Your business is made of people, or it will be soon if you’re hoping to grow much in the future. With this in mind, it’s very important to approach your HR in the right way, ensuring that your staff have all they need to succeed, and being treated in a way that’s ethical and legal.
Despite the huge importance of HR within a business, there are a lot of mistakes which are frighteningly common among new business owners. Here are some of the big ones you need to avoid.
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Poorly Drafted Job Descriptions
This is one of the most damaging HR mistakes it’s possible for the higher-ups at a business to make, and it’s also one of the most common when a business is going through its first recruitment drive. People are busy, the organization is moving swiftly forward, and those all-important job descriptions can easily end up falling to the bottom of the pile. This can result in a whole workforce who aren’t quite sure what they need to be doing, expectations which aren’t properly managed, and difficulties for the upper management when it comes to measuring performance.
It may seem like a fairly minor part of HR, but job descriptions are exceedingly important. Treat them as one more piece of documentation that will enable you to hire, manage and possibly fire employees with minimal complications.
Not Exercising Discretion in Interviews
We’re pretty lucky to live in a developed Western country, where we have a lot of freedom as to what we can ask when interviewing candidates for a job. Having said that, there are definitely limits. You have to be aware that some questions are riskier than others, and that there are certain ones which are totally illegal. Legal issues, of course, lead to litigation, which leads to mounting legal fees and a lot of unnecessary stress.
Be sure to find out what’s acceptable and what’s not, and draft a list of perfectly legal interview questions focussed strictly on the role. Avoid anything regarding religion, national background, age and so on. To make sure you’re keeping yourself out of any hot water, it may be worth hiring some legal counsel from firms such as Ellis Whittam.
Not Documenting and Addressing Employee Problems
Having to deal with a problem employee is one of the most frustrating things an employer can have to go through, and if you’ve never been in this position before it can be extremely daunting just to get the ball rolling. Still, it’s a big mistake to tell yourself that you’re too busy to deal with the issue, or ignore it and hope that it will go away on its own.
Be sure to stay on top of employee performance, and avoid letting any kind of performance issues get out of hand. You need to be documenting employee performance from the day they start work, and addressing any issues as and when they come up. Set out a company policy for corrective action, and create action plans specific to the individual.
Most importantly though, keep records of everything. If you want to fire or suspend an employee, then you’ll need this to fall back on.
Failing to Update your Employee Handbook, or Not Keeping One At All
It’s always shocking when I talk to a small business owner, and they say that they don’t keep an employee handbook as it’s going to restrict them somehow or cause complications. If this has been your attitude so far, then it needs to change immediately! There are rules in your workplace, whether they’re written down anywhere or not. All the standards that you’ve outlined to your employees, however you’ve outlined them, are policies.
If you’re not codifying these policies, then you’ll only be opening yourself up to all kinds of legal and practical problems. The trick here is making sure your handbook stays updated. It’s an HR consultant’s worst nightmare when a business is too small to offer the legally required benefits to their employees, and yet lists all kinds of benefits in the handbook that they weren’t actually in any position to provide.
Usually, this isn’t part of some intricate, shady scheme orchestrated by the employer, but simply comes out of ignorance. When drafting your employee handbook, make sure that all your policies are set out clearly, and that you’re including all of the clauses the law requires.
Dealing with your HR can be quite demanding, but it certainly isn’t something you can afford to neglect. Moving forward, be sure to avoid all of these expensive blunders!