From the Ground-Up: Human Resources 101 for Startups

In this guest post, Erin Osterhaus, Managing Editor at The New Talent Times reveals how one start-up built a flourishing HR department from scratch.

For many startups, human resources tends to be the last item on the agenda when getting their business off the groundin the beginning most tend to focus their limited resources on generating revenue and drawing attention to their brand. But, as the company starts to grow, managing employees becomes more complex.

So how can your company navigate the tough transition from bootstrapped startup to flourishing business? Erin Osterhaus, an HR Analyst at Software Advicea website that reviews HR software—decided to find out. She sat down with Kim Rohrer, Disqus’ Head of People Operations, to learn how to develop an HR department once your startup begins to gain steam, and employees.

Disqus, a company that provides blog comment hosting services for websites and online communities, went through its own startup growing pains. When Rohrer started out at Disqus in 2010, the company had no HR department to speak of. However, Rohrer successfully  spearheaded the development of the company’s HR division while maintaining the same momentum and efficiency that allowed Disqus to grow in the first place. She offered the following tips for other startups going through similar growing pains:

Define Departmental Responsibilities

At Disqus, as at many startups, the company had a “flat” culture in the beginning. According to Rohrer, this meant that there were no managers or directors. As the company grew, this “flatness” became a problem. The CEO couldn’t oversee the activities of all the employees as he had been doing. Instead, he and Rohrer worked closely to create some a management structure. They defined roles for leaders for their Product Development, Engineering, and Advertising teams.

The added hierarchy improved communication between departments and helped Disqus function at a higher level. It also helped ensure that all employees’ concerns and questions could be addressed by HR if needed, and has helped avoid HR issues and complications. As such, Rohrer suggests appointing leaders of teams early on. Having some form of a management structure will assist your startup as it grows—the CEO can’t manage everyone once you start growing beyond a core team.

Build a Killer HR Team

You can’t create a killer team without people. And who finds people? Recruiters. So, from the start, Rohrer suggests making an effort to hire a designated recruiter to find the employees your company will need to succeed.

Additionally, Rohrer suggests filling out your HR team with an office manager. As Rohrer says, when she started at Disqus, she was a sort of Jill-of-all-trades.” She organized office supplies, company events, IT, and sometimes even took on facilities maintenance. This sort of disjointed job functionality prevented her from focusing on more strategic HR functions, like developing Disqus’ company culture and improving employees’ job satisfaction. Once she hired an office manager—using her recently hired recruiter—she could focus on making Disqus a great place to work.

Develop a Support Group

The rapid growth of startups can be a challenging time for HR teams. Rohrer’s final tip is to ensure you have a support community to learn from during this important transition phase.

In fact, Rohrer believes this so strongly, that she helped create Organization Organizers, a network of business operations professionals that hosts learning and development events, and serves as a forum for its members to share their HR experiences.  “No one should have to reinvent the wheel,” Rohrer says. “If we all learn and grow together, the entire industry does better.”

The full interview can be found on Software Advice’s Talent Management blog, The New Talent Times.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Questions About Employee Recognition…Answered LIVE!

Live Webcast

Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST

Course Description:

Join other business leaders and HR professionals in this highly interactive webcast.  Our panel of recognition experts will address questions submitted from the audience…LIVE.  Get the answers you need to make employee recognition work best in your business.   Find out what questions other HR Professionals and business leaders are asking, and get answers to the most frequently asked questions organizations are facing when it comes to recognizing their employees.   

Panel of Experts Includes:

  • Mike Byam, author of The WOW! Workplace and Managing Partner
  • Bill Bergstrom, National Recognition Manager
  • Alex Allion, Western United States Recognition Director

Join these three recognition experts from Terryberry, one of the world’s foremost recognition providers, as they discuss your questions on the topic of employee recognition.

Learn the cutting edge of employee recognition that actually boosts engagement, adds value to your organization’s bottom line, and ultimately aligns your employees with your organization’s mission and goals.

Who should attend:

  • Human Resources Professionals
  • Recognition Program Administrators
  • Managers
  • Anyone who makes award presentations
This webcast is free, but space is limited, so register today!

Taking Recognition to the Next Level – MeritShare is Now Terryberry

Exciting News!  MeritShare is now part of Terryberry!

The new partnership with Terryberry offers MeritShare customers additional benefits, including:

  • Social Employee Recognition Platform, Give a WOW!
  • Plug-in Modules for Service Awards, Performance Points and More
  • Global Support System
  • Local Customer Service
  • Expanded Selection of Employee Recognition Products

Check out the full Press Release.

Terryberry announces the acquisition of MeritShare, an innovative employee recognition software company located in Seattle, WA – to support their objective of expanding their offering of advanced social-media style employee recognition platforms.

(PRWEB) December 2013

Global employee reward and recognition leader Terryberry proudly announces the acquisition of MeritShare of Seattle, a strategic move designed to help Terryberry continue to advance their very successful human resources-based initiatives and product lines that address employee satisfaction and engagement.

MeritShare was founded in July 2012 by entrepreneurs Travis Pearl and Kevin Nakao. MeritShare quickly garnered media attention from publications like VentureBeat, Recruiter.com, and Geekwire for their innovative software platform and mission make employee recognition fun, simple, and social.  New York Times best selling author and Forbes columnist Kevin Kruse named Pearl and Nakao to his list of “101 Top Engagement Experts” in his book “Employee Engagement for Everyone.”   MeritShare was also one of the first companies to come out of the 9Mile Labs enterprise accelerator program started by former Microsoft, HP, Adobe, and Gartner executives.

Terryberry’s acquisition of MeritShare will support their objectives for growth as they continue to lead the industry in social-media style employee recognition platforms.

“In a short amount of time since their launch, MeritShare has succeeded in making strides to advance the concept of social-media style recognition,” explains Mike Byam, Managing Partner at Terryberry.  “MeritShare’s mission of providing recognition in an innovative and fun way really compliments Terryberry’s business.”

“We started MeritShare because recognition is one of the most under-utilized, but powerful tools anyone can use to motivate people,“ says Kevin Nakao, CEO and Co-Founder of MeritShare.   CTO and Co-founder of MeritShare, Travis Pearl adds, “We proved that peer recognition works and we are very happy Terryberry will help MeritShare customers take their recognition program to the next level.”

MeritShare’s customers will have access to upgrade to Terryberry’s highly innovative and robust Give a WOW platform which provides many additional features and benefits like a branded interface, single sign-on, integrated service awards, and more award options.  The acquisition will also provide MeritShare’s customers with access to Terryberry’s comprehensive line of employee recognition programs, global support system, local customer service, and expanded selection of employee recognition products.

“We are pleased to bring MeritShare’s customers into the Terryberry family, and we are excited about how Terryberry’s mission supports the original vision of MeritShare of making work better through effective recognition,” Byam states.

About Terryberry

Terryberry serves more than 25,000 clients throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Family-owned for four generations, Terryberry specializes in employee appreciation and employee recognition gifts, products and services to keep employees engaged and motivated and companies growing in positive directions. For more information, please visit http://www.terryberry.com. 800.253.0882