Operating a small business and supporting a human resources department is challenging. If your staff resources are limited -- as they are at many small businesses -- you'll need to decide how your in-house HR department can best serve your organization. In addition to hiring an HR generalist, ensure that your approach to workforce management and the HR staff person's management style are closely aligned. Also, assess whether your company's HR approach is negative or positive and how that influences your employee base.

Employee Self-Service

Many employers rely on an intranet-supported employee self-service function for providing workers with information about their employment status, salary and benefits, vacation bank and health insurance enrollment. For small businesses, this might be perceived as a negative approach to handling standard employee questions. Determine whether a small organization really needs a high-tech method for providing information that employees want to learn in a face-to-face consultation with an HR staff person. This might be viewed negatively by employees who believe the technology solution for managing employee questions is too impersonal, particularly in a small business.

Employee Relations

Developing an employee relations program is a positive step to building a productive workforce. Employee relations is the HR area responsible for strengthening the employer-employee relationship. It addresses workplace conflict, identifies employee issues and empowers supervisors and managers to resolve departmental matters as quickly as possible to avoid loss in productivity and disruption to departmental functions. Employers derive significant benefit from an employee relations program. Such programs aren't costly, and they benefit small businesses, in particular, because they mitigate the organization's risk of liability for workplace complaints, including allegations of unfair employment practices.

Labor Relations

Labor relations is similar to employee relations -- they have a shared goal of strengthening the employer-employee relationships. However, labor relations also is focused on interactions with the labor union that represents employees. Refusing to bargain in good faith is one of the most negative approaches that HR can take in a union work environment. It doesn't serve the organization well, nor does it bode well for future relationships with the labor union. The National Labor Relations Act requires that labor unions and employers engage in fruitful negotiations to reach a collective bargaining agreement that serves all parties.

Compensation and Benefits

The compensation and benefits structure is an essential component of any employer-employee relationship, but by no means the most important. However, employers that pay their employees competitive wages and provide comprehensive benefits are likely to win approval from employees for managing tangible rewards with their needs in mind. Paying fair wages and offering benefits is a positive HR approach to ensure employees' health and financial well-being.

Job Satisfaction

Employees are more likely to resign from their jobs when they're dissatisfied with leadership or if the job they were hired to do is vastly different from what they agreed to during their interviews, according to Leigh Branham in his book titled, "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late." Branham studied more than 19,000 exit interviews compiled by the Saratoga Institute from 1999 to 2003 to determine the primary reasons employees quit their jobs. Ignoring the importance of employee job satisfaction is likely the most negative approach that HR can take, especially when the employer's productivity and profitability depends on a fully engaged workforce.