4 Common HR Mistakes Startups Make


Developing a great team is one of the major challenges that any startup needs to deal with. Recruiting, training, and retaining employees are a part of a constant process that all businesses need to manage effectively.

Particularly for startups in the early phases, it’s critical to establish HR practices that help to support future growth. Having the right policies in place will provide greater employee satisfaction and smoother operations. At the same time, there are some common mistakes that many startups make.

Not Hiring an HR Specialist

HR is not just an administrative position for posting jobs and tracking benefits. Without an experienced HR manager, your chances of putting together the best staff drop significantly. An HR professional can manage teams and individuals to provide the best performance for your company. They will understand how to recruit the best people for each position and make them a functional part of the team.

HR professionals also understand how to motivate and engage employees so that each one has a high degree of happiness with their job and greater loyalty to the company. There should be a ratio of around 50 employees to each HR manager. Letting your HR department go understaffed for too long limits the positive effects they can have on your workforce.

Poor Hiring Decisions

Many entrepreneurs are in a hurry to get things started, and tend to make rash decisions when it comes to hiring help. Failure to understand the qualities and character of each applicant can often lead to hiring someone who doesn’t have the required skills or isn’t a good fit for the team. Bad hiring decisions can lead to poor results and discontent, which in turn creates high employee turnover. Replacing and retraining these workers will cost more money while reducing productivity.

It’s important to see both new candidates and experienced employees as not just resources, but individuals who have the potential to bring some surprising skills and insights into your startup. Start by finding people who can do the job, but emphasize recruiting people who can bring something more.

This can be accomplished by putting consistent strategies in place to narrow down a batch of resumes to the best applicants. Before hiring any candidate, it’s important to have a clear job description defining your needs. You should also have specific interview questions prepared for gauging their dedication and character.

Weak Company Culture

Building a strong work environment is important and takes more effort and detail than most startups recognize. Your company culture is created and shared by your employees. How they interact with management and with each other will form their perceptions of your company. This includes the workflows, procedures, and tools they’re provided to do their jobs. Finding the right hires will have a big impact on how this culture develops.

Startup companies need to realize that company culture flows from the employees and isn’t something you can dictate. You need to pay attention to your staff’s needs and attitudes, and look to hire candidates who will make a positive impact. This requires determining the kind of culture you want from the beginning. For example, if you’re looking for innovation you want the kind of employees who are comfortable sharing ideas and adapting to change.

Your vision for your company should be clearly and consistently expressed. It’s something that your staff can experience and identify with to form stronger personal bonds with your company. They will feel as though they are part of a larger cause that goes well beyond a weekly paycheck. Aligning interests with your vision should be the basis of your company culture.

Neglecting Employee Development

Too many companies label employees based on their skillsets or education, then forget them once they’re performing their duties competently. However, investing in employee development is an investment in the company’s future profitability. By providing training opportunities, you give them more advanced abilities that can provide greater value to your business. The employee, in return, feels more fulfilled, more confident, and more appreciative toward the company.

Employee training should begin with an in-depth onboarding experience that helps them to best master their job skills and understand their role in the workflow. Further training should be provided for veteran employees who are eager to develop their skills or learn new ones. New hires will be brought up to speed faster, while existing employees who want to contribute more or take more responsibility are given the tools and opportunity to do so. Through employee development, you’ll be comfortable putting more trust in your staff.

Final Thoughts

In summary, strong HR skills are essential to startups at every level of growth. In order to optimize your business you need to hire the right people, improve company culture, and create the opportunities that will keep your staff satisfied and engaged.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.



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