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Many companies have at least one staff member who oversees human resources matters, whether it's an office manager, payroll clerk, accountant or an outsourced HR service provider. Managers' duties and autonomy may depend on the size of the organization or its structure. Some businesses operate strictly under the control of the company's owner, while other business owners delegate authority to managers they're confident are aware of employment practices and laws.
Companies that don't have a dedicated HR department rely on supervisors and managers to handle multiple responsibilities related to hiring and firing decisions. Without an HR department to facilitate recruitment, selection and termination, managers do it all: They review and screen applications, interview candidates, introduce and train new workers, assess job performance, reprimand and commend employees and terminate employees based on matters such as poor performance, policy violation or lack of work.
An important stage in the recruitment process is sourcing candidates, which means finding applicants to meet the job requirements. Department managers don't always have the time or expertise to devote to proven, effective sourcing techniques. So, they resort to just posting job advertisements on websites, in newspapers or in storefront windows, for very small businesses with informal hiring practices. Word-of-mouth advertising also is another way line managers source candidates, as well as recruiting through current employees.
Managers who aren't trained to interview candidates typically ask basic questions of everyone who applies for a job -- questions about education, work history, salary requirements and why the candidate wants to work for the company. When the company has a recruiter on staff, she usually can assist the manager in forming questions that elicit information about how well the candidate could perform the job duties, instead of simply asking if the candidate can do the job. Many successful, forward-thinking companies empower line managers by training them on proper interviewing styles and techniques to identify viable candidates, according to "Philippine Daily Inquirier" contributors E.J. Tolentino and Mandi Angeles, in their November 2012 article titled, "Building Partnerships Between HR, Line Managers."
Provided workplace policies are in place and employees are aware of them, it's not difficult to handle terminations based on policy violations. The manager checks the employee's personnel file to ensure that she signed a form acknowledging receipt and understanding of the company policy or there are other records that indicate the employee's understanding of a policy, such as a staff meeting or training records. On the other hand, managers who terminate employees based on poor performance must be especially careful to ensure they have documentation that supports the decision to fire someone.
Once an employee is fired, post-termination steps might include notifying the former employee of her rights under COBRA to continue health insurance insurance coverage, communicating with former employees about final paychecks and transferring retirement funds or something as routine as recovering company equipment, such as laptops and cell phones. Also, closing personnel files and federal record-keeping processes for terminated employees are duties that a manager handles if the company doesn't have in-house HR department.
HR vs. Outsourcing
Complex hiring and firing situations are reasons to hire an HR staffer to handle everything but the final hiring decision for managers. Managers may be more focused on business development in their own departments than mitigating the company's overall risk of liability for poor hiring decisions. An in-house HR staffer, an outsourced HR provider or access to legal counsel can be particularly useful, according to Minneapolis-based HR consultant Arlene Vernon, especially for small businesses if that family like work environment turns sour when someone has to be terminated.
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