Running a business requires learning a lot of new skills and traits. Being a good employer though, is one area many business owners find themselves having to master?
When we first start out with our own businesses, we tend to run things independently. We deal with the bulk of the work ourselves. As we face tasks that we can’t complete ourselves due to lack of skills or experience, we tend to use freelancers. We use graphic designers for our logo. We use web designers for our website. We use freelance copywriters for our product descriptions and other written content. We use professional product photographers for our product photography. This is all good and well. It keeps costs low. It means we’re not committed to providing regular and consistent working hours and pay. Instead, we just get a helping hand with one-off tasks. But at the same time, as things continue to grow, you’ll quickly find that you need to take on more permanent staff members. You can’t do absolutely everything yourself and will eventually need to accept that many hands make light work, freeing up your time for more progressive areas of your business, such as product development, brand development or marketing, rather than spending all of your time fulfilling orders and responding to queries. This means employing part or full-time staff. Of course, you need to treat your staff well. So, here are a few suggestions that can help you along the way.
Understand Employment Law
Before you even consider taking staff on, it’s absolutely essential that you have a basic understanding of employment law. These are laws that have been specifically put in place to ensure that your staff are treated as they should be. If you fail to understand employment law, you could find that you begin to break it, which is bad for your business, your reputation and your finances. Now, employment law spans many areas that would be impossible to completely highlight in just one article. But some key areas to look into include:
- Employment Contracts
- Termination of Contracts
- Equal Pay
- Minimum Wage
- Working Hours
- Sick Leave
- Annual Leave
- Maternity and Paternity Leave
Health and Safety
When you take on staff, you also become responsible for their health and safety while they are in the workplace and carrying out tasks for you. Whether they’ll be working for you in an office space or a commercial store, you’re going to have to make sure that the health and safety in the area is completely up to scratch in order to prevent injuries, illness or other issues. Some areas to consider include:
- Fire Safety - fire isn’t only a potential cause of major damage to any small business’ property and stock, but it can also be a major danger to life, health and wellbeing. You need to make sure that your workplace adheres to fire safety guidelines and that you have proper fire safety protocol in place in case of emergencies. This includes ensuring that your staff know where their nearest fire exits are, how to evacuate the building safely and where to reconvene. Make sure you have fire exit signs and fire extinguishers and other necessary fire equipment available too.
- Safety Signage - all businesses require safety signage. Some can be permanent, for example signs indicating low ceilings or unexpected steps, or temporary, for example, wet floor signs. Invest in everything you need to highlight or indicate risks or hazards.
Health and Safety Training
Your staff should complete health and safety training relevant to their role. This could include learning how to lift and move objects safely, how to sit at their desk properly, or anything else. There are countless authorized guides and tests out there that you can use. Just make sure to find ones issued by relevant and certified bodies.
There may well be minimum wages in place to ensure staff can’t be completely exploited, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to this bare minimum. Ensuring staff are paid well will massively increase staff happiness levels - and happy staff tend to be better workers. Sure, lower labor costs can have their benefits. But make sure that your pay is fair.
Providing a Quality Work Environment
Now, there are legal requirements that you have to follow to be a responsible employer. But there are extra steps you should take to make your staff happy without necessarily being forced into carrying the actions out. One thing you should do is make sure that your staff have a comfortable and quality working environment. If your staff are working on-site throughout the pandemic, you’ll have to make sure that you take active steps to make your workplace Covid safe.
This means ensuring there’s a two-meter distance between all staff. It means providing hand sanitizer. It means ensuring people wear masks. If your staff are working from home, however, you may want to take extra steps to ensure that they can still be productive and safe in their home work environment. This may involve letting staff take their ergonomic furniture and equipment home with them. This could range from an ergonomic chair to ergonomic keyboards, mice, back supports, footrests and more. Also give your staff tips on how to create a good work environment in their own home. Recommended that they work in plenty of natural light to boost productivity levels.
Making Sure Staff Have the Right Equipment
Staff can be as well trained and qualified as possible. But without the right tools to do the job, they’ll struggle to perform to the standards you’re expecting of them. So, make sure that they have all the equipment they need to work efficiently. Make sure staff have the most up to date laptops, computers, tablets, smartphones and other tech they may need to carry out their role. Make sure that everything is updated with the best software available on the market.
Run Staff Satisfaction Surveys
Of course, to monitor how well you’re doing, you may want to carry out staff satisfaction surveys. If you ask staff face to face how they feel, few will be 100% open and honest about their thoughts. Many fear that they may lose their work if they are too truthful. But staff satisfaction surveys can get some honest feedback that will then allow you to improve your workplace and give people a greater sense of job satisfaction. When staff are happier, they become much more likely to put in more effort and be more willing to go the extra mile for you and your company. So, it’s win-win all the way around. Just make sure that the surveys are anonymous. Encourage feedback and suggestions. Request that staff highlight issues that need to be resolved. It will all serve to create a better working environment.
As you can see, there really is a lot to bear in mind when it comes to making sure that you’re a good employer and that you treat your staff well. The suggestions above only just scratch the surface of what it takes to keep a smile on your employees’ faces. But it can all come in extremely useful and can definitely get the ball rolling in the right direction. So, bear it in mind and make sure to implement as much of it as possible when you do decide to take on staff to help with the development of your business and your brand! It’s more than worth taking note!