Human resources is one of the universal pain points for business owners. In certain situations, your best efforts may actually make things worse. Here are some expert tips to remedy four of the biggest HR problems employers face.
Regardless of whether you take on the role of HR manager personally, have an in-house HR manager or team or use an external consultant, a crucial aspect of owning and operating a business is getting the human resource side of things right.
When things are going well, it may not seem like much effort. But take a wrong turn and things can go downhill fast. Productivity, retention rates, costs and compliance can become major headaches if things go awry.
Speaking to RPM’s sister publication My Business on the My Business Podcast, Clare Long of Norgay HR Consulting outlines four common issues HR managers face, what you can do to dig yourself out and how you can help to prevent such situations from occurring.
As the owner of the business, regardless of its size, you need to be part of the HR process.
“When I’m … working with a client in that situation, there’s a certain way that we do it. The business owner has to be the one having the conversation,” Clare says.
When it comes to disputes between the owner and an employee, Clare says it is important that you do not bury your head in the sand or completely outsource the problem to someone else.
“Then my role is supporting both parties in that. There’s a lot of emotion in those meetings,” she says.
“It’s supporting both people through that so that it can be the best outcome, considering the circumstances. I’ve seen it done really, really well and very respectfully.”
Clare also advises business owners to be 100 per cent open with their HR manager or consultant, especially when difficult issues arise, to avoid problems escalating even further.
“I do need to know all the facts. I don’t want any surprises,” she says.
“Be upfront. We’ll work together on the most pragmatic solution to get to the outcome that needs to be taken.”
If it comes down to letting an employee go, being honest about the process is vital, especially regarding your decision to hire that person in the first place.
“Sometimes it’s the wrong decision, it was the wrong hiring decision. Really, I have great empathy for a person on the other end [who is] now going to potentially lose their job because the selection process was flawed,” Clare says.
“Working with me, I might actually suggest again, let’s look at the financial offering we can make to this person, because guess what? We got it wrong, not that individual.”
Letting employees go too late
If an employee is not working out, it may be time to let them go.
However, taking too long to make this decision can create issues for your business through unfair dismissal claims.
Retaining an employee for more than six months, if you have less than 15 employees, or 12 months for businesses with more than 15 employees, can open you up to the possibility of facing an unfair dismissal case.
From a risk management perspective, letting an employee go before that six- or 12-month period is up is the “safest time” to do so.
“It’s not foolproof, but it’s safer than if you let that tick over,” Clare says.
Even if you do face an unfair dismissal claim from a former employee, it is important not to think that it is the end of the world.
“There’s a lot of fear and concern around legal claims and ‘What’s that going to cost my business?’” Clare says.
“When I’m in that situation and in that discussion, we can have a really pragmatic discussion about ‘Well, this is the most it’s going to cost you’. Generally, they’e like, ‘Oh, is that all?’”