If you own or manage a small or medium-sized business, you certainly feel that your knowledge of HR issues such as labor law, equality and diversity, HR policies, employment contracts, etc. is very limited. This is likely to cause a high level of anxiety should you get it wrong, which could have a significant impact on your business.
This sentiment is no doubt reinforced by HR pros we regularly expound on in the media about the costs associated with things like labor tribunals and how easy they are to lose. There are also tons of recruitment agencies around the web that offer all the services to make sure you are “fully compliant” and also add “value” by offering services you didn’t even know you needed, like those latest HR software, or an “HR Audit” of your company.
As an HR practitioner with over 20 years of experience and one currently working as a recruitment consultant, let me let you in on a secret. If you run your small/medium business reasonably well and don’t have major HR issues, you don’t need to hire a recruiter (usually starting at around 500 a day), you don’t need to “subscribe” to expensive HR. website, in fact, you don’t really have to spend a lot of money on HR services! Here are the 10 reasons why:
- If you’re competent enough to run your business with all the complexities that come with it, there’s no reason to be YOU simply cannot ensure that you have an appropriate HR framework in place to support your staffing issues. You really don’t need an outside recruiter telling you how to manage your people.
- The risks of doing something wrong are massively overrated. Recruitment consultants and labor lawyers will fill you with horror stories about the cost of a wrongful termination suit in the labor court. The simple facts are that if you act sensibly as an employer, you are likely to spend far more on recruitment consultants and lawyers trying to defend an employment tribunal lawsuit than you would lose if the results went against you! Labor courts are actually quite rare actually and if you have a claim against you from an employee then if you have acted reasonably in dealing with them you should not be afraid to defend the ET yourself.
- Recruiters are geared towards maximizing their income rather than helping your business. This means they will do their best to convince you that you need to implement the products they support. A good example is HR software. Do you really need a customized HR system to collect your employee data? An Excel spreadsheet or Access database created in an afternoon might work just as well. If you want an HR system do some research, there are a number of fairly inexpensive standalone systems that you can easily implement yourself.
- You must have appropriate HR policies in place to govern how you employ your employees. However, nowadays there is so much information on the Internet that you can easily find the information you want there. If you get your information there, you don’t have to hire a recruiter to come into your company and tell you the same things!
- There are some basic HR policies and procedures that you really need to have in place. From my point of view these are: Discipline, Complaint, Equality, Harassment/Bullying and Health & Safety. You may also want to add induction and training and you need guidance on maternity/paternity leave and pay and probably flex work. If you have an issue with sickness, you should implement an absence management policy to address it. To be honest, the easiest way to address all of this is to create an employee handbook that details all of these policies and any other topics that you feel are relevant to your particular circumstances. Our website has templates for most of the policies you need – you can download and customize them. We also have a full policy manual and employee handbook template. If what you need isn’t here, you can just google it and you’ll likely find something on the web, or you can ask us if we have it. We have a lot of stuff that we haven’t put on our website yet. You really don’t need a recruiter to develop something bespoke for your business when so many resources already exist and can be customized.
- The internet is a fantastic free resource for small and medium sized businesses. From an HR perspective, you can access all the information you might need to ensure you have the necessary framework in place to support your employees. The UK Governments Business Links website is a great resource for employers. If you require health and safety information, visit the UK Health & Safety Executive website.
- With recruitment, which you may not do very often, you may feel that you need professional guidance. This is not required. Just make sure that the ad you create for your job openings is not in any way targeted towards or against one or more types of people. It’s often a good idea to have a colleague take a look to make sure you haven’t unknowingly overlooked something. At the interview, create a list of questions based on the skills required for the job, essentially asking for examples of what the person has accomplished in that regard in previous jobs. Ask each applicant the same questions. Have a conversation with a colleague and protect each other from bias or discrimination that creeps into your survey. Carefully write down the answers and how you came to the conclusion who the best candidate is.
- If you are dealing with human resource issues and you have an issue with an employee, you should handle the situation as you would any other business issue. So, make sure to collect all the necessary information, check the situation and then take appropriate measures. If this involves disciplining an employee, simply make sure you investigate the matter properly and then follow your agreed disciplinary procedure. Just make sure you have good notes on everything you do.
- If you are faced with a staffing situation that is new to you and are unsure how to proceed, you should network with your peers to see if anyone you know has experienced a similar situation. You can also check the internet for instructions.
- Don’t worry about being caught off guard by labor law changes. To be honest these are so well tracked if you simply keep an eye on the press or in the UK the Business Links site mentioned above or our site you will be sure to know what changes are coming and how they will affect you. It is really that easy.
In summary, if you are cautious about HR issues and ensure you are implementing an appropriate framework of up-to-date HR policies and procedures consistent with your employment law obligations, you should not fear doing anything wrong and feel under no obligation to seek expensive help from recruitment consultants.