Ten HR tips for new businesses

Why worry about your human resources practices? As a new business, especially one without a dedicated HR employee/department, it is vital that you approach your employees with the following considerations in mind. Why? Because new and small businesses often rely on employees to carry out cross-departmental responsibilities. Having healthy HR practices in place increases awareness of how vital human resources are to the bottom line of your business.

1. Pay people on time. This should be your number one concern (which is why it is number 1). Above any financial concern you have, always prioritise paying your staff.

2. Maintain confidentiality. Try to create an environment where people have the freedom to express their feelings without fear of retribution. Note: confidentiality extends to people’s records.

3. Avoid over-transparency. While it is a general rule to include all employees in developing the direction of your business, how far should this go? If you offload your stress onto your employees by being too transparent in the workplace (rather than deal with problems that arise with the relevant people only) you risk creating the wrong sort of atmosphere in your business.

4. Know the law. If you are a small business without the ability to hire an HR professional, it is incumbent on you to know workplace laws/regulations and make your employees aware of these. These should be set out in any contract you provide staff members.

People at work on their laptops

5. Create an employee manual. This may not be vital in the early stages of a business where you don’t have many staff. However, once you grow to a certain point, an employee manual ensures new employees don’t have to wait for integral information key to their ability to function. A manual aids the process of ‘onboarding’, where you provide employees with the information they need to do their jobs.

6. Create a desirable workplace. This should be a leading business goal, alongside your financial and branding/growth goals. You want to build a company that attracts great talent who ask you for jobs, not the other way around. You can achieve this through the people you hire, the challenges you set, and the rewards and environment you provide within the workplace.

7. Regulate your discipline. Be consistent with the way you treat people across the business and use stepped discipline if necessary. For instance, treat issues first with a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, followed by a reassessment of employment (such as a probation period including training) followed by termination as a last resort. This helps you in case of any possible legal action taken against you. This is never simple, of course. People are people and their lives are complex. Follow these rules with the understanding you would expect from your own employer. As a small business, you have the luxury of forming close relationships with your employees and making exceptions.

8. Lessen your rules. While you may have rules in relation to discipline, consider limiting the number of rules in your business, as it risks suggesting a level of mistrust on your part. A small, new and growing business is meant to be malleable and innovative, open to new challenges. If you have too many rules in place, you risk limiting innovative thought and opening up new avenues for growth within your business. An example of this: what processes do employees have to go through to try new approaches in their work? Do they have to fill out forms, or have multiple meetings? The more hoops an employee has to jump through just to try something new, the less chance they will think innovatively.

9. Be a paper-less business. Digitise your finances, project management, HR functions, scheduling etc. so that you can focus on growth, while suggesting to your employees your desire to move the business into a clean, tactile, fast company.

10. Have a good solicitor. Develop ties with a solicitor with a strong employment law background, as this will help you avoid pitfalls in the future.

How do you keep your staff motivated and happy? Read on to find out…

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