Small firms struggle with HR

Finding and recruiting talent biggest hurdle

Many small- to medium-sized businesses aren’t effectively using HR to help meet major challenges, according to a report published in the United States.

Conducted by Houston-based human resources firm Achilles Group, the report is based on a survey of more than 100 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It finds many believe the biggest HR challenge is finding and recruiting talent. Less than 10 per cent list training, performance management and compensation planning as important challenges, while less than one-third employ an HR director. And SMEs aren’t paying much attention to strategic HR measures.

Small companies in Canada are in a similar situation, says Catherine Swift, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

HR is usually less structured and many issues are handled by the owner or delegated to another employee who may not be familiar with what’s required, she says. But change is on the way.

“There’s a heightened awareness with the current labour force environment that businesses need to get more up-to-speed on HR practices,” Swift says. “This makes them better able to recruit and retain talent.”

For many, it’s not practical to have an HR “department.” But there are measures SMEs can take to get the information and assistance they need, such as outside sources or consultants, says Swift.

Swift says online training tools are probably the best bet for the time-strapped small-business owner. She notes the CFIB has a Small Business Management Certificate program that provides courses online to members and sponsor businesses dealing with the types of HR issues brought up in the Achilles Group survey. Online programs are also available from government and groups such as the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.

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