Handling Human Resources in a Small Business
Growth is great, but every yin has a yang. When your small business
reaches the point where it’s no longer a one-person show, it’s time to
do some hiring. That can be very exciting. But putting together, and
keeping, an effective team requires careful thinking, planning and
execution. You’re about to add some of your most important assets,
human resources, and there are some key issues to cover to avoid
turning it into an inhuman mess.
Be precise with payroll
your payroll system get out of hand, and you’re going to hear from at
least two powerful places: your employees themselves, and the taxman.
Organization is a must, and there are many tools at hand to help take
control of the task.
You can create timesheets by making
templates in spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, which can also
keep track of vacation and sick time and be entered into a payroll
system for payment and precise recordkeeping. Or you can outsource
through businesses like paychex.com, which frees up a little of your
time and money. Or mix it up a little – do the time-tracking yourself
and outsource only the payment.
Direct deposit is also something you can do through a safe payroll system. Your employees just fill out a form.
and withholding vary geographically, so if your payroll is DIY, be sure
to keep up with the rules. If you outsource, that will be part of the
service. Because outsourcing costs vary, figure out what you can afford
and make it work.
Create benefits and retirement plans
is essential to attracting and keeping quality people. As a small
business with a few employees, it can be hard to get good rates on such
things as health insurance. If your employees are to feel like they
have some say and stake in the business and its future, they’re going
to need a good benefits package. But, says Dennis Barba, who teaches
entrepreneurship to MBA students at Case Western Reserve University,
“You shouldn’t have those things until you know you can afford them.”
You should, however, make every effort to offer at least a minimum of
Check out your local chamber of commerce
or the US Chamber of Commerce to find out how they can help you get
insurance at lower rates. You can research some methods that the
government has set up for small business owners to create their own
retirement packages for employees. And visit the IRS
to find more about plans like the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP),
the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers
(SIMPLE) IRA, and payroll deduction IRA accounts.
insurance brokers to set up a plan for your new employees is helpful,
especially if you need coverage for people of different ages and in
varying geographic locations.
Write a policy handbook for your small business
a handbook that outlines your company policies and procedures is one of
the best ways to ensure order as you hire new people.
you grow and have more employees, you lose the luxury of having your
policies understood on a verbal level,” says David Lewis of
OperationsInc, a human resources consulting firm in Connecticut. It’s
important to have things like “holidays” outlined and clearly defined,
so as you grow you don’t have to worry about misunderstandings and
potential lawsuits by your employees.
Write out your
policies on hiring, firing, vacation, employee review and pay
scheduling. It’s very important that the employer and employee are both
on the same page, and that there’s signed documentation proving it.
Stay on top of legal requirements
is a bewildering set of laws covering employment discrimination and
other matters that pertain to you from the first day you have an
employee. So get up to speed on this before you sign your first
Your local Secretary of State will have
information about many of these requirements. Such software programs as
Intuit QuickBooks and Microsoft Small Business Accounting also have
information and guidelines built into templates that help you identify
what you need to address as you deal with legal situations like
termination and payroll.
Still, it’s easy to miss details in this process, so also seek advice from a good mentor or attorney.
Our Bottom Line
must have a human resources (HR) infrastructure in place from the first
day you add employees to your small business to ensure that you really
do expand – rather than interrupt – the success of your startup
Kaitlyn Buss is a freelance writer for StartupNation.