Human Resource Basics for the Small Business Owner

HR is one area that small businesses often take for granted. They simply reduce it to hiring new people and signing paychecks. In reality, HR is much more than those functions.  It a value adding component of an organization that can bring about the success or failure of a company. If you were to ask CEOs’ of successful organizations what the secret to their success was, majority would say: their people. This should be the standard for all companies regardless of size. 

In this article, I have highlighted some basic principles to help you organize your HR function.

 • Long before you hire your first employee, put your paper work together. Begin with a handbook, which will contain all your policies, rules and regulations. When you employ a staff, give them a copy to read and assent to. This will help you avoid misunderstandings and provide guidance on how to resolve conflicts when they arise.

• To begin the process of hiring, conduct a needs analysis of your organization. It will entail asking yourself questions like: what do I need help with? How often do I have to do that task? Will getting help free up the time or will I still have to work on the tasks with the person?  These questions and much more will help you make a decision that is built on your business needs and aligned with your company’s goals.

• Next you prepare a job description document, which should contain in detail the tasks you expect the employee to perform. Avoid ambiguity in setting the expectations so that the process of performance management is made easier.

• Once your prospective employee has completed the interview stage and you deem them a perfect fit for your business, issue a letter of employment. If there are special work terms, you should include them in this letter. Very often employees complain of performing tasks other than what was originally stated in their employment letter or even worse, receiving a pay check different from what they were originally offered. Though minute these differences go a long way in dampening the morale of staff. If circumstances beyond your control warrant such changes, ensure that the employee is on board and the situation is handled with utmost transparency.

• An onboarding process is also necessary when new employees come into your company. Rather than leave them to figure things out for themselves, which reduces productivity and wastes time give them a short induction, if there are special or routine activities to be carried out, show them how and most importantly point them in the direction of help. The early days in a new organization are always difficult; knowing where to find help makes settling in easier.

• Create a balanced work culture for your employees. Know what motivates them and try your best to ensure they are happy doing their jobs. Make your employees feel like they are part of a family. This will entail being honesty, transparency and leadership. 

• Turnover is an issue most small businesses face which is also most are reluctant to train their employees. It is a hard but inevitable truth of business. To ensure that your business is not held to a standstill due to the departure of an employee, create and document processes to make filling the gap easier. And when staffs are leaving conduct an exit interview in the most pleasant manner possible so they can feel free to confide in you. The information gotten from this process can help you make needed changes and prevent future turnover.

For majority of small businesses, the owner or office manager typically doubles as the HR manager. This in itself is not a bad practice as long as there are laid down procedures. HR should not just be about personnel management especially as it has the potential to become your competitive advantage. 

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