The following are ten of the main steps I would address in a start-up situation:-


From my experience, this is the single most important step in ensuring the success of any company and in particular any multinational company. The right choice in this critical position will greatly increase the chances of the company being a success.

My next point should help an employer to achieve this key objective.

2. Recruitment Partner

I would recommend selecting a suitable recruitment partner as one of the first steps as a start-up company even if many of the categories of staff you are seeking to attract are freely available. This advice would apply even if a new company is not due to have a large presence in Ireland.

A suitable recruitment partner will be of great assistance not just in the short term recruitment phase but in providing a start-up with a total HR solution. Potential partners should show an interest in learning about the culture and values of an organisation so that they not only know the skill sets a start-up company is looking for but they understand and buy into the ethos of the company and how it differentiates itself from its competitors from an organizational culture perspective.

Increasingly the better recruitment companies are now broadening their product offerings so that they can provide a total HR solution to their clients which includes providing expertise directly or through partnership referrals in the areas of psychometric testing, training and development, coaching and mentoring, compensation and benefits, HR consultancy, organisation development, performance management systems, etc. Essentially an effective recruitment partner will be an extension of the HR department and will be highly motivated to develop a long term partnership relationship with the new company.

More and more recruitment companies now have an RPO offering (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) and this can be a vital service to enable companies to readily increase/reduce the number of headcount on-site based on market demand. This is a growth area in the current employment market and one that Collins McNicholas is increasingly being asked to provide.

One final point on recruitment companies – if an employer believes they need more than one recruitment partner I would suggest that they at least restrict the number of partners to a maximum of three recruitment agencies. This is a classic case where ‘Less is More’ and the increasing realisation of this by employers has resulted in smaller PSL’s (Preferred Supplier Relationships) with the employer working hard to develop close partnership relationships with the limited number of recruitment agencies on the PSL. From an agency perspective as an owner of a recruitment business, I want my staff to focus on working on assignments where they can provide quality service and be rewarded for so doing.

3. HR Director

If the company is projected to employ more than 100 – 150 people I would recommend recruiting an HR professional as soon as possible. The level of the position could vary from an HR Officer in a medium-sized company to an HR Manager or HR Director in a larger company. Getting a suitable HR professional at an early stage will assist the MD in ensuring that the correct values and organisational culture are evident in the company from day one. A good HR practitioner will also want to enter into a relationship with a quality recruitment partner who will assist HR to represent the company as professionally as possible to prospective employees.

4. Remuneration

It is vitally important that a new company position its salaries, wages and benefits at a level that will attract the candidates it has to recruit but be no higher than they need to be. This may mean formulating a Compensation and Benefits Policy that is tailor-made to reflect the supply and demand for the categories you are looking for.  Accessing relevant salary survey information may assist you in this regard but a good recruitment partner with expertise in HR could obviate the need for conducting your own salary surveys. Collins McNicholas has helped many companies to adopt different comp and ben policies for different categories of staff depending on market demand.

5. Trade Union Membership

Most multinationals locating in Ireland do not wish to have trade union representation and many of them recruit HR managers who have it as a key objective of their role to anticipate the needs of employees and make them feel that they don’t need a trade union to represent them.  This explains the steadily reducing level of trade union membership in private sector companies in Ireland over the past twenty years – this is particularly true in the multinational sector.

I do not think that a well-managed start-up company in 2013 requires trade union representation even if it is encouraging to see than relationships with trade unions in private sector companies have improved dramatically over the past twenty years.

In addition, many employees no longer wish to be represented by a trade union and prefer to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment.

6. Company Size

While there are obvious economies of scale in having a large facility employing several thousand people on a single campus from an HR point of view I prefer companies to have a maximum of 400 employees on a single site. My reason for this is that up to that number I think it is possible to know everyone on the site by name. This is important in establishing and maintaining excellent employee relations on site. Many companies have policies regarding plant size and I agree with these even if I do appreciate it may not make good financial sense. Companies with more than 400 people on site have to have very well staffed HR departments and excellent communications policies.

7. Relationship with the Local Community

I think it is essential for a start-up company to become integrated in the local community once the decision is made to establish a facility in Ireland. One very cheap but very economical way of doing this is by providing sponsorship to local charities, community groups and sporting organisations. Such sponsorship is invariably inexpensive but provides excellent PR for the company and can generate great pride and goodwill among employees of the company and in the local community.

8. Style of Management

This usually follows from recruiting a good MD and a good HR professional but it is worth stressing because some companies still are very guarded in the kind of information they allow access to – this is particularly the case in terms of financial information. If a company comes on hard times as many have over the past few years the openness of management style can be the deciding factor in persuading employees to adopt the operational and financial changes needed to ensure company survival.

9. Communications

As per the previous point, it is important to establish openness and trust in any company as these are prerequisites for a company to survive and prosper especially in the current economic climate.

10. Company Values

Many companies spend a lot of time developing a statement of company values. In many companies, these values end up being merely aspirational and do not survive especially in tough times. If companies don’t ‘walk the talk’ in relation to company values employees will see through this and will not believe the company is genuine in promoting these values.

There are many other steps a company will have to take to ensure a successful start-up but I would suggest a company implementing these ten steps will be off to a good start.

Colman Collins

Founder & Management Consultant

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group