For some employers, particularly small businesses, human resources (HR) practices can evolve slowly and even haphazardly. This creates risk, as all it takes is one major employment dispute or compliance slip-up to trigger a costly lawsuit or penalties. The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the possibility that proper procedures may be overlooked or mishandled.
One way to ease the burden on your organization and avail yourself of outside expertise is to outsource certain HR tasks. Following are four possibilities to consider:
1. Risk assessment: Some smaller organizations may lack an HR department, while others may have an HR staff that has become overwhelmed. As a result, decisions about hiring and firing — or policies regarding vacation, sick leave, and the like — are made only as issues arise or are relegated to the back burner altogether.
If this sounds familiar, you may want to engage an HR consultant to conduct a risk assessment. This process can help you establish whether you need to undertake a major effort to safeguard your organization or perhaps only make a few relatively minor changes.
2. Handbook revision or development: After assessing an employer’s risks, HR consultants often recommend changes to the employment handbook provided to employees. Obviously, if the organization lacks a handbook, it is usually recommended that one be developed. Under an outsourcing arrangement, a consultant can review, edit, and help you implement an updated handbook.
Do not underestimate the importance of this task. Your handbook should present clearly written policies for health and welfare issues (such as family and medical leave), as well as for onboarding and performance management. Legally, you must have written policies that comply with anti-discrimination, safety, and other government-mandated work practices.
For these reasons, it also is a good idea to have an attorney regularly review your handbook — particularly when updating it. Lastly, make sure employees sign an acknowledgement that they have read and understand your written policies.
3. Temporary help: Many temp agencies offer specialized HR experts who will work on-site or, because of the pandemic, remotely to help organizations meet specific short- or long-term HR objectives. Some of these individuals are retired HR professionals with vast experience and flexible work hours.
Before you engage an HR temp, write a concise agenda of what you want to accomplish. Doing so can ensure well-defined goals and, thereby, contain costs. Carefully investigate the provider and check the individual’s references before signing off on the engagement.
4. Payroll: As you are likely aware, a payroll services provider can handle the paperwork, cut and distribute checks, and submit tax payments. This is generally done for a monthly fee that you can allocate under your quarterly or annual budget. It is, of course, critical to comparison shop and ensure you are working with a competent, responsive provider with a long track record of success.
Whether you need blanket HR assistance or just help with specific functions, an outsourcing arrangement could be the solution you are looking for. Contact us for help assessing the costs and determining whether it makes sense for your organization.