The Plight of the Sole HR Practitioner

I have found a new respect for sole HR practitioners. I myself have never been a sole practitioner and have always worked for larger companies who had HR staff anywhere from 15-50 people. Until my latest client assignment. I mentioned back in November that I had stepped in to fill a gap for a wonderful client who was losing their HR Director. This client is a 90 person sales/service organization located outside of Chicago. This role is that of a sole practitioner who does have a receptionist reporting to them, but ultimately all of the HR “stuff” falls to this person.

And. It. Is. Exhausting.

By exhausting I don’t mean hard or insanely busy (although it can be both), I just mean exhausting. You are it. You must do it all. The HR stuff you love. The HR stuff you hate. The HR stuff no one in their right mind likes doing (open enrollment anyone:)). All of it. Alone.

What’s more, you have little to no support or mentorship when you need it. I was blessed to grow up in larger organizations where I had amazing HR mentors who taught me how to handle nearly everything. That big business experience also exposed me to more. I am currently blessed to have a huge network of HR professionals all across the globe who would answer my call or email in a second to help me if I needed it. Many sole practitioners do not have that. And that sucks!

To me, the plight of the sole practitioner is the fact that they live and work in a bubble. The bubble of their work environment and unless they specifically reach out for development or help, that is where they stay. The ones who do reach out may attend SHRM chapter meetings or even conferences, but guess what. Most of the content is designed around larger HR organizations. As individuals have called to pitch their content for ILSHRM this year, I’ve asked each of them how what they have to say can apply to a sole practitioner – and I’ve stumped a few. Most of us think in terms of large HR organizations and forget that a good majority of HR people are considered sole practitioners.

So that’s a little something I’m thinking about and working on in 2013. How can I help the sole practitioner. I know there are tons around my community. The incoming ILSHRM Director has asked each of us board members to think about how we can better serve our chapters and community and I think this is my way. I’d like to spotlight the sole practitioner and figure out ways to make what they do easier and more enjoyable from a development standpoint so they can experience the same level of learning and growth we all do.

Whatcha say about that?


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