The HR-Approved Guide To Building Culture: Must-haves for small businesses

Want to know why you should whip your policies into shape, keep those contracts watertight
and cement those basic building blocks of success? The HR professionals have spoken. And
when you’ve digested all the info, you’ll finally have the grounds to buy yourself a Best Boss
Ever mug.

Welcome to HR 101.

First up: policies and procedures

An employee fails to wear appropriate work attire. The workplace policies and procedures are
nowhere to be found. It’s a recipe for disaster, and you don’t have the tools to clean up after
the spaghetti sauce has hit the fan.

Not only do rules and regulations set standards of operation, but they also hold people
accountable for their actions. If no expectations were set, or no policies can be referred to
(always keep the receipts) … the employee pleading ignorance has some grounds. It’s a
classic case of how can you know what you don’t know.

Here’s how: hit the policy books. First, ascertain what workplace expectations have been
breached. If you do have a policy in place, continue educating your staff about these policies
as they’re updated. It’s also best practice to hold a company-wide refresher on workplace
policies every two years.

So pamper, preen and polish that policy and procedure playbook.

Employment contracts and why you need them

The golden rule of business land is that everything needs to be in writing. You wouldn’t ask a
builder to build your house without a contract, so why would you hire someone without one?
That’s some sound logic right there.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when drawing up an employment contract:

  • What’s the starting salary, and when does the employee start?
  • Is your small business governed by an award or Enterprise Agreement?
  • Who does the employee report to?
  • How much notice do they need to give if they resign?

… and these are only a few things to include, but they are by far the most important to list in an
employment contract. And remember to proofread for good measure.

Implementing practices like performance management strategies, development plans, and
bonus schemes is difficult if the basics are not in place. Especially because you can’t get to the
top with a flimsy base; it needs to be Hulk-level strong.

Building your company street cred

What makes you, you? It’s a good idea to lay it out clearly by setting out some company values
from the get-go. Outline your goals, vision and how you see the company progressing. That
big picture stuff.

It should be easy for job applicants and potential clients to sense what your company is all
about quickly. A vibrant brand personality is important because this will attract people to your
small business and excite them to work for you. You want your star talent to stay on your team,
so having a strong identity of where they can be proud to work is great.

Don’t forget those Position Descriptions

PD’s give employees a greater understanding of where their role fits within the company.
Measuring an employee’s success or holding them accountable for underperformance
becomes difficult without them. (Plus, they are also essential from a legal standpoint).

The life cycle of a PD involves:

  • Being drawn up before hiring
  • Doubles as your job ad (or can be attached to one) — that way applicants know what’s expected of them
  • Be issued to your new employee when they receive their contract
  • Is updated when roles evolve or change

A practical way of keeping PD’s up-to-date is to have managers add them to the regular
performance review agenda, so there are no question marks left unturned. Drawing up a brand
new contract isn’t necessary — simply issue a variation to the existing contract stating how
and why their PD has changed. The more info here, the better.

Just like building a house, if you want to mitigate potential people problems, you will need all of
the above (as a bare minimum). So build a solid foundation for your business from the get-go,
and success will soon come knocking.

Need some professional guidance? Our HR professionals can help you set short and long-term
goals and draw up enticing position descriptions, so you can land your star people and proudly
watch as your small business steps into the coveted ‘Best Places To Work’ category.

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