Running a business is sometimes akin to navigating a minefield of procedure and best practice, legislative obligations and much more. Whether it is on-boarding new staff members or performing a fair dismissal check, the absence of certain HR structures will inevitably lead to an unnecessary waste of time and money later down the line.
As a small business owner, important questions to ask include:
“Do I know how the National Employment Standards affect my business?”
“Am I aware of how and why claims of discrimination may occur?”
“Do I monitor social media use?”
“Have I defined what constitutes a valid workplace expense?”
“Do I have a procedure in place for terminating employment?”
As your business grows, you may start to experience the increasing notion that you should be doing something about your HR, this being a vague and distant inclination that seems to consistently slip further down the to-do list. Whilst your focus is most likely on driving sales and developing your business, here are five areas in which implementing a policy really is in your best interests:
1.Flexibility. As an employer it’s important to know what your employees are entitled to in terms of flexible working arrangements and parental or carers leave. The NES provides employees with the right to request flexible working hours if they are a parent, or are responsible for the care of a child under school age or under 18 years with a disability. Flexible working arrangements include, but are not limited to:
– Changes in hours of work
– Changes in patterns of work
– Changes in location of work
2. Discrimination. Multiple areas exist for potential discrimination claims and these are important for employers to be aware of; race, sex, disability and pregnancy to name a few. Your employees also need to be fully aware of the rules, so you may want to consider creating an employee handbook, which is a collection of information that employees need to know about your business and its policies. Factors such as equal opportunity procedures, details of working hours, personal appearance and alcohol and drugs regulations should also be grouped together here along with your social media policy. It is crucial to ensure you cover all bases with the information you provide, and even more essential to ensure that every employee reads and agrees to it.
3. Social Media. This is two-fold. Firstly, the use of social media by your employees and secondly, the way that you use social media as a business tool. It has become common place for businesses to use social media platforms as marketing tools, but what about the level of involvement from your employees? Create a social media policy that outlines expectations about fair use during work hours as well as instructions regarding employee participation and the use of company knowledge and brand on their own profiles.
4. Expense Reimbursement. Even with one or two employees claiming expenses, requesting that each employee is aware of your expense reimbursement policy is essential. The policy should outline your expectations in terms of time scales, receipts, spend limits, manager authorisation and what actually constitutes a valid expense. There are also cloud services available to automate the process including receipt scanning, which eliminates most of the work!
5. Dismissal processes. Whether in the form of an unfair dismissal claim or official notice of termination, letting an employee go is a sensitive area with several areas of compliance to consider. Refer to an Unfair Dismissal Fact Sheet to ensure the correct processes are being followed and avoid leaving yourself open to unfair dismissal claims. If you have fewer than 15 employees then you are classified as a small business, you can refer to the Small Business Dismissal Code Checklist, which gives guidance on compliance for small businesses. Aside from unfair dismissal, having a template for a termination letter will also save time, money and confusion.
HR is basically the managing, planning, recruiting, retaining and developing of your most important resource, your employees. The ultimate objective is to create a working environment that employees are happy in, meaning they are motivated and satisfied. This is made much easier by the implementation of good HR conduct as early as possible, so as you progress, your procedures (or lack thereof) will not hold you back.