How to get an HR plan in place for your SME

How to get an HR plan in place for your SME

As an owner/manager of an SME, you will no doubt be faced with frequent people-related problems and challenges. There are a myriad of issues that you need to be across.

Employing people is both a costly and time-consuming part of your business. So I strongly recommend you focus a little of your planning time on the topic.

Many SMEs fly by the seat of their pants and deal with what presents itself.

This is flawed logic as the opportunity to perhaps extract the best from your people is lost and, worse still, you will lose valuable staff.

There are some fundamental positives which you must attend to from the get-go. I will address these clearly, but first, what’s your attitude to your people issues right now?

Here’s a test. Be honest.

SME Managing People questions

Do you agree or Disagree?

My business is new so I have permission to work things out as I go

agree/ disagree

Rules don’t apply to me as I only employ a few staff

agree/ disagree

I can ask for flexibility from all my staff as we are in a growth phase

agree/ disagree

None of the big Company HR stuff works or is applicable to my business

agree/ disagree

Harassment and Bullying Laws are designed for Big Business only

agree/ disagree

I can use my own tried and true methods to select my team

agree/ disagree

I can determine pay and conditions for my staff as I am a small business

agree/ disagree

If you answered Agree to any of the questions you are need of some help, guidance and support as you will be non-compliant with the basic requirements of any sized business.

But all is not lost and you can regain compliance standards very quickly. And by doing so, you can start to fashion a culture which suits you and your business model.

It is not recommended that you ‘wear a ball gown to a barbeque’ and attempt to replicate corporate standards of HR strategy. That won’t suit your business at all.

Do what you must do to deliver a better business result. It is not recommended that you use a cookie cutter approach either. What’s a cookie cutter, I hear you ask?

Any approach that causes people to suspend their thinking, imagination, intuition, cognitive biases and the stuff between the ears is a cookie cutter.

So what can you do?

Well you need to do something. If we follow the steps outlined below you will not only be compliant but on the road to making people a key plank in your business model.

  • Develop a simple people plan and consider people in all the business activities you plan.
  • Check whether you are familiar with the Fair Work National Employment standards? Do you give a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement to all staff?
  • You can ask for flexibility, but so can your staff. Be across what is reasonable and what your obligations are.
  • Many of the standard company HR policies are applicable to your business, but perhaps in a simplified form. Decide on a few and build a policy set that works for you.
    • Starting with position descriptions which provide role clarity
    • Encouraging two way feedback
    • Explaining your expectations on taking leave
    • Use probation periods well
    • Understand what type of employment types are best for your business (full-time part-time, casual, fixed term, contract)
    • Understand your obligations as an employer about fair treatment
      • Harassment and bullying laws have changed
      • Unfair dismissal
      • Recruitment/selection methods needs to be fair, consistent and transparent
      • Let’s pay people fairly and let’s be consistent, not favouring a few!

All in all, it’s a back-to-basics approach with some clear minimum guidelines that are must-dos.

There is no need to hire an HR person as your business may not justify that resource.

These days you can always buy HR as a service. Don’t leave it until it’s a problem. Start a process and you will attract and retain those critical resources to your business success.

A great man once said, “In any moment of decision the best thing to do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Martin Nally is managing director of hranywhere.


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