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Top 10 HR Tips – Small Business UK

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For many businesses, hiring staff is the only way to grow your business. Although you can use consultants, contractors and freelancers, you only really have the control you need once you start hiring the right people for the right roles, and they are as passionate about your business as you are.

Many business owners are afraid to hire because of the potential risks, but it is done right … hiring staff will take your business from survival to prosperity.

Top 10 HR Tips

Here are top 10 HR tips for successful employee management in your business.

# 1 – Create a robust job description for each role

This is one of your foundation blocks and requires a bit of thought before you hire. It should be used to identify the tasks to be done, the skills and experience required and the ideal person for the job.

As a business grows, the job descriptions will change, and a job description needs to be updated on a regular basis. If there is someone doing the work, discuss the need for change with them. It could be that the job takes on more responsibilities or that it is split in two due to the volume of work.

Use the job description to appoint, manage and, if necessary, lay off staff. The job description provides clarity for you and your employees by setting clear expectations.

# 2 – Give each employee a contract of employment before starting work

This is a legal requirement, but one that many small business owners still do not comply with. The law has changed over the years and there used to be a grace period of two months, but today it is essential to provide employees with their declaration of terms and conditions on or before day one.

One of the best ways to provide a statement of terms and conditions is in the format of an employment contract. Many small businesses do not have, and do not need, an employee handbook. The contract gives business owners a mandate to manage. The company’s key policies and procedures are documented so that both the employer and the employee have clarity on what they need to do to maintain the employment relationship.

A contract must be adapted for each business so that it accurately reflects the way the business owner manages the business, with policies and procedures that reinforce the values ​​and culture.

> See also: 6 HR software tools you can use for small business

# 3 – Compile a structured induction process

Think of all the things the employee will need to know to truly understand your business. How will they become effective as soon as possible? It goes beyond their work. Who else should they meet? What should they understand about the business? What roles do others play? How does their work support the whole business? How does it feel to work in this business?

Compile an induction plan for the first 2-4 weeks. Enable them to truly understand the business, to attend meetings, conferences or exhibitions. Even if these things are not directly related to their role. The more understanding the employee has about the organization, the better they will be able to play their role.

The induction period should include day one, week one and month one actions and development. Allow personal “study” time as well as structured learning time. How to do their job, where the toilets are and where to go for lunch are just the basics, a robust induction process goes much deeper than that.

# 4 – Insert a trial period and stick to it

A probationary period is an opportunity for both the employer and the employee to make sure they fit well. Even if someone is fantastic in their job, it does not mean that they are ready for your business. It is essential to have a trial period of six months. It gives someone the opportunity to fully learn their role and then demonstrate that they can do it.

In most cases, there will be a shortened notice, disciplinary and competency processes during the probationary period. However, it is important to remember that you must be fair and that an employee does not need two years of service to file a claim for bullying, discrimination or breach of contract.

During the probationary period, you should hold regular meetings, set realistic goals and give feedback to the employee.

> See also: A Guide to Outsourcing HR

# 5 – Performance Ratings

Many businesses hate the annual evaluation process, as providing feedback nine months after an incident is useless. However, it is essential to have robust processes in place to measure performance. This ensures that there are regular discussions about goals, aspirations, training needs, support needed and achievements.

There are many different ways to review performance and finding what works for your business is part of your company culture. Make sure it is a formal process and that it has been agreed and documented. If there are any performance issues at some point in the future, you may need to refer back to the discussions you had in the performance appraisal meetings, so honesty is essential.

# 6 – Lead by example

Many business owners struggle to help employees understand their company culture. It is often difficult to put into words “what it is like to work around here”. The best way to get people to act and perform the way you want them to is to lead by example. It makes no sense to show up for work late every day and then dismiss others for their time measurement. If you want people in suits, then you have to be in a suit. If you want people to leave the office by 5:30, then you have to leave by 5:30.

Respect goes a long way in business and earning that respect and setting an example will enable you to build a better, stronger business.

Sorry, do not follow. Lead, do not drive.

# 7 – Health and safety

At this point, everyone is groaning, but health and safety have changed significantly over the years and are increasingly important in the modern workplace.

Covid has had a huge impact on health and safety in the workplace, but so has employee well-being. Mental health is now one of the leading causes of workplace absenteeism, underperformance and staff turnover. Society is now more willing than ever to discuss mental health and it is no different in the workplace.

Employers are legally obliged to ensure that they provide a healthy and safe working environment. It is both physical and psychological. This obligation extends to all places of work, including after-work drinks in the bar and the employee’s home if they are a home-based or hybrid worker.

Health and safety is no longer just about first aid kits and fire doors, it is now about bullying, harassment, well-being, menopause, pregnancy, domestic abuse, annual leave, working hours and work-life balance.

Ignore health and safety at your risk if you want to grow a successful business.

# 8 – Give and take

As an employer, you need to position yourself as a preferred employer. Your staff can choose to work anywhere, so you need to give them a reason to choose you. By creating an environment of “give and take”, or “hard work plays harder”, you are able to recruit and retain top talent.

How this manifests in your business will depend on the nature of your business. It can be flexibility over working hours or workplace. It could be that the give and take is in work patterns or breaks. To be able to work from home to be there for the kids or at certain times for appointments. Making sure the work is done when it is needed and according to the required standards is essential, but how can you achieve this and give it back to staff when they need it… and without taking advantage.

# 9 – Find Feedback

It’s hard to ask your customers, staff and business network for feedback. It’s even harder to take their feedback on board. However, if you want a truly successful business, you need to learn to ask for feedback and, perhaps more importantly, how to respond to it.

Net promoter counts and customer feedback, employee engagement surveys, and 360-degree feedback are all great tools to improve you, your business, and your processes. Your staff is often at the coal face, so make the time to really listen to them, and if you have enough staff to make it anonymous, you will derive even more value from it.

# 10 – Communication

I can not stress enough how important communication is. As business owners, we often work at 100 mph and do not have time to ensure that others keep up with us. However, having clear policies and procedures that are documented and communicated will often resolve many issues before they even arise.

Holding regular team meetings, informing people about ideas, achievements, losses and business health will all ensure that you have purchases from your staff when you need them. If people understand the “why”, they are more likely to get involved. Doing a task or project for which they see no value leads to resentment, poor execution and poor results.

The better your communication, including your listening skills, the more successful your business will be.

Donna Obstfeld is founder and HR specialist at HR practice DOHR

More about HR for small businesses

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