Time flies when you’re running your own business. One minute it’s January and you’re hiring your first few team members, telling yourself you’ll align their progress with the rest of the business, and then the next, you find it’s Summer already and all your good intentions have never not quite translated into any sort of strategy ….
Very Few Startups & SMEs Allocate Time Once A Month To Focus On HR
And whilst it’s likely that you’ve kept a regular eye on your sales and finance tasks in a structured way every month, when it comes to your people, chances are that any structure has been left to happen ‘naturally’. If you’re close to the team, check in regularly as a matter of course and have spent time building relationships with them from the word ‘go’, then this is all good news as you’ve built some really strong foundations already despite no mention of the words ‘HR’. However if you’ve left all checkups and communications aside as you have your head down, there not only may there be a risk that the next “have you got a quick minute?” directed your way, might just be a complaint or – worse still – the dreaded resignation letter, you will also be missing a trick in planning and investing in your biggest asset: your team.
Our Monthly HR Checklist For Startups & SMEs
To help you structure what can sometimes seem a daunting task, we’ve created a monthly HR checklist for you, designed to make sure you keep your business and your people on track. Nothing heavy. And nothing daunting. But a few things that – if you review on a regular monthly basis – will significantly help boost your team’s productivity and your overall leadership, saving you oodles of time and hassle in the long run.
1. Step back and do a quick people overview (as you would your sales or finances): What are its strengths and weaknesses? What does your team look like this year in size, shape, roles and productivity? More importantly, what do you want them to be doing differently in the next 6 – 12 months to meet your own overall goals?
2. With 1) in mind… how you want to develop the team and what are the 1, 2 and 3 priorities you will be looking at for the coming 6 months with them?
3. Set up some simple KPIs to track in relation to your team. Basics ordinarily will include things such as headcount, salary bill, absence rates etc (which track directly to your finances), right through to those which might tell you a little bit more in the long run & will take a bit of time to start yielding the insight you’re after. In this latter category, you need to put your thinking cap on about what you want to measure (employee satisfaction, time you spend with each employee, number of new ideas/ initiatives generated by the team etc) and why it’s important.
4. Clarify to the team what the company goals are and what progress is being made towards them. Too busy for an All Hands/ Town Hall/ Company Meeting? Whilst face to face is often best in this regard, we find that the ‘little and often’ approach works best to get the message across and make people feel involved, so just make sure that there is some communication on this each month, even if via Email/ slack/ video etc
5. Get feedback from the team on how they are finding each project/ progress against the goals. Whilst there are now many different software programmes which can help do this for you in a regular and structured way, at the very least, add on a question to all at the bottom of any team wide communications that make clear that you want to hear from people or walk around the office and ask people face to face.
6. Put together a simple action plan to address any queries which arise. And forecast for the team over how their roles might change, what their risk profile is and how you can support and motivate them
7. Make the team see you as human: take them out to lunch to chat away from the office and stay connected. One former CEO I worked with liked to take afternoon tea with his team & another took each person out for lunch in their first week to find out more about them, both delightful traditions appreciated by all.
8. Review the behaviours of your current team. Look at what the qualities of the team are displaying are and what channel they joined you via. When it comes to recruiting, referrals can be a really good channel & work wonders on those KPIs. Share recognition about great performance: your team will love you for it (even if they’re a bit embarrassed initially…)
9. Take stock of what learning may be needed for individuals/ teams to support your goals. This doesn’t need to be expensive (we have heaps of ideas in a previous blog ‘Learning on a Shoestring’) but as a no.1 area for motivation as well as often being needed to adapt to a changing business, getting a clear idea on where people can develop is key.
10. Talk to the team and bounce ideas off people who don’t have a direct interest in your business to get some objective advice and open your mind to trying out new ways of doing things. But whether you’re are start up with just a couple of employees or hitting the big time and your headcount is getting into triple figures, it’s never the wrong time to focus on getting the most from your team and providing a great environment for them to thrive.
If you’re struggling however with getting the full benefits from your team and finding the time to develop your ideas, help from a switched-on HR professional could be what you need.
For help in getting (and keeping!) your business on track with it’s team please email email@example.com or call 0203 627 7048 and speak to our team. We’re always happy to help and offer a free initial review to help you understand how to make valuable changes to support your business.
TheHRhub: helping restless business owners create and manage good working relationships with their staff in a direct and pragmatic way. #employeemagic
A vision will outline your destination to all those who touch your business: your team, your customers and your investors. The poster boy for creating a vision is Steve Jobs (of course). And for good reason.
According to researcher Carmine Gallo, there’s no question that Jobs’ vision inspired Apple’s breakthrough innovations and it’s employees. Innovation requires a team and you cannot inspire a team of passionate evangelists without a compelling vision: a vision that is bold, simple, and consistently communicated.
You don’t need to be Steve Jobs to learn from his style
And you don’t need to be the size of Apple to have a vision. But you must get clear in your own mind and be able to articulate to others, the vision of your company and not just side-step it as something only ‘big’ organisations do. Your vision is your MAGIC. And it is just as important to paint the picture of the future when you are hiring your fourth team member, as it is when you are pitching to a group of investors or holding a Town Hall meeting with 200+ attendees. People want to work for leaders who give their lives meaning and sharing this with your team to inspire and motivate, gives you a unique and competitive edge.
Values are part of your vision too
They underpin ‘how’ you do business and are the essence of your culture. They summarise the characteristics which are important to you and your team and are a description of what behaviours actually take place and rewarded in your company day to day rather than those which look pretty on a website. With nearly 90% of poor hires not working out are as a result of weak cultural fit, taking time to describe how you want your team to work and what you expect from the word-go will reap rewards in terms of hiring those who are culturally aligned to your business.
Sounds a bit too wishy-washy for you?
Then take note of Michael Gerber who repeatedly found in his bestseller “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”, that the habit of working on the day-to-day operational problems without really taking time to come up with a vision or dream to really aim for, meant that it will typically fail. And no one wants that.
Creating meaning to people’s lives can feel overwhelming, so to help translate your vision into reality, we’ve shared this this guide below for you to break it all down to manageable chunks…
theHRhub Guide To Writing A Vision
||Write a short concise statement that describes the overall purpose of your company (beyond making money…).
It should be:
|Think of how you would like to be described by your team in the pub or what you would put on a T-Shirt (and it still be readable…).
|Long term objectives
||Choose up to 5 broad long-term (c. 3-5 years) goals which support your Mission Statement and which, if achieved, would signal success for you.
Use these to articulate your business strategy further (be it growth: either by acquisition/ external investment/ organically – through to a specific product or service or recognition within a specific area etc.).
|Make sure to include the financial as well as the non-financial.
Debate on this can trigger all sorts of ideas so involve your top team in suggesting where they think are the broader opportunities.
||Write down all those things you think are important to you: the principles, characteristics and behaviours.
Cluster them until you have a handful of words and phrases which accurately sum up what you think best represents your business, test them with your team and hey presto, you have your values!
(n.b. it can take a few rounds but don’t skimp on it!)
|Ask each of the team to think of who your most valued employees are. What is it that they bring to the ‘party’ which they rate so highly?
|Company goals (or objectives)
||What tangible, measurable things will you do over the next 6-12 months to support your long term objectives?
When do you want to achieve these by? Add in some timescales and be realistic!
|Don’t have more than 5 in any one period & start with the key areas of your company that need improving.
|Company key result areas
||Define and set out the measures for success of each company goal (be specific & make sure they are measurable improvements over time rather than ethereal and vague ones).
The key results need to show what you expect to see if you achieve your objective.
|Measurements can be in time, % improvements, binary numbers, customer accounts etc. as well as £££, however they should always include timeframes to complete which are not easy to hit but not too difficult.
For help in translating your dreams into a reality the team can get behind, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048 and speak to our team. We’re always happy to help and offer a free initial review to help you understand how to make valuable changes to support your business.
Image: Ben Sutherland on Flickr
Fractional: [adjective] Relating to only a part of something; Extremely small or insignificant
The fractional workforce is a phrase new to many. But not for long I suspect. A term used to loosely describe those who provide work to one or more businesses, it includes many of the 5 million people in the UK who are classified as ‘self-employed’ – the contractors, the freelancers, the ‘gig’ workers, the temporary staff you have on your books – not to mention those who might be on your payroll on a part time basis. The common denominator of all of these being that they are just not solely dedicated to your business.
But far from these being just the ‘giggers’ who have grabbed the headlines in recent months – those who deliver your food, clean your house or ferry you home at the end of an evening – 60% of these fractional workers are found to be in highly skilled or managerial professions (ONS), and most of whom have turned to fractional work out of choice.
Over half our SME client base are increasing their use these types of workers to supplement their own teams on a regular basis – as accountants, marketeers, designers, data analysts, developers…even HR folks – but a handful have gone one step further by having them as core members of their senior or leadership teams. And anecdotally I know of plenty more highly innovative businesses who use diverse and fractional teams gathered from their wider networks to deliver high profile projects, because they just don’t have the skills they need in their existing employee pool.
But given that many of these highly skilled people turn to fractional work because it supports the things which motivate them most: freedom (in location, work patterns, scope) and ownership of what they do, how do you as a business owner make sure that these broader team members are as ‘engaged’ and ‘onboard’ as your permanent staff members, whilst balancing the risk (and fear associated) that you may lose control over some of the work? From extensive experience on both sides of the fence, here are our pointers on some things you can practically do to rapidly assemble a crack team and get the most out of your working relationships with this group:
- Get the basics right, but recognise that a contract simply cannot cover ‘every eventuality’: It goes without saying that a properly worded contract is a no-brainer to manage your legal risks, however our experience is that a properly worded contract is not one which attempts to try and control every single thought and word a person emits during their time working with you (having had many run-ins from those not willing to sign away their entire thought catalogue in a crudely worded IP clause, this is a route which does not bear well with many!). One which seeks to do this beyond what is necessary for the delivery of the work will no doubt hold up the process for any onboarding as wordsmithing goes back and forth, giving your competitors a chance to steal a march on you!
- People are people, regardless of ‘working status’ & so speak to them as such: ‘The Contractor’ is not an appropriately named designation for most to respond to and is something which should be reserved only for an introduction by Hollywood-voiceover-man to something infinitely more fictional….
- Treat your wider teams as a community: communities support each other and work for the greater good; they embrace differences, thrive when there is co-operation and provide a vast array of talent for you to pull from which you might otherwise not get access to. Communities do not take the pi** with each other, as they know that they may be the one asking for a favour the following week….
- Communicate in a way which is fluid & which builds trust: ask yourself whether you really need different email lists for ‘employees’ and ‘contractors’? Many businesses also exclude non-permanent staff from their communications platforms, however this serves to alienate at best and cause productivity issues at worst. Remember (see point 1) they’ve already signed the same sort of confidentiality clauses as anyone else in the business…
- Don’t ignore wider development needs: from onboarding and beyond, make sure you are inclusive and relevant in providing development opportunities. This doesn’t mean sponsoring someone on the MBA if they are only with you for 2 weeks, but may include including them in your onboarding programme, lunch and learns etc
- Reward is still important (but outside of traditional methods look to recognition and referral as currency to use): You may think that paying the monthly invoice is reward for these team members done and dusted, however (even if you haven’t read oodles of posts about this one – really??) ‘reward’ to most people is more than just a wedge of cash…. Angela Mortimer, a successful recruitment firm specialising in PA and support staff hold an annual event to celebrate and recognise their temporary staff who don’t get to always get to join in on the social side from the organisations they provide service to or be included in their reward practices. A nice touch I think, which in addition plays to point 3 (above).
This post doesn’t (purposefully) address some of the legal ramifications for employing different types of workers that make up this section of the workforce – that’s definitely for another day and is dependant on ever evolving legal challenges being made – however fractional work is on the increase & those who can strategically think of their workforce as beyond those on their payroll, will already be one step ahead.
For more details on integrating your workforce or any other HR challenges you might have, drop us a line at email@example.com or call 0203 627 7048.
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A resignation – like being dumped – can often feel very personal. Particularly if the person in question has been with you for some time. Particularly if you think they are critical to your business. And particularly if you let it.
I mean, it’s sod’s law isn’t it? Just when you think everything is teed up to have a great 2018: Goals in place? Tick. Marketing lined up? Tick. Sales Pipeline trending the right way? Tick. – when someone pops their head around the door clutching an envelope and utters a few words in ‘that’ tone …”er, can we have a quick chat?’. And it’s the ones who are the most valuable to you which always hit you hardest.
Of course, not every resignation is bad news. If you are planning on going through a restructure or making redundancies and the person in question was going to be affected, then you may have just saved yourself a bit of heartache ( not to mention a few quid). But most are not wanted, downright annoying and expensive too.
With an average employee in the professional sector costing up to £30k to replace , the best way to ensure that you handle this well, is to prioritise keeping your team as you would your clients. And plan for it by doing some of the following:
- At budgeting time, include staff turnover in your forecasting figures and set targets for turnover. The UK average is approximately 15% but this rises to closer to 20% in the digital sectors. You do need to keep new ideas flowing within the business and adapt to your changing model, so not all turnover is bad and it’s likely that you will want to see some movement to avoid becoming complacent, but set targets for this which you can check progress against. It’ll be less of a surprise.
- Identify your ‘keepers’. The people which, if you lost, you would be stuffed. And then plan how you are going to to show them the love. To support them in what they want out of the business. Too many business leaders don’t take the time to speak to their teams on a 1-2-1 regular basis to uncover what it is that their people want and show support by their actions. Oh, for the times when I’ve seen an account manager hauled over the coals after a devastating client loss. “When did you last meet with them?” is often one of the first things their manager will ask after the bombshell has been dropped.” How did they seem? Were they unhappy? Did they say anything which gave you a clue?….”
- Take the time to get to know your team. To know what they want out of life on a wider level than just what they are doing at work. I know it’ll come as a shock to many, but most people don’t simply dream of doing better at work! So find out what possibilities lie for people within the confines of the business and how they can help them get to where they want to be.
And I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch. It’s a hell of a commitment to meet with your team each week/ fortnight/ build a relationship/ keep it going through the good and the tough times. But people are less likely to leave a place where they feel valued and listened to than anywhere else. And even if you can’t keep them, the chances are that they will feel more comfortable giving you a heads up that they may be off, allowing you a bit more time to plan and handover.
But back to that resignation. In practical and immediate terms, you have a few options:
- You can take it very personally, considering it a personal slight that someone would not want to work from you and act out in that manner. One boss I know didn’t speak to their team member for their ENTIRE notice period, leaving him to work in an isolated office away from the rest of the business such was the disgust they felt at their team member leaving them. Their maturity wasn’t lost on the entire company…
- Or ( a popular option) you can launch into telling them all the reasons why this is all wrong for them and that if they stayed for another £5/ £15k/ £25k then you will be able to fix whatever it is they are concerned about. One business I know spent more money on retention bonuses for those who had resigned in a particular year than they did on the entire bonus pot for existing employees who had delivered for them that year. The‘retained’ employees in this instance lasted on average another 3-6 months before bailing out for real, leaving a red faced boss and disgruntled colleagues who had found out all about the separate arrangement…
- Or you can listen to what they are saying. And then really listen. And learn from it. On the odd occasion I have seen someone ‘bought back’ by their business when they’ve resigned, it’s been because the relationship and loyalty was there already, they’d just let things get stale. The drama of resigning was enough to wake both parties up to see that there were other ways for the team member to grow and they’re very happy.
Option 3 doesn’t always mean they stay and you may well still have to say goodbye to someone you would rather not. But at least by taking the time out to find out what is really going on, you will truly understand why your business is not right for the person standing in front of you. But why it may be for another time. Ah yes, Boomerang employees. Now there’s another post….
As your business grows, you might decide that the time is right to start working with HR. It’s certainly true that having a people professional on hand and on your side can bring huge benefits, and it could be exactly what you need to create steady and manageable growth you’re after. But before setting the wheels in motion, it might be useful to take a step back and think about what you can do to ensure that any relationship reaches its full potential. Let’s explore the practical steps you can take.
Be Open And Honest About Absolutely Everything
When you first start to work with any kind of professional services, there’s always a period during which you’re still getting to know each other. You’ll be asked questions about business, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over the less attractive parts, and not be completely honest about your situation and how you’re feeling about it. Here at theHRhub we’ve seen (most of) it all before, and aren’t here to judge. We just need all the information you can give us – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so we can work out an action plan to get you to where you want to be.
Remember To Use Their Services Strategically
Many people first start working with an HR service because they have a particular problem that they need expert assistance with right away. It could be an issue with a new recruit, or it would be a routine disciplinary matter that’s gone horribly wrong. It’s safe to say though that most business owners’ first contact with their HR service is the result of an operational matter. And that’s fine, of course. Sometimes, there are things that you can’t cope with yourself, that need to be tackled ASAP. If you really want to get the most out of your working relationship though, recognise the strategic value that is there for the taking. Engage in conversations about the future of your business, the big challenges you face, and how HR can help you to get you to where you want to be with less hassle and less fuss.
Speak Up When You Need Help
The world of HR, just like any industry out there, is full of jargon and terminology that you might not be familiar with. The good news here though is that we at theHRhub will break down everything you need to know, so it’s easy to understand and digest and so that you get to know your TUPE from your EAP. If there’s anything at all that you feel unsure about, don’t be afraid to speak up. As skilled as we are, we can’t read your mind! And we’re always more than happy to go that extra mile so you’re really reaping the benefits of having your own on-demand HR point of contact.
It’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed at the thought of working with an HR service or consultant. You probably felt the same when you first called upon the services of your accountant. If you follow these steps though, teething problems can be avoided, and you’re likely to quickly discover that taking the plunge was the best decision that you’ve ever made.
Want to have a discussion about how all of this could work for you, in really practical terms? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to book in a free consultation.
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4 in 10 respondents to a recent survey (by software company webexpenses) admitted that they had fiddled their expenses. This is maybe not a HUGE surprise to you, however, shockingly the total sum of those amounts could relate to as much as £100 million a year lost from businesses across the UK.
Many employees made little tweaks to their actual expense claims, some completely false but mainly it seems, exaggerated, with them citing travel as an area where they didn’t feel guilty elaborating on the truth (almost 50% of respondents said that they had claimed for more miles than they had actually travelled).
Surely a little bit doesn’t hurt right? Of course, the individual exaggerations may be relatively small – which is perhaps why 8 in 10 workers had never had their claims challenged or denied – but if you don’t watch it they can really stack up, and be a real cash drain for many businesses. Adam Reynolds, CEO at webexpenses, mentions that there had been a “shift to more subtle methods” that didn’t raise big causes for concern, and that the culture of fraudulent claims was changing.
So it is likely that you may have the same issue so with the new year approaching, now might be the time to do a bit of an update on your policy, make your expectations on expenses clear and do a bit of scare mongering to throw a bit of caution out there to those that may have been abusing the system slighty. After all, what’s the point in working furiously to achieve your revenue goals, when you’re wasting cash unnecessarily? Take a look below at our top tips for combatting fraudulent claims…
Create a robust policy so your employees know exactly what the process should look like
Do your members of staff really know what’s expected of them when it comes to claiming for expenses? Does your policy clearly state what they can claim for, and how they should do it? Are your current processes clear and well communicated, or are they vague and not really adhered to?
Creating a policy that’s fit for purpose is often the first step towards stamping out any future problems. Everyone from your staff to their line managers should be aware of how they should claim, and what they’ll be entitled to.
Conduct regular checks
The survey found that very few companies carried out adequate checks when claims were submitted. This inevitably means that mistakes are being made – sometimes, even because of genuine human error – and a culture of over claiming can be the norm.
You might decide to give line managers responsibility for carrying out checks at stipulated intervals, or do monthly checks on random claims. What’s important is that there’s a process in place, and someone really owns it.
Keep things simple
Many companies have long winded expense-claiming provisions that are time consuming for everyone involved (seriously – do you need that many people signing things off??). Improving how you do things isn’t about adding in more hoops to jump through, or making things more complicated. It might even be the case that you need to go back to basics, and take out unnecessary steps in the process .
Use technology. This is definitely one of those areas where tech can definitely save you bucketloads of time. Requiring staff to keep track of receipts can turn into an administrative nightmare, and there are now tonnes of apps on the market that can make your life a load easier: many of our clients use FreeAgent, Xero and Concur to manage without the piles of paper receipts weighing down drawers everywhere…..
It’s important to recognise that many of your staff members will be making accurate expense claims, and are simply being suitably compensated for costs that they’ve genuinely incurred. It’s never wise to start throwing around accusations or making your staff feel like their honesty is being questioned. But in order to ensure that fraudulent expense claims don’t damage your business, get started with considering how you can implement these key points.
TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!
Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at email@example.com for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.
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