08 March 2019

In start-ups and small businesses, HR is often delegated to non-specialists, whose primary responsibilities are operational and may have nothing to do with people management. Not only might they lack the knowledge and skills to effectively carry out the function, but many will see HR as an administrative burden that gets in the way of the real priority: developing and growing the business. Yet in our experience we have found that ineffective HR can be as much of an obstacle to business growth as faulty goods or poor customer service.

Back in June 2018, the CIPD’s head of public policy - Ben Willmott – told the business, energy and industrial strategy committee that small businesses are often overlooking how strong HR practice could support their growth . Despite mounting evidence, many small but growing organisations still seem to be unaware of the link between people management and productivity. In our experience areas that can lead to greater employee engagement and productivity are:

  • developing a recruitment process that brings the right people with the right skills at the right time, into the organisation;
  • ensuring appropriate induction and extensive onboarding process to maximise retention;
  • carrying out regular performance discussion to highlight strengths, identify issues and potential solutions;
  • evaluating and developing skills within the business;
  • finding out how happy or engaged employees are; and
  • monitoring data and conducting interviews to find out why people leave or are regularly absent.

In addition to the business benefits the above may bring there is also a lot of employment legislation for small businesses to comply with. In our experience some smaller organisations are often not aware of all the checks that need to be done when someone new joins their organisation. In our experience we find the following areas of under compliance. 

  • Making sure the correct right to work checks take place.
  • That employment contracts are issued within two months of employees’ start date?
  • Good clear strong policies on how to deal with bullying, harassment, disciplinaries and grievances.

Finally, we often find through working with growing businesses without dedicated HR support that their processes are sometimes not as defined as they could be often still using Excel spreadsheets to track and monitor holidays and other absences. From an HR perspective these tracking devices can become clunky and unworkable as the business grows at which point the switch over to a HR IT system could be beneficial. This switch over to electronic can help to streamline and eradicate the need for onerous HR admin especially if the HR IT system offers some form of 'self-service' options which most do eg employees start updating their own records online.

It is clear that HR must become an integral part of managing business risk, which is why RSM has developed their HR complimentary Healthcheck. Our HR consultants can take you through a simple questionnaire and provide you with a quick assessment of the risks associated with your people management. Please contact Kerri Constable for more information.