Key Differences in Human Resources at Small versus Larger Companies

For those that are interested in human resources, there is a lot to learn–in Human Resources, we live and die by the clock…and usually we die – or want to sometimes :)  With a finite number of seconds in the day, and the fact that we actually need sleep and food (preferable edible food), there is never enough time to get done what we need. In smaller firms, even if we have software for human resource, or use a fancy payroll system, spreadsheets, or we just love our post-it notes – nothing seems to stem the tidal wave of work that drowns us through multiple channels. But the news isn’t all bad–there are some options to help human resource professionals, even at small to medium businesses.

 HR Software can make a HR Professionals life a lot easier

At larger companies, they enjoy teams of HR worker bees collaborating to streamline HR processes, many suggest 1 worker bee per 100 employees. (I’d argue that the sub-100 employee companies need more. More coming later…) These larger entities have typically been around for quite awhile, which means they’ve had a few years to struggle through the HR learning curve!  They have IT support, budget, a few PHR’s, years of experience, expensive human resource software with all the bells and whistles, people to focus on specific HR areas (training, benefits, payroll, etc.), and they have systems and processes in place to take care of their employees.  I could go on and on – but I think you get the point!


In contrast, smaller companies are growing, learning, evolving, scrambling, and surviving.  One HR person has to cover tasks that should require a team of people – and had better not mess up!  This person is chosen to create the systems and processes that will lead the company through their growth and maintain high levels of employee satisfaction.  They personally handle the employee database, payroll, time off, benefits, legal compliance (better not get sued!), training, onboarding, offboarding, performance reviews, recruiting, hiring, reporting, and buying the cake for the monthly birthday party.


Every capable HR person at every small to medium business should get a raise, and a budget, and a few other people to help out.  It’s just not possible to handle all of the above mentioned tasks, and still create the positive mojo that a small company needs to keep spirits high and sales climbing.  Even with the previously mentioned task list, there is still all of the time and effort required to deal with the people, which is really why HR people choose HR as a profession.


So, what can be done about it? You gotta start somewhere.  You won’t get the $50,000 budget or the manpower to help you get done what you need.  You need to step away from those overwhelming little fires and take a good look at what consumes your time every day.  You’re going to find that you have hundreds of little tasks that really could be automated.  Employee inquiries have turned you into customer support – but let’s figure out now how to let the employees govern themselves (within reason), and delegate those little tasks that add up right back to them.


There are HR tools, especially newer SaaS, cloud-based HR software that can really help you shift your focus on the systems and processes that will help your business. Don’t be trapped into thinking you were born to do data entry and answer annoying employee inquiries about PTO all day long.  Go learn about effective HR systems and identify how they can help you improve your career skills.  Imagine freeing up 50% of your frazzled day-to-day practices to spend on strategy, growth, and people!  Small to medium sized businesses may not get the budget or the people to help, but the gap in abilities of HRIS/HRMS solutions is shrinking every day.  The least you can do for yourself is take advantage of the technology available to make life better.

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