Our Autumn Topics: #1 HR for small organisations (with no in-house HR expertise)

One of the three themes we're going to be looking at this Autumn at the Third Sector Cafe is HR, specifically, how do small organisations manage HR when they don't have an HR expert on the team?

This topic was suggested in survey responses by people on the Third Sector Cafe emailing list. Typical comments were:

"We'd benefit from some strategies and approaches to managing HR effectively, with no dedicated in-house HR specialist or department".

To research this question further I asked more people involved in the not for profit sector whether they found it an issue. People did seem to find it tricky, and highlighted particular aspects such as:

“In a tiny organisation it’s the daily pressures that get your attention. HR doesn’t make the top of the list except for hiring, onboarding …and crises!”

“One struggle is fairness - HR needs to be seen to be impartial when dealing with employee conflicts, but it doesn’t always work that way!”

“How to handle performance issues while preserving strong relationships is tricky - because everyone feels like friends in a small org”

“Diversity in hiring is an issue - because word of mouth means you usually just end up with the same types of people”

There was another category of responses which stood out. This was from people who had had bad experiences working in small organisations with limited HR expertise. A typical example included this response:

"In my last job there was nobody doing HR on staff and nobody on the board with the experience either but there was a ‘personnel committee’ that handled the basic HR tasks. The biggest problem was not having anyone to turn to if you had a problem... also the personnel committee would do things that felt right, but were definitely NOT things that someone with HR training would decide. So the problem was not just the lack of HR but the presence of people doing HR badly"

If these comments resonate with you, and you feel that your small organisation isn't quite managing to get its HR issues right, then our November Cafe session may be of interest to you.

At this cafe we’ll be hearing from Jo Roy, a Sheffield based HR expert who runs Red Owl HR. She specialises in providing HR support for small organisations - and so is ideally placed to give us some valuable insights!

If you’d like to join us you can book a ticket for the November cafe session on the website here. To keep in touch with this topic please sign up to our emailing list to get our regular emails this Autumn.

Sophy Hallam