Managing multiple business locations from an HR standpoint can be challenging if you do not know how to setup the right
infrastructure for your company. Depending on the business needs and the size of the locations, there may be a need for an HR structure at each site. If the locations are minimal with employees, there may only be a need for a single corporate HR Structure. This is especially true when the business is in retail and the retail locations have 10 or less employees. However, if the business crosses into multiple states and each location has 20+ employees, there may be a need for a small HR unit at each, or most, locations.
Structure – not every business culture calls for a formal structure. Whether you create a formal or informal struct
ure, make sure a structure is created. Ensure the reporting relationships are clearly outlined will reduce confusion and will increase efficiency.
Standardized Systems – ensure that standardized systems (i.e. email, network access, internal programs, employee phones, etc.) are in place and that all employees have access to and are trained on all systems. This will allow employees to seek assistance, when needed, from teammates. These systems will also allow the company to expand faster, reduce training times, and increase productivity.
Employee Handbook – all employees at all locations must have a copy of the employee handbook. If locations cross state lines, a need for a handbook specific to each state may be needed (depending on the laws in each of those states). The handbook should outline the company’s policies on hours of operation, options for flexible hours, and procedures to ask for flexible hours, if applicable. Outlining as many policies as possible in the handbook will create consistent procedures used across the entire company.
Goals, Milestones, Deadlines – clearly identify and communicate company, location, and departmental goals, milestones, and deadlines. Ensure all employees are aware of these items and are on board with the set dates and the work to be completed.
Meetings/Site Visits – regardless of whether a small on-site HR department has been put into each location, schedule regular meetings with the managers and supervisors for each site. Recommendations include conference calls, video conferences, and on-site visits. Many meetings/calls and site visits can and should be scheduled in advance; however, some should be ‘surprise’ visits. This keeps on-site employees from becoming too comfortable and slacking on their work ethic and/or dress code. Keeping employees on their toes increases productivity and helps ensure company standards are maintained.
Communication – communication is key in any business, and especially when a company has multiple locations or employees who work in the field vs. in an office. Constant open communication should be kept with all employees on a regular basis, and encouraging employees to share ideas, challenges, and wins will help draw the employees together to create a great team environment.
The type of business will largely determine the way HR and specific locations are structured. Keeping these six items in mind while developing your specific structure can assist you in creating a business that will work fluidly, will be easy to recreate and grow, and will thrive in each environment.
A few other items to consider include: different cultures, adopting and integrating new technology, global workforces, employee documentation, and individual and team rewards.