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  • Writer's picturejana tulloch

7 Tips for Small Businesses to Optimize HR Strategies

Curious how you can optimize your people practices to improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and ultimately business revenues? Look no further! Here are our HR tips for optimizing your HR strategies:

Define Clear Goals & Objectives

If you don't know where you're going, you're either going to take a long time to get there, or you won't get there at all.

People need to have clarity on what is expected of them, and need to know what they are aiming for. Collectively, this starts with a clear vision and mission, and then trickles down to individual goals and objectives that align with the company's.

For example, when you hire sales people they need to know how many new clients they need to sign and how much revenue they need to be generating per quarter. The same goes for any other role in an organization: where should they be focusing their energies? What is critical for them to accomplish and in what time frame? How will they know if they are successful or not?

Letting your team know what is expected of them, and helping them set goals to get there, is number one.

Streamline Your Hiring Practices

Hiring takes time, and time is money. Hiring also needs to be done well and fairly, and using concrete measures that help eliminate biases. It's easy for business owners to hire quickly simply because they are busy and they need people. But turnover is costly and hiring the wrong people can have an extensive negative impact on the business - poor performance or poor conduct that disrupts the team, lowers productivity, and costs you (as the business owner) even more time dealing with the fallout.

Take some time ahead of a hire to set up the process. Be sure you have a job description. Tie your interview questions to the job description, and ask candidates for examples of when they've demonstrated particular skills or competencies. Think objectively and critically about the individual, and interview a few people to benchmark them against each other.

Use automation where you can to help you save time: online job portals and applicant tracking systems can help reduce your workload tremendously, particularly if you use a system's gatekeeping features (think automatically eliminating individuals who don't meet your initial criteria, saving you a ton of time).

Don't skip references - and be sure they are from a former manager/ supervisor and not just a coworker or friend. If you're hiring students with no previous work experience, ask them for references from three of their teachers.

Onboard Your New Hires Really, Really Well

Smart hires will find their feet quickly but even they need some support and direction when they are first starting.

Plan your onboarding, and start it before their actual first day. Reach out and let them know what to expect on day one and ask if they have any questions. Confirm where they should be, and when, and who they will be meeting with. Outline any training that will be happening.

On their first day, revisit their job description and set expectations. Review the company's history and its future, and talk about how their role contributes to the company's successes and in what ways they can add value to the team. Talk about the mission and vision of the company, and help them understand the company culture.

Document the onboarding, and set small goals for your new hire to complete in the first, second, and third week then build those out into longer term goals.

And check in on them, often. Show them you care and are there to help them be successful.

Create a Positive Work Environment

Oh culture. There is so many things that can be done to create a great working environment, but companies need to know that culture is created by the behaviors of its people. If you don't manage the behaviors properly, your culture will develop accordingly. This is how toxic workplaces get started.

Adam Grant is quoted as saying 'The culture of a workplace - an organization's values, norms, and practices - has a huge impact on our happiness and success'. What are your company's values? What are your norms? What are your practices? Are they good ones? Are they enforced? If not, you're only paying lip-service to the idea. If you want a workplace where, for example, collaboration is paramount, you need to communicate it, expect it, encourage it, and course-correct when someone doesn't do it.

Job seekers these days will do a ton of homework around the companies they are applying to. They will look for reviews online about what it's like to work there. Smaller industries or small communities are even harder to hide in. Actively work to create a positive work environment - foster open communication, get input and feedback from your team and act on it, recognize your team for the great work they do, and support them as best as you can. And if you set expectations in terms of behaviors, enforce them: don't let one bad egg set the tone.

Manage Performance

Going back to the expectation and goal setting, you will need to manage your team's performance. Setting the goals and then not measuring their success against the goals is pointless. What gets measured gets done. Check in with your team - regularly. Coach them, ask them how you can support them and what hurdles they are facing. Clarify expectations and re-set goals if you need to.

You don't need a formal performance management system until you have a larger team and managers overseeing various departments. At that juncture, you'll need to likely put some formality and process in place to keep things consistent and fair, but until then just be there for your team and course-correct when you need to.

Prioritize Training & Development

Today's employees are not driven to stay with one employer unless it's in their interest to do so. 68% of employees would stay with their employer if the employer made an effort to up-skill them, and 65% said they would stay if their employer made an effort to re-skill them. Think promotions and lateral transfers for your existing team! This is a huge win in terms of retention, engagement, and hiring.

If budgets allow, providing incentives for certifications or training can go a long way, as can cross functional training opportunities. As part of the coaching you do with your staff, ask them: Where do you want to be in six months? A year? How can I help you get there?

You'll be amazed at how far this will take your team and bolster your engagement and retention levels.

Stay Up-To-Date with HR Laws and Regulations

Compliance is a necessary element for any employer. Just like you need to comply with the IRS or Revenue Canada, you need to comply with the employment laws for your state or province. There are rules around what you can, and can't, do in terms of employment practices and it is critical that you understand your rights as an employer alongside the rights of your employees.

Running afoul of these regulations can land you in legal trouble and end up costing you a lot more in the long run. This applies to properly paying overtime, providing required breaks, terminating individuals with proper notice and more.

There are great compliance management software vendors out there (Gusto, JustWorks, etc.) that can help you remain compliant, particularly if you have employees in various locations across the country. And of course, there are HR consultancies such as us here at SnapHR that can help keep you on the straight and narrow.

In Summary

If you keep these 7 tips handy and follow the advice for each, you'll create a high-performing, engaged, and happy workforce. To recap, here are our 7 tips for optimizing your HR strategies:

  1. Define Clear Goals and Objectives

  2. Streamline Your Hiring Practices

  3. Onboard Your New Hires Really, Really Well

  4. Create a Positive Work Environment

  5. Manage Performance

  6. Prioritize Training and Development

  7. Stay Up-To-Date with HR Laws and Regulations

Hopefully you will find these tips a great starting point for your organization!

SnapHR provides fractional HR support to small businesses across North America. Book a free consultation HERE!


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