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Startup Human Resources

5 Most Important Tasks to Startup Human Resources

Today is your first day at a startup! You have been hired as the Office Manager at the company, but were told there is currently no one doing Human Resources and the CEO would like you to take that over since you have some experience on your resume. Now is the tough part, you have to set up a whole HR department complete with policies, files, benefits, etc. (oh the paper cuts to come!).  With a daunting task like this it is mission critical to start with the five most important tasks and get those done first…

Startup Human Resources1.  Startups are fun and young, and handbooks are boring and outdated and so corporate right?! NO! From a Human Resources point of view, a handbook is necessary regardless of company size. A handbook lets a company lay out what they expect of the employee and what benefits are offered.  This is important to have as a reference for any situations that may arise down the line and offers protection for both the employer and the employee. And they are easily changed as the company evolves.

2. Culture! Culture! Culture! This is extremely important in startups and probably a reason I have no intention of leaving the startup environment.  As an Office Manager and Human Resources Manager I sometimes think of my self as the Chief of Culture or Minister of the People. It is my job to make sure that the company stays fun and innovative by maintaing a great culture. It is important that even though I am in Human Resources, people know that they can come and talk to me about anything – an open door policy. Make sure people know that they can make suggestions about improvements or new benefits.

3. Recruiting the Right People is one of the most important things for any company, no matter the size. At a startup when you have only a few employees, hiring the right people is especially critical. They need to have the right experience, the right mentality and be a culture fit based on what you are trying to build. This is the time to find and implement great talent management practices and software.  While the most common names here are companies like Taleo, they are not always practical for a startup due to scalability and price. However something like SmartRecruiters is a great choice to scale your startup. It is free, easy, and collaborative (my favorite!).

4. Once you start hiring people you’re going to quickly notice paperwork, everywhere! Its time to create some personnel files!! Lots of companies are cutting down on paper and trying to go paperless, I agree that HR should also do this. Get everything online in a secure place such as DropBox, a secure password protected laptop or USB that is also encrypted. If you have questions about what goes where or how long you have to keep what, sign up with SHRM and start reading and organizing!

5.  How do you compete with other startups to get the best employees? Providing awesome benefits is a good way to start! Employees aren’t just looking for money, they want to know about your worklife balance, and this is where it is time to think outside of the box.  Benefits in the standard sense are great, for example medical benefits – this, of course, is an important thing to provide – but if you really want to draw people to work for you offer other things like gym memberships, lunches, company happy hours, versatile working environment (ex. I <3 my standing desk!), fully stocked kitchen, etc. The list goes on and on! If you need suggestions check out what other companies are doing, ask your friends, and stop and think what YOU would want and the best way to get ideas, ask your employees for suggestions and listen!


It can be intimidating to come into any company and have to build a HR Department where there was none before.  But if you start with the five most important tasks above, before you know it your HR Department will be functioning and everything will be running smoothly.


Office ManagerJoanna Savio is Office Manager / Executive Assistant / Human Resources (i.e. MacGyver) at SmartRecruiters. Photo Credit Ely Tran.

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates and make the right hires.

Joanna Savio

Joanna Savio is Office Manager / Executive Assistant / Human Resources (i.e. MacGyver) at SmartRecruiters.