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How Big Should We Be Before Hiring an HR Manager?

Dear Anxious to Grow:

There is no magic number of employees that a company should have before hiring a dedicated HR person. There are instead certain pressure points that indicate when it is time to begin looking to the right HR talent aboard. Note the emphasis on hiring the “right” HR person (or people): The specific background and competencies depend on your culture and business goals.

Here are some common pressure points for growing companies:

• Inability to hire the right talent fast enough, integrate people from a newly acquired company and/or the need to focus on getting existing people into the right spots. Without HR staff in house, you may not be using the most effective recruiting, development and retention strategies—a necessary ingredient during mergers, acquisitions or other growth. In these situations, it is particularly important to ensure that whoever facilitates this process fully understands your business and how to seamlessly integrate new businesses.

• Perceived or actual legal risk due to issues such as wrongful-termination lawsuits, pay inequity, harassment claims, lack of supervisory skills, lack of policies and processes, and so on. Each company will hit this pressure point at a different time and for a different reason. But if any of these issues surface more frequently, then it is probably time to consider hiring an HR staff to make sure the best processes, policies and training are in place.

• Policies, programs or structures don’t support growth. You may have a compensation and bonus plan in place that fails to reward the desired behaviors needed for your new high-growth environment. Or you may have policies or benefits in place that are not flexible enough or no longer make sense. These or similar circumstances may provide a strong argument to justify hiring HR talent.

• Excessive spending on outside resources, including outside consultants, attorneys or administration services. It sounds as if this is a pressure point for your organization. You should analyze the costs for the past year and also evaluate the potential benefits of taking these services in-house—sooner rather than later.

These are just some of the factors to consider. Remember, it is not only a matter of hiring an HR manager. Identify the pressure points first, and then seek an HR person who helps your company grow through its most important resource: your people.

SOURCE: Beth Sussman, Dovetail HR, Chicago

LEARN MORE: Please read a similar feature on how to develop competencies for HR.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.