Outdated or non existent employment contract and employee handbook
This is one of the main reasons I am contacted by small and medium sized businesses. It is quite easy for existing documents to get out of date as the employment law changes frequently. Despite the implementation of the Employment Rights Act 1996 that requires an employer to provide a new employee with employment terms and conditions (contract) within eight weeks of starting employment, many business still do not do so. Failure to provide this document can lead to compensation equivalent to up to four weeks pay in an employment tribunal. An employee handbook sets out the guidelines and rules that all employees have to adhere to and should be drafted in accordance with current employment law. Outdated policies could lead to wrong actions being taken against an employee and a possible employment tribunal.
Lack of understanding with employment law
Since the 1990s there has been a steady stream of laws related to employment that have been implemented in the UK. Employee issues such as disability, pregnancy, discrimination, health and safety and pay can be complex to deal with. Many laws now contradict one another and it takes an employment law specialist to unpick the essentials for any given employee situation. The cost of failing to understand current employment law could lead to an employment tribunal.
A disciplinary matter needs urgent attention
From time to time a serious situation may occur in the workplace and it is important that, even if it is minor, that it is dealt with quickly. Certainly in agross misconduct situation it is often essential to suspend an employee or employees as soon as possible whilst a thorough investigation takes place. Time is of the essence to ensure that any important evidence is not hidden or destroyed. It is important to take urgent advice where you feel you are lacking experience of how to adequately handle these matters.
An employee is not performing well
So many businesses have under performing employees that they fail to deal with. Unfortunately this can impact on profits and employee morale. It is not nice for fellow employees to see a poorly performing colleague not being dealt with by management. The matter should be dealt with in a structured legal framework to try and get the employee back on track. It can be time consuming to deal with but ultimately the employee can be fairly dismissed if a performance management process fails.
You have no time to deal with employee matters
Dealing with employee issues can be very time consuming. With a problematic employee you have to meet with them and keep a paper trail of what you have done to try and manage the situation. Most business owners prefer to keep their focus on the business which is time consuming enough without have to deal with problematic employees which is where HR can help.
A company’s employees ie its human resources are its greatest asset and how they are managed can be the key to growing and improving a business; this should always be a strategic objective regardless of company size. HR management can include recruitment, induction, performance management, health & safety management, pay and benefits, wellness, diversity, employee motivation, communication and training to name but a few aspects. Providing leadership and promoting culture whilst adhering to employment law are also essential.
Better HR management starts with making good recruitment decisions so that you are recruiting the right quality of individual with the key skills your business needs. A structured recruitment process is required that incorporates ability and psychometric tests along with the traditional interview. Providing a competitive pay and benefits package will attract the right calibre of applicants in the first place; benefits can be both financial and non-financial eg flexible working is highly valued by employees with minimal costs to introduce. A well designed, structured induction process will then settle your new recruit into their job so they begin to quickly start performing well. Consideration to an ongoing varied training and development plan is essential to keep the momentum going and develop key skills which will benefit both the individual and the business.
Employees should be managed fairly and equally by trained line managers who encourage them to get involved in the work environment through two way communication. They should be provided with interesting work that provides job satisfaction. Recognition for successes is important and can be provided financially or through feedback and praise so that employees feel valued. This will stimulate their motivation to work harder. Employees can therefore become an engaged workforce which leads to higher productivity with a huge impact on the bottom line allowing a business to grow and improve.
For any organisation that has employees it is important to develop an HR strategy for the future which will provide a 3-5 year direction for the organisation in order to gain competitive advantage.
The use of a SWOT analysis can help develop an HR strategy in looking at how external factors (opportunities and threats) can impact on internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) identifying plans for improvement and/or growth. External factors can include those related to political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental issues. Therefore an organisation must analyse which or all of these will have an effect. For example employment legislation is constantly changing (dependent on EU implementation requirements and government interpretations). This has an impact on employees in that an organisation has to ensure an engaged productive workforce that are being managed within the law.
To analyse the internal factors, an organisation must look at its tangible HR resources ie specific employee skills and experience, recruitment strategies, staff motivation, staff turnover, etc. to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
By cross referencing strengths and weaknesses against opportunities and threats clear plans can then be developed on paper for an HR strategy. Employees are an organisation’s greatest resource so such a long term plan is essential for success.