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How to Build an HR Department Without HR People

How to Build an HR Department Without HR People

For some organizations, it’s simply impossible to form a fully realized HR department. In spite of this, these organizations can use the skill sets of staff in various departments to make up for this deficit.

If you are heading up a growing startup, you may find yourself in this position. You likely need more staff, and your needs regarding payroll and benefits are becoming more complex. On the other hand, there simply isn’t enough room in the budget to hire or outsource an HR team.

You may even be resistant to the idea of forming a traditional HR team, if you associate HR departments with inflexibility, bureaucracy, and policies for policies sake. If so, you are probably interested in forming an HR department that is ready to meet the needs of small but fast growing company that values innovation.

Building a Nontraditional HR Team

You don’t need to hire formally trained HR staff. In fact, it might not be the best thing for your organization. Keep reading to learn how you can build an HR team using talents from within your organization.

Compensation Package Management

Depending on where you are in the growth process, you are probably coming to the realization that payroll is complex and expensive. If not, just wait. It’s coming. In addition to expense, you have to ensure that your compensation is competitive, but also within your budget. This becomes an even more pressing concern as you bring more people into your organization.

A financial analyst is the perfect person to help you to figure out whether or not you can manage your future payroll needs. In other words, you need somebody who is really into data, and who can use trends and patterns to help predict your future needs. Then, you can act upon that data and their recommendations.

If you are outsourcing your accounting and other financial management tasks, you may have no option but to outsource this task as well. However, if you do have internal staff handling these tasks, it may be advisable to add this to their duties.

If you do make the decision to give this job to your financial team, it is important to remember that there are regulations that apply to the way that people are compensated. Your team will have to understand these regulations. In addition to this, they will also need to keep up with salary trends and going rates for various positions. Fortunately, there are many online programs that you can use to help your team get the education that you need.

Meeting Your Staffing Needs

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the efforts of an eager recruiter, you know how tenacious they can be. Now, take a look around your office. Who are the team members who show that kind of tenacity.

Bet you looked towards your sales department.

It’s no wonder. If you think about it, recruiting is all about sales. You begin with an ad (job listing). Then you wait for the leads to come in (applications). Then, depending on your needs, you pursue every lead available to you, or you filter out the best ones. Now it’s time to start moving the potential customer (employee) through the sales funnel (interviewing, testing, and screening).

If you think about it, recruiters do a bit of double duty. They have to get the prospect willing to take the position, and they also have to convince the manager that the prospect they have found is a good fit. The ability to sell is only one skill you can pull from your sales team. Here are a few others:

  • Follow Through
  • Organizational Skills
  • Relationship Building
  • Outgoing And Aggressive Nature

If you need a recruiter to help bring in talent, consider someone in your organization who is great at sales. Then, show them how they can use their talents to help your company bring on amazing new people. If you empower them to design a recruitment strategy that works towards their skills, you just might be amazed at the level of success that they can achieve. It should go without saying that the same type of commission structure you are paying out should be applied here as well.

If this works out, you might consider adding recruitment to the list of duties that your sales team performs as a whole. Your inaugural recruiter can be tasked with leading up that effort.

Benefits Administration

It’s fairly rare for a startup to handle its benefits administration internally. Chances are, you have contracted out to a company that specializes in benefits administration. Alternatively, you may also have purchased a payroll package that includes benefits administration as part of your subscription.

This doesn’t mean that there is nothing that your team can do to make benefits administration work better for you. Somebody needs to manage the relationship with the vendor, and ensure that you are getting what you paid for.

This is where someone on your team with purchasing experience could really shine. They understand service agreements. They’ve dealt with vendors, and they know how to make noise when people aren’t doing what they said they would do. Finally, purchasers have an amazing ability to negotiate great deals, and know when to move on when a business relationship is no longer beneficial.


Employees can receive the training they need through a variety of means. You can send them out for training, bring trainers in to hold sessions, or utilize webinars and other online training programs. If you opt for the latter choice, your IT department might be a great resource.

After all, these are the folks who are already pick the software that runs on your system and performs a variety of other functions. Why not rely on them to find the best training software as well? You know your requirements as far as what you want your employees to learn. Your IT staff knows what is best for your system. Give them your requirements, then let them shine.


There may be a point in the future when it becomes a wise idea to build a dedicated HR team. However, when you are just starting out, team members often have to do double and triple duty in order to keep things afloat. If nothing else, you will know exactly what you do need in HR staff when it comes time to hire them. In the meantime, consider this article a jumping off point. We only listed a few HR roles and possibilities for filling those duties using your existing staff. By using a bit of creativity, you can find ways to cover other HR positions internally as well.

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Veronica Wright coaching on how to judge the quality of a resume, her website Resumes Center has lots of great material. Also, she is career coach and professional writer. Follow Veronica on Facebook and Twitter.

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