5 Productive HR Management Trends for Small Businesses

Small businesses have the unenviable task of ensuring an optimal balance between the realization of their vision and mission on the one hand versus attending to employee needs and expectations on the other. Getting the HR function right, therefore, requires exceptional skill and adeptness at managing a diverse workforce.

HR is a mission critical role. The success of any small business does not come down to elaborate strategies and sophisticated technologies but rather the people who will be responsible for making sure everything works. Business owners should therefore constantly strive to better the productivity of their HR processes.

These 5 productivity trends are injecting efficiency and effectiveness into how small business HR is run:

1.    Provide Personalized Coaching

No one wants to be treated like a random number. To get employees fired up and rearing to perform their duties, HR should champion a business-wide culture of personalized coaching. Part of the human resource role is to recognize each employee as an individual with unique traits, values, and career goals.

Through personalized coaching, you can provide employees with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop successfully at work and in in their personal lives. Working together, the coach and the employee identify issues and plan for performance improvement.

When a business nurtures a coaching culture, it demonstrates respect for the employee and shows its commitment to helping each worker cultivate the skills and knowledge needed to realize their career aspirations.

This, in turn, creates a virtuous cycle since an employee who feels valued will discharge their role with the zeal of someone with skin in the game. They’ll have a genuine interest in seeing the business succeed because this is tied to their own career trajectory. Increased employee engagement elevates productivity.

2.   Invest in Technological Tools

Motivated, engaged, coached employees are key to organizational success. Nevertheless, even the most enthusiastic workers will be greatly limited in their ability to execute their roles if they are not armed with the tools necessary to make things happen. Ergo, the role of technology tools cannot be overemphasized.

HR must be at the forefront of pushing not just the procurement of HR tools but also systems that streamline processes across the business. For example, employee-performance appraisals can be performed via an online framework, allowing supervisors to easily create goals for their employees and sustain company objectives. 

HR payroll systems will drastically reduce errors in payroll processing while increasing speed, bolstering compliance and creating a reliable audit trail for each transaction.

3.  Establish and Communicate Clear Goals

Poor communication has marked the decline or demise of countless small businesses. Of all business processes, HR should be the most meticulous and deliberate in their communication. 

To reduce the risk of communication mishaps, HR should develop well-thought-out repeatable communication procedures and standards that ensure everyone is on the same page. Social intranet software can give HR a centralized portal where they can access and update internal documents and contracts and relay relevant data to other departments instantly.

HR must work with all staff to establish clear, consistent goals. This manages expectations and reduces internal conflict. An employee who has a clear picture of what is expected of them is more likely to go all out to meet and exceed their targets. Conversely, staff who are uncertain about their responsibilities are more prone to falling short of their supervisor’s expectations.

4.   Be Flexibile

As Internet access approaches ubiquity, businesses have to reevaluate their expectations of employees and identify ways they can leverage information technology to their advantage. Specifically, the Internet has greatly expanded the degree of work flexibility small enterprises can offer their staff.

Flexibility boosts morale, improves engagement, attracts top talent and cuts operational costs. And it should start with HR. Flexibility here doesn’t just refer to the ability to work from home. It also implies, for instance, the provision to take a few days off work on short notice.

There may also be occasions when staff need time off to re-energize and recharge.This is particularly important for staff carrying out HR functions since they often have to oversee difficult decisions such as firing, redundancies, denial of benefits and more. 

According to Flexjobs, “When it comes to flexible schedules, you might think that it’s just your employees who will reap the rewards. Not so. From increased productivity to fewer missed days and significant savings to a more loyal workforce, employers benefit greatly from adopting flexible schedules in the workplace.”

5.    Agile HR

Agile is a buzzword that has dominated the world of software development for years. Yet, agile is not a project management methodology that is only relevant to IT. It can be applied to HR processes just as effectively.

In fact, a Deloitte survey of over 10,000 organizational and human resources leaders in 140 countries revealed that for 94% of respondents, “agility and collaboration are critical to their organization’s success.”

It’s all about facilitating and encouraging collaboration between HR processes (such as payroll, recruitment, training, medical, employee relations and compliance) and non-HR processes in the business.

“In the context of HR, is the ability to adapt and evolve people and processes in pace to accelerating and unpredictable changes – to support individual, strategic and organizational agility.”

~ Training Industry

Agile HR compels small business owners to view challenges more holistically and develop solutions that are acceptable to all staff.


Implementing changes to HR policies, procedures and processes can feel a bit like steering an ocean liner. Staff is likely already used to a particular way of doing things. It will take some deft change management to eventually get everyone on board.

Change is more likely to be broadly accepted if small businesses can demonstrate how the new way of doing things will save the employee’s time and reduce their error rate.

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Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses and she frequently writes about the latest advancements in HR, digital marketing and tech.