Thursday, June 11, 2009

Early Stage Start-Ups Hate HR

Who hates HR more than start-ups? I think people are drawn to start-ups for the opportunity to work on and 'own' something cool, the fun atmosphere, free food and drink in the office, and flexibility. They are drawn by the lack of HR - perhaps unconsciously (but usually consciously).

It's very nice not having a big handbook, a predetermined and specific list of boring tasks, and processes and forms, process and forms, and process and forms .... for taking vacation, logging work hours, completing a project, and getting an email account. You get the idea.

Entrepreneurs acknowledge the need for balance. They want to be fun and flexible but organized and effective. They realize often a delicate and organic process has grown to handle the selection of a new staff member, or the monitoring of vacation days. A misstep (like the wrong hire or someone taking advantage of vacation) and it's like a house of cards falling to the ground.

I've been talking to more and more local start-ups and look forward to digging in deeper. I want to learn more specifically where they are with HR - what they have in place, what they want, what they need, and what they see as challenges. You wanna talk?


  1. What I tend to hate about HR personally is their tendency to act as "fashion police".

    Why to startups love not having HR? It's not the lack of people to create an employee handbook. It's the lack of people who add dresscodes to an employee handbook.

    It's far easier for me to dress comfortably and look good in clothes that can keep up with the many types of tasks I may do if I'm in jeans, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt than if I'm dressed in a tie, leather loafers, and a jacket.

    How do dress clothes enhance my performance of my job? They do not.

    How do casual clothes enhance my performance? They allow me to focus on what I'm *doing*, not what I'm wearing.

  2. Hey Anonymous - I couldn't agree more. It seems like it goes without saying - and if you have an 'HR' person that put in a dress code at your start up then they are doing it WRONG.

    Even beyond startups, I think there are many cases where a dress code should not be in place. If you need closed-toed shoes to be safe and comply with the law when you are in the warehouse, that is one thing. Otherwise, let people wear what they want - focus on performance and what matters!