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What's an Human Resources Foundation and Why Does it Matter?

When we think of a house or building, we can understand that a strong foundation is critical to support the rest of the structure. No engineer would advise you to put a third-floor addition on your house if the foundation wouldn’t be able to support it. The same goes for the foundation of your business. Looking to grow or scale? Make sure your foundation can support it.

Your business foundation is made up of a few different components: finance, administration, operations, leadership, strategy, and human resources. Most business owners can wrap their heads around needing to have strong financials, efficient processes, and a strong vision and direction for the company, but we often overestimate how strong our human resources (HR) foundation really is.

HR can sometimes get a bad rap, but the truth is, strong human resources practices can make or break a company. Almost every business relies on human capital (people!) to fulfill its mission. HR is the function that focuses on the people part of the business and plays a huge role in its organization and stability. Not to mention how people feel when they come to work each day (the culture and environment), which is much more important than we think and contributes to higher productivity, healthy turnover levels, and lower costs overall. We spend way too much time at work in our lives to feel sh*tty walking in the door each day. This is where your HR foundation comes into play.

A solid HR foundation includes the following:

  • An effective, accessible, and inclusive recruitment and selection process

  • Onboarding processes that cover all compliance bases and help employees feel welcome, understand your culture and norms, and get up-to-speed in their role as seamlessly as possible

  • Training and development opportunities that have both business and individual goals in mind

  • An employee or company handbook that clearly outlines the workplace policies and expectations to save everyone frustration and limit company liability

  • A well-planned and clear organizational structure that is rooted in the strategic direction of the business and informs future hires, succession planning, and internal movement

  • Role outlines and objectives that are clear and accurate to set employees up for success (these don’t necessarily need to be the traditional job descriptions you’re used to seeing!)

  • Compliance with all applicable employment and relevant legislation, and a process to monitor and implement changes

  • A fully developed and compliant health and safety program that meets the needs of your business size and ensures everyone is safe at work

  • A compensation framework that establishes guidelines for salaries and increases based on role responsibility and tenure, and ensures pay equity

  • Benefits administration and resources such as an Employee Assistance Program (these things are really good to have, but not a requirement)

  • A performance management process and managers that are trained to do this effectively

  • A performance review and goal-setting process that is utilized regularly and reliably and effective for your business and staff

  • An effective outplacement process that is rooted in dignity and respect

  • Record keeping and documentation that meets legislative requirements and limits liability for your firm

  • An intentionally built and maintained workplace culture that is rooted in your company values and is conducive to happiness, respect, and productivity at work

  • A strategic plan or map for where your business and people are headed, and the major milestones and pieces you’ll need to plan for along the way

  • Effective and strong leadership to set direction and vision, and keep the team engaged and focused along the way

As you can see, there is so much that goes into a solid HR foundation. It’s not the simple hiring, paying, and firing that we sometimes make it out to be. With the above pieces in place, the result is happier employees who do better and more efficient work, a business that thrives and innovates, and leaders who spend less time in the weeds and more time on the business.

Unsure how solid your foundation is? We offer an HR Foundations package that covers every single component on the list above. In 1 year’s time, we will work with you to build a brand spanking new foundation for your business to grow upon for years to come. Reach out for more information!


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