Regardless of whether you have an in-house HR manager or team, an external consultant, or you take on the role of HR manager yourself, it is a crucial aspect of owning and operating a business to get the HR side of things right.
When things are going well, it may not seem like much effort. But take a wrong turn and things can go downhill fast. Productivity, retention rates, costs, compliance and so forth can all become major headaches if things go awry.
Speaking on the My Business Podcast, Clare Long of Norgay HR Consulting outlines three common issues HR managers face, what you can do to dig yourself out and how you can help to prevent such situations occurring at all.
1. Business owners removing themselves from issues
As the owner of the business, regardless of its size, you need to be part of the HR process.
“When I'm … working with a client in that situation, there's a certain way that we do it. The business owner has to be the one having the conversation,” says Clare.
Particularly when it comes to disputes between the owner and an employee, Clare says it is important that you don't simply bury your head in the sand, or completely outsource the problem to someone else.
“Then my role is supporting both parties in that. There's a lot of emotion in those meetings, of course there is.
“It's supporting both people through that so that it can be the best outcome [possible], considering the circumstances. I've seen it done really, really well and very respectfully.”
2. Hiding facts
Clare also advises business owners to be 100 per cent open with their HR manager or consultant, especially when difficult issues arise, because otherwise the problems can escalate further.
“I do need to know all the facts. I don't want any surprises when we're in … meetings,” she says.
“Be up-front. We'll work together on the most pragmatic solution to get to the outcome that needs to be taken.”
If it comes down to letting an employee go, being honest about the process is vital, especially regarding your decision to hire that person in the first place.
“Sometimes it's the wrong decision, it was the wrong hiring decision. Really, I have great empathy for a person on the other end [who is] now going to potentially lose their job because the selection process was flawed,” Clare explains.
“Working with me, I might actually suggest again, let's look at the financial offering we can make to this person, because guess what? We got it wrong, not that individual.”
3. Letting employees go too late
If an employee is not working out in their role or within the company, it may be time to let them go.
However, taking too long to make this decision can create issues for your business through unfair dismissal cases.
Retaining an employee for more than six months (if you have less than 15 employees), or 12 months for businesses with more than 15 employees, can open you up to the possibility of facing an unfair dismissal case.
From a risk management perspective, letting an employee go before that six- or 12-month period is up is the “safest time” to do so.
“It’s not foolproof, but it’s safer than if you let that tick over,” says Clare.
4. Unfair dismissal
Even if you do face an unfair dismissal claim from a former employee, it is important not to think that it is the end of the world.
“There's a lot of fear and concern around legal claims and 'What's that going to cost my business?',” Clare explains.
“When I'm in that situation and in that discussion, we can have a really pragmatic discussion about ‘Well, this is the most it's going to cost you’. Generally they're like, ‘Oh, is that all?’.”