As Human Resources inc. (HRi) celebrates its 25th anniversary, President Tim Schaffer reflected on how his field has changed during those decades.

“Human resources used to be very structured,” he said. “Today, you help people with so many different personalities, and you help so many kinds of people that almost every situation is unique. At one time, you handled groups of people, not individuals. Today, you can put 10 people at a table and ask them to write their definition of human resources in the workplace and not a single answer will match any other.”

What has kept HRi not only alive but also thriving is its ability to adapt its practice to the ever-changing needs in the workplace, he added.

The image of the human resources department as “personnel” thankfully no longer holds true, “and it’s not just the image of human resources that has changed,” he said. “It’s the practice. The bottom line is that you are making sure people are happy at work and that they stay there.”

Today’s workforce has at least four generations, and a few employers have staff with ages spanning five generations.

The largest part of HRi’s business comes from human resource consulting. “We serve the small- and medium-size business market,” said Schaffer.

When tackling a complex human resources problem, HRi may gather a number of subject matter experts around the table to draw on many opinions for the solution. “One person isn’t equipped to know all the answers or the complexity of the problem,” he said. “That’s what we bring: a lot of expertise and business experience.”

Among the issues HRi handles are recruiting, hiring, compensation, employee benefits, payroll, performance management, workplace liability management, safety and workers’ compensation, employment compliance, record-keeping and separation.

The Value of Face-to-Face

Located in Crofton, HRi also has an online presence. Its web site features a blog that discusses issues such as why employers should treat job candidates as customers, finding the perfect summer company dress code, and building a strong company culture. Site visitors can read this information free of charge.

It’s the more complex challenges that draw people in for face-to-face conversations, Schaffer said. “There are lot of things in the human resource arena that can’t be related to a web site,” he said. “Almost by definition, human resources is a hands-on business. You have to be able to gauge someone’s expression and their tone. You have to be able to ask more questions.”

During an exit interview, for example, an in-person discussion will garner a lot more information than a computerized form, he pointed out.

Connecting to the Corridor

Rachael Osberger, marketing and communications manager, has been working for HRi for three years. When she was first hired, she noticed HRi was a member of many different groups. “I spent the first couple of months going to just about everything,” she said, “and a BWCC [Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber] meeting was among the events.”

HRi has maintained its BWCC membership because the Chamber connects the company with an entire region, not just a city or county. “I noticed that BWCC had events that pulled people in from the whole Baltimore-Washington Corridor,” said Osberger.

HRi belongs to the BWCC’s Talent Seekers Committee, which meets regularly to discuss best hiring practices, share résumés and learn about the resources within the group and the region. The group invites guest speakers as well, and HRi was invited by the Chamber to conduct a presentation on the Affordable Care Act.

HRi Celebrates 25 Years

HRi officially celebrated its 25th anniversary in April with an open house. Schaffer and Jack Mayhew, HRi’s now-retired chairman, founded the company after recognizing a void for strategic outsourced human resources in the marketplace.

“We started out subletting office space in Annapolis with a folding table, two folding chairs, a fax machine, a trash can and a borrowed phone,” Schaffer recalled. “We spent the first five years knocking on doors and wondering how to pay the electricity bill.”

Twenty-five years later, HRi has more than 160 client companies and 3,000 worksite employees in 28 states.

Schaffer said his favorite part of the job is the time he gets to spend with clients. “It lets me see things through their lens,” he said. “With their vision in mind, I get to create a puzzle that I bring to the subject matter experts here at HRi. We all solve the puzzle by creating and implementing solutions that make our clients better.”