Michael Dubakov
Michael Dubakov
Fibery founder
Essays

How to run a company without HR department?

If you ask me, I don’t know why companies are so glad to have an HR department. What exactly do these shiny happy HR professionals contribute? What’s their working day like? I have no idea.

I do know why I need recruiters, though. Looking for the right “human resource,” setting up the meetings—this all takes a lot of time and effort. Having several people recruiting full-time makes perfect sense, especially if a company grows very actively. Now, let me say something controversial. You can as well spread the remaining HR tasks among other employees. The HR department itself can then be successfully eliminated as unnecessary, forever.

Who would do the interviews if there are no HR professionals? I believe developers (best ones) should interview developers. It’s the developers who need to find out what it’s like to work with this potential new employee. An HR manager just can’t find it out for them. That’s why we all make fun of the strange, quirky questions developers hear during interviews: How do you see yourself in five years? What are your weaknesses? Are you even a team player?

An HR person isn’t a developer, and so they can’t know all the profession’s ins and outs. Consequently, drawing informed conclusions about a candidate before hiring them is impossible, no matter how well HR personnel is trained. Most psychological tricks are quite apparent, and that’s why developers give clumsy answers like “Well, in the next five years, I want to program even better,” or “Sure thing I’m a team player! Swimming and running are my hobbies.” Without HR staff, new employees are interviewed just as well. We all make mistakes, so not every hire will contribute to the company’s success—that’s a fact. But the presence of an HR person doesn’t necessarily eliminate these mistakes.

I’ve heard, in some cases, HR staff helps to evaluate employees. In evaluations, we want to find out whether an employee works well, if they fit well into the team, and if the employee engagement is good enough. But isn’t it easier to just ask the team? Do you know who can evaluate a developer best of all? Yep, another developer. The designer’s work should be evaluated by—wait for it—another designer! I frankly can’t see how that is one of the HR tasks! The simple mechanism of peer review gives loads of information. Having that info and having talked to an employee in question, their manager should be able to evaluate their contribution to the company and change the payroll accordingly.

Are there more HR tasks? Sometimes HR teams develop employee benefits programs or help shape company policy. However, in my opinion (and experience), all these “HR duties” can be very well carried out directly by the company’s top management with a bit of help from administrative staff such as office managers. That’s a question of meeting every two-three months to discuss the ideas gathered from the employees.

Last but not least, normally, the HR department is responsible for all kinds of social events, necessary for employee satisfaction. Secret Santas, Halloween’s sabbaths, New Year’s nights out, et cetera. If you ask me, organizing these is much more fun when everyone is involved. When employees make their own decisions and arrange things themselves, it also allows people from different teams to work together and bond naturally. Solid profit.

Long story short, I can’t see why a company without an HR department couldn’t work as efficiently as one with a top-heavy HR team. The HR Business Partner title is a mind-breaker I couldn’t solve, however hard I try. 🤯