Tech startups are synonymous with problem-solving, growth, and the relentless pursuit of turning visions into reality. However, the success of these ventures isn’t solely dependent on technology or market reach—it’s also about the people driving these innovations. As Richard Branson wisely put it, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business.” This principle is especially true for startups, where each team member’s contribution is pivotal. Yet, HR management and the hiring process often become afterthoughts, risking the startup’s potential to scale and succeed as it could. As an agency that works solely with startups and scaleups we understand why this happens but whilst you don’t need an entire HR department when you begin, having at least one person who has expertise in this area, can really make your life a lot easier and save you money (and your sanity) in the long-term.

Core HR Practices for Startups to Consider

1. Start with One Person: It will depend a lot on financial constraints and growth rate, but starting your HR team can begin with one person.  If they have the right experience and expertise it might be all you need for a good few years so it’s worth finding the right person.  There are many consultants you can contract to be your HR function too.

2. Legal Compliance: Startups must navigate the complexities of employment law to ensure they’re not only fair employers but also protected against potential legal issues. Understanding and adhering to legal requirements from the start is essential for smooth operations. It can be a bit of a minefield to read through all that is needed; registering as an employer, setting up payroll, checking responsibility for workplace pensions, Employer’s Liability insurance, understanding National Minimum Wage / Living Wage, drawing up employment contracts etc.

This guide may help UK companies: 

3. Set Up Payroll: Implementing a payroll system, possibly through software that automates the process and creates a digital audit trail, is essential as soon as you start hiring. This system should integrate HR management features to streamline workforce scaling.

4. Forecast Staffing Needs: Create a hiring forecast that aligns with your company’s strategic goals and fundraising plans. This forecast should include roles you plan to hire for, when, and the projected salary, helping you manage recruitment and compensation efficiently.

5. Create a Recruitment Handbook: A well-defined hiring process enhances the candidate experience and makes talent acquisition scalable. Include guidelines for

  • advertising job openings: where to post, which recruiters to  use, job application templates, salary guidelines, company info, culture and perks
  • recruitment roles: who screens applicants, who communicates with them, and who has the final decision-making power on hiring decisions
  • interview protocols: interview length and format, who interviews, what do they ask/what do they look for
  • culture fit assessment: what to look for on CV (keywords) and what questions to ask during interview to assess compatibility with workplace culture

6. Onboarding and Training: An effective onboarding program is vital for new hires to feel welcomed and quickly become productive members of the team. Include office tours (or virtual meetups for remote teams), access to necessary tools, and clear expectations for the first 90 days. An employee handbook should communicate the company’s vision, core values, benefits, and feedback mechanisms. It should also be made clear to new employees how they can get access to training to help them achieve all that is expected of them in their current role and for career progression.

7. Performance Management: Transparent and motivational performance management systems help align individual goals with the startup’s objectives. Regular feedback and clear communication about performance expectations foster a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

8. Establish Company Culture: The ethos of a startup significantly influences its appeal to potential hires and its overall productivity. A culture that champions innovation, inclusivity, and teamwork not only attracts top talent but also nurtures it.

How Recruitment Agencies Help

Partnering with a recruitment agency, can offer startups a significant advantage in establishing and maintaining effective HR practices.

Expertise in Talent Sourcing: Recruitment agencies bring a wealth of experience and networks to the table, helping startups find candidates who are the perfect fit for both the role and the company culture.

Cost-Effectiveness: By streamlining the recruitment process, agencies save startups time and money—resources that are better invested elsewhere in the business.

Industry Insights: Agencies provide valuable market intelligence, from salary benchmarks to emerging hiring trends, enabling startups to make informed decisions.

Scalability: As startups grow, their HR needs evolve. A recruitment agency can scale its support to meet these changing demands, offering everything from temporary staffing solutions to executive searches.


HR practices are not just administrative duties; they are strategic imperatives that lay the groundwork for long-term success.

Propeller-Tech stands ready to support startups in this journey, offering recruitment solutions and advice to start your HR processes that align with your unique needs and aspirations.

We invite you to reach out and explore how we can help you build a thriving, resilient, and engaged team that will propel your startup to new heights.

Natalie Harper

Author Natalie Harper

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