Role of HR at a Startup

Organizations nowadays have turned out to be extremely focused and forceful, and are continually hoping to diminish costs. In doing so, they wind up ignoring certain critical elements. This is particularly valid with new businesses, which for the most part spare expenses by pumping less cash in HR. At times, the HR division is for all intents and purposes non-existent.

The importance of HR, be it for a large size firm, a mid-sized company or a startup, at the end of the day is run by Humans. But the management of Human Assets is a very difficult task. At each stage of the organizations life cycle, HR acts as a strategic business partner. An organization goes through 5 life stages namely Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Decline and Death/Renewal. HR functions evolves with the evolution of the organization and therefore faces unique people challenges. Therefore it would not be wrong to say that a organisation's success factor is largely dependent on the way, their HR addresses these challenges.

Here are few HR strategies which every start-up should have:

1)     Attracting the “Right” Talent

It is rightly said that “Having the right mix of candidates is the key factor for every organization’s success.”  In case of startups, the biggest challenge is to be able to indulge in a Talent war, attract the best talent and retain it. HR therefore needs to invest a lot of time in building startup 'brand building' strategy to attract the potential candidates.

Both startups and well- established firms are involved in talent war these days. Therefore, HR at a startup cannot compete only in terms of compensation package, but they also need to think "out of the box" HR strategies to attract and motivate best employees by challenging them.

2)     Defining Organizational culture

Culture, in its simplest terms, is a set of shared assumptions that develop over a period of time.The HR department is responsible for strengthening the organizational culture – from targeting desirable profiles, to recruiting, on-boarding, motivating, and retaining the employees. It is very important to focus on these factors right from the initial stage.

3)    Compensation Structure

Many a times, the compensation structure at a startup would not be as competitive as a large-sized firm, but still the startups should try to design and tweak the salary structure so that it is not a turn-off for potential new joinees. HR department needs to ensure the compensation structure while it being directly proportional to the business criticality of a position, does not result in vast disparity causing a sense of demotivation for people at other positions.

4)     Managing Gen – Y

Time and again, it has been proved that brand name is not the factor that is enough to retain skilled workforce. HR at startups have to continuously reinvent ways to ensure that Gen-Y is fully engaged at all times. Along with having employees in a startup working on multiple roles at a time, there needs to be a strategy to involve the top-performers and take their input in more crucial decision making processes. Discussing and having a clear growth strategy also goes a long way in managing Gen-Y.

5)     Performance Evaluation & Appreciation

 HR at startup need to continuously evaluate the performance of employees not only to ensure that their work is aligned with the organisation's goals but also to reward the high performing employees. This evaluation would also help employees to understand what is expected out of them and how their performance is linked with their growth opportunities.

Appreciation of employees is also very important as it boosts their confidence and usually leads to being more committed to the organisation goals.

 6)     Embedding Leadership development

Since the workforce of startup at an initial stage is quite small, the HR department needs to continuously have an eye on enthusiastic and skilled employees and accordingly allocate responsibilities to them which would develop their leadership skills. Having an opportunity to show their leadership skills sometimes causes employees to outperform themselves which again is a win-win for startups.


Success of start-up does not entirely depend upon their way of approach towards business goal but also how they perform in worst business scenarios. HR at such times, need to have strategies which would help in maintaining the companies brand image even in bad phase. Another important role of HR is that they should continuously take measures which would help them in retaining their top performers for the betterment of reaching their organisation goals.

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