Can HR managers play dual roles in smaller organisations?

HR managers playing dual roles can improve communication, collaboration, efficiency and goal orientation in an organisation.

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In small organisations, it is quite common for the HR manager to play a dual role. This is because small organisations often have limited resources and need to be more efficient in their operations.

The HR manager may be responsible for both HR and operational tasks. That is, handling recruiting, hiring, and training of employees, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the organisation.

Handling of multiple roles and responsibilities by HR managers can be rather beneficial for organisations.

It can improve communication and coordination, increase efficiency, and achieve a better understanding of the organisation’s needs and goals.

In smaller organisations, HR managers can easily take on dual roles, as they don’t necessarily hire multiple experts to manage the various verticals. They also look at different variables in terms of revenue and profitability.

Since these organisations have built up the business from scratch, and scaled up rather gradually, people there tend to have a multitasking mindset from the very beginning.  Therefore, it is common to see most of the promoters managing HR along with supply chains.

“In small organisations, people are initially hired for a specific role, but it is implied that they may have to wear multiple hats”.

Vinesh Nair, head of people and culture, Captain Fresh

 

Vinesh Nair, head of people and culture, Captain Fresh, says “In small organisation or startups, not just HR but almost everyone in the organisation shoulders more than one function in the initial stages. There is no job description in such small establishments”.

Nair adds, “In small organisations, people are initially hired for a specific role, but it is implied that they may have to wear multiple hats”.  There may not even be a typical HR person doing the hiring. Such organisations usually have recruiters or agencies helping them with the recruitment. “However, when an HR manager come in, he or she takes care of recruitment, employee welfare, as well as payroll. Everything is kind of done by that same person within HR,” explains Nair.

“Sometimes, these HR managers may go beyond their domain and also be involved in certain elements of the sales or operations, because they come under the realm of people management,” adds Nair.

Having HR managers play a dual role can provide certain benefits to the organisation, such as:

Cost-efficiency

One of the major benefits of having an HR manager play a dual role is cost efficiency. Smaller organisations often have limited resources and need to be more efficient in their operations. By having the HR manager handle multiple responsibilities, the organisation can save on costs and maximise the use of its resources. This can lead to a more cost-effective and efficient organisation.

“Organisations where the HR guy handles the administration, HR and public communication.”

Anil Gaur, group chief people officer, Akums Pharmaceuticals

Anil Gaur, group chief people officer, Akums Pharmaceuticals, says, “If the business is small —less than 200-300 crores — then having too many verticals and too many people in each of the verticals will not only increase cost, but also create confusion and challenges in terms of alignment.”

Gaur feels that in smaller organisations, every person on the management team understands the business nuances. They also understand the implications of the business environment on various functions, and therefore, they believe that one person can take on dual responsibility. He also says that he knows a couple of “organisations where the HR guy handles the administration, HR and public communication.”

Better coordination

Human resource managers playing a dual role improves communication and coordination between the HR and the rest of the organisation.

The HR manager can understand the needs of the organisation and ensure that HR policies and procedures align with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation. This can lead to a more effective and efficient HR function.

Improved productivity and decision-making

With the HR manager being better aware of the business requirements and the goals of the organisation, better decision-making can be ensured when it comes to human resources. The HR manager will be able to weigh the pros and cons and gauge how the decisions will affect the rest of the organisation. Therefore, the overall results of the organisation will be better.  

“HR should always have a dual role. The manager should understand the business. This is how I have worked for the last 25 years.”

Samir Bhiwapurkar, head HR and general administration, Japfa Comfeed

Effectiveness

The HR manager can be more involved in the operations of the organisation and can provide valuable suggestions for improving processes and operations. This can lead to a more productive and efficient organisation.

According to Samir Bhiwapurkar, head HR and general administration, Japfa Comfeed, it is important for HR managers to have more than one responsibility. He believes, “HR should always have a dual role. The manager should understand the business. This is how I have worked for the last 25 years.”

He explains, “If required, the HR can act as a business manager, and in the absence of the business managers,he should run the show. In fact, HR managers should be able to rise to the occasion even if they are required to stand on the shop floor and run production. Even if they are not technically aware, they should administratively know who is good at what.” 

Bhiwapurkar feels that in smaller organisations, HR can contribute in a much bigger way by taking on dual responsibility.

Although it is beneficial for HR managers to be handling dual responsibilities in small businesses, it is important to ensure that the HR manager has the necessary skills and expertise to effectively manage both HR and operational tasks.

It is also important to monitor the performance of the HR managers and make adjustments, as needed, to ensure that the organisation is functioning effectively and efficiently. 

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