It’s time small businesses fell back in love with HR this Valentine’s Day

Here, Jonathan Richards, CEO at breatheHR, explores why businesses need to rekindle the flame with their HR department this Valentine's Day.

The relationship between HR and startups is strained at best. Many entrepreneurs believe that they are too small in size to need HR, employees think that the function serves the business rather than them and even the traditional HR titles are changing to more fashionable alternatives such as chief people officer or chief happiness officer. It is safe to say that HR has a reputation problem.

In fact, the recent call from BlackRock, one of the most influential investment companies in the world, for business leaders to do more than make a profit, shows the increasing importance of company culture in the corporate world.

Whether your business is made up of two employees or twenty – you are ‘doing’ HR by managing those people. Often, it’s not until something goes wrong, that we appreciate the unsung heroes of HR. So, in the run up to Valentine’s Day, we look to set some of the misconceptions straight and relight the spark by appreciating the valuable role they play in the culture of a growing business.

Going the distance

Starting and running a business of your own can be an emotional rollercoaster, filled with soaring highs and the inevitable lows. And, much like an exciting new relationship, it is easy to throw yourself in, giving little thought to the long-term structures that need to be in place.

If a business doesn’t reach its fifth anniversary, it’s probably down to a failure of long term planning. As a start up, you may not have a dedicated HR person at this early stage as other roles seem like a bigger priority. In fact, a recent survey placed client satisfaction and business development as the two top priorities for small business owners – not attracting and retaining the best talent.

As a result of this, the way to attract, recruit and retain your people is becoming an increasingly key differentiator and factor in success. Ensuring that the right skills and people are in place at the right time will benefit your business in the long run and HR is integral to this.

Show your employees some love

Unlike a card or bunch of flowers from a secret admirer, company culture is not a tangible thing. However, what your employees think, feel and experience in their workplace impacts your business in many ways. It is important to create a culture that produces and fosters energised and committed teams.

HR is the way that you can engage with employees and give them a positive experience of working for your company. People are complex beings and managing them and their performance is at the heart of business success.

If you ignore this, you run the risk of losing the culture that you sought to instil from the beginning. This can be difficult to avoid as your business scales up and you employ more people. However, performing HR from the outset means that you can afford to ensure that candidates are not only talented but will also fit the culture you want to see as your company expands.

You can’t do it all

Running a business, like any relationship, it takes two to tango. Namely, one person can’t do it all.

CEOs are, on average, spending eight hours a week on HR related tasks. This includes logging sickness approving holiday and processing expense requests. These tasks are unavoidable but are an immense misuse of a skillset. The role of a founder is to develop and grow their business, not to be caught up in HR admin.

There are now many affordable options in tackling the issue of HR and lightening the workload of CEOs. Using technology to automate tasks that can potentially take hours will allow small business owners to get back to what they do best – fostering a culture that will drive their vision forward. So, on this Valentine’s Day, show some appreciation for the unsung heroes of HR.

Jonathan Richards is CEO at breatheHR

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

Related Topics

Small business