Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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HR, OR HUMAN-RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, is a category of work that is as important as is it misunderstood. People in coffee often think of HR as an employee or department that addresses harassment issues and prevents companies from getting sued. In fact, human resources are the people who make up the workforce of an organization, and HR managers or departments manage those resources from start to fi nish. They can facilitate everything from recruitment and onboarding to the day-to-day aspects of work like payroll and benefi ts management. They also handle legal issues and address complaints, and at the end of an employee's tenure, they can be responsible for termination or exit interviews. Despite what you may have heard, HR management doesn't have to cost exorbitant sums of money, and it's not an option reserved only for large companies. In truth, it's possible for even the smallest businesses to have great systems for human resources management. The most important fi rst step for a small-to-medium–size coffee company is learning about your options with an open mind. As detailed above, HR management covers all aspects of an employ- ee's experience in a given company, from the hiring ad they respond to, to the moment they collect their last paycheck. HR does the legal work of keeping companies above-board, while also managing the people processes that make up a huge part of every business: interviewing, hiring, and training; payroll, compensation, and bene- fi ts; reviews and raises; confl ict management, legal compliance, and employee discipline. Important alongside an understanding of what HR does is a healthy understanding of what HR cannot do. HR is not a magic bullet for issues within the company culture or long-term lack of healthy systems. Once concerns are allowed to fester, those issues become ingrained in the company culture and become harder and more expensive to fi x. "HR is not going to come in and magically solve all of your prob- lems, and a toxic company culture will be toxic regardless of wheth- er or not you have excellent HR, because culture is something that starts from the top and exists throughout the company," says Liz Dean, regional manager at women-centered coworking space The Wing, who worked in managerial roles at coffee companies previous- ly. "I like to talk about toxic company culture like an infected wound: Sooner or later, if you don't address the infection, it will affect the entire body, even if the rest of it is healthy." Within that analogy, the medicine required to fi x long-term lack of proper human-resource management will be more extreme and more costly. An ounce of pre- vention is worth a pound of cure, so it's crucial to establish proper systems for human resources as early as possible. Understanding what HR management does means understanding that in some way or another, every company is already managing their human resources, whether thoughtfully and conscientiously, or haphazardly and without organization. There is an upfront cost to getting above-board and legally compliant as well as developing functional systems for the future, but it's well worth the costs long- term to not only prevent your business from getting sued, but to ac- tually make your company run well and ensure a positive employee and manager experience that has the ability to scale. How Can Very Small Companies Meet Their HR Needs? Larger coffee companies are obviously the most well-equipped to meet their human-resource management needs, but there are options out there that can work for any size of business. Below are some lesser-known options that can work well even for coffee com- panies with only one or two cafés. "People think that bringing HR on will solve their problems, but truly, HR is also something that needs to be set up to help prevent problems from arising in the first place." - Liz Dean 90 barista magazine

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