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The HR policies your start-up needs

As a start up with just a couple of employees, you might not realize you need to think about Human Resources. One of the benefits of small business is being able to step away from a lot of the red tape which governs larger operations, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it entirely.

To help your business run smoothly, and to keep employees on the same page, here are ten things to keep in mind even if you’re just starting out.

1. Write accurate job descriptions

When you run a business which only employs one or two people the work tends to be very fluid. In small businesses, everyone pitches in with different tasks as they arise. The same person might be involved in every aspect of your business!

Despite this it’s important to define exactly what the roles of your employees are.

For instance, you might employ two people to check your emails, package orders, send out deliveries and pitch in on various small tasks. Although the fluidity of small business can keep work interesting, it also runs the risk of inefficiency.

If it’s unclear exactly how much of each task your employees should complete they might end up gravitating to work which interests them; while neglecting other essential tasks.

That’s why it’s important to write up to date job descriptions for your employees, and update them when necessary. It’s important to make sure each employee knows what their basic responsibilities are, so that all the work gets completed.

2. Learn about interview policies

Even if you only need one employee to help you manage the load, it’s important to do it right. Depending on where you live certain interview questions are actually illegal. Do your research!

Some of the questions you might get in trouble for asking include

  • Asking about their marital status, or desire to have children

  • Asking about their nationality or ancestry

  • Asking for the names of their family members

  • Asking if they are members of any clubs, private associations or religious groups.

Even though hiring just one employee can feel like an informal affair, it’s important to play by the rules. It’s better to play it safe than deal with the legalities of an offended person. 

3. Implement safety policies

Even if your business operates from your garage it’s important to have safety conditions in place. Injuries happen at home all the time!

There are occupational health and safety laws that you will need to implement, and industry standards to take note of. You might be required, for instance, to provide goggles, gloves, first aid supplies and good ventilation depending on what type of products you sell.

4. Take the time for performance reviews

Performance reviews might feel unnecessary if you speak to your employees every day, but they’re a great opportunity to set clear goals. Performance reviews can also provide an opportunity for you to speak candidly about how an employee is doing.

Take the time to discuss progress with your employees on a regular basis.

5. Create leave policies

If you only have one or two employees losing one can have a huge impact on your business.

Take the time to implement a leave policy; let your employees know how far in advance they have to let you know about holidays and days off, and how much notice they need to give if they decide to quit.

That way, you won’t end up unstaffed when you need help.

6. Set down social media rules

More and more people use social media; if you hire someone, chances are they have an online presence. Whether it be on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or something else.

That’s why it’s essential to set rules in place for your employees when it comes to posting online. Let them know that how they act online reflects on the business, and to be mindful of what they share, especially if they list you as their place of employment.

Many businesses ban their employees from posting anything about work or customers online.

7. Take steps to prevent discrimination, conflict and harassment

As the boss it’s your job to ensure your employees are properly cared for. That means ensuring that you listen to, respect and try to understand any concerns they may have.

Sadly discrimination, bullying and harassment can happen anywhere; even in your business. Take the time to create a policy which explains what employee behaviour is appropriate and what will happen if a complaint is raised.

If one of your employees comes to you with a problem, take steps to ensure you react appropriately.

8. Don’t fire someone without due process

It happens; maybe you hire someone who turns out to be unsuitable, or maybe one of your employees simply isn’t putting in the work anymore.

Firing employees is part of business life.

It’s important, however, to ensure you take the right steps. Firing someone without a warning could land you in a lot of trouble!

When you notice someone isn’t pulling their weight, give them two or three chances to improve. Pull them aside, privately let them know what you’d like to see improve, and give them an opportunity to change.

If, after repeated warnings the behaviour continues, then you can let your employee go.

Even in small business it’s important to play by the book.

- Lena Klein

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