the written job offer.

Benefits and compensation will be discussed in the next section. Below are resources on other factors in the hiring process:

Compensation & Benefits

Throughout the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process, candidates will undoubtedly ask for information on what their salary and benefits will look like, so it’s important to have that thought out ahead of time. As more employees are hired, tracking payroll, vacation and sick time, and health insurance packages and deductions become even more complex and important. Set up mechanisms for monitoring all of these things from the get-go, so there isn’t a backlog as the organization grows.

Below are tools and software that enable these tracking functions, as well as other information on determining appropriate benefits and compensation:

Job Safety & Labor Law Compliance

A crucial function of human resources is ensuring that the company is compliant with all necessary regulations, such as safety compliance measures and workplace accommodation notices. They also have to be aware of federal anti-discrimination laws and other legal requirements.

Below are some government websites that outline requirements for businesses. Note that some of these requirements vary depending on business size.


This long list of tools may seem overwhelming, but a slow and steady familiarity with human resources functions and practices can help elevate any small business. Human resources exists to protect and improve the company as a whole and each employee on an individual level. Small business can most greatly benefit from implementing human resources protocols and procedures in the recruitment and hiring phases, where the need to save time and money can lead small business owners to skip essential steps and make poor hires.

The resources listed here are a great start to understanding and implementing human resources in your small business, even without a designated human resources manager or department.

Author Bio: Sophia Conti is a contributing editor at 365 Business Tips, a new blog that curates the best ideas and information for small business owners. She specializes in helping businesses streamline their processes and procedures.

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