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Top tips for taking on staff

Top tips for taking on staff

These are the essential elements to consider if you want to become an excellent employer

When you’re taking on staff for the first time, there are a number of aspects to employment you need to consider carefully before you hire. And when you have hired, there are other areas you need to stay on top of as your business grows.

Review your own employment history

Before you take on any team members, go back through your own employment experiences.

Review who you enjoyed working for, why they made a good employer and what aspects of the roles you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.

Consider both the job description - what you were being asked to do - as well as your working environment and company culture. Ask friends about their experiences too.

This will help you to determine the framework and culture of your own employment style.

Research employment law

As an employer, there’s a raft of employment law you need to be across. From environmental and employee health and safety to accounting, discrimination and rights to work, it’s vital to ensure you’re staying the right side of the law.

Different sectors of the economy not only have to comply with UK-wide law but may also have their own specific directives.

For example, there may be training requirements, material storage rules or security checks that need to be carried out.

As an employer, you will be responsible for the company operating safely and legally within the law. You will also need to take out employers’ liability insurance. Finding out about all these aspects before you take on a single employee is vital.

Determine the company culture

Running a company with employees is very different from owning a company where the founders have worked together since launch.

You’ll need to put a management structure in place, even if you’re only taking on a handful of staff. With few employees, this can be light touch and have an open framework, but your team need to understand who they report to, who is responsible for what management aspects of the company and who to speak to for guidance. Different owners have varying skills and abilities. As you employ more staff and the team grows, it’s important to harness the right leaders for the right teams.

If you feel you’re lacking in management or leadership skills, ensure you take part in leadership training. There are many good courses available online and locally, with countless books having been written about it. It’s worth the time and cost to ensure your company develops a healthy, welcoming culture for your staff.

Happy companies work well, have a lower staff turnover and welcome input from all employees, who feel valued and safe.

Employees are individuals

Each person you look to employ will have their own hopes and dreams and their own reasons for working. But you as the employer have your own requirements for the business. It’s important to match both of these from the outset.

When looking to hire, ensure you write a clear job description of what they’re expected to do and the skills required to undertake the role.

Be straightforward about working conditions and remuneration offered, including pay, holiday, pension, etc. Give an honest picture of your ambitions for the company, with guidance to the sort of character the role might suit.

Your job description needs to be reflective of the role and should not inflate or be full of hyperbole 97about the company. Inaccurate or misleading job descriptions can cause difficulties and expense for both parties down the line when realities fail to match.

Look to bring in a diverse working team. Research has proven that companies with a range of ages, sexes and backgrounds are more successful than those drawn from a limited pool.

Behaving as an employer

Now you’re an employer, you need to ensure your company is a good one.

Good employers ensure their teams know what can be reasonably expected of their working role and what the rewards for this are.

Each employee should be given an appropriate contract that sets out the terms of the relationship between you. This should cover the key aspects of their employment.

Any terms you might need to vary - such as working hours or place of employment - can be covered in an accompanying staff handbook. The contract needs to be fair to both parties to ensure there’s no room for aggrievement further down the line.

It’s also important to give employees a framework for how you will be assessing and rewarding them for their work moving forward.

A six-monthly or annual performance appraisal is common, with feedback being given in both directions, actions agreed and reviewed. Some companies link appraisals to pay reviews, whereas others believe in keeping these separate.

As an employer, you also need to provide a safe, supportive environment for your team.

With COVID-19 changing working practice, you may be building a dispersed workforce or having to provide a safe place of work where your employees attend in person. Whichever it is, you’ll need to consider their well-being while they are at work, as this is now your responsibility.

Good employers also provide their teams with a career ladder.

In the early days of employing staff, this may seem some way off. But if you’re looking for ambitious, engaged employees to help you build your venture, they will want to understand that you have growth plans and they could be part of these plans.

This can include encouraging the pursuit of further qualifications, additional training and upskilling, both in their job function, but also around management and leadership.

Companies don’t stand still. Neither do you as an employer or those people you will be employing.

An open dialogue, regular reviews, team meetings and two-way discussion is crucial. Everyone needs to ensure there is a warm working environment that allows both the company and all who work there to flourish. But the person who can make or break this is you, now you are an employer.

The author

Erica Wolfe-Murray is a leading business coach and expert and author of Simple Tips Smart Ideas.

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