For entrepreneurs taking their first steps in the fast-paced world of business ownership, HR mistakes and issues are very often an afterthought. The priority for new business owners is almost always maintaining and expanding the fledgling SME, and whilst building a trusted team is usually an integral part of this undertaking, the finer points of hiring, firing, and otherwise dealing with staff members are sometimes viewed as issues that can be dealt with as they present themselves.
Unfortunately though, in the ever more complex world of HR, this seemingly intuitive approach is rarely sufficient and can lead to serious problems down the line. In fact, a proactive approach to HR is highly recommended, giving you the opportunity to recognise and rectify issues before they become unmanageable or financially unsustainable.
The good news, however, is that with just a little preparation and foresight, you can quite easily avoid the most common mistakes and ensure that both you and your employees have everything required to push your business forward. Here then, we take a look at 5 mistakes that should be avoided at all costs, and what you can do to be better prepared as you begin hiring in earnest.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the biggest mistakes made by entrepreneurs with minimal HR experience is at the very beginning of the hiring process. Taking on new staff members should be done with absolute care and utmost precision, after all, your ideal hire should signal the beginning of a long-term relationship that fosters trust, patience, transparency, and a frictionless exchange of skills and knowledge.
Avoid a “quantity over quality” approach and choose the best candidate for the position rather than the best candidate on paper. A common tendency is to assume the candidate with the most eye-catching CV is a natural fit for the job. Avoid this trap by crafting a comprehensive job description that values skills and experience but also desirable personality and business culture traits. Additionally, where possible, conduct interviews with a trusted partner (or similar) so you can view the candidate from two perspectives.
Inadequate or Incomplete HR Policies
Your HR policies are the fundamental stepping stone to a comfortable workplace environment, and should ideally be drawn up by a professional. They are there to protect both you and your employees, covering everything from acceptable working times to how absences related to the death of a relative might be recorded. Additionally, they should also comprehensively detail disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Failure to do this properly can leave huge grey areas that may be exploited by all parties. This can be anything from an employee taking an unrequested leave of absence to employers not fulfilling contractual obligations. These issues can even present themselves without any kind of malicious forethought if your policies are incomplete, creating confusion and bad feeling. Finally, a well thought out set of HR policies will also help with the staff transition if you wish at a later date.
Outdated Induction Materials
Induction materials may seem like a frivolous detail to some, but think about it; the sheer amount of information we deal with on a daily basis can be overwhelming, particularly when other factors (such as starting a new job) are taken into account. Today, as noted above, there are countless workplace rules and regulations, health and safety requirements, and administrative details that need to be put down in writing.
In addition to this, there are logins and passwords for countless apps and tools, best practices for using workplace equipment, and keys and codes for the physical premises. It’s usually a good idea to include your company hierarchy and a list of names and numbers of other staff members to ease the first few weeks of work and through integration. All of this information will need to be communicated to your new hire, so unless you want to keep reiterating the same things over and over, you should start compiling a comprehensive set of induction materials now.
Inadequate Employee Training
New business owners should remember that employees are an investment. That is to say, by helping your staff to grow professionally, you are in turn investing in your company and encouraging growth. This begins with a detailed onboarding process where new hires are bought up to speed with everything they need to know to do their job efficiently and effectively. Alongside your onboarding process, regular professional development programs and training events should also form part of your company curriculum. Take note, inadequate employee training simply makes everyone’s life more difficult and creates a feeling that new hires are insignificant and unimportant. Getting it right is key to ensuring your relationship starts off on the right foot.
Much like the hasty hire, the hasty fire can be equally damaging to your company for a number of reasons. Firstly, terminating employment should be inline with your HR policies as detailed above. This includes following the disciplinary and grievance procedures, with this in mind, firing a member of staff in the heat of the moment is an ill-advised way to proceed. Take a step back and consult with your partners on how best to go forward with any problem.
Secondly, if you’ve followed our advice regarding training, terminating staff members essentially means money down the drain. While not always possible, try to find alternative ways to deal with conflict. Salary increases and better benefits might solve the problem, but so too relocation or even home working. Just because you cannot work with an individual on a daily basis doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot benefit your company, so try thinking outside the box to solve your issues.