Ian Cowley brought his HR function closer to home and explains why it is a position worth having in-house.
A year ago, we made the decision to bring our HR function in-house. Today, I wonder how we ever managed without it.
Obviously it was a big financial decision. Getting the right candidate isn’t cheap. However, it got to the point where, as the company founder, all HR issues were coming to me by default, which meant my time was being spent trying to navigate policies beyond my area of expertise, taking me away from what I’m good at. What’s more, I was constantly on edge, concerned that I was leaving the company exposed because I’d misunderstood a policy update or a change in the law.
So for us, employing a HR professional was a smart business decision, economically and operationally. In 12 months we have seen many benefits. I wanted to share the four most significant with you.
Now this will be music to your ears. First and foremost, a HR manager is there to protect the company, not the employees, and their priority is ensuring you don’t put your company at risk.
With all the policies, procedures and laws in place, you need an expert on your side to help you steer your way successfully.
Having a dedicated professional in the role means you have the confidence and expertise to deal with issues such as maternity, pensions and disciplinary. All of which are potential minefields if handled inexpertly.
Another huge plus is the ability to introduce new ways of doing things. Our in-house HR person can realise an idea, drawing on her experience to turn a concept we’ve been mulling over into reality.
For example, we have now successfully streamlined our recruitment procedure so that all our managers follow the same standardised process. Previously, managers have wasted days of time interviewing because of their inexperience in HR best practice. Now our HR manager has put one, simple system in place, offering full training at the start and subsequently ensuring consistency across the departments.
The lover of detail
It’s the job of a HR professional to keep on top of the newest revisions to employment practices, which is good because it’s a constant job. Trying to do this yourself is a demanding task. It seems like there’s a new update every day! Now, instead, we are secure, knowing that we are receiving the most up-to-date advice from our in-house expert.
The money saver
Outsourcing HR is a cash cow. Consultants and law firms can be extremely expensive and you’ll need them on a regular basis once you employ more than ten members of staff. If you’re thinking about employing someone permanently, I’d really recommend weighing up the costs of their fees against the cost of an in-house position.
The biggest direct financial drain for us, though, was using agencies. We didn’t have the time to interview warehouse staff so we used agencies and offered workers temp-to-perm contracts. This allowed us to quickly fill positions and identify gems while they worked on the job. However, this workforce came at a premium, and we didn’t find that many gems! Now with our HR manager in place, we have someone with the time to find staff, who will fit with our culture and who we want to take on permanently.
Ian Cowley is managing director of printer cartridge company cartridgesave.co.uk.