Team gathering around computer screen

No HR team? No problem.

How to set employees up for success no matter your company size

El equipo de Slack19 de enero de 2024Ilustración de Giacomo Bagnara

Few things are more exciting than a new beginning. Whether it’s a new book, friendship, or opportunity, there’s something particularly exciting about the adventure we start with those first steps. Starting a new job is one of the most exciting beginnings. And like any good journey, there will be exciting paths to explore, unexpected connections to make, and challenging problems to solve.  

Still, we often get caught up in complicated processes along the way. Confusing onboarding procedures, uncertainty over where to direct questions, and a hunt for information that’s scattered across emails, documents, and conversations can make progress a challenge. This is where employee success leaders come in. HR teams keep employees from wandering off the path to success, guiding an organization’s most valuable asset—its people—and helping them navigate this ever-changing world of work.

But what about small businesses that aim to set people up for success without dedicated HR departments? Should their hires be expected to trek this path without any guidance? And once a team is onboarded, how do you keep the right flow of information and a connected culture without full employee success teams?

Smaller organizations don’t need to leave employees to fend for themselves. Companies can tap into technology to manage and organize their HR work streams without a dedicated department. With a few simple strategies, even the smallest HR team can make the biggest of differences.

Choose tools that are easy enough for everyone to use 

Being part of a lean team at a small business comes with wearing many hats. Research shows that 70% of small businesses handle HR tasks informally. That means ad-hoc HR responsibilities like sharing resources with a new hire or gathering feedback for performance reviews are often split between leaders, managers, and teammates. To avoid creating an additional burden on those employees, companies need tools that will make HR tasks simple for everyone on the team to pick up.  

One company we’ve seen do this well is the accessory company, Thread Wallets. With one dedicated people leader on staff, HR tasks are a shared workload. They rely on tools to help guide their onboarding process from Google Slides detailing company core values to Slack to get employees instantly into workstreams. This creates more time for team bonding, like their customary welcome lunch with Thread Wallet’s CEO Colby Bauer. 

But that’s just the beginning. Workflow tools are becoming even easier to use, and things that would previously require specialist IT or HR staff can now be achieved in just a few clicks. Customized workflows can be created to automatically onboard new colleagues, share relevant links or documentation, and even highlight which forms to fill out as soon as they join a channel, so nothing falls through the cracks.  

Bauer is a big believer in a whole person approach to work. “Setting people up for success requires a multidimensional approach,” he told us. “Tools that make it easy to get up to speed on the work open up more time to bring new hires into your culture. It’s not just teaching people how to do the job. It’s important to welcome people into your work community from the start.”

Empower employees to connect the dots faster during onboarding

Teams at small businesses are often pressed for time—and as many as 59% of their employees report experiencing burnout. No one wants to lose a day’s work hunting down documents, forwarding emails and calendar invites—or dusting off an outdated printed handbook—every time a new hire lands. Onboarding our teammates should be exciting, not a burden. 

One best practice for small businesses is to keep everything in one central hub that consolidates communication. This empowers new hires to connect the dots themselves. They can search back through knowledge shared before they were hired, find solutions, and immerse themselves in the culture of the business. 

When they do have questions, they can instantly hop on an audio or video huddle with managers or coworkers. Or, if they want to share fresh ideas with new colleagues, they might kick off a Slack canvas filled with files, images, videos, and more to showcase them. All of this can take place in that one collaboration hub. Smaller businesses thrive on this fluidity—we need our tools to nurture that, not put up blocks to it. 

Use technology to build a more connected culture 

When it comes to culture, small businesses tend to be ahead of the game. Research shows employees at small organizations are more likely to rate their company culture higher than their larger counterparts. But that doesn’t mean it can be taken for granted. On smaller teams, using the right technology can strengthen and deepen employees’ bonds even further.  

Let’s jump back to Thread Wallets for a moment—the team there has a celebratory and transparent culture that prides itself on raising employees up and inspiring a carry-on mindset. By using Slack to supercharge their productivity, Thread Wallets can do this in both big and small ways. Thread Wallets sends out a survey each week on Slack to surface team wins and personal progress. “We celebrate these successes at a weekly culture share meeting,” says Bauer. “It’s our way to strengthen community and culture at Thread Wallets and remind ourselves that we’re all part of crafting something meaningful by growing together, regardless of one’s role.” 

On the flipside, when there are areas for improvement, leadership encourages employees to challenge processes. With transparent public channels and regular employee surveys, any member of the team can easily share feedback, learnings, and strategies to evolve the business together. The result is a united team that’s always moving forward as one, with all voices valued.

Sharing successes, not bearing burdens 

Every individual has a responsibility for contributing to a positive and productive work environment. In organizations big and small, HR is a role that extends beyond a single person or a single department. But that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to add full-time employee success responsibilities to their already busy schedules. 

We can use tools to take the heavy lifting out of this shared responsibility. Those tools can accelerate onboarding processes with automation, empower teams to share knowledge quickly with new hires and nurture a culture of transparency, support, and celebration. With technology, every team member is empowered to play their part. As a result, the organization—and the people building it—will thrive.

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