You’ve Hired the Best. Now What? Part Two

Welcome back to part two of the top 10 strategies to help you get HR right and free yourself up to innovate.

Good HR means three things: a clear management structure, a way for people to talk about workplace issues and concerns, and pathways for people to evolve in their careers, here are our final strategies for success.

6. Communicate Effectively and Often

Clarity and simplicity are important. It’s also important to have a clear mission and clear goals. Learn to communicate in clear, succinct writing, and share it with everyone. It’s one of the most influential things you can do, and it scales to thousands of people.

Many small business owners get so worried about bringing in money and paying the bills that they neglect to give on-the-spot feedback to workers, which motivates employees and helps the business grow. The best feedback is simple, in-the-moment verbal feedback on what employees are doing. Small business owners should also set performance goals and award employees who meet them. These rewards could be as simple as a staff barbecue or tickets to sporting or entertainment events.

One-on-one conversations can be a really effective way to communicate too, and it’s a good idea to have one-on-ones with your direct reports monthly. Start with a very clear mission, roadmap, and goals. Everyone in the company should know what the roadmap is for the next 3-6 months or even a year.

“All Team” meetings with all employees at least once a month are crucial. Use these to go through the roadmap of the entire company, the immediate three-month strategic plan, and how the immediate course plays into the company’s longer-term goals

7. Morale and Recognition

According to Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, “There are two things people want more than sex and money ­– recognition and praise.”

Know how to create an environment in which people experience positive morale and recognition, and employees are motivated to work hard for the success of the business. An important component of creating pathways is performance feedback. It can be light, but it should happen frequently. It helps employees a lot when they regularly hear how they are doing – good or bad.

It should also be clear how performance ties to compensation. People talk, and they will eventually find out co-workers’ compensation levels. If it’s all over the place, it can be a complete disaster. Compensation bands let people know how much they should be making. For example, a mid-level account manager will know she falls in a certain range, and a senior account manager in another. This keeps things fair and helps avoid a lot of crazy negotiation. PeopleScapeHR Consultants can help you determine current market compensation bands for your company’s location, size, and industry.

8. Lead by Example; Be Consistent, Fair, and Ethical

When it comes to HR you will hear a word used over and over and that is CONSISTENCY.  An employee handbook will help you maintain your consistent practice and prevent employees from claiming preferential treatment or favoritism.  When an employee inevitably asks you to make an exception to a policy or if there is a gray area, ask yourself, “Would I allow this for every employee?”  If the answer is yes, you need to update your policy, if the answer is no, be firm and explain to the employee why that is not allowed.

Remember, the time you invest in these HR basics will pay dividends for years to come.  Today, you may not be required to comply with laws that larger employers are subject to; however, it is a best practice to embed these HR basics into your culture from the start. As your company grows and you take on more employees, you will rest easy knowing that you have set up fair, consistent, and legal employment practices that ultimately protect you and your business.

9. Help People Grow

Employees from entry-level to executive are more concerned with opportunities for learning and development than any other aspect of a job. This makes perfect sense, since continuous learning is a key strategy for crafting a sustainable career. The vast majority (some sources say as much as 90%) of learning and development takes place not in formal training programs, but rather on the job—through new challenges and developmental assignments, developmental feedback, conversations, and mentoring.

Leaders also have a big impact on turnover and retention. The number one reason employees quit their jobs is because of a poor quality relationship with their direct manager.  No one wants to work for a boss who doesn’t take an interest in their development, doesn’t help them deepen their skills and learn new ones, and doesn’t validate their contributions.

10. Plan for Turnover

Terminations are never a fun part of any employment relationship, however they are inevitable. Whether the termination is a voluntary resignation or with cause, there are some steps you need to take to protect yourself and your business.

In most states there are regulations on how soon you must pay a terminated employee their final wages. In California, you have 72 hours to pay an employee who resigns without any notice. However, a best practice is to provide an employee with a final check in their hand on their last day of work. This final check should include any unused and accrued Paid Time Off.  Remember, you cannot deduct a negative vacation balance or refuse to deliver final pay until the employee returns company equipment.

You should also provide the departing employee with a “Notice of Change in Relationship” as well as a “Final Pay Acknowledgement” and seek a signature on the form at the time of termination. If you offer health insurance, you will also need to make sure COBRA (health insurance continuation) notices are sent to the employee within 14 days of termination. This is where your strategic partnerships come in. A seasoned HR Consultant can assist you in setting up termination procedures to ensure they are legally complaint while you focus on running business operations. Click here to find out how to engage a Consultant.

Employees discharged on a whim can sue for being fired without just cause or file a claim of discrimination if they are in a protected class. Employment-related lawsuits can be costly, and small business owners can do themselves a favor by crafting a list of job expectations for employees and putting a job performance evaluation plan in place. Small business owners can draft such documents themselves and have a lawyer review them or have a consultant do the job.

Documentation is important, too. Small employers tend to think that if they do not document an employee relations situation, liability may be reduced, as there will be nothing for the employee to use against them if a legal claim is filed. The reality it is quite the opposite. Documentation of employee relations situations allows the employer to prove that proper action was taken, the involved employees were informed of the need to correct the behaviors, and warning of the potential for additional disciplinary action up to termination was provided.

The most effective way to a successful business is through people. Navigating the waters of employment law and Human Resources is tricky and costly. Contact a peoplescapehr consultant today to strategically drive performance, meet business challenges, and improve your company’s valuation.