Human resources is a hot topic in the booming Grand Rapids economy. With new companies opening their doors every day and the region's biggest employers on growth trajectories, the demand for HR that can address talent acquisition, development, and retention as well as deal with the administrative and strategic tasks associated with rapid growth has never been higher.
There are many misconceptions about the role of human resources in a company's structure -- from those that think HR is unnecessary for a small business to those that see the HR role as one that is highly limited and largely disciplinary.
The truth is that HR can function in many different ways. Every company in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area can leverage human resources to optimize their business strategy and to grow faster, if they know where to start.
In 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan had the fastest growing economy in the U.S., according to HeadlightData.com. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as their own data mining, HeadlightData.com found that employment in Grand Rapids grew 4.4% between 2015 and 2016, placing it atop the list of large metro areas, beating out Orlando, Nashville, Charlotte, and Salt Lake City for the top spot.
What's contributing to this explosion in growth for Grand Rapids and West Michigan as a whole? West Michigan, a region that includes over 1.5 million people and encompasses Grand Rapids, Holland, and Muskegon provides fertile ground for business and innovation. The labor force in West Michigan includes more than 800,000 people, nearly 300,000 of whom are between the ages of 20 and 39 -- prime for taking a risk on a startup, building their own company, or joining an established team with fresh ideas and a penchant for loyalty.
And companies needn't only rely on the workforce that already lives in the region. Grand Rapids is attracting fresh talent all on its own after earning the distinction of the #19 Best City in the U.S. from USNews.com and the #2 place in the U.S. to be a millennial from Trulia.com, in addition to having a healthy housing market, according to SmartAsset.com. Young people who are attracted to the idea of home ownership along with the rich cultural tapestry of Grand Rapids are coming to the city from across the midwest and the country.
Because of this robust workforce as well as other factors, Grand Rapids was named to the list of best cities to start a small business by WalletHub in 2017. While no single ranking can represent the complexities of a city or metro region, by comparing access to business resources, business costs, and the overall business environment, WalletHub determined that Grand Rapids is the 5th best large city in the entire U.S. to start a business.
Human resources management, which is at times referred to as "Human Resources" or simply "HR," is the department or individual that focuses its attention on a company's most valuable asset: its people.
A robust HR function will oversee and execute these key responsibilities, to name a few:
In addition, an HR department is typically responsible for developing policies that affect employees of an organization, including their relationship to the company. Historically, HR was thought of as the administrative record keeper, but in recent years has positioned itself as a key player in leading organizations to achieve its strategic goals through finding, developing, and retaining great people and employing great people practices.
While many companies have human resources departments, not all human resource professionals have the strategic knowledge necessary to take their contributions to the next level. While basic HR functions, such as resolving employee conflicts and administering benefits are largely reactive, strategic HR management means being proactive about the needs of a company. Rather than waiting until they are called upon, a strategic human resources expert anticipates stumbling blocks and helps the organization to prepare for them so that they can be overcome with as little friction as possible.
The growth in the local economy means that human resources in Grand Rapids is in higher demand than ever. An influx of people to the region means both a wave of potential customers as well as a talent pool that is getting deeper and deeper. A strategic human resource consultant can help to keep a growing organization ahead of curve in a few critical ways.
Company growth can come in unexpected spurts. When you close one big sale, all of a sudden you feel like you need to bring on a whole new team. However, a bad hire on a growing team can grind that growth to a halt and cause issues that reverberate throughout your organization. Strategic human resources management can help you to assess your current team and find the gaps where new hires will help the most, then help you to find the right people to fill those gaps.
A strategic human resources professional is familiar with the compensation packages offered within your organization, but also has the network necessary to collect details about compensation at similar companies in Grand Rapids and across the country. Attracting top talent is one of the best ways to ensure your growth trajectory, and a good human resources professional will be able to ensure your offers align with what is expected in your industry as well as recommend creative compensation and benefits that can help to differentiate you from the competition.
The role of the human resources department -- whether internal or at a collaborating organization -- does not end when a new employee accepts the new job. A strategic human resource plan must include direction for employee onboarding, training, and ongoing development. An ongoing investment in employee training not only leaves you with a more effective
Nothing can derail a company's growth pattern faster than a lawsuit that could have been avoided. Grand Rapids human resources management experts know the laws that are pertinent to your industry and can ensure that your policies are in line with those laws. Should any issues arise with employees, the right human resources management resource can help you navigate the waters to reduce risk to the organization.
As a West Michigan employer, you know that the competition for top talent can be fierce. Taking a strategic human resources approach will help your organization to develop an employer culture and brand that is attractive to the kinds of dedicated employees that you want, which will streamline your hiring process and give you an edge over other competing companies.
Companies that are just beginning to experience major growth may not have the resources or the inclination to build out an internal human resources department. While it would be a mistake to overlook HR altogether, it is possible to leverage HR expertise without hiring internally. A strategic human resources partnership can be an excellent solution for small to medium-sized business in Grand Rapids who need the support and expertise that a team of HR professionals can provide.
It can be tempting to work with an HR professional that has little experience if your main concern is cost. However, an inexperienced partner can end up costing you a lot more when you have to hire someone else to correct their mistakes. Look for a strategic human resources firm that has experience and references from other local companies, specifically accomplishing what you want to do -- whether that's improving your onboarding process, strategic talent acquisition, or employer branding.
Your human resources management partner does not necessarily have to work only within the specific niche of your industry to advise you on best practices. However, industry experience will be quite valuable in talent acquisition, since your partner will have the network and foundational knowledge to spearhead an effective talent search or lead an initiative. Your
Despite the global reach of so many companies today, it can be a tremendous advantage to work with an HR partner that is local to your area. Grand Rapids human resources professionals are better able to attend meetings, offer training, and interact with your staff one to one, all of which can be valuable in your strategic partnership. Perhaps more importantly, a local professional is better equipped to help with strategic hiring and building compensation packages since they know the trends in your area.