This is a collaborative post.
If you’ve recently set up your own business, chances are you’ve been bearing the weight of the whole thing on your own two shoulders so far. First time small business owners really do take on the bulk of the work associated with their business independently. Not only does this help to reduce costs, but it gives you control over your venture and makes sure that absolutely everything is running as you like it. When you face things that your skillset doesn’t cover can then be outsourced to freelance specialists or agencies. One off jobs can easily be handed over and completed, paid for and benefited from. Market research can be handed over to an agency. Website design can be handed over to a freelancer. A graphic designer can design a logo for you. A copywriter can write your website, blog and product descriptions. But as your business begins to experience success and you find there’s more demand for your products and services, you really are going to have to accept that many hands make light work and you will need to take on more permanent members of staff at some point or another. Of course, this can be daunting. Taking on staff comes hand in hand with a number of responsibilities. But it is essential and something you need to face up to down the line. So, if you’re considering taking on staff, here are a few things you can do to make sure that you’re being a responsible employer and treated people well.
Understand Employment Law
Before you even start advertising positions, it’s absolutely essential that you fully understand employment law. There are various areas that are legally covered to ensure that staff aren’t exploited and that you are treating everyone fairly. Now, it would be nigh on impossible to cover all of these areas in just one article. But we can guide you in regards to areas you’ll need to research and completely comprehend. Some that should take priority include:
- Employment Contracts
- Termination of Contracts
- Equal Pay
- Minimum Wage
- Working Hours
- Sick Leave
- Annual Leave
- Maternity and Paternity Leave
Health and Safety
If you’re going to have staff operating in a commercial premises that you are operating – whether that’s an office space or a commercial store – you’re going to have to place a lot of importance and emphasis on health and safety in the workplace. This essentially ensures that your staff are safe at all times while carrying out work for you or spending time in your commercial premises. There are countless rules to follow, so it’s best to conduct a little research or call in a professional who can help you to make sure you’re following all regulations. Here are a couple of areas to focus on for now.
Fire can cause major damage to any small business and can risk lives. You need to make sure that there is a fire protocol in place in case of emergency, so everyone knows where fire exits are, how to evacuate the building safely and where to reconvene. You should have all fire exits highlighted with signs. You should have signs near elevators telling people not to use them in case of fire. You should have fire extinguishers available. You should also have working smoke detectors and smoke alarms.
Your business should also have other kinds of 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 authorised guides and tests out there that you can use. Just make sure to find ones issued by relevant and certified bodies.
Creating a Comfortable Work Environment
While you legally have to make sure that your workspace is safe, it’s not a legal requirement to make it nice, comfortable and enjoyable. But it is a good idea to invest and make your workplace the best that it can be for the sake of your employees. Small touches will benefit not only them, but you too! One area you might want to focus on is natural light. Most of us have worked in or experienced an office space that has barely any natural light and relies on sterile, artificial lighting. These places make us feel drained and down – and there’s a reason behind this. Natural light regulates your body’s circadian rhythms, which, in turn, regulate your sleep cycle. If your employees are in a light and bright office space, chances are they’ll feel awake and alert. When it hits the night after their shift and gets dark, they’re also more likely to wind down easily and get a good night’s sleep, ensuring they’re bright and ready for the next day ahead. Not only will this make your employees feel better, but they will work better too. Another thing to consider is having a kitchen space with tea and coffee making facilities. The opportunity to make nice, hot drinks will bring a smile to your employees’ faces. But it will also help to perk them up if they’re feeling drained, getting them back on track in terms of productivity. Small perks like this benefit everyone!
Making Sure You Have the Right Equipment
The right equipment in your office space can make sure that staff are happy at all times. Having the best small business time clock options can ensure your employees’ work time is correctly monitored and every is paid properly and on time. Having up to date software will help them to complete their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible. Having the best quality tools for manual labourers to do their jobs or devices for office workers to do their jobs will make their day easier, keep a smile on their face and allow them to get more done. Constantly review the tools and equipment that you provide your staff with to ensure that it’s sufficient, or, ideally, the best!
Speaking of keeping a smile on staff’s faces, it’s absolutely essential to focus on staff satisfaction. It’s quite clear that happier or more content staff are more productive staff. A sense of job satisfaction means people are more likely to put in more effort and be more willing to go the extra mile. A good way to get a good idea of staff satisfaction is to conduct anonymous surveys. Asking employees for their opinion in a non-anonymous setting is unlikely to yield honest results. People don’t want to complain for fear of it being held against them, or suffering repercussions and consequences. But once things are anonymous, you can begin to see how people genuinely feel and what they’d like to see change for a better working environment. Do your best to implement reasonable changes that could make a positive difference.
These are just a few areas to focus on. But they really can make all the difference when taking on staff. Hopefully, some of this information will help you to be the best and most responsible employer possible!