The human resources hat gets passed around a lot at remodeling companies. But as companies grow, an ad hoc approach becomes less tenable. Dedicating a staff position to the job is an option, but it's one that remodelers rarely consider until their employee roster tops three or four dozen.
Neil Peck recently hired a full-time human resources administrator at S.N. Peck Builders in Chicago to help manage a growth spurt that pushed the total staff at his company and his Case Handyman franchise to more than 50. Previously, Peck managed HR by committee: an office assistant handled insurance and payroll; Peck consulted his wife and production manager, respectively, in hiring office and field staff.
A full-time HR staffer “makes sense when you get up to about 40 or 50 employees,” Peck says, “but with fewer employees than that, if you have a good office staff, you can probably handle it.”
Todd Jackson considered a dedicated staff position for his San Diego company Jackson Design and Remodeling, but decided, even as his staff grew from three to 25 in just four years, that the nearly full-time HR need “wasn't full time enough to pay a $45,000 to $50,000 salary.” Instead, Jackson outsourced his human resources administration to Paychex, a national service provider, at the rate of $684 per employee annually.
Though only a few months in, so far Jackson is thrilled. Not only an administrative relief, Jackson says, Paychex also allows him to offer a broad and flexible benefits package that he could never provide independently. Flex spending accounts, child care, and online plan management are some of the employee-pleasing features that have helped boost company morale, Jackson says.
Paychex also offers extensive consulting at no extra charge. “They're helping us write a policy handbook and develop our human resources strategies,” Jackson says, support that his fast-growing company really needs. Little things like how best to consider and implement employee suggestions or how to teach his superintendents to effectively conduct performance reviews, Jackson says, would otherwise have been ignored.
“When you grow as fast as we did,” he adds, “you play catchup with HR. If we had that structure in place when we were smaller, the growth would have been easier to manage.”
David Zuckerman is a freelance writer based in New York.