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Managing HR for non-HR Managers and Staff

Proper training for non-HR staff and strategic outsourcing of functions is critical when HR falls to office managers and administrative professionals.
Managing HR for non-HR Managers and Staff

Human resources responsibilities are not limited to one department; rather, HR professionals oversee the ongoing processes and procedures that occur every day throughout the company. When an issue arises, front-line managers should consult HR about policies and procedures to follow. Providing training in human resources for non-HR managers can help ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page and understands how to proceed when carrying out day-to-day personnel tasks.

How do office managers and HR managers compare?

At small companies in particular, some HR administration responsibilities may fall on office managers, administrative assistants, or executive assistants. These employees are not full-time HR staff and often have their own non-HR workload. By comparison, an HR manager is generally fully devoted to human resources duties. HR professionals are more strategically focused and serve as expert advisors on policies and procedures. When HR staff members are limited, they often rely on office managers and other admin staff to provide support in ensuring that policies are followed.

Job responsibilities for office managers vs. HR managers

Shared responsibilities may include:

  1. Administering payroll, responding to employee questions, and researching errors.
  2. Certain onboarding tasks and scheduling training.
  3. Responding to basic questions about company benefits enrollment.
  4. Maintaining employee data, such as demographic information, performance reviews, and salary history.

Differences in responsibilities may include:

  1. HR managers analyze data, develop policies, and formulate company-wide strategies, while non-HR managers follow already established guidelines.
  2. HR managers research and recommend new benefit options, while non-HR managers help with the administration of current programs.
  3. HR managers assist in the negotiation or approval of compensation and benefits packages. They may set company-wide salary ranges for each level of management. Office managers support the hiring process by posting job openings, scheduling interviews, and processing some of the new-hire paperwork.
  4. HR professionals review new regulations and create policies to ensure the company remains in compliance. Administrative staff will assist in the implementation of these policies, as needed.
  5. HR professionals mediate and resolve employee disputes, while administrative staff can be relied on to recognize and report issues.

Offering HR training for non-HR managers

For many office managers, administrative assistants, and executive admins, performing human resources tasks allows them to expand their skill sets. This offers an opportunity for your business to use its employees to their fullest potential. Training in HR for non-HR managers and staff can benefit the company by educating employees on best practices and informing them of key issues and changes that could affect their job functions. Often, non-HR managers may be the first employees to spot potential problems, and knowing how to deal with an issue or how to report it can help ensure that it's dealt with properly.

The benefits of providing HR training to non-HR staff

When your admin staff is trained to handle some HR tasks, this can remove some of the burden from HR professionals, allowing them to focus on strategic planning or deal with critical issues as they arise. Disseminating HR knowledge also helps to ensure that there's consistency in the application of policies and procedures. Training in HR for non-HR managers has many business advantages:

Office managers and administrators establish a basic understanding of the HR process

When office managers and admins are not trained in HR, they may lack the in-depth understanding of basic procedures and processes that are critical to successful personnel management. Even a small amount of additional knowledge or experience can make company workflows smoother and more efficient.

HR mistakes may be mitigated

Building extra checks and balances into payroll or hiring processes can help ensure that mistakes are identified and corrected. If basic-level reviews are conducted by non-HR staff, they can be quickly elevated to HR professionals who may not have the time to spend on detailed reviews of each department's data.

Managers can assist with recruiting and hiring

Non-HR managers work on the frontlines, and they know what type of experience and skills they're looking for in a new hire. Job responsibilities may be more clearly stated when non-HR managers who are more familiar with the roles are given input into the hiring process and HR managers can just complete final reviews before documents are published. Opportunities for process improvements in hiring and onboarding may be identified by non-HR managers and staff who are implementing and following procedures developed by HR.

What are your options for HR training?

Although Paychex HR consultant Shannon Anderson notes that sometimes non-HR staff learn by doing, she believes HR training for non-HR managers is essential. This training can be presented in a variety of ways, based on what works best for each company. Anderson recommends bringing in a professional HR consultant to present on-site, or you may want to consider paying for non-HR managers to attend training hosted by a local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or an employment law firm. Additionally, webinars can help drill down on specific topics that are most applicable to the non-HR employee's job responsibilities.

Other training options include:

  1. Paying for non-HR managers to attend HR classes or seminars.
  2. Sending non-HR staff to HR conferences.
  3. Encouraging non-HR employees with significant HR responsibilities to join a professional organization such as SHRM.
  4. Asking an HR consultant to work with non-HR managers.

How to keep your business compliant and your employees happy

Placing HR duties within your company's administrative function requires strategic outsourcing to ensure that you understand and are up to date with applicable regulations and know how they apply to your company. But how exactly can smaller companies use strategic outsourcing when their managers and administrative staff are in charge of managing human resources? Consider the following:

Work with advisors or counsel on compliance

One of the HR department's most significant activities is compliance with rules and regulations. There are numerous federal, state, and local requirements that should influence how companies develop policies and determine compensation, benefits eligibility, and much more. Mistakes can have costly consequences. Your office management team will likely need assistance from legal counsel or an experienced HR consultant available to help. You may want to start with a consultation to clarify which regulations affect your business and how that shapes your business plans. In addition, having legal counsel on hand gives you access to a knowledgeable resource when questions arise, whether they're regulatory in nature or involve an employee-related issue.

When it comes to keeping non-HR employees up to date on applicable rules and regulations , Anderson works with clients to ensure that they have a solid employee handbook with the rules at their fingertips. She also counsels managers to save their notes on HR decisions for reference when similar situations arise in the future.

Consider working with a professional employer organization (PEO)

Administering benefits programs, including tracking enrollment and other information, can be time-consuming. Without a dedicated HR department, it can add up to a significant amount of work for your administrative staff. To provide access to numerous programs and make it easier to handle administrative tasks, one strategy to consider is working with a professional employer organization (PEO). PEOs are organizations that can provide a number of benefits to their members, from access to benefits programs that are typically beyond the reach of small companies, to systems and support with HR administrative tasks.

Invest in the right technology for recruiting processes

Attracting and retaining top talent requires an understanding of your needs, carefully developed sourcing strategies, and a well-managed candidate communication strategy. The right technology can decrease the administrative workload of both HR and non-HR staff. According to the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, 87% of HR professionals said that technology has strengthened their contribution to corporate success. Specifically, 81% of respondents said tech tools had hiring advantages by allowing them to maintain or grow head count and increase employee productivity.

Investing in the right recruiting technology can help a small HR team keep the recruiting process moving. For example, an online application process makes it easy for candidates to find job openings and submit their résumés with just a few clicks. From there, the use of appropriate screening questions can help surface the best candidates and weed out those who are not qualified for the job. Finally, using features such as batch communications with candidates helps keep the process moving forward and can serve the needs of both applicants and hiring managers.

Anderson notes that supporting non-HR managers and staff is critical to company success. Everyone should feel empowered to ask questions and be given time to accumulate the knowledge needed to carry out their HR responsibilities effectively. If you take the necessary steps to provide your office manager or administrative team with the support they need, they may be better equipped to successfully carry out some of your HR projects.

When a full-time HR staff simply isn't in the budget, the right advisors, tools, and training can help you successfully manage many human resources functions.

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