Human Resources

3 Innovative Ways to Structure Your HR Department

3 Innovative Ways to Structure Your HR Department

In for the assist: Keith Kitani of GuideSpark.

Image credit: Gabriela Hasbun
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Nikki has recently been hired as the new human resources director for a budding tech startup that is scaling up rapidly. It’s an exciting time: What started as just a few dots on a tiny organizational chart has quickly ballooned into multiple sections and departments.

As the startup grows, so does its need for a designated HR department. That’s where Nikki comes in. She must determine how activities within the HR department will be organized, controlled and coordinated.

Sound like a fun challenge? It certainly is. For startup owners and HR decision-makers like Nikki, here are three innovative ways to structure a successful HR department from the ground up:  

1. Hire for people operations.

When people think “people operations,” Google usually comes to mind. The tech giant pioneered this data-based approach to human resources, and today’s most cutting-edge startups are following suit (as is the case with many things Google does).

What makes people operations different from traditional HR? For starters, people operations is more than just human resources -- it’s a data-based approach to understanding a company’s most valuable asset: its people. Most importantly, this approach to HR is based on retaning employees by understanding what drives them.  

When it comes to employees, eliminate the guesswork from employee satisfaction surveys, team assessments and social media. By having a dedicated team to solicit employee-related data, HR can more accurately identify issues that lead to disengagement and attrition, and thereby prevent it.

Related: Google's Head of HR: It Doesn't Matter Where Candidates Went to College

2. Boost a small team with big software.

For small businesses with even smaller human resources teams, HR professionals often have to juggle multiple roles, from recruiter to talent manager to accountant. In an effort to put the “human” back in human resources, companies today are choosing to automate particular HR tasks to make notoriously tedious processes easier for both employers and employees.

By automating time-consuming administrative HR functions, such as payroll, legal or benefits administration, there’s more time to spend interacting with and managing employees. In this way, technology can literally put the human back in human resources. For companies with a small but growing HR team, software picks up the slack to make a small team feel super human.

Related: A New Wave of HR Technology Is Disrupting the Market

3. Adopt a business partner model.

Companies that adopt this HR model rely on much more than your average HR generalist. In the HR business partner model, designated employees -- business partners -- from the human resources department work closely with the company’s senior leaders to develop an HR agenda that closely supports the overall company mission.

HR business partnering is becoming increasingly popular, as companies place more focus on aligning individual agendas toward common company goals. The business partner model requires HR to be more involved in almost every aspect of business, from financial status to sale projections to production statistics -- you name it.

Rather than acting as the silent partner within an organization, business partners play an active role within the company. This integration of HR and other business functions makes it easy to identify, develop and align employees. And that’s smart business.

Related: 17 Great HR Resources for Entrepreneurs