Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The small business challenge... hiring staff

For any small business, it is a massive decision to take on staff. You have been responsible for everything up to this point. The ‘control freak’ in you has to let go in order for your business to grow and for you to focus on what you do best.

Defining the role.....
Typically, the new recruit will be an administrative person.  It can be tempting to assign just about everything that has an administrative angle to this role but be careful. It is not easy to recruit someone that can provided you with marketing/sales support, bookkeeping, database management, reception, business development, and office administration duties – not to mention the differing pay rates for these jobs.

Start with a simple task list and keep the duties reasonably focused. This list will help you to create a job advertisement and a job description. A job description is critical for performance measurement down the track. Employees like to know how they are tracking in their job, and being given opportunities to grow will engender long term loyalty.

Finding someone who will fit your business.....
Fifty per cent of finding the right person is having confidence that they can do the job. This can be established through one or two interviews, candidate testing for specific skills, and talking to previous employers. The other half is your gut feel that the person will be a good fit for your team and your business. Culture fit is generally established in an interview. For example, if you are a sales driven business, you would be looking for someone who is immaculately presented, has strong communication skills, has successful sales experience, is confident, and thrives on interaction with people.

Don’t forget to sell the merits of working for your business......
Your business is your entire universe at the moment, but in the eyes of a candidate, you have an unknown brand, a shoe box office, and budget constraints. You need to pitch your potential growth and promote any non-financial benefits of working for your business e.g. flexible work arrangements. When you are reviewing candidates, look closely at candidates who have worked for other SMEs or who have established their own businesses and are looking to come back into the workplace. You want people who are happy to get their hands dirty, have a hint of entrepreneurial spirit, or have no interest in working for large organisations. 

Contract or permanent to start with?.............
When employees are on a contract, they generally get paid on a per hour basis and there are no benefits attached such as sick leave, holiday leave, carers leave etc. Employers can either have contractors on their books or employers can hire a contractor through a recruiter. Hiring a contractor through a recruiter costs the employer more per hour but the contractor is effectively an employee of the recruitment firm so the employer has the flexibility to engage or disengage the contractor quickly without having to perform the recruitment process.

Hiring someone as a contractor or temp to start with can be a smart move to ensure that the new recruit can not only do the job, but also fits with the culture of the workplace. It also allows employers to test a flexible work arrangement before creating a more permanent position. Most of the time, candidates will work with a contract role as long as there is a view to the role becoming permanent. Keep in mind that some candidates prefer contract roles because they are short term so don’t be surprised if they move onto another opportunity.

Many employers are also happy to hire someone upfront in a permanent position. Most candidates are naturally attracted to permanent roles because it provides a sense of job security. If your business is established, there is sufficient work, and you require someone with skills that your business doesn’t have, permanent roles provide the opportunity for someone to come into the business with a medium to long term outlook.

Employment laws, staff documentation, and staff policies.........
Before hiring an employee, make sure you are up to speed on the National Employment Standards. You will need to provide a letter of offer, an employment agreement, and a job description. Once you start hiring staff, you will also need to create workplace policies (e.g. travel policy, expenses policy, flexible work policy, telecommuting policy) and have a performance measurement system to measure their work performance on a regular basis.

Make sure you visit www.fairwork.gov.au  and review the ten National Employment Standards that govern our workplace. Other great resources include www.ato.gov.au and http://www.business.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

If you need help to recruit staff for your growing business, contact Kate Sykes to talk about our affordable recruitment and HR services - kate@careermums.com.au or 0400 823 914.