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Identifying and empowering your second hat HR person 

December 22nd, 2022 | 2 min. read

By Mike Shaeffer

Second Hat HR is a term we use with small businesses that do not have the need for a person that sits in an HR role on a full time, permanent basis. This idea stems from identifying all the different functions (Sales and Marketing, Finance, Operations, HR, Admin, etc.) business owners may fill as they scale their organization. In the early days of starting a business, you may be a one-person or one-location shop that is trying to get by with a lean staff, but as a business grows, so does its complexity and the need for help. One of the first functions (we call these “hats”) an entrepreneur will consider handing off is the HR hat. But how do you do that, and to whom is it given? Is there a "right" person? Well, there is -- but only if you identify which tasks can be handed off to your second hat.

Identify which tasks can be handed off to your second hat HR

Take an inventory of the different HR tasks that need to be accomplished. You will find big picture things like hiring strategies, culture building, and performance metrics, but you will also see that there are a lot of routine tasks like posting job ads, screening candidates, updating handbooks, and managing benefits. Most of the more routine tasks can either be easily outsourced or handled by someone else in your organization. But who is going to take on these tasks? 

You don't always have to hire a new HR person for your second hat

While there are some great HR professionals that have degrees and credentials to back up their expertise, hiring that person may be overkill for what you are trying to accomplish. Who on your team is really good at getting things done well and likes to learn? This is probably a person that you can lean on to handle your HR tasks. Sure, there will be things they do not know but that is always going to be true no matter who is wearing the hat, even if it stays on you. For the majority of HR issues, having a person that is resourceful and empathetic will trump the professional HR knowledge – but that doesn’t mean they never get that knowledge. 

Equip and encourage your second hat HR person to succeed

Once you have identified a person who is going to start taking on these new tasks, then it’s time to begin their education. This doesn't necessarily mean that they need to go back to school, but there are a lot of great resources out there, such as the Society for Human Resource Management, that provide educational content in a more traditional HR approach. That will give them a baseline and enough background information that they can give valuable advice and expertise to your team.

It doesn't just end with a new HR person. With this transition of HR ownership, it makes sense to review your vendor and technology resources to ensure you have the support you need. Those folks can often work together with your team to make sure that your HR needs are met. In fact, many outsourced payroll providers offer human resource support that may be the perfect complement to having a new person wear this hat. 

If you are like many leaders, you will find that there are some great benefits to handing off your HR hat, but some frustrations may still exist. That's OK! This is a process. Know that finding the balance between being freed up to focus on other tasks and managing your new HR leader is the key to unlocking this healthy friction that will always exist in a growing organization. Want some more help? We'd be happy to talk to you about those HR needs. We have all the tools your organization will need to be HR compliant.