Britt Miller

Britt Miller

  • Wonolo

What does “human resources” (HR) mean to you?

  • At an entry-level job, HR can be a helping hand in preparing you for your first professional experience – giving you some clues to the company culture, the do’s and the don’ts.
  • As a founder of a startup, the HR department (or more likely the office manager turned recruiter) can be your only conduit to the pool of talent you need to grow your team.
  • To the operations team of a large distributor (say Target or Amazon), human resources might as well be a whole separate company, operating as a well-oiled machine to constantly fill and monitor tens of thousands of positions a day.

You probably have your own defining experience with HR, but at the end of the day, HR plays a multitude of roles at companies of all sizes, and no team is the same.

As part of a company redefining how HR and staffing works, I wanted to nail down what exactly HR was all about. After researching new developments and classic theories online, I came up with a mixed bag of answers.

Toby_3.jpegHowever, what we do know, is that the typical stereotype of a stuffy suit cracking down on lewd behavior (think Toby from The Office) is no longer an adequate portrait of an industry that is adapting to new changes in the economy and the workforce. HR departments across the U.S. are being empowered by technology and forward thinking, and are better equipped than ever to have a positive impact on the growth and stability of their companies.

I had the pleasure of working with the HR manager for a large hospitality brand in a major U.S. city as part of its on-demand staffing partnership with Wonolo in 2016. We spoke about how Wonolo fit into their plan to align their brand and company culture with an evolving workforce. First, they were excited to take advantage of our vetted and pre-screened Wonoloers that could start working at a moment’s notice. Their primary focus is to make sure that all of their internal departments – from room service runners to kitchen aides to event staff – have the resources to succeed on a daily basis. With national conferences, wedding parties, and city-wide events happening each week, their supply of part-time employees needed to change fluidly with their demand. Wonolo helps them do that with ease, and I saw firsthand how seamlessly Wonoloers fit in with their full-time employees.

Secondly, the company had broader goals to unify their employee experience with their customer experience. On top of managing a workforce, enforcing company policies, and making sure the extensive operation ran smoothly each day (sometimes working well into the night), the company’s HR managers made sure the company vision was embraced during every decision and partnership. Wonolo was not only a way for them to solve staffing issues that have been plaguing businesses for decades, but it was also a means to prove to a customer base that’s consisting more and more of younger, tech-savvy consumers that this brand is dedicated to embracing their culture.

Then it struck me. HR isn’t simply a recruiter, or a judge, or a counselor. HR is the glue that binds all facets of a company together – the face of company culture to employees and (by extension in this ever-connected world) to customers. So what makes a successful HR team in the 21st century? I would argue that willingness to adopt technology that brings people closer together is of the utmost importance. Companies can no longer survive with unwieldy bureaucratic branches. Lean and agile is the name of the game, and this hospitality leader is ahead of the pack with its implementation of Wonolo as its partner for recruiting and managing its frontline workforce.

Even Silicon Valley is hearing the call to action for HR to play a bigger role in the company operations. In a paper published by the California Management Review,* James Baron and Michael Hannan uncovered that startups with substantial personnel departments are 40% more likely to go public. The problem is that CEOs constantly have to weigh the cost of time and money it takes to build a strong HR department against the sometimes intangible benefits it brings. With a solution like Wonolo, HR no longer has to be a cash-sucking, bureaucratic beast. Instead, leverage technology to make workforce management a breeze, then focus your efforts on bringing your company together and establishing partnerships that advance your mission.