One of the challenges of being a small and medium-sized business is that without a dedicated team of specialists, you often have to make do and cut corners when it comes to HR. In this article, we’ll help you take your HR thinking to the next level with five insider tips from HR professionals with big business experience.
1. Get focused
One of the common challenges for SMEs is not having dedicated HR staff. Often, HR functions are taken on by the business owner or perhaps the bookkeeper or accountant. Without having a strategic HR focus and expertise within the organisation, things will be missed, and mistakes will be made. Sometimes the consequences are obvious and urgent – a letter claiming unfair dismal or a WorkSafe fine. Other times, in cases of bullying and significant productivity issues, the issue can be harder to spot until the damage is already far-reaching and extensive.
HACK: Your people are the lifeblood of your business. Your focus on HR must reflect this. If you do not have the internal expertise in this area, bring in an experienced HR consultant who will help you get the most out of your people and protect your business from HR risk.
2. Supercharge your job ads
Recruitment is difficult enough – writing job descriptions, publishing job ads and endless rounds of interviews. But it can be frustrating for SMEs trying to compete for quality talent against much bigger players with established brands and reputations. The good news is that you CAN. The employment market is changing. In a post-COVID world, employees are looking for more than just brand recognition and salary – many workers, especially younger people, place greater value on flexibility, career development and training, and an alignment between your business’ values with their own. It’s vital to be able to articulate all these things in job ads, on your website and in other brand communications.
HACK: Work with a respected copywriter or marketing professional to develop messaging that’s compelling to potential employees and stands out from competitors.
3. Be strategic, not reactionary
HR is about so much more than putting out fires and reacting to problems. Getting the most out of your people and keeping them happy is about taking a broad view and thinking strategically. Make sure you’re clear about your business and brand goals, then map out all the things you’ll need to address in order to get there. Your HR plan should cover things like keeping employment contacts, legislation and other documentation up to date and be focused on both protecting your business and developing your workforce.
HACK: Get professional advice to create an HR plan that’s going to deliver to your goals and protect your business from risk. Review and update your HR plan in the lead-up to each new financial year.
4. Invest in performance
Rather than seeing training as an expense, think about it as a way to enhance productivity, spark innovation and retain valued employees. It’s important to be very clear about your broad business objectives and the trackable measurements that show your progress towards reaching these goals. Be strategic about what training you implement so that your employees develop in line with your business needs and you can quickly see the return on your investment.
HACK: Think about and document the critical KPIs for your business. Then develop a training plan that will directly impact the business goals and growth you are pursuing.
5. Remove the emotion
There’s no getting around the “Human” aspect of Human Resources. As a small business owner or operator, it’s easy to view employees as friends and family. There are many benefits to this, but it can also become very difficult to raise issues such as performance problems. Employees may also feel hurt and victimised by straightforward feedback when the boundaries between professional and personal relationships are blurred. In these cases, having an experienced, impartial person to help address and resolve the issues may be the best way forward.
HACK: Sometimes, it’s hard to keep a cool head, so bring in an experienced HR professional to help you deal with conflicts and difficult situations when you need the extra support.
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