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Why Every Small Business Needs an HR Program, Not an HR Department – An Interview with Jack Hayhow

May 5th, 2010 ::

I met Jack Hayhow from Opus Communications at SOBCon in Chicago last year. Opus creates custom online training with large corporations for whatever issue they might have (business processes, risk management, human resources). Jack is also a long time Network Solutions customer. He is a gregarious and knowledgeable guy who after spending 10 minutes talking with him realized we had much in common. He had just put out this book called “Wisdom of the Flying Pig”. It is a great title and wanted to read it but he didn’t have any copies so he asked for my card and promised to send a copy. As most conferences go, you hope to stay in touch with usually you never talk to them again. Low and behold about a month later I received this package and in it was a copy of the book and a box with a battery operated, you guessed it, a flying pig. This became quite the popular toy in my office and left an indelible impression so I would never forget Jack. So a year goes by and he emails me about a new business that he has spun out from Opus called ReallyEasyHR. Of course, I wanted to know more. Recently I was able to sit down with him, catch up on things and talk about this new business, ReallyEasyHR. This is a transcript of the interview:

Steve: Jack, you mentioned that the motivation to build this started about 5 years ago based on the need to do HR compliance for your own small business. You decided to build your own so, why were other solutions not a fit?

Jack: To answer that, I need to give you a little background.  Our business had grown quickly from three to nine employees.  I suspected there were some HR issues I needed to tend to, but I had no idea exactly what they were.  I looked, but I could find nothing that told me in definitive terms what I needed to do to keep myself out of trouble.

So I hired an HR consultant and worked with our lawyers and we put together a very good program – but it cost close to $10,000.  When I saw what I got for that $10,000, I thought  -  “there HAS to be a better way”.

Lawyers are good for dealing with problems but they cost a lot.  HR consultants want to make a huge deal out of HR stuff.  Small business owners like me want to comply with the law in quickest, easiest, cheapest way possible.  We’re not interested in becoming HR professionals – we’ve got businesses to run.

So we developed ReallyEasyHR.  ReallyEasyHR provides a complete small company HR program for just $30 per month.  It gives small business owners a way to deal effectively with HR compliance and get back to their business.  We built it because we couldn’t find an existing option that was anywhere near cost effective.

Steve: From your experiences you first wrote HR Basics to help other small business avoid the landmines you experienced. What is the core of this white paper?

Jack: HR Basics tells small business owners what they need to do right now, what can wait until later and what they can forget about completely.  If I would have had this information a few years ago, I would have saved myself a bunch of money.

Fundamentally, HR Basics details the three things a small business needs to do to comply with HR laws and regulations.  If a small business does these three things, it’s tough to get in too much trouble.

Steve: After living with this application and evolving it to a mature solution that others could use, you decided to open ReallyEasyHR into the wild. What was the catalyst to spin this off from Opus and start and entirely new business?

Jack: The business model for ReallyEasyHR is substantially different from Opus.  It just seemed to make more sense to operate it as a separate entity.

Steve: ReallyEasyHR is sold as software as a service (SaaS) and includes many things around compliance and HR management. What are its core functions and more importantly, what does it not do? What are the real differentiators in this solution that small business should note?

Jack: That’s a great question.  The core of any effective HR program is the employee handbook.  ReallyEasyHR provides an Instant Online Handbook.  The business owner answers 12 questions and ReallyEasyHR generates a customized online employee handbook with the policies most small businesses need.  It takes less than five minutes.

Most importantly, after an employee reads the handbook, the employee acknowledges receipt and acceptance of everything in the handbook by digitally signing.  A record of that acceptance is stored in the system.

ReallyEasyHR also provides high-quality, video based training on a variety of essential topics.  Sexual Harassment Prevention, Time Management and Management Skills to name a few.  Every course has a test and test records are stored in the system for reporting purposes.

Finally, ReallyEasyHR also accommodates any proprietary documents, notifications or training a business might have – all of it goes right into ReallyEasyHR making it really easy to administer.

I guess the other differentiator is the price.  For $30 per month it’s almost impossible to go wrong.

Steve: Many small businesses get pitched with all types and sizes of products these days, what have you learned from marketing and selling a product (ReallyEasyHR) to marketing and selling a service (Opus)?

Jack: I wish I had a magic bullet or a secret sauce but I don’t.  I think it always comes down to understanding what the target audience needs and addressing that need in a far superior manner.  HR is a distraction and a pain in the butt for most small business owners.  We alleviate that pain quickly and cheaply.

Steve: I usually close my interviews with a “five things” question. In this case I would like to have you talk about five HR mistakes that could kill a small business.

Jack: HR is about two things:  Compliance and performance.

Let’s start with compliance.  Every business needs an employee handbook that lays out the rules and regulations.  If you don’t have that, you run the risk of having all kinds of problems.  So if you don’t do anything else, put together an employee handbook.  Take a look at our HR Basics document to get a sense of the policies you need.

Every company needs to maintain certain employee files.  Again, refer to our HR Basics for details.  But make absolutely certain your I-9 file is in proper order.

And every company is required to post certain state and federal information.  I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but it’s all covered in HR Basics.

Now, to performance.  I think the short version is performance is about selecting the right people and providing what they need to excel.

I believe you can’t stack enough good people up to make a great one, so selection is critical.  And finally, great people need great managers.  In my opinion, companies languish or fail far too often because they lack great managers.

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The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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