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Solo HR Trends in SMEs : Challenges and Opportunities

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--By Krishna Bahadur Singh

To some extent its good news for the HR-Professionals that most of the Nepali small and medium organisations understand the role of HRM in an organisation though it is a small and initial step and there is a lot more to understand about HRM.

 Concept of Solo HR Practice is trending in the small and medium size organisations of Nepal which is challenging as well as an opportunity to grow for all the solo HR Practitioners as “one professional one department.” 

Here are few challenges and their solutions

Challenge 1: Lack of strategic foothold 
It's difficult to become a strategic partner because one-person HR departments often lack credibility. HR may have started as a payroll function and is still viewed as more clerical than management. 

Solution: 
Use organisation size to your advantage. Management teams are smaller and more accessible, and you see them nearly every day. Initiate unplanned discussions in the halls about business goals and HR issues. Pass executives interesting articles that explore how other organisations are handling their pressing HR issues. 

Sound out executives on your strategic solutions, and call meetings to present them to management. Read the organisation's numerical growth reports. No matter how busy you are, read one chapter or listen to one video of a management or finance information each day. 

Challenge 2: Overwhelming paperwork 
If you are outsourcing ask vendors and other third-party service providers to lend administrative support. If they refuse, make it an issue at contract renewal time. Make room in your budget to hire a temp periodically, if needed. 

Use technology: Take advantage of the proliferating number of inexpensive self-service HRIS systems and software to handle tasks such as employment applications, hiring assessments and online benefits enrollment. 

Challenge 3: Managing time 

Solution: 
Keep a simple log of contacts with employees and supervisors and their issues and requests. Put the notes on a spreadsheet, and sort them by topics such as attendance, health insurance and discipline. The log helps pinpoint issues that take up the most time and occur most frequently. 

Challenge 4: Complying with the tangle of Nepal Labour laws

Solution: 
First, make sure you're not "over complying" with employment laws that don't apply in your organisation. Many smaller organisations mistakenly spend time learning about and complying with laws that don't pertain to employers and their fields. And make necessary note of frequently required provisions of Nepal labour laws especially in your working sector 

Challenge 5: Developing collaboration with HODs 

Solution: 
Make them comfortable for partnering with you by conducting view exchanging programmes among all the department heads so that they can understand your roles and responsibility in an organisation and their accountability towards HR

 aspects. There could be various methods to make them aware about HR such as  conducting programmes like “One Day in HR staff’s Life, Team Building etc. If they understand the responsibility you are taking, for sure they will extend their support. 

So, the solo human resources management practitioner must be resourceful with logical tact and the solo HR practitioner is unique in that he or she is probably charged with the overall HR responsibilities for a firm with between 50 and 150 employees. This means that the HR professional in a smaller firm must be a jack-of-all-trades. He or she shall be involved in hiring, resource allocation, compensation, benefits, compliance with laws affecting employees and the workplace, and safety and health issues. 

This multiplicity of tasks requires individuals with strong organisational skills who can quickly shift from project to project and topic to topic without becoming overwhelmed. A good first step for the new solo HR practitioner would be to quickly learn HR jargon and develop a network of people and resources that you can turn to when you have questions or problems. You probably won’t have the luxury of any down time, so be prompt and aggressive about gaining needed skills and knowledge. Solo practice has lots of challenges along with learning opportunities.

The writer is a Human Resources Manager at Reliance Trade International  Pvt Ltd. He can be reached at [email protected]

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