As you grow, you will face a series of questions about how your employees behave
How to employ your rights
Enthusiasm will take you so far. At the start, you can expect everyone round you to buy into your vision. They will even tolerate some of your shortcomings in how you run the business and cover any gaps.
As you expand, you will bring in more people and spread them out more widely. You can no longer just inspire through force of personality. You will be expected to have a consistent set of standards in how you treat everyone. Like it or not, your role as an employer is becoming more formal and more risky.
So how do you go about managing such potentially complex relationships without wrapping yourself up in the intricacies of employment law?
To catch any disputes early and to manage performance actively, you can start putting in place a series of employment policies that reflect the underlying legal reality and set out how you see such rights applying in your business.
So if someone is consistently late, using their mobile too much or behaving inappropriately in front of customers, you do not have to let the issue slide. Similarly, when someone tells you they are expecting or one of their relatives has passed away, you can respond sympathetically.
So what might you starting putting in place?
- At a minimum, you will have statements about equality, safety and wellbeing
- You will give a clear account of what you are looking for when you select recruits and what conduct you expect
- In your terms with each employee, you can give a consistent framework of where, when and how you expect them to work
- You will explain how any grievances can be raised and who will handle any disputes
- You will be ready to respond to events in the lives of your employees, whether it is births, deaths or illnesses
Ideally, you will bring all these policies together into a staffbook, which you circulate widely and to which everyone can refer.
Many employers hesitate over going this far, worrying about the complications in confronting such issues. The danger is that performance is allowed to slip, eventually leading to disputes that undermine a workforce’s motivation and could end up before a tribunal.
Better by far to catch any questions early if you can. As well as safeguarding yourself against any legal risks, you will be in a stronger position to communicate what you expect, set clear targets for everyone to pursue, run regular reviews of how each employee is performing and make any changes in how you run your business.
SMEforGrowth Editor 16.05.16