Significant business success often requires the support of advisors, mentors, customers, suppliers, and employees. However, many business owners are hesitant to take on employees due to the challenges they can bring. It’s essential to approach being an employer with the mindset of always doing the right thing and being prepared for any employment tribunal situations. By taking care of your own needs, your business’s needs, and the needs of your staff, you can create a more successful business.
Currently, there are several HR challenges keeping employers up at night. Here are some key areas to focus on:
1. Recruitment: Attracting and hiring the right people has become more challenging since Brexit and Covid. As a small business owner, you may need to compete with larger companies for top talent. One effective approach is to hire for attitude and train employees in the necessary skills. Look for individuals who believe in your business and have the potential to learn and grow.
2. Retention: Once you have great employees on board, retaining them becomes crucial. In addition to offering competitive salaries, how you treat, manage, recognize, and reward your employees will determine their decision to stay. Remember, people leave bad bosses, not bad companies.
3. Compliance with employment laws: Small business owners often lack the knowledge and time to fully understand complex employment laws and regulations. It’s important to seek quality HR advice tailored to your specific business. Off-the-shelf documentation and policies may not align with your goals, values, and culture. To recruit, retain, and comply with employment legislation, having a reliable HR advisor is essential.
4. Employee development: Providing employees with development opportunities and career progression paths can be a challenge for small businesses. Engage with your employees to understand their goals and continue to challenge them within the company. Plan for business growth and identify potential internal candidates for promotion. Additionally, offer external training courses that allow employees to bring new skills back into the business.
5. Managing employee performance: Small businesses often lack formal processes for managing and improving employee performance, leading to frustration for both owners and employees. Create regular opportunities to discuss goals, objectives, issues, and opportunities. Focus on strategic items that drive business growth rather than just going through a to-do list.
6. Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI): Promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace can be challenging for small businesses with limited resources. However, embracing EDI can bring diverse talent, increase loyalty, and enable staff development. Don’t shy away from EDI; find ways to make it work for your business and employees.
7. Employee engagement: Employee engagement goes beyond motivation. It’s about employees investing their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral energies toward positive organizational outcomes. High levels of employee engagement can be difficult to maintain, especially with limited resources. However, small businesses have the advantage of building strong relationships with employees and involving them in the business journey.
8. Adapting to remote/flexible/hybrid working: The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to adopt remote work, presenting challenges in maintaining productivity, communication, and employee well-being. Assess whether remote, flexible, or hybrid working arrangements could benefit your business, recruitment, retention, and engagement efforts. Any changes to working conditions should be discussed, agreed upon, and documented.
9. Health and safety: Ensuring the health and safety of employees is vital for small businesses. Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment, both physically and psychologically. This duty extends to activities related to employment, such as external training or social events. Implement appropriate policies, procedures, training, and communication to protect your employees.
10. Balancing HR and business needs: As small businesses grow, the demand for HR-related tasks increases. Hiring a dedicated HR professional may not be feasible for every business. Consider implementing an HR system or engaging with an HR consultant when needed. Choose a system or consultant that understands your business and can effectively support your HR needs.
For further information on HR, consider reading “The Small Business guide to HR” for essential advice, and explore the option of outsourcing HR to meet your specific business needs.
Remember, addressing these HR challenges will contribute to the growth and success of your business.