By Liliana Salazar

If your organization of 100 or fewer employees functions with a human resources department of one, the least of your challenges may be effectively balancing the responsibilities, from recruitment and retention to benefits and compensation.

The larger concern may be your bandwidth for both understanding and managing the strategic (versus transactional) aspects of HR, including the legal obligations that are part and parcel of benefits and wages. There are penalty exposures for doing things wrong. You can’t afford to make mistakes.

A big issue is a regulatory environment where rules are always changing, and it’s not just federal laws that you have to stay on top of. State laws and city ordinances are also bound to have an impact.

For example, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) establishes entirely new rules of employee benefits engagement, subjecting employers to penalties for not getting it right. Employers also must monitor their policies and practices to reduce the growing risk of discrimination and harassment lawsuits.

But, it’s not just navigating societal trends and the increasingly complex regulatory environment that challenges the HR department of one. There are the complexities of new products, carriers, networks, reimbursement arrangements and knowing which products and services facilitate cost management.

If this all sounds like a burden that is way heavier than your one-person HR department is ready to bear, this doesn’t have to be the case. Your course of action? Here are three starting points:

  1. Find the right partners, who will be invaluable in bolstering your HR functionality and filling knowledge gaps to help HR – and the organization as a whole – accomplish the goals at hand.
  2. Make the first order of business of your enriched team a multi-year benefits strategy. You know, from a general business perspective, where the company is going and what needs to be done to remain competitive and grow. Have you focused the same way on benefits, given their role in recruitment, retention and driving success?
  3. Make optimal use of technology and comprehensive HR management software to drive efficiencies and automate daily tasks.

There are challenges to having a one-person HR department, but they’re not insurmountable. Being open to the possibilities when you don’t necessarily know what you don’t know is a great place to start.

HUB International’s team is available to work with you on a diverse range of HR needs, from risk management and regulatory compliance to benefits strategy, program design and workplace culture.