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Unlocking the Mystery of HR

Unlocking the Mystery of HR
The University of Scranton’s SBDC helps businesses put the “human” back in human resources.

According to Businessolver’s most recent “State of Workplace Empathy” survey, 93 percent of employees say that they are more likely to stay at an organization with an empathetic employer. This empathetic environment can be achieved through effective Human Resource practices, says Gretchen Kukuchka, a small business consultant for The University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), According to Ms. Kukuchka, good human resources can be delivered by learning how to maintain a positive work environment, reviewing employment laws and how they can apply to a small business, and problem-solving before an issue takes a toll on a business’s culture.

Ms. Kukuchka holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Administration with a focus on Organizational Leadership. She belongs to both the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the local NEPA SHRM and coordinates the SBDC’s homegrown Small Business Internship Initiative, which helps small businesses prepare for and host quality, paid internships. She also has a particular interest on family business, having grown up in one and owns a business today.

“Our goal is to help small businesses run in a more thriving, efficient manner, by helping them get down to the grit of the matter at hand,” she said. “Sometimes clients will come to us for help with their own HR challenges—maybe it is an expectation or a leadership challenge. I try to help clients look at issues preventatively so that we can address them before they start, and I always tell them to focus on their people first because they truly are the backbone of any business.”

One aspect of small businesses is that they often have one person fulfilling several roles, including that of HR. Ms. Kukuchka said that the SBDC can offer education and guidance when that add-on role feels overwhelming.

“A lot of people in that position do come to us wondering where to begin in terms of good HR,” she said. “We end up having a great discussion where we can address what could potentially happen if an issue isn’t addressed or if they don’t understand their role, then discussing additional best practices that could be put in place. HR isn’t about scaring your employees; it’s about helping everyone move forward in a positive manner to make the workplace the best it can be.”

For Ms. Kukuchka and the rest of the team at the SBDC, helping business leaders build their HR skills is a key part of the services they provide.

“We try to bring awareness of what HR is to a population that otherwise does not often have those resources. Our goal is to always help businesses increase their skillset so they can be more effective. Helping someone build their people skills is just as important as helping someone build their number or technical skills, and we’re committed to help as much as we can.”

For more information on The University of Scranton SBDC and the services it provides, visit

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