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The HR Forum

Hello,I am looking for some advise/answers in regards to establishing a HR function within an organisation.I started with a company in September 2015 in a standalone position as a HR Administrator. Currently there is just me in the HR function, my manager is the Corporate Services Director who oversees HR, Finance and IT. When I joined it was still relatively small which had doubled over the last 2 years, we currently have just under 200 employees (continuously expanding). As the company hasn't previously had a HR presence it is quite a challenge for me to get the buy in from the company including the board, senior managers and the rest of the staff for the processes I would like to put in place.Does anyone have any tips that may help me in gaining credibility for myself as a HR Professional within the company as well as establishing the HR function?Any guidance would be much appreciated.ThanksLauren Vasey

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  • Hi Lauren

    This is a great post and one I can very much relate to! I'm in the same boat, although the company I work is somewhat smaller (at around c.30 employees in total including management), but I am a 1-person HR department, and new to all of this, setting it up from scratch.  I do have my MD for support, so he and I work together a lot on processes being implemented, etc. however there are certainly some challenges.

    I’ve only been in my role since May, so it’s all very new and my in-depth HR knowledge is limited for this rather large ‘project’ (my HR-related background is HR Administration and as a PA in a large HR department supporting 2 HR Heads/Directors), so setting up an HR function from the beginning with my level of complex knowledge can certainly be a challenge at times!

    The post below Sarah has been really useful - thank you! The article is great, and I can certainly relate to a lot of it and the points covered.  

    If anyone has any further wisdom, I know personally, it would be greatly appreciated!  Particular tough scenarios I face on a daily basis is where HR is a completely new concept to this organisation, therefore those employees who have never experienced HR previously, are vocal regarding their thoughts on HR (that is isn’t needed), therefore refuse to accept my support or change their ways of working to come in line with the new processes.  What makes things more difficult is that these members are part of the management team (my peers) and due to their negativity, they are 'let off' by the Directors as this is 'just how they are' but in reality, how long can this be the case, and how can I convince the Directors and these challenging individuals that everyone needs to work in line for the company to move forward, enable us to improve efficiencies and ultimately expand...?  I do love my role and this project without a doubt, but yes, the above are the challenges I face and I’m sure there are many out there that have been through this and can share their expertise :-)

    So yes, Lauren, getting the buy in from the seniors is a struggle in my world too.  And even though the MD is very supportive of me/my role, and very much on board with the HR concept to get everything ship-shape (he recruited me after all!), some individuals are still allowed to show bad behaviours towards ‘HR’, refuse to change and this isn’t seen as a hindrance (perhaps as it’s a sales environment and they’re successful with billing?).  There’s only so much I can do though unfortunately, so at this stage, I’ve had to admit defeat with these individuals, step back and implement the new processes, etc. for the rest of the company, but excluding them.

    Good luck!  We’ll get there and we’ll be a lot stronger for it, hehe! :-)

    • Hi Adele

      Thanks for sharing, and sometimes it can be a long time to change culture within a business but keep chipping away at it.

      I often found that some line managers saw HR as pointless and bureacractic challenging to work with, in the end it was how I demonstrated how the function could add value to what they were trying to achieve and some very open and challenging conversations.  You will get buy in eventually it just takes time, and you will also find as people come and go that you see support growing for what you are trying to achieve.

      In terms of behaviours I would be speaking with the MD about establishing some values for the business, the one thing I could always influcence my previous Director on was when I asked him if what he was doing was in line with his values, at the end of the day HR are there to advise and in some roles coach, so it is the business owners / managers who ultimtaely decide.    But it sounds like you are doing some great work so good luck!

      I hope this helps


      • Hi Sarah,

        Thanks for your response it is much appreciated. I have been a busy bee hence the late reply. Yes I definitely see this as a great opportunity as well as big challenge. I am working quite closely with the board as my Line Manager is part of the board and I have quite a good relationship with the managing director. There are a few members of the board who are under a huge amount of pressure to win new tenders for the company so any processes that I have developed and are ready to implement are getting side lined. It isn't the most ideal situation to be in, however to be able to fully implement a process that the whole company will get behind and it to become part of the normal culture of the organisation I need board members to be focused and really take interest in ensuring the process works once it is implemented. The business is pure profit, family owned company. I have already implemented a recruitment process and will be working on talent/succession planning early next year off the back of performance reviews. 

        Thanks for the advice the article was a great read, have you read the book that they recommend?



  • Hi Lauren

    Sorry for the late post.

    This sounds like an amazing opportunity and one to sieze with both hands.  This is not something which I have ever had the opportunity to do so I am approaching this hypothetically.  So the first thing is get the Board buy in, and to do this you will need to identify what is important to them for the business, if it's pure profit then great we can work from there, if it's growing the business to eventually sell as a going concern you can build a case for employee engagmeent.

    So once you have done this I would then look at their currenty strategy for acheiving this, and basically identify the areas where HR can contribute to the business strategy.  So if profit is their driver, HR is a cost, so you will need to demonstrate how you can reduce operational costs, this could be through implementing better recruitment practices, developing in house talent so you don't have to buy in expensive hires, reducing absence levels.  You get the idea.

    Anyway I hope the above gives you some ideas.

    There is also tons of advice on the internet, I liked the look of this article here:


    Finally come on Commuinty there must be loads of HR bods out there who have set up an HR function, please could you share the benefit of your experience with Lauren?  Don't  be shy it would be great to hear from you.

    All the best


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