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A Guide to HR for Startups

When starting a new business, there are many areas you’ll need to get right from day one. These can include marketing, sales, operations, customer service and much more. For startups, one area which can sometimes be overlooked during the initial start-up period is HR.

An HR department is one of the most important areas of any successful business, even in the early days. A business is run by employees and without them, it does not function. It stands to reason therefore that an HR department is not only important but absolutely necessary.

Your HR department will look after several key areas of the business, including hiring and firing, payroll, staff benefits, employee training and much more. Starting a business without an HR department (or at least an HR staff member) will almost always lead to issues and pull other members of the team off of vital projects to pick up HR-related tasks.

With this in mind, check out the 3 key things to consider when launching a startup in relation to getting your HR department right from day one.


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A business is nothing without people, and any startup company will need an initial team to get a new business off the ground and moving in the right direction. This doesn’t mean to say some staff can’t be hired without an HR team in place first – it’s likely that the founders may want to handpick a few initial senior roles, but from there onwards having an HR team in place will make finding, hiring and onboarding new employees a breeze. HR software such as CIPHR can make recruitment easy to manage

The HR team should have processes in place for recruiting, including how to detail job descriptions, where to post job ads and find candidates, and how to arrange interviews and feedback. As a startup, you want to appear as professional as possible to prospective candidates, as it’s not only you who are interviewing them, they are also considering whether your business is a place they want to commit to.

Beyond interviews, your startup will need a solid onboarding process to ensure any new members of staff are seamlessly integrated into the business and able to hit the ground running. The last thing you want is to be paying a new member of staff who is unable to do their job right away due to a lack of training or understanding of internal processes or systems. An onboarding program should ensure any new member of staff is completely settled within 1 week and has everything they need to be a fully-fledged member of the team.

Compliance and Regulations

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The HR team should ensure there are strict policies in place regarding all aspects of compliance with regulations. These should include areas relating to employee safety and wellbeing, as well as staff behavior.

Employee safety procedures should first outline the basics as a minimum, including clear instructions for things like fire exits, first aid and a safe working environment. Appointing a member of staff to be the point of call for first aid issues is vital, and of course, they should be fully trained in first aid. This usually involves completing an accredited course in first aid training. For your training needs you can check first aid training london ontario.

For staff behavior, a good option to offer clear guidelines is through a staff handbook which outlined all of the rules in terms of what is expected from employees. A lot of this information will appear basic and should already be understood, such as behavior relating to sexual harassment. However, it’s important to have this documented so it can be referred back to in the unlikely event of a complaint or a more serious issue.

Salary and Benefits

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One of the key ways to hire the top talent in your market is to ensure your startup is competitive with its remuneration packages. Staff wants to be paid well for the job they’re doing and are generally happier and more productive in their role if they are paid as such.

As well as offering a competitive salary, you’ll need to consider how your pay structure might work. For example, is it based on competitors and how similar roles are paid, or will it be a more bespoke internal pay structure?

Another thing to consider is how pay can increase over time, whether in line with employee performance, business performance or both. Will you offer an annual pay rise and how will you establish a rate at which it will increase per year?

Beyond salary, employee bonuses are a great way of keeping staff motivated in their roles, particularly if the bonus is performance-related. If a member of staff has a financial incentive to hit 100 sales per month, they will almost always try harder to get those last few sales in at the end of the month, compared with a member of staff who is simply given a flat bonus without a performance element.

In addition to personal staff bonuses, you may wish to consider including a company-wide bonus, which is given based on the overall business performance and whether it has reached its targets for the year (or quarter, month or even week). Company-wide bonuses can make the wider business more productive, especially those in roles that are difficult to target, such as IT support or administration roles.


Starting a new business is an exciting time and it can be tempting to want to focus on the more obvious areas of the company, particularly if they drive revenue. However, neglecting vital areas such as HR departments will almost always lead to problems later down the line, if not initially such as recruitment and training issues.

To ensure your startup goes off without a hitch, invest the time in your vital departments such as HR, and the benefits will show almost immediately.

About Stefania Trtica