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The Top 3 HR Challenges for Start-Ups

What are the biggest HR challenges for startups?

The top three HR challenges for startups are:

Aligning HR Practices with Cultural Identity - For example, if your culture values equality but doesn't have an equitable compensation system then your company isn't in integrity with its values. So, the work there is to align the systems with the values.

Building Leadership Capacity - During the first years of starting up it seems like there is always something else that needs to be done. Building leadership capacity means understanding what actually needs to be happening and when (including what doesn't need to happen and letting it go), how to distribute work evenly among the team, and how to bring in high level strategic support.

Building Systems that Scale - As the organization grows, cracks start to show when systems haven't been built with sustainability in mind. It helps to assess HR systems when the company grows beyond 10 employees, beyond 25, beyond 50, and then each time there are 100 more employees. This assessment includes the kinds of benefits being offered, the company's contribution rates, systems for compensation, performance and retention.

Why is HR important for startups?

As an executive in a start-up you have a lot of tools in your tool belt. HR is the tool that helps you not just find and keep an amazing team, but that truly helps you implement the kind of future you want to see in the world. Our companies are where the rubber meets the road of our values and HR is where those values are integrated into how people are treated.

What's the one piece of HR advice you have for startups?

Stop, Pause, Continue - Often as we grow things end up the way they are by default. This is how we create unintentional disparities and how we end up overwhelmed. Periodically throughout the year make time to pause. During this pause, inquire into what your company's purpose is, what your people are doing, and the alignment between their work and the purpose. Stop everything that doesn't contribute, pause things that may or may not be aligned, and continue in a new way with the ones that are aligned. This way you don't end up bogging your company down with more than it actually needs to be doing to achieve it's goals.


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