Small businesses need to grow to survive – whether through diversifying into new market niches or expanding into new regions and locations – and small business HR services can help you prepare to do so. As all businesses are poised to emerge from their COVID-related restrictions, is your small business on-track to grow and succeed in the weeks, months, and years ahead? The following 10 tips from the Society for Human Resource Management can help position your small business for growth and success in the times ahead.
Streamline Recruitment & Hiring
When it comes to recruitment and hiring small business can out-compete their larger competitors by being quicker and more nimble in their hiring processes. As the economy and job market recovers, more and more positions are opening up, and the best candidates are likely to be weighing multiple job offers. As a small business you need to leverage your lack of bureaucracy and hierarchy to quickly swoop in and seize the best talent before your larger competitors get through the first layer of their often byzantine hiring processes. A good tip to accomplishing this as a small business is to interview all candidates for a given position on the same day – asking them the same list of questions – so hiring managers or small business owners can easily compare and evaluate them and decide who to hire that same day. Small business HR services provided by an outside partner can help you accomplish this goal.
Evaluate Employees Objectively
Nothing can destroy a small business more quickly than a lawsuit related to the improper firing of an employee. Employees discharged based on “gut feelings can sue for being fired without just cause or file a claim of discrimination if they are in a protected class. That’s why small business owners should always craft a list of job expectations for every position and put regular, objective, and well-documented job performance evaluation plans into place in their businesses. This is yet another type of small business HR service that an HR services agency can help you put together.
Josh Fosburg, vice president of business development at ALEX, a virtual benefits counseling company in Chicago, suggests conducting regularly scheduled evaluations (such as at 30 and 90 days for new hires) and providing supervisors with specific questions to ask during reviews to more easily and objectively measure performance of employees on a regular basis. Documentation of employee relations situations is also critical as it allows the employer to later prove that proper actions were taken and warnings given to any employees involved in a violation of workplace rules or expectations.
Draft and Update an Employee Handbook
Recently updated employee handbooks are critical ways to ensure that your employees are aware of all of your policies and procedures – and to defend yourself and your company in any employment-related lawsuits that might occur. Even something as simple as your company’s attendance policy needs to be clearly spelled out in an employee handbook or you risk the chance of it being used against you when an employee is fired for missing work. According to a 2014 study conducted by SHRM and Kronos Inc. between 6 and 42 percent of employers around the world do not have a written attendance policy, depending on the country involved. Likewise, when your company’s policies change you need to update your employee handbook – and redistribute it to employees – as quickly as possible to avoid any problems in the future.
Onboard Employees Immediately
Don’t waste valuable time and lose business opportunities by not preparing your new employees before their first day of work. Simple tasks like printing new business cards, setting up telephone lines, and completing benefit forms should all be completed before your new hire shows up for work on their first day. By working with an outside partner for your small business HR services, you can automate many of these tasks and ensure that they are completed for every new employee, enabling them to “hit the ground running” when they start on the job.
Give Prompt Feedback and Reward Accomplishments
Nothing changes negative behaviors more quickly or motivates employees to continue with their positive actions more thoroughly than giving them clear and prompt feedback. Conversely, nothing is more frustrating to an employee than not being sure “where they stand” in terms of their performance on the job. Feedback can be as simple as a verbal acknowledgement of a job well done or a quick retraining on a specific task that isn’t being done appropriately. In addition to providing regular feedback, small business owners should also set clear and measurable performance goals and reward employees who meet them, even if the rewards are as simple as movie tickets or restaurant gift cards.
Leverage Digital Recordkeeping
Old-fashioned, paper-based recordkeeping systems have no place in today’s business world and can dramatically hinder the agility and speed of your business in responding to the myriad of challenges you are likely to face in the years ahead. Tracking time and attendance, managing schedules, and processing key small business HR services such as hiring and onboarding are handled much more efficiently by digital, and preferably online, platforms. However, it can be time-consuming to migrate your HR data over to these kinds of systems. This is another area where working with outside HR professionals can greatly enhance the efficiency and profitability of your small business.
Stay Informed of Changing Laws and Regulations
Let’s face it; it can be difficult for any-sized company to keep up with the constantly changing federal, state and local laws and regulations governing workplaces these days – particularly for small businesses. And yet, mishandled compliance issues can be a death knell to any business, especially one without the resources and expertise to wage long-running battles with regulatory agencies. Oftentimes, it can be much more effective for small businesses to rely upon outside HR professionals who deal with these issues everyday than to try and keep up with every shifting nuance in the regulatory landscape. In this way compliance assistance can be one of the most important small business HR services any small business can receive from external HR professionals.
Connect with a Good Employment Law Attorney
Many small businesses rely on a general business counsel or even an “attorney friend” to manage employment law matters; this, however, is almost always a mistake. If you are in need of an employment lawyer don’t settle for someone who is not a seasoned expert in the field. Hopefully, your small business will never require extensive services from an employment lawyer, but if it does, hiring someone isn’t an expert is a “penny-wise and pound-foolish” error that can potential sink your organization’s future. If you don’t know anyone with the right qualifications, this might be another time to utilize the professional expertise of an HR services form to point you in the right direction.
Don’t Misclassify or Undercompensate Employees
We have all heard of stories where companies play “fast and loose” with employment classification categories or how they pay their employees or file their employees’ payroll taxes in an attempt to shave some expenses off of their bottom line. This approach is almost certain to eventually backfire, potentially resulting in huge fines, penalties, and back tax and payroll payments to come due all at once. Even small bookkeeping mistakes such as neglecting to pay employees for compensable travel time can add up to massive penalties over time and across an entire company’s payroll of employees. If you are unsure of how to exactly handle any of these issues as a small business owner, don’t guess the answer; you can turn to experienced outside HR professionals to help and save you the pain and suffering of guessing wrong.
Rugged Individualism Can Lead to Disaster
History has shown that the most successful small business owners understand the importance of forging partnerships with other successful individuals and organizations. Trying to do everything on your own is often the recipe for failure. For many small businesses partnering with an HR services provider for their small business HR services can be an extremely cost-effective decision. Furthermore, it allows you as a small business owner to concentrate and focus on your customers, products and services – instead of your HR issues – so that you can sharpen your organization’s competitive edge in the struggle for growth and profitability.