Biggest Human Resources Challenges Faced by Startups in Europe

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to get your human resources department in order while you’re launching a start-up in Europe, you are far from alone. We know, because we have been helping our clients through many of the same common issues and challenges for over two decades.

Europe HR Solutions has more than 20 years of experience helping companies get started with human resources. We are consultants for startups in Europe who understand the challenges you are facing if you’re trying to start a new company or are branching out into the EU.

We provide the HR support you’ll need to make your venture a success, no matter which European nations you are operating in. If you own or operate a startup, we can provide you with the level of service and support you need to get off the ground, whether you simply don’t have time to handle payroll or you need your HR department built from the ground up. Dealing with the European expansion and reorganization of HR start-up policies and procedures can be stressful.

A woman looking overwhelmed with all the business requirements needed to be done in her start up business

10 Biggest HR Challenges for European Startups (And Solutions)

1. A lack of streamlined processes

A lack of streamlined processes can lead to disorganization, miscommunications, and missed opportunities – especially as you expand. We can provide HR process mapping, draft policies following your country’s regulations, and even create your employee handbooks.

2. A lack of properly trained managers

Managers who aren’t trained well can create problems in employee relations that can lead to grievances. We provide tailor-made management training for new managers.

3. Poor recruitment and lack of staff retention

Recruiting, hiring, and training costs add up fast, and you can lose time and money through poor recruitment or employee retention. We provide tailored recruitment and retention strategies and implementation.

4. Poor pay, poor benefits, and no clear salary structure

Poor compensation and a lack of a clear salary structure can lead to resentment, a lack of motivation, and employee turnover. We provide professional and data-oriented benchmarking, along with full best practice employment conditions for each EU country.

5. Not having the right people in the right jobs

When you aren’t putting your employees’ talents to the best use because they aren’t in the right jobs, it can set everyone up to fail. We provide capability analysis versus business needs and help identify the gaps in capability, knowledge, and skills.

6. No performance management or training/development

Performance management and employee training and development are the key to understanding how to help your organization achieve its goals. We provide customized and cost-efficient solutions to develop your employees’ talents that are in alignment with your business’s objectives.

7. Lack of knowledge of local labor law implications

If you aren’t familiar with the laws of the country your startup is operating in, you run the risk of non-compliance, along with fines and other penalties, depending on your nation. We take responsibility for your legal HR compliance so you can rest easy knowing you’re covered.

8. Employee onboarding and retention

Your employee onboarding process is critical because it sets your employees up for success, which will lead to greater retention. We provide employee onboarding processes which consist of a legally compliant employment contract, benefits overview, HR checklist, and manager checklist for each European country.

9. A lack of payroll expertise

Trying to handle your payroll on your own when you lack a team member who has payroll expertise can lead to expensive mistakes that can affect your bottom-line. We handle different laws and regulations relating to work hours as well as the sudden changes that could happen due to employee sickness and how this relates to your payroll.

10. No leave management system

In the European Union, each country has its own leave regulations, and if you aren’t compliant, you may end up with a fine or worse. Our HR experts in Europe will provide a clear policy and automated system for all kinds of leave.

We offer a range of services that will make your human resources manageable, whether the issue you’re facing is that you don’t have time to manage your HR operations in Europe or you need assistance from someone with extensive knowledge of the TUPE process in Europe.

Signs it May Be Time to Get HR Help

If any of these signs it’s time to get help with your human resources in Europe sound familiar, it may be a good time to reach out to Europe HR Solutions for a consultation:

  • You are feeling overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, or even a little scared.
  • You are working harder than ever but seeing fewer results.
  • You are not 100% crystal-clear on exactly how to get the answers you need to resolve international complexities surrounding legal, compensation, and benefits structures.
  • You aren’t sure how to execute talent management or mergers and acquisitions.
  • You want to put policies and procedures in place, but you are worried they won’t be compliant in your country.

Our European human resources experts have helped many companies structure, scale, and grow their HR departments. Let us provide you with an instant overview of resolutions to your International HR complexities.

Why European Startups Can Be Overwhelming

With 27 member countries and a population of nearly half a billion, the European Union is the world’s third largest population after China and India. With so many different national rules and legal structures on working conditions in the EU, it’s not surprising that things can get confusing – and fast.

Add in 27 different policies on collective redundancies, full-time, part-time and temporary work, health and safety at work, maternity and parental leave, benefits and insurance packages, payroll & tax execution, and it’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed right now.

The EU strategy for creating growth and jobs in a sustainable manner promotes innovation within businesses and investment in people to create a knowledge-based society. The focus is on lifelong learning and promoting research and development.

The Union’s long tradition of ensuring a decent working environment throughout the EU and of protecting worker’s rights continues to hold good. Social dialogue between worker representatives and employers is also a cornerstone of EU policy. Sound labor relations strengthen worker protection, while at the same time contributing to competitiveness.

These policies are beneficial to millions of people across the European Union, but as the saying goes, nothing good comes easy. That’s why we’re here to help.

A woman explaining her HR challenges to an HR consultant

HR Questions to Ask If You’re Starting or Expanding Your Company in Europe

Your CEO has decided to start, expand or acquire your business internationally. In the meanwhile you know that you are dealing with 27 different legislations, tax regimes, cultures, and languages.

There is a wealth of information out there … but how do you know where to begin? This list of questions is a good point to begin your journey to a thriving human resources department and organization. The answers to these questions will help put you on the right track:

  • Who will help you recruit the right people?
  • Who will help you identify the appropriate legal requirements?
  • Who will help you hire your first employee?
  • Who will help you understand and implement benefits and insurance structures?
  • Who will help you implement your mergers and acquisitions internationally?
  • Who will help you set up international payroll services?
  • Who will help you design and implement local employee handbooks, policies & procedures?
  • Who will assist you with all of your ad hoc HR local country questions?

You have found at least a dozen separate firms who can help you with each one of these questions and issues you are having. Maybe you have some experience already, but you never had the opportunity to validate your actions? How much budget did you get from your CEO just to get the information you need to start your project?

Are You Ready to Get Solutions to Your European Startup HR Challenges?

What if you could rely on one boutique firm who can solve all of your issues? Imagine the stress, confusion, and uncertainty being taken off your shoulders by experienced European human resources experts who know what it takes to jump-start your organization’s department while protecting you from risks.

The biggest challenges faced by your startup don’t have to be challenging if you’ve got the right help. Europe-HR-Solutions is offering a ONE-STOP HR SHOP to all of your immediate, mid-, and long-term HR needs in the whole of Europe.


Business owner surrounded by paperwork, indicating the need for HR outsourcing

How outsourcing HR can save money

If you own a small or mid-sized business, you understand how frustrating it can be to spend time and money on tasks that don’t generate revenue. The costs of building an HR department from the ground up can prove astronomical. 

When you’re launching your small business in a foreign country, especially, you’ll need HR solutions before you open your doors for daily operation. Europe HR Solutions can help.


The right outsourced HR team can reduce your ongoing costs in the following ways:

  • Payroll administration:

By outsourcing your HR, you can bring in vetted professionals to set up and administer your payroll system. This team can train you to ensure a seamless transition after their service contract is completed. 

You won’t have to stress over hiring long-term employees to take care of payroll, or training payroll administrators.

  • Benefits implementation:

Your outsourced HR team can help you to select the right benefits software package and enroll the employees of your small business.

  • Human resources management:

Outsourcing your HR can prove to be a game changer for your overall human resources management, too. HR consultants contribute through a wealth of experience in compliance, employee relations, and recruitment.

This saves valuable time for small business owners, mitigates the risk of legal issues and delays in operations, and provides access to the latest industry best practices and trends.

When it makes sense to outsource HR for small businesses  

International companies with fewer than 50 employees are considered small businesses, and rarely expand to Europe with an inhouse HR team already in place.

For US and UK-based small businesses that launch European operations, there’s usually a CFO who oversees broad HR tasks. 

However, the CFO or other executives managing HR for a small business launch in Europe often lacks the country-specific legal and HR expertise necessary to ensure innovative solutions that reflect the country’s best HR practices and legal compliance.

It’s important to consider the following when determining whether or not you should outsource your HR:

  • What specific HR services and support does your business require?
  • Do you have anyone on your team who’s well-versed in country-specific employee regulations and labor laws?
  • Will you need management compliance training and support?
  • Will your current employment handbook, policies, and procedures translate to adhere to the needs of employees in different countries?
  • Do you have a small HR department in place that may need help implementing payroll, benefits, training, and development?
Time is money. Outsourcing HR saves time, letting you focus on what matters.

What to expect with Europe HR Solutions

By outsourcing your HR, you may find it’s easier to take care of your daily operations and to strategize and prepare for the launch of your small business in Europe. Europe HR Solutions has supported countless small, mid, and large-sized businesses in their international HR needs.  

Whether you need our team to manage your HR and implement solutions, or you need us to help guide the HR professionals you have on staff, we can sweat the small stuff to ensure your big picture remains intact. 

You can expect Europe HR Solutions to do the following:

Act as your representatives:

We’ll act as an extension of your small business. This means we will collaborate with you and ensure we’re promoting your vision and standards in any HR matters we handle for you.

Ad hoc requests:

We understand that you may have ad hoc requests. We’re used to fast-paced, high pressure situations, and will ensure your needs are met in a timely manner.

Assist with HR strategies:

We’re committed to providing HR services that help your business grow and succeed. We’ll make certain that the innovative solutions we offer adhere to your overall business and HR strategies.

Create and implement policies and procedures:

We’ll strategize with you to create and implement your company’s policies and procedures and ensure details are in place that will help your employees thrive and create a positive work environment.

Handle employee contract needs:

We’ll help to create and manage your employee hiring processes (including talent acquisition, interviews, and onboarding checklists), employee complaint procedures, performance reviews, and off-boarding processes.

Legal compliance:

Europe HR Solutions will use our thorough knowledge of the various nuances in employment regulations and labor laws to keep your operations, policies, and procedures within legal compliance. This will help reduce your liability risk should issues with employees arise.

Manage employee and management training and development: 

We can cover government-mandated and specific position training programs to support your employees to work with excellence and grow in their positions. This includes compliance training for managers.


We can utilize the latest in talent acquisition trends and industry best practices to make sure you attract the talent you deserve to fill your staffing needs. We want to help you to build the best team possible to create a positive work culture and  a productive team.

The cost of outsourced HR services for small businesses

When to outsource your small business’s HR could be determined by your available budget. The cost of outsourcing your HR may be an upfront expense, but in the long run, it can save you significant money and protect your revenue.

The services offered by Europe HR Solutions can vary in cost, and are dependent on the extent of service you require. We can determine the cost based on the scope of the project.

For example, you may need us to manage a specific, well-defined project that allows us to estimate the cost involved. However, you may require our services on a daily basis, for an extended period of time, or find you need support in an immediate HR emergency. This may mean we will need a retainer payment or charge for an hourly rate.

How to determine your HR outsourcing needs

Before you decide to outsource your HR, it’s vital to determine what type of services you require. It can be overwhelming to discern your needs, but reflecting on and strategizing about specifics can be beneficial.

Answering the following questions may help you to understand what services you require:

  • Do you need an outsourced HR professional who takes the time to know and understand your business, staff, and culture?
  • Do you need HR professionals who are available on a daily basis?
  • Are you in dire need of help with critical talent acquisition?
  • Do you require flexibility and a large scope of HR tasks?
  • Are your needs limited to legal compliance and knowledge?
  • Do you need help developing your workplace culture?
  • Do you need to overcome language barriers?
  • What are your long-term HR needs?

Other benefits of outsourcing your HR

Once you’ve determined when to outsource HR for your small business, you may find that it allows you to streamline your operations and focus on your overall business strategy.

This strategic move reduces your administrative burdens of managing payroll, benefits, and other HR tasks in-house. The cost-effectiveness of outsourcing becomes evident as it eliminates the need for investing in HR infrastructure and ongoing training. 

This newfound flexibility can enable your small business to adapt quickly to market changes and allocate resources more efficiently. Ultimately, an outsourced HR team becomes a strategic partner, and empowers you to prioritize your employees, enhance organizational efficiency, and thrive in the competitive European business landscape.

Contact Europe HR Solutions

Europe HR Solutions understands how crucial HR is to the foundation of any successful business. We can consult with you to determine when it’s best to outsource HR for your small business, and customize innovative solutions with you. 

Your HR needs remain our greatest priority, and we want to support you in ways that promote legal compliance and allow you to see your small business dreams come to fruition. 

Connect with Europe HR Solutions today for a free consultation and be sure to check out our blog for the latest HR insights, tips, and trends. The road to success for your small business is just an HR step away.

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    Inez Vermeulen

    Inez Vermeulen

    Inez Vermeulen is the Founder and CEO of Europe HR Solutions, with over 25 years of successful corporate and entrepreneurial experience in various global industries. She has helped grow and expand the European divisions of global companies such as Coca-Cola Company, Regus, DHL, American Medical Systems, etc. Inez has received several company awards for her entrepreneurial spirit and success.

    She owns a Bachelor’s degree in French, History and Latin, several HR global expert certifications, a Master’s degree in Metaphysical Sciences, ICF Coach Certification and has completed her Doctorate on Transformational Leadership. Inez is fluent in Dutch, English, French, Italian and German. She works in partnership with an extensive international network of independent & professional companies and resides in Belgium near Brussels with her husband Jan.