Being an employer comes with the responsibility of ensuring your employees have a safe workspace, are treated fairly, and can be taxed at the end of the year. This process is what has culminated to HR.
HR is the process of ensuring that all members of your business family are treated properly and are in sync with one another and the business operations. This is serious work, HR is not a small feat; it goes beyond tossing files and handbooks at your employees.
So how do you manage relations in your company without spending too much resources on HR? The best way is to understand the process, identify your responsibilities, and develop efficient systems for managing human relations in your company. Here are some basic steps you can take to start the process:
- Start with ‘HR Consciousness’
Lots of small business managers believe that HR is a burden that is reserved for large corporations only. This leads to neglect of all HR-related activities which creates problems in the future.
As you develop various systems that will keep your business growing each year, you should have HR in mind. Start with being conscious that HR is important for your business to thrive and then proceed to build the right foundations of proper documentation, and compliance with the federal and state legislations.
Proper documentation includes keeping clean records from day one. Every employee needs a file with all of their info. This can include things like their resume or application, W-4, handbook sign-off, payroll information – any document you suspect may be relevant in the future.
You want to start this process early, Have your employees fill out their Form W-4 or Form W-9 on their first day of work. You’ll need these forms to collect basic tax information and to help you prepare employees’ payroll tax filings at the end of the year. There are several helpful resources out there to help you determine the right employee classification for your staff or reach-out to SW HR Consulting as we can provide immediate guidance.
Organize your I-9s. I-9s should be in a way that’s readily available should they come knocking for an audit. Because of this, we (and the USCIS) recommend keeping them in a separate file for easy inspection.
The federal and state governments create labor laws to keep business practices inclusive, safe and standardized for employees. They require that you enlighten your employees of their rights discussed on labor law posters. So, you’ll need to order the federal and state posters and put them in an easily accessible place like the hallway or break room so everyone can see them.
How long should you keep HR files?
The EEOC recommends keeping an employee’s personnel records for at least one year after their employment ends – this comes in handy in cases of a lawsuit. Tax records should be kept at least three years.
2. Build your own employee handbook
Your handbook is the equivalent of your company’s constitution. It is vital as a guide to your employees as it dictates how your staff should interact with one another.
You should create your company handbook as the first step in creating your company culture. It may appear as a daunting process, but you must understand its importance and see the need to put in conscious effort in its curation.
There are lots of templates for writing your company handbook out there but you have to be careful when using a template because they are not always legally reviewed. With that being said, working with a company like SW HR Consulting can not only create a customizable handbook from scratch for your company, but we work directly with legal firms to be sure that your handbook is compliant. Here are some Issues that your handbook should encompass:
- Existential issues that are not likely to change in the short-term such as vacation and sick policies, bereavement, holidays,benefits,discrimination and harassment policies, dress codes, and any other standard practices. You can also include things like social media rules.
- FAQs – your handbook is the ultimate FAQ about your business, ensure that it reflects this fact.
- It should reflect your vision and mission for the company. This will serve as a guide for your employees to follow in achieving your goals for the company.
- Create a process for onboarding andtermination
Onboarding involves the process of bringing someone into your business family. A clumsy onboarding experience could make new employees perceive your company the wrong way.
You want to create processes that make onboarding smoother and faster. You may start by making a list you can easily check off every time you bring on someone new.
On the flip side, you’ll also need to be able to ‘offboard’ someone who’s resigning or terminate an employee who’s not doing a great work. It’s not a fun process, but it’s best to be prepared for it when it happens. Depending on your state, there are different requirements for things like separation notices or final paychecks, but there are a few best practices:
- The Department of Labor has some helpful information and rules about termination. You’ll need to manage a host of activities ranging from COBRA for insurance, paperwork for unemployment benefits and final paychecks. You will need to check these regulations and ensure that you are compliant with them.
- Consider holding exit interviews to learn more about why someone is leaving your company. You’ll learn about any internal issues faster and take proactive measures to resolve them.
- Hang onto terminated personnel files. On the federal level, an I-9 can be destroyed one year after termination and payroll information can be destroyed after three. When you do get rid of these files, remember they contain lots of private, personal information, so look into document shredding services.
- Keep your new employees engaged
When you hire an employee, they become a part of your business family. If they are happy being a part of your family, they’ll stick with you and do their best job – if not, they’ll look for a job elsewhere.
As you run your company, you’ll observe that it is pretty difficult to find good hires. You want to ensure that you keep these hires when you find them. Keeping your staff engaged is a tricky process that involves: building trust, boosting morale, and building a positive work culture.So, how do you boost employee engagement? Here are some ideas:
- Keep communication clear:Improving communication might mean choosing a messaging platform for the office or finding a tool to simplify sharing requests like shift changes — or just talking to your people regularly
- Offer the right benefits: You will need to train yourself to meet the needs of your employees even before they talk about them. This will show them that you have their interests at heart and they will in turn give you their best.
Retention and employee engagement are all about communication and empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and do what’s best for them at all times.
At the end of the day, the best approach to human resource basics is focusing on creating a functional, safe, and enjoyable workplace — and keeping yourself organized. These fundamentals will keep your HR practices in compliance while still giving plenty of room for growth as you expand your staff and business.