Start Up HR Guide
So, you have started your business and you have realized you are a bit out of your element with developing your people strategies.
It is a pretty big step to take and one that can leave you wondering where to begin as there’s a lot of work involved in championing your company’s core values. The main thing to do is take stock of things and familiarize yourself with everything People Operations [HR].
With that in mind, follow these steps to craft a people-centered Start-Up – driving profit and performance:
Many Start-Ups accomplish HR by finance covering payroll, operations handling time off, and Sandra – the workplace manager, settling any office disagreements. But once your company takes off and hiring speeds up… the doubts about your business foundation will start. What if…
There will be days (but mostly late evenings) whereby you will reason:
What if… there is an employment law piece that my Start-Up is not compliant with.
What if… I do not have the right employment insurance.
What if… I hire the wrong finance manager for that budget audit.
This situation is familiar to way too many entrepreneurs and can lead to accidental (costly) mistakes. You as an entrepreneur and founder to your new business, will have the complex job and responsibility that requires full mastery of (employment) law(s), company policies, and maintaining a balance between business’s needs and employees’ rights and morale.
If you want to start your company on the right foot, you must take the time to build the necessary people operations infrastructure, to help ensure your staff is staying true to your mission, vision and core values.
Legal compliance is an HR priority
Effective legal human resource management is essential for the sustainability of your fitness organization and the ‘best mix’ of people will allow your health club to meet its strategic objectives now and into the future.
Right from the start, you will need to understand that labor and employment regulations are in place, which will affect your business and it is worth considering the industry’s laws and regulations.
Knowing the ins and outs of the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, clearly defined employee roles and the classification of workers, can help protect your company in the event of potential litigation, establishing the correct precedent for your business.
This can be achieved through the strategic use of policies, practices, procedures, and systems that influence the behavior, attitudes, values and performance of the people who (will) work for your start-up.
Make/modify policies & procedures if required
Some legislation and policy formation may be necessary before you get down to recruiting people. For this, you will need to know and understand your country’s labor law. That is to say, tax laws, industrial laws, labor laws, social security and health insurance laws.
It is best to look at the policies of other successful start-up companies, so that you do not come up with something different from the norm. You will likely also have to write up templates for job descriptions, offer letters and other such documents that you will be needing regularly.
A few examples of what you do require when you first open up shop:
Business conduct, sexual harassment prevention, equal employment opportunity, recordkeeping and reporting. (– if applicable)
A way to address the above internal and external problems, if they arise.
Whether or not, you make any new procedures is entirely up to you, but be pro-active about your policies, as it will allow to demonstrate to your employees that you support them and also avoid preventable litigation.
Talent acquisition: recruitment, selection, hiring & onboarding
How are we going to find new employees?
You may dream about having competent, reliable employees who are highly motivated in the fitness field and can be counted on. The reality is tough, finding the right people to join the organization can be a challenge. In a marketplace where employees have so many options to advance their careers, you will have to fight to keep and get the best people working for you!
The importance of finding the right person
At the very least, a suitable person in a suitable role will give your business security, something which is important regardless of its size. Many businesses have bigger goals, and set their sights upon innovation and growth. Without employees with that valuable skill set – which benefits the business – you will struggle to meet your future aims.
Writing the job description
When the interview process begins, do not candy coat any part of the job description. Be honest and thorough in listing everything that will be expected of the employee. Just remember to keep it concise and accurate. Stretch things a little, but not so much it leaves the realm of reality entirely.
The best talent around knows what they are capable of and what is unrealistic in terms of expectations. Once they see the job they signed up for is not a good match, they will have no problem walking away for a better offer. The more open you are in the job profile, the less chance there will be of a bad match that could ultimately hurt your company’s reputation.
Writing the job advertisement
Build a descriptive profile of the best individual for the role. Include such things as the values and interests that go along with the job.
There is, after all, a huge difference in fit between a digital marketing job that requires a self-motivated employee and an admin job that is mostly task oriented.
Example job advertisement
Are you looking for a career that allows you to work with people in your community? That provides you with great job satisfaction and supports your continued development? Then look no further, [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] is now recruiting In Home Support Workers.
Yes, we know that this work sounds tough. But it is so rewarding!
We believe in providing care in the way we would want our loved ones to be treated and are looking for caring and enthusiastic individuals to join our friendly team to provide support and high standards of care to children and adults with special needs to enable them to retain their independence and remain in their own home for as long as they wish.
Ultimately, we’re here to make a difference. But we can only do so through the passion, energy and commitment of people like you! If you have a caring nature, a willingness to learn and the desire to improve the life of those around you, we would like to hear from you.
In Home Support Workers come to [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] from all around the world. You don’t need any experience, you just need to have the right attitude and be legally allowed to work here.
Please contact us to discuss the opportunity in more detail.
Advertising your job ad
So, your job advertisement is good to go [do not use the full job description!], it is compelling, motivational and spellchecked.
Firstly, find out about:
Secondly, use an application tracking system to manage the full selection process (more on this in the technology section).
Thirdly, advertise. Remember that as a start-up you usually will be able to get free or discounted advertising rates on these job boards.
A few example job boards:
Before conducting an interview, be sure to at least have one other person present (diversity & inclusion requirement). When we look at potential candidates, we tend to hire those that have things in common with us. It is not an overtly biased choice, it is just one that makes us feel more comfortable.
Once you are ready for an in-person interview, create an objective grading scale to assess the candidates.
|Example: Performance factors||Rating||Scale||Supporting Details or Comments|
|1||Experience – The extent to which the candidate’s background & experience are consistent with the essential functions of the job.|
(Job Knowledge/Practical Application)
|2||Education – The extent to which the candidate’s schooling is relevant and sufficient for the essential functions of the job.|
|3||Job Knowledge – The extent to which the candidate possesses the practical/technical knowledge required to perform the essential functions of the job.||O|
This will force the assessment of each candidate to be as fair and unbiased as possible since any negatives or positives must be backed up with fact as opposed to opinion.
As stated before, prejudice is not something that can be muted entirely. It is an inherent part of what makes us human.
BUT, it does not mean you should not take all the necessary steps to ensure you mitigate it as much as possible during your hiring process. Remember to always work with another person and to keep things objective, this is the safest way to avoid any form of unintended offense or legal problems.
Candidates interviewed for a role in your start-up will require a diverse set of skills.
It is important to ask them several Behavioral Interview Questions, to identify those candidates that do whatever it takes to help your business succeed, even when it means making a coffee for your team once in a while.
- Describe a situation where you demonstrated the job skills we are looking for, for example problem solving, teamwork.
- Describe the tasks that were necessary to deal with the situation.
- Describe what actions you personally took as part of this situation.
- Describe the result or outcome of the situation.
You can add another question to this list which is often useful:
The selection process
Once a pool of useful candidates has been developed, it then becomes time to sort through each application (with an application tracking system this will be a lot quicker).
While doing this, you should be mindful of the Start-Up’s needs and aims.
Taking into account; education, experience, soft and technical skills and references, giving your team a good idea of the person they would potentially be hiring.
The selection process can be long and drawn out, as you can implement on the job testing as well. (make it as short as possible!)
When a successful applicant has been found, you can even go one step further to securing the perfect employee and offering them the job on a paid trial basis. This means if they do not work out, your Start-Up can cut its losses much easier, and without the worry of legal ramifications. *dependent on country law*
Remember a good employee is a valuable commodity, as talented employees can give the rest of the team a boost, and can inspire confidence in your company.
There are hiring essentials you MUST have in place:
Offer Letter and Employment Contract, including agreements such as; non-compete, intellectual property, non-disclosure.
Legal Employment Verification for government purposes.
Personal Employee Data for admin and payroll purposes (confidential).
Have you thought about how you will on-board and train new employees? That new hire is an investment. Including interviewing, training and onboarding, the process to bring in a new talent is as long, as it is exhaustive. Once that match has been made, work hard to connect (with) them in the first month. Chances are they will be a brand-new face and know no one else in your Start-Up. If this gap is not bridged immediately, it will quickly lead to a sense of isolation, which may result in quick turnover.
Onboarding and orientation
Have you thought about how you will on-board and train new employees? That new hire is an investment. Including interviewing, training and onboarding, the process to bring in a new talent is as long, as it is exhaustive. Once that match has been made, work hard to connect (with) them in the first month.
Chances are they will be a brand-new face and know no one else in your Start-Up. If this gap is not bridged immediately, it will quickly lead to a sense of isolation, which may result in quick turnover.
Organizational design & development
Who will report to whom? How will teams and sub-teams be structured?
Instead of fully structuring your workforce setup, simply head back to the basics.
By analyzing these questions, you can begin to pick the areas to design and implement, while you still have the time and resources available.
No, you do not have to have a fully-fledged organizational foundation in place, however a basic structure will help you with many of your decisions, especially related to recruitment (workforce planning) and outsourcing any work.
It is essential to have the right structure and guidelines in place.
Always have a firm grasp on the type of workforce (and number of staff) you need to sustain even with the smallest amount of growth!
Build, develop, a fun & friendly company culture
No matter the size of your start-up, it must have a culture to go along with it. This culture should embody the ideals, values and attitudes of your company.
So how do you begin when trying to build a company’s culture?
Well the first thing to do – is to identify what you want your culture to be.
It should resonate with your business, and be linked to how you would like to be perceived by outsiders.
Will it be a mentality of hard work with medium rewards?
Perhaps you want to be recognized by a phenomenal customer service that aims to keep as many clients as possible.
It is important to understand what you want the ideals and attitudes of your business to be. Make sure it is appropriate to your company or business, as a bad or misplaced culture will get you nowhere.
Remember a company culture can make or break your start-up!
Start with your employees when building the culture. The more you respect and are willing to engage your (new) staff, the happier the environment for them to work in will be. Carrying a reputation as a great employer will make you more appealing to potential candidates, which is great for scaling up or just hiring the best people out there for the job.
Know the direction where you want this culture to take you.
If everyone is on board with the same goals and how to best set out achieving them – all employees from top to bottom will feel more valued, and will want to help the company reach its destination. It can be a strong motivator for everyone inside the Start-Up, and shows your intent to those outside of it.
Building a culture can take a physical presence too.
Having an aesthetically pleasing environment to work in, will make your start-up more appealing, and more enjoyable to work for. Whilst you will not need to go to such extreme lengths as those companies in Silicon Valley, your ideals could be based on togetherness, and strong group bond, so having a work place where employees can interact freely will help achieve this.
What you want it to be is entirely up to you, but think carefully about it, as it could be the difference between failure and start-up success.
Are your employees growing and developing at the right pace?
When you are looking for your first hires, you likely will not be concerned with building a diverse, highly skilled, productive, healthy, and efficient workforce. But these are some of the most important factors in your start-up HR strategy.
Start-ups from its origin have not really been involved with training activities, yet during the past few years many have incorporated a variety of development approaches to create efficient and effective growth plans for their staff.
People need to be able to be productive within their job, and will achieve that due to training or any other form of education or continuous learning process. Remember, it does not have to be expensive or extravagant, but improving those competencies to get the utmost of the skills within your team is vital.
If you do not implement some sort of an employee training or development plan, you risk losing employees, who do want to develop their career.
Building your team
Many founders come stuck by selecting their management and team, giving them their roles and responsibilities – maybe arranging a one-day training workshop – and then leaving them to it. The problem is that even the best teams are rarely in possession of all, of the skills and knowledge needed to make your startup a success.
A good entrepreneur will work quickly to identify early training and development needs.
You should also spend time to really get to know each team member (using those ‘soft skills’ that HR people are great at!). Despite your best intentions, personality clashes can cause rifts in the team and the sooner you become aware of them, the easier it will be to nip them in the bud!
The Role of Management
While development is about helping your team to grow, as people and team members, you as a founder should take care of the nitty gritty start-up details. Ensuring everyone is clear about the start-up’s aims and objectives will lead to more decisiveness with your new colleagues, who are then better able to prioritize when faced with decision-making. Depending on the length and scope of each start-up project, daily, weekly and/or monthly targets will need to be set from the outset and constructive feedback given to optimize performance.
Modern management approaches tend to incorporate an understanding of human limitation and use this to reduce human error. As with all skills, your team leadership will improve with practice and, by following the process outlined above, you should find that your team works together efficiently to provide the results you want, gaining you the respect and admiration of your colleagues. Before long, it will be the competitor that is envious of your ‘perfect team.’
Some great advice by Tom Haak from the HR Trend Institute.
When you reach the first-year anniversary of your start-up, you should have performance management tools in place, so that you and your managers can evaluate the staff’s job performance.
Now performance management is much more than sharpening pencils, stocking up on performance appraisal forms, spending a weekend writing from memory how your employees did, and telling them that they may receive a pay raise.
A few examples of the more traditional performance management strategies:
Effective performance management is an employee-valued system of encouraging and rewarding employee contributions for the specific purpose of improving employee performance which directly affects your Start-Up’s success!
Hold regular team-building activities
There is nothing more crucial or important than being able to provide for your workforce the conditions, the healthy and encouraging environments and just the right motivations and trainings to be able to fully utilize their true potential.
Only when an employee is well motivated and well trained, can he or she perform extra ordinary. Regular team-building activity is a great tool to improve trust and cohesiveness among the (new) team members.
Managing employee satisfaction and happiness
Are your employees happy?
Your people play a crucial role in your Start-Up venture, they are the ambassadors of your company and give your company a good or bad name depending on their words and actions.
Great company cultures and happy employees are often associated with innovation and risk-taking and spending lots of money. Yet, it is as simple as to what your fitness employee responds to. It may be a bonus, a new employee policy, or a community project, each method is likely to be unique to your start-up.
Allow your team to see how they fit into the company, creating a sense of belonging. Happy employees are mostly positive employees and by giving your team a true sense of direction, everyone feels like they are achieving something in their careers and live.
Judge the problem, not the person
Mistakes will always happen no matter how hard we try to steel ourselves against them. When they do occur, the most detrimental thing that can be done is to simply slap the wrists of the mistake maker and move on. Only by talking it out and using the event as a teaching tool can you truly come to accurately see who is the budding talent hidden amongst the employees.
Avoid conflict by clearly assigning roles, responsibilities and goals.
Even though the conflict at any workplace is inevitable, you as a founder are responsible to attempt to avoid conflict. The employee’s roles and responsibility are determined by you. Good leaders clearly assign work without ambiguity or overlapping responsibilities. They make work assignments interesting and challenging, they allow employees to discuss about their goals.
Always meet with your team to track goals and check whether they need training and make sure they get trained!
Establish ground rules for team members’ behavior.
Clear ground rules will help your Start-Up to perform better and the business to grow faster. They determine what kind of behavior is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the workplace. Ground rules help establish standards and expectations for the team. They help determine the mutual commitment between the founder(s), managers and team members.
Ground rules help eliminate demotivating factors and increase motivating factors, such team members involvement, challenging and interesting work, positive working relationship with the co-workers, good relationship with the management, opportunities to grow, to be trained and to advance. They help solve conflicts, problems and issues during the work because each team member knows what is expected.
Reward & recognition
How to decide what rewards to offer?
While compensation exists to pay a person for their time, the benefits of doing their job, namely the financial ones, will be what attracts them and motivates them to do well for your company.
An important part of retaining employees is to offer competitive salary packages, and you will need to have the following in place:
Or have a schedule as to when you will make the above available. *much of this is also dependent on national/country labor laws
After you have hired several staff, you will want to see your employees as equal shareholders and stakeholders in the business to entice them to stay with your company.
Rewards and recognition system is one the greatest tool to boost employee’s performance and increase productivity.
Many kinds of rewards exist: thank you notes, awards prizes for performance, pay raises, promotions…
Some rewards like a pay raise is a cost item and needs to be estimated properly. But, the most powerful recognition is the social proof, when the employee feels valued by the co-workers, which boosts the self-esteem.
Engaged leaders build and reinforce the self-esteem at every occasion by building self-image with regular recognition, rewards and approval. They keep on telling employees how well they are doing their job. They make them feel great about themselves. They often send thank you notes. They express compassion, concern and caring with each person.
As you are dealing with people responsibilities now, there are some stats you need to be aware of.
You should know how many employees you have, compared to how many you need (workforce planning), and you should also be aware of the finances of the company on a high-level. You do not need to know all the details, but you do need to know if you have the money to maintain the current workforce you have.
There is little point in making improvements to your business, if you cannot show the actual value you add, demonstrate your added value, look at the measurements of people-related issues in your new workplace and publicize every success!
This is not an area where mistakes can be overlooked!
When you hire your first employee, set up your company’s payroll system to automate the most tedious tasks, whilst fulfilling your company’s legal obligations.
It is crucial you get a firm grip on the areas below;
- Set up your payroll timetable,
- Establish a system for dealing with employee queries; new employees, leavers, sickness etc.,
- Invest in appropriate payroll software linked to your accounting system (most small business accounting systems have a cheap payroll tool connected),
- Check the legal rules and your contractual agreements; any deductions from pay – paternity, maternity pay, sick pay, health care or pension contributions,
- Calculate bonusses and commissions, and other taxable incentives,
- Make a framework on how expenses will be administered,
- Secure your payroll information to protect your business and employees against fraud,
- Keep informed on new government payroll rules and regulations.
Remember that pension and healthcare directives take effect in different stages of your growth, dependent on country laws.
Correctly classify your employees
When you hire for your business you will be looking at appointing candidates for a variety of roles. Classifying these new employees correctly is fundamental to paying the correct pay rates (and government taxes).
Each classification determination is based on the individual merits of the work arrangement in place at your Start-Up and the totality of the working relationship between you and the employee or contractor.
Make use of technology
Your Start-Up company should really automate all the work processes and make it paperless.
This means introducing online methods to maintain records and files, and to carry out payroll and other staff management tasks, such as time and attendance via a modern cloud HRIS [Human Resource Information System].
This is basically HR software that can help you manage files, payrolls, to-do lists and training cycles for each employee.
Some examples of this software for small businesses are:
You also need to make sure you familiarize yourself with talent acquisition – Application Tracking Software (ATS), which you can use to keep track of staff vacancies, job ads, selection and hiring.
Some free ATS examples:
Managing all this may seem like a daunting task, but to make this sort of micro-management easy, you must know how to make full use of the latest technology.
Compliance, safety and security at work
How to make sure you are safe – legally and physically.
Your company is legally obligated to make the workplace safe for employees, as well as visitors. The responsibility to make the workplace a safe place lies with you. Developing a safe and secure workplace means making it physically safe, as well as preventing social conflicts. Failure to do this can mean large fines and legal disputes, something no one wants.
There are several ways to ensure the workplace remains safe and secure.
Here are the most important:
A well-run start-up will help staff feel safe and secure while at work!
Balance the business & your people
As a founder, who knows in detail what makes the team happy, get the balance between your business and people right, by creating a high trusting environment, driving out fear, and making sure employees’ needs are taken care of, use soft skills to deal with all other stakeholders keeping your staff focused on their goals and enabling the company to grow faster.
Taking the first few steps to setting up a new and dynamic company starts from changing the way we work, the way we deal with people and the way we look at our services, products and their benefits for our future clients.
So, whatever the future brings, will you be ready?
Other articles that you may like to look at before designing your people strategy:
The information provided in this guide is intended for illustrative purposes only and should not be construed as advice for the application to any specific factual or legal circumstance.
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