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6 Signs That Your HR Needs an Upgrade

No matter how great our success or intentions, things change. Plain and simple.

Samuel owns a successful small business. Five-star customer ratings, happy staff, life balance – life is good. Samuel however is growing increasingly nervous that

things are about to change. Business is growing quickly, the marketplace for good employees is getting tighter, and waking up in the middle of the night worrying is becoming a more regular occurrence.

This is not an uncommon situation. And whether a business is facing the same challenges as Samuel or experiencing business stress in other ways, the base of much of it is related to a business’s people practices. Owners and business leaders cannot do it all alone.

So how can you tell when you have reached a tipping-point and need to upgrade your HR? Here are a few signs to look for:

Size Matters

Businesses that have more than 10 employees should really start thinking about formalizing their HR systems and tools, whether hiring an HR specialist or simply ensuring someone is formally assigned this responsibility AND receives the training to do it well. Businesses with more than 35 employees really need to consider hiring or engaging a qualified HR professional.

Culture Crisis

As a business owner or leader, have someone ask you to define your culture. If you are in a growth mode and cannot easily answer that question, you could be in for a culture crisis. Businesses that grow without establishing a purposeful culture can easily fall victim to employees creating their own underground culture – and it may not be the one you, or your customers want, and it would certainly not be easy to change once established.

Absent Leadership

As a business owner or leader, business growth implications mean less time leading your team, whether it is spending more time in your office or doing hands-on operational tasks.

Increased Frequency of Errors and Performance Issues

Signs that the team, at all levels, are lacking the training, clarity, oversight, direction, or tools to do their job well.

Inconsistent Application of Practice and Policy

Supervisors and employees cannot seem to give or get clear and consistent answers around business practices or policy-related topics such as time-off, schedule changes, or benefits.

Increasing Staff Absences or Attrition

Whether employees are missing shifts, reducing their availability, becoming negative, being less productive, or straight up leaving to work elsewhere, employee absence and attrition are one of the key hallmarks of a frustrated team.


Knowing what to look for is the first step towards recognizing and addressing these HR challenges. Second step is staying attuned to what is happening with your people, your practices, and your culture.

Many leaders may have the necessary knowledge, skills, training, and time to tackle them on their own, and should. However, many other do not and need help, guidance, or advice to keep, or get things back on track.


Upgrading your HR is about ensuring you have the necessary and essential expertise, guidance, advice, tools, support, systems, policies , and practices to make sure all elements of the employee life cycle are cared for as your business grows or diversifies.

There are many free and accessible solutions and tools on-line for leaders to help them navigate these challenges. There are also seminars, courses, webinars, publications, consultants and specialists out there to guide, inform and support knowledge growth. Bottom line is you are not alone.


Bruce Weippert is the co-founder and president of tap Strategy & HR Consulting, a boutique-style management consulting firm specializing in strategy, HR services and change leadership.


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