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Q: A business I started in 2016 with one employee now has 42 staff members. In the past, I handled all employee-related matters, but this has now become a challenge because the personnel is increasing every day. I need help dealing with their grievances, enforcing discipline and scheduling leave days. I would like to get a good HR professional, but I’m unable to afford one who is experienced. How should I go about this matter?

It is good that your business is growing, as indicated by the increased headcount over the last few years. There is a threshold beyond which an organisation requires a HR professional to deal with staff matters, although this could vary depending on factors such as the nature of the business, employee demographics and even your personality as the founder of the business. The nature of a suitable HR professional will partly be determined by the task you want him or her to accomplish. A relatively new enterprise may not require a highly experienced HR professional.

You have already hired tens of people in your business. How suitable do you consider them to be? Has the hiring experience honed your instinct for identifying talent? If you are satisfied with the hiring decisions you have made so far, there is a chance that you will identify the right HR professional for your business. You can find a candidate who understands the basics of HR to help you erect foundational HR beacons for your business, including proper employee records, compliance with employment legislation, and establishment of basic HR policies. You should target an affordable person who has the bandwidth to adapt and grow with your business. 

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It may be costly to rope in a seasoned HR professional who could, for example, create a good HR strategy that will spur future business growth and take into consideration the anticipated challenges because this requires greater HR experience. If this is what you need, consider engaging a HR firm that can handle more complex issues that require greater HR expertise as and when they arise.  

It might be risky to hire a HR greenhorn who will come in excited about implementing the academic theories he or she has plucked from school on how best to leverage the manpower in your business. The lessons you have learnt about dealing with people whilst building your business in the past few years, some perhaps painfully, constitute invaluable capital. They ought to be supplemented rather than supplanted by the ideas that your HR professional introduces in your business.

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