For a small business, taking on employees is a huge responsibility.
The way you carry out your people management could go a long way in determining if productivity increases as you grow.
It may be that you need an extra pair of hands, or it’s a central part of a long-term growth plan.
Either way, one of the most demanding tasks for any small business owner is bringing in new people, especially if you haven’t got any experience as an employer.
Even though you don’t have the HR resources of a larger organisation, it is still essential that you have a proper people management strategy in place, as it is a perfect time to start as you mean to go on in growing a great culture that can drive the growth of your business.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
Why it’s essential to support your employees both in-person and remotely
As your small business grows, humans become essential.
Your ability to succeed, whether you’re offering a product or service, will depend on the ability of your people to execute your strategy, plans and processes—they will bring your vision to life with their talent and skills.
If you don’t support your employees, you may well lose out financially.
The costs start to add up seriously if you start suffering from high turnover and sickness, while low productivity and commitment manifest in businesses with toxic work environments.
With the impact coronavirus has had on businesses of all sizes, it’s essential to understand that people management matters when dealing with your remote workers, who might not even be in the same city or country.
You might not have the resources of a larger business regarding communication and technology, so you need to work harder to make sure that they feel part of the team—providing the results you require wherever they are.
Giving employees the technology tools to succeed
You might not have considerable resources, but your small business has a significant advantage in that you can move in a much more agile way.
Any changes made can be implemented in a matter of days or weeks, rather than months and years. And you don’t have to buy big software solutions upfront as you can purchase today’s cutting-edge cloud software on a subscription basis.
With the benefit of cloud HR software and cloud payroll software, you can put in place tools that can support people management, whether with automated administrative tasks such as payroll or keeping track of your people’s performance with handy real-time data and easy-to-understand dashboards.
- How to find and hire the right employee for your business
- How to hire employees for the first time
- Setting up payroll: How to get it right first time
- How to get new employees up to speed at your business
- How to support your first employees and help them thrive at your business
General people management processes to deal with
Let’s look at a few people management processes that your small business will have to deal with and how you can get things right.
Recruiting and onboarding
You won’t have a team of hardened recruiting professionals to help you, and you probably won’t want to pay steep agency fees.
Therefore, you’re going to have to do manage the recruitment (and onboarding) process yourself.
Here’s how you can do that:
- To recruit well, you should focus on writing and publishing clear job requirements and advertisements.
- You will also need to find, evaluate and organise job candidates quickly to win talent and make it as positive an experience as you can muster to attract good candidates in a competitive market.
- Once you’ve taken on your employees, you can use cloud HR software to efficiently onboard, manage and support them. And you can ensure they’re paid on time and you’re adhering to any legislation requirements by using cloud payroll software.
- In addition, HR software allows you to gather data to make your processes more efficient as you take on more people in the quest for growth.
Once you’ve got your employees settled, how do you engage and retain them?
You’ll need to motivate and support them. This will help to drive their passion, commitment and effort, while helping you achieve your business goals.
If you engage them, you’ll infuse them with a clear understanding of what your business is about and how they can contribute to your and their success.
To truly understand your employees without relying on hunches and guesswork, you must gather data and feedback. One of the big benefits of cloud technology is the ability to drive your business through data.
With real-time visibility of your people, you can understand their behaviour and action improvements when managing their engagement.
HR and payroll admin
When you take on employees, there’s a whole lot of admin to deal with that in the past may have required a ton of paperwork, such as absence and leave management, payroll, expenses, timesheets and scheduling.
Even with spreadsheets, all those processes will still be tackled manually, which will take time from more productive and profitable activities. They are also prone to errors, as manually keying in data is not an effective way of doing things.
If you’re using spreadsheets (or pen and paper) to calculate timesheet data, annual leave or report on payroll, sooner or later you’ll get something wrong. And that will result in a negative impact both for you and your employees.
Instead, you should look at HR and payroll software to automate those fiddly but essential tasks.
Managing employee development and performance
Compared to larger businesses, you may have smaller budgets to plat with and fewer financial perks to give to employees.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer them a competitive employee benefits package, offering discounts from travel agents and retailers, access to an online GP and more.
In addition, as a small business, you can build engagement through closer and more trusting relationships. If your employees feel more connected to their place of work, they will strive to get better, go the extra mile, and help the business perform better.
Here’s more ways you can support your employees:
Learning and development
Conducting learning and development activities should definitely be on your list.
Regular one-to-ones and team meetings can give your employees the tools to reflect and ask questions, and search out ways to learn and build their skills on the job.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to develop via formal learning and courses will be beneficial both for your employees and the business as a whole.
Although it’s traditional to have annual reviews, your people processes should allow time to be set aside for regular feedback sessions.
This allows for an ongoing conversation around company expectations and employee progress.
This type of work provides ample time for review, improvement, and feedback if issues come up.
Using cloud HR software means you can automate the processes involved with people performance, and you’ll also have easy access to documents and data points, which in turn can be used to fuel the feedback process.
Recognition and good communication
As a small business, you’re in a good position to make clear the appreciation you have for the jobs your employees do.
And in some cases, this can be more important than compensation.
Your employees’ jobs will directly connect to the success of the business, so you need to respect and value that relationship.
Cloud HR software will make it easier to measure how employees perceive how you communicate and recognise them. With solid internal communication tools and the ability to track and document performance with all documentation in one place, both manager and employee can keep track of where they are.
Anthony Impey, CEO of Be the Business, an independent not-for-profit focused on improving business performance says: “Remember that your employees are human beings.
“Over the past 18 months during the pandemic, we’ve been allowed into our colleagues’ homes, via video conferencing, and seen their lives outside of work – their pets, their children, and so on.
“Recognising that team members may have commitments outside of work that need to be navigated, that they will often give their all no matter when or where they are working, and remembering that they have lives outside of work, is really important to encourage engaged and loyal staff.”
Final thoughts on dealing with people management processes
Your people are your company’s greatest asset.
So ensuring your people processes are working to the best of their abilities will ensure you can support your employees and help them to achieve their goals (and those of the business).
If you’re new to people management, it’ll probably take time to have your processes running smoothly.
And that’s completely understandable.
But by using technology to automate the many tasks you have to deal with, that will make things easier all round.
And as your business grows and your employee numbers increase, having your people processes in place, complemented by cloud HR and payroll software, will mean you’ll be in a strong position to offer the support that your people need to do well in their roles.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2021 and has been updated for relevance.
A guide to hiring and supporting your first employees
At Sage, we’ve joined forces with Be the Business to help you hire and inspire your new employees like a boss. Check out this guide for top tips to help you along the way.
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