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How start-ups can set up HR operations from scratch

Managing human capital is integral for any business, but doing so requires ample budgets and resources. In such a situation, how can newly set-up companies ensure their HR functions are running at optimal levels? Inge Giesbergen, HR manager of Flipit.com, shares her story.

The key to launching an internationally focused start-up effectively relies heavily on managing your human resources efficiently from the very beginning.

Managing HR during the early phase of a start-up is never an easy task, as budgets are limited and smaller companies simply cannot afford to waste time hiring erroneously.

As far as Flipit.com was concerned, choosing to launch as an international SME rather than begin locally and build slowly into something global, was admittedly a bold move on our part.

However, the Flipit vision was always a global one, which meant that we simply had to establish new methods and strategies to accommodate the needs of an international enterprise, while keeping within an SME budget.

Operating as an online business

As an online couponing service, our status as a digital start-up worked to our advantage in that we were able to offer internationals flexibility in terms of being able to work remotely when required.

It quickly became clear to us that with so many expats in our team, the option to return home at times of emergency was extremely high on the priority list for most employees.

It quickly became clear to us that with so many expats in our team, the option to return home at times of emergency was extremely high on the priority list for most employees.

Furthermore, choosing to operate as an online business with such a global vision meant it was imperative we embraced innovative methods of sourcing staff online.

This involved performing multiple Skype interviews with candidates from all over the world. Hiring purely on the basis of a Skype interview was not ideal, but this was something we felt we had to embrace given the nature of our business plan.

I would say this was a positive experience as it pushed us into adapting to something which I’m sure will be the norm in the near future.

Obstacles encountered

When first entering our hiring stage, we were a small team of Dutch natives with a proficiency in English, a combined basic knowledge of German, and the ability to just about order a sandwich in French!

This proved to be a challenge when we were hiring internationals to be responsible of an entire branch of our company site in a language which our management could not understand.

The easiest way to overcome this was to invest in multilingual employees (we now have one staff member who is fluent in five languages), but sourcing for such people was not easy.

We dealt with this challenge during our launch phase by temporarily outsourcing native editors or translators online to help us assess international candidates.

At this stage of the game, I think it’s important that smaller enterprises are not afraid to outsource for smaller tasks, and instead embrace this as an inevitable part of the start-up process.

At this stage of the game, I think it’s important that smaller enterprises are not afraid to outsource for smaller tasks, and instead embrace this as an inevitable part of the start-up process.

There are some extremely affordable options available online, and it’s important to feel comfortable in utilising these.

We managed international HR quality control by having candidates write test articles for our online savings magazine, Flipit Plus, as part of the interview process.

We then outsourced to a global copy editing service such as TransPerfect, who found an appropriate native editor to review them for us, and inform us of the quality level of the articles.

By taking a few factors such as these into close consideration, it is possible to manage your company’s HR effectively without having to invest a huge amount of your start-up budget on building your team.

Image: Shutterstock

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