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HR for small companies

HR for small companies

HR for small companies

Very few small businesses can afford to employ a full-time human resources manager. But personnel issues are too important to leave up to chance. Every organisation should have a strategy to deal with areas such as training, maternity cover, keeping staff informed, health and safety and pay awards.

Putting a senior manager in charge of ensuring all these areas are covered highlights the importance of human resources (HR) to the rest of the organisation. The manager should review the system regularly and make sure staff know that it is there for them too.

Keeping staff informed

Making sure that employees know what's happening in their own organisation and the wider industry is important whatever the size of the company. Lack of information can spark rumours and dent morale. But information overload is just as destructive because employees won't have time to read it and might miss important news.

Some information is best relayed face to face. If you're holding a meeting remember to include workers who aren't always in the office: part-time staff and home workers, people who work shifts and employees who are "on the road". Try to choose a time when most people can attend and make sure anyone who misses the meeting knows what has happened.

Information which is very important, or which is unlikely to change over time is best conveyed in writing. Consider the following:

  • Company or employee handbook. This could include terms and conditions of employment, company rules and facilities such as corporate gym membership.
  • Noticeboards. Make sure they're placed where everyone will see them and that they're kept up to date.
  • Pay packet or notification. This is one piece of paper that most people study thoroughly.
  • House journals and newsletters. These usually also convey social news and can be a good way of boosting team spirit.
  • New media. Emails, an intranet (internal computer network) or text messages are handy ways of conveying short pieces of information. Their disadvantage is that there are easily deleted.

Staying up to date

UK and European employment rules change regularly. Several organisations offer instant information to help you keep up with developments or to cope with specific situations such as redundancy or dismissal.

Compactlaw provides legal documents and services for a range of human resources issues. Its Employers Pack software package contains employment contracts, forms, letters, notices and policies you need to create an effective staff handbook, plus a detailed legal guide on related employment law issues. The Pack includes a comprehensive Human Resources Guide, including the latest best practice and templates. Compactlaw also produces documents about issues such as flexible working and sickness and absences policy.

Members of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development can tap into its "Employment Law at Work", a one-stop-shop which provides wide-ranging information on employment law issues. The CIPD offers updated information and fact sheets on its website. Managers can also attend courses on issues such as interviewing technique.

Training

Taking staff out of work for a training course can be difficult in a small business where people usually fulfil more than one role. But in most industries training is essential if you want to keep up with your competitors. The best training for a small business is short sessions focussed on a specific need.

Joining up with other businesses cuts the cost of training and time spent away from the office. "Training clusters" of organisations in the same geographic area or supply chain produce economies of scale and allow staff to learn from different approaches.

Trade organisations, business clubs, chambers of commerce, the Government's business links and local authorities can all play a part in bringing small companies together. Training sessions can take place in business parks and even spare rooms in shopping centres.

Some large companies allow their suppliers to share their facilities. Many science parks also have training places for different organisations to pool their resources.

Whether it's training or maternity leave, personnel issues affect most aspects of business and can't left up to chance.

Useful links:

Compactlaw http://www.compactlaw.co.uk/

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development http://www.cipd.co.uk/

Acas http://www.acas.org.uk/

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