(And The Four Processes That Most Business Owners Need To Go Through When Dealing With Staff)
I’ve been studying and practicing HR for over 25 years.
Which means that I ‘get it’. I ‘understand’ it. However ludicrously worded something is, or however jargonny a contract sounds, I can usually root out the genuine meaning, and what it means in the real world.
However, use the term HR or Human Resources in front of your common or garden business owner and you’ll often get a blank look, especially if they have never worked in large organisations or corporations that have had a whole HR department dedicated to looking after the staff, employees, and contractors.
But here’s the thing, whether you’re Mickey the Butcher or Microsoft, you still need to be able to practice HR correctly – failure to do so puts your business under significant risk from an employment tribunal.
With that in mind, this article is designed to help you to do exactly that, by cutting through the jargon and breaking down the four processes that you’ll need to go through, whether you’ve got two employees or 20,000.
So the first area is recruitment: the hiring of the right staff.
Make sure that you know the skills that you need and that the people that you are hiring have the ability to do the job, but don’t forget that attitude and aptitude are also really, really important.
Making sure that somebody has the right attitude, is going to fit in with your business and your culture will engage with your goals and has the ability to learn the rest of the skills that you need to give them is absolutely vital.
Why? Nobody is going to come fully formed, so you need employees who can be moulded, and moulding is all about attitude.
And, as a plus point, when employees are not fully formed, they are generally easier to work with – they don’t have the same fixed ideas about things that someone who has ‘been there and done it’ has.
In addition, it is also really good idea to hire people who are better than you at key elements of the business. You shouldn’t be sweating over the books when someone else will be able to do them quicker, easier and more effectively than you.
Similarly, you may be good and able to type your letters up yourself, but actually having a VA or an in-house PA is going to drive your business forward much quicker for you as they are freeing up your time.
The second element is Employee Relations
Now, this is a big area for HR!
At the most basic level, it means giving all of the staff that you hire a contract of employment.
It means making sure that you have made decisions about:
- How much holiday they are going to have
- What you are going to do in the event of sick pay
- What dress code you want within your business
- What time you want people at work
- What time they work till
- How long their breaks are
Sound extreme? Perhaps. But by documenting all of these from day one, there is absolute clarity for you and for your staff, and no one can pretend that they didn’t know what was expected of them.
The third element is training, development and learning.
Now, all three of these take time and happen in multiple phases, but all business owners need to be mindful of them; otherwise, they generally don’t happen.
Generally, the first phase is known as “induction” and when you first bring somebody into the business, the best way to get them to hit the ground running is to induct them properly.
Once they know what they should be doing, it is all about monitoring and managing their performance so they are performing at the best possible level that they can.
And again it takes practice and they will improve over time, which is why regular documented progress meetings are a really, really useful tool. No matter what size your business, whether you have one employee, five employees, or 25 employees, sitting down with your staff on a regular basis, sharing your vision, sharing the goals and asking them to deliver key elements of those goals is essential to moving the business forward.
And then there is reward.
Reward can come in multiple formats.
Pay is the most obvious but there is also commission, bonus and other incentives which you give to your staff to encourage them to reach the targets that you set or to reward them for achieving certain outcomes.
However, reward is also about the environment in which people work.
It’s about the way in which you treat them, the pizza in the office on a Friday or giving people a day off to go and deal with an emergency because you know that they have been in the office late working on projects for the last three or four weeks.
Reward is also about the culture and the corporate social responsibility that the business shows.
Many youngsters nowadays are choosing to work or not work for companies based on the ethos of those companies.
People are becoming more picky and people want to work for great bosses and brands that they believe in.
Consequently, positioning your business (no matter how big or small) as an employer of choice will really help you to recruit and to retain the right staff for your business.
So, as a business owner, the next time you think about your role within the business, you are not only the finance person, the marketing person and the salesperson – you are also the HR person.
You are responsible for the recruitment and retention, the training and development, the reward and the frameworks within which your staff work and operate. You are also responsible for the way in which your staff are going to help you to achieve business success, by making sure that you are an effective manager. That takes practice, but as they say, practice makes perfect.