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HR essentials for SMEs

Taking on staff for the first time is a huge step for many SMEs – you may be an expert in your product or service offering but may have only limited working knowledge of HR (Human Resources).

Before you expand your workforce, it’s prudent to invest time in the establishment of a robust HR framework that will serve you well as business grows.

Are written policies really necessary?

In a word, yes! No matter how friendly the atmosphere at work, it only takes one thing to go wrong for you to find yourself speaking to your lawyer. Protect your company and your employees by always putting your HR policies and procedures in writing. Written HR policies and procedures:

  • set out what employees and managers can expect, and what is expected of them, in a range of circumstances
  • provide consistency and transparency, which is crucial to perceptions of fairness
  • protect you from breaches of employment legislation.

Which HR policies and procedures does my business need?

Though every company is different, there are a number of HR policies that every business should have:

  • Code of Conduct – the document that specifies expected behavior in the workplace and among employees. A code of conduct lists general do’s and don’ts in the office and provides guidelines regarding workplace issues and situations.
  • Disciplinary and Grievance Policies – the procedures don’t need to be part of the contract of employment, but by law you should have them in place so everyone is clear about what is required
  • Workplace Health & Safety – all organisations are required by law to provide a “safe system of work”. What that means is the employer needs a method of communicating, duplicating and implementing safe work environment which includes a OHS policy.
  • Equal Employment Opportunities – both employers and employees can be held responsible and liable for their actions if they discriminate. A written equal opportunities policy sets out what is expected of employees as individuals and as part of the organisation
  • Use of Email, Internet and Social Media – every company should have a policy that covers what is acceptable usage, including business and personal use of social media in and outside of the workplace, and outlining that workplace monitoring of electronic communications may be put in place.
  • Leave Entitlements Policy – crucial for keeping leave of all types under control, you should include the procedure for taking holidays, notifying sickness absence, or any other leave that means an employee will not be attending work. Other areas to document include, special leave categories like compassionate leave, jury duty along with maternity and paternity entittlements, return to work interviews, and potential triggers for disciplinary action.

It’s crucial that companies realise that an HR policy is only useful if it’s actually adhered to. Make sure that your employees are aware of the policies, and that managers are trained on how to implement them. Policies must be provided to all new hires on commencement and made available to existing staff at any time.

You should also bear in mind that no organisation is static. As your business changes, so should your HR policies. Review them regularly to ensure that they are relevant and, crucially, are providing the protection that you and your employees need.

What else do I need to think about? Well that is a good start and will put you well on the way to implementing the policy component of your HR Framework.

For help developing your personal and tailored HR framework, contact at The HR Dept on 1800 HR DEPT (1800 473 378).