HOA board members wear a lot of hats, and for many jobs, this works well. However, there is one job in particular that your board should leave to a professional community management company
: Human Resources (HR).
“Managing the various tasks that it takes to staff your community requires specialized knowledge in both HR and community management,” says Kay Mabson, corporate recruiter for FirstService Residential in Nevada. “When your board isn’t well versed in HR law, you could put your HOA at risk.”
Mabson notes that these risks generally involve employee relations issues. “You might ask questions like ‘Do you have children?’ or ‘What nationality are you?’ simply because you want to get to know the applicant. What you may not realize is that it’s illegal to do so.”
Corporate recruiters who work for professional management companies know how to handle interview questions, as well as how to perform other HR functions. Some of their expertise includes:
- Meeting with board members and visiting communities so that all new hires are strategically and successfully placed
- Working closely with community managers to ensure their communities are sufficiently staffed
- Facilitating trainings on interviewing, hiring and using recruiting databases
- Carefully working with and transferring associates from acquired communities
As the hiring firm, the management company also holds all legal liability when it comes to staffing. This means that your board cannot take it upon itself to intervene directly with an employee on HR-related matters. “If one of your board members has an issue with an employee, it’s best to bring it to the attention of the community manager,” explains Mabson.
“There was a Nevada HOA board president who wanted to take corrective action with a staff member,” she recalls. “We had to prevent it because this was one of our associates. If the board president had handled it inappropriately, FirstService Residential would have been liable.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the board should have no say in who joins the staff. For example, Mabson says she usually holds a meet and greet between board members and potential associates so they can get to know each other and see if they mesh. “But board members don’t actually interview the candidates and it’s best to stay away from that verbiage. This is an employer’s role, and in this case the employer is FirstService Residential.”
Many community management companies don’t have corporate recruiters in house. And even those that do may only handle certain tasks like payroll and hiring, which leaves your HOA especially vulnerable. Not only does your HOA technically remain the staff’s employer in these situations, but it is also responsible if the management company mishandles an employee issue.
If you are considering hiring a management company to handle your HR tasks, you can avoid potential problems by asking the following questions:
- Does your company have a corporate recruiter?
- What specific HR responsibilities will your company handle?
- What kind of training will you provide to help our HOA board understand how HR responsibilities should be managed?
- Who will be the staff’s employer—you or the HOA?
- How do you vet potential employees?
- Will the HOA’s board of directors have a voice in the selection process?
- Who is the liaison between our board and the staff?
- Who will speak to employees about HR matters?
- How will you handle the transition of existing employees to your company? Do you provide any orientation? Is it held on-site? Can board members attend?
There are certainly other questions you will want to ask before hiring a community management company to handle your HR needs. For more information, contact FirstService Residential
, Nevada’s leader in community management services.
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