Why a strong HR department improves your nonprofit

By Mike Harrington, president, The Synergy Companies

A business changes as it grows. What once was a one- or two-person shop hires more talent as new roles are created to meet daily demands. Capital rises, office space expands, and business goals are set higher and higher. Throughout it all, there is one area that can make all the difference and yet is often relegated to a lower priority. A strong HR department improves your business and has become a focus for successful organizations across America.

Alleviates unproductive multitasking

Consider an organization that doesn’t have a true HR department. There are still HR-related activities that must be completed by somebody. After all, who processes the payroll? When an employee has a problem, whom do they report it to? Who is conducting onboarding, processing hiring paperwork, or running trainings?

Despite being unrelated to an organization’s core business, HR responsibilities add up quickly for even the smallest of companies.

When a specific department doesn’t exist to carry out this function, a member of the management team often shoulders the responsibility. Unfortunately, that typically means spending the time he or she doesn’t have and turns the focus away from business strategy to “deal” with HR duties that he or she may not have much knowledge about.

While some may get by with multitasking in this fashion because, as a smaller organization, doesn’t feel as though there are HR activities daily, it results in a compromise of HR’s ability to add to and improve the nonprofit.

Dedicated, expert HR professionals create a strong HR department because their focus is solely on human resources. While some days like payday may see a flurry of HR activity, other “slower” HR days are the times this department can focus on improving the workforce, environment and culture. Abstaining from implementing a true HR department prohibits a company from reaching its full potential.

Minimizes risk and liability

Each passing day seems to produce a new law or regulation that organizations like yours must comply with. Even the smallest nonprofits have to address complex legislation, making sure they remain in compliance with applicable rules. A strong HR department is an organization’s leader in these efforts. There are payroll, tax law, employment law, benefits administration, disability, hiring, firing and training considerations among a number of others that must be appropriately taken care of. While some of it may feel like bureaucratic paperwork, that doesn’t change the fact that one false move can cause significant issues.

Consider just one piece of this in the topic of harassment and discrimination, a hot-button issue surrounding today’s workplace. When an organization has robust training for all employees in these areas, their liabilities are greatly reduced. The workforce understands exactly what constitutes a violation and how to respond if they witness one. Management knows precisely what to do if they are presented with a claim. Instances of harassment and discrimination can drop sharply. Even if they do occur, when an organization follows all the right steps in addressing and reporting them, they clear themselves of a great deal of liability.

When nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults have been sexually harassed at work, taking the right measures is key. The legal implications are similar for several other areas and, to be addressed appropriately, require a strong HR department.

Improves Employee Engagement and Retention

HR is the internal face of your organization. When the department operates at subpar levels, or if someone without HR expertise is trying to run these activities on the side, it deteriorates the employee experience and negatively affects culture. If employees encounter HR disorganization and confusion, or if they have to wait weeks for answers to common HR questions, it will lower their engagement.

At a time when 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as a top challenge, it’s clear that employees depend on a strong HR resource. When they have a question or concern, they need to know who to go to and expect rapid resolution. Above all, they must be able to trust their HR person. If the onboarding experience is streamlined, paperwork is void of mistakes, and company trainings are professional and helpful, that trust is built. When HR thrives, your employees thrive as well, and that can make all the difference in keeping them happy.

Why a strong HR department improves your business

While the need for a strong HR department is clear, there’s no sugarcoating the fact it can be a difficult and costly overhaul process. For small nonprofits in particular, the cost of hiring HR employees may be prohibitive. Those in this position often find that a PEO like Synergy is an effective and affordable answer. In fact, businesses that partner with a PEO grow 7-9 percent faster and are 50 percent less likely to go out of business. At the end of the day, whether through a PEO or on your own, your HR department will determine just how far your business will succeed.

Mike Harrington is the president of The Synergy Companies. Joining the organization in 1995, Harrington has held several leadership roles within the company working to ensure its effective delivery of human resource and PEO services. Prior to joining Synergy, he spent five years with Safeguard Business Systems in direct sales and sales training and support. Harrington holds a BS degree in marketing from Eastern Illinois University.

When you’re looking for HR expertise that can provide a boost to your company, look no further. Synergy is here for you.


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