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Human resources: the basics

Human resource management is a role often overlooked by small business owners. Though if some basic steps are not implemented you could find yourself in a very sticky situation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the basics of human resources and ensure that they have been implemented in your business. Here some areas to look at:


In small businesses, it is important to hire the correct person for your business. You need to ensure that you put out an advert that highlights exactly what you are looking for in your future employee. Next you need to ensure that you ask the right questions during the interviewing process. Lastly, you need to draw up a contract which is beneficial to both parties. In the contract ensure to add a probation period so that you have a way to cancel the contract if you are not satisfied with the employee’s performance.

Employee handbook

The employee handbook is an important part of your business. This book has two purposes: the first is to let your employee know what you require from them and secondly to assist you should a dispute arise in your workplace. In this document you can have the following sections

  • Safety and Security: how will you ensure that the employee works in a safe environment. What disciplinary steps will be taken should they breach the rules and regulations in place.
  • Compensation and Benefits: What benefits do you provide? Here you will highlight the benefits required by law as well as any added benefits which are unique to your business.
  • Work Schedules: In this section of the handbook you will highlight what the work schedules are. How much leave the employee is entitled to and how public holidays are dealt with.
  • Standards of Conduct: Here you will define how you expect your employee to behave with regards to the company culture. In addition, you will highlight the rules regarding internet and social media use, and disciplinary action which will take place should these rules be broken.
  • General Employment Information: Outline the policies and procedures which are unique to your business. Here you will outline how promotions are dealt with, what the work ethic of the company is and the employee records to name a few.

Finally, it is important to get the employee to sign a document stating that they have received and read the handbook.

Employee training and performance

It is important to work with your employees and evaluate their performance on a regular basis. Should they be excelling in their position you could give them a bonus. If they are underperforming, then you need to give them the steps to follow to remedy where they are underperforming so that they can improve.

Employee files

It is crucial to have a file for each employee which holds their letter of appointment, performance review documents, disciplinary documents, awards and so on. You should also have a second medical file for each employee which has their medical aid information, what disabilities they may have and sick notes. The medical file should be locked away and you as the small business owner and your human resource manager should be the only ones who have access to these files.

By working on these basic steps, you can ensure that your human resource is up to scratch. Should you have any queries about human resources it would be advised to hire a human resource consultant on an ad hoc basis to help with the legalities of human resource. They will also be able to advise you on the right course of action for your human resource requirements.

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