As a small business, you’re only as good as your people. This means effectively managing your people is more important than ever. In fact, it’s a must. Here are 10 human resources tips for small businesses.


  1. Know what your legal employment obligations are.
    Changes to employment take place frequently. If you are laying people off, then make sure you follow best practices and state and federal regulations in order to avoid costly unfair dismissal or discrimination claims.
  2. It’s not just about the money.
    Financial rewards are only one way of rewarding and motivating staff, and research proves it is a relatively ineffective tool to do so. Studies have found the most important factors cited were interesting work, work-life balance, and the working environment.There may be interesting and diverse incentives you can use to reward your staff. Offer flexible working patterns or put in place recognition programs. These can result in improved employee engagement and performance. Small businesses should not ignore nonfinancial rewards as they are a vital tool for retaining and motivating employees.
  3. Make your employees feel valued.
    Don’t underestimate the importance of new employee orientation. Even if you have only one employee, it is important to give all new workers an employee handbook that contains all the relevant information about the company and procedures in place. Involvement in team meetings from day one will ensure a culture of teamwork is fostered and strengthened.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    Talking to staff in a small company is just as important as in a big organization. Communication will foster a more open working environment where mutual respect between managers and employees can thrive.In addition, by consulting with employees you will give them a sense of feeling valued, of having their issues and concerns listened to, as well as tapping into a well of knowledge that could benefit your business.Making sure employees know what’s happening in their own organization and the wider industry is important, whatever the size of the company. Lack of information can spark rumors and dent morale. But information overload is just as destructive because employees won’t have time to read it and might miss important news.
  5. Be flexible.
    A flexible organization will better meet the challenges facing it in these economically uncertain times. The benefits of a flexible approach are considerable—increased productivity, less absenteeism, increased loyalty to the organization, and improved staff well-being. Flexibility can reflect the structure of a company’s resources, such as having a core team supported by part-time or outsourced staff when the business needs it. You can implement flexible working practices such as part-time working or job-sharing. Introducing new technologies also enables small businesses to embrace the concept of flexibility.
  6. Get creative when competing with larger employers for good workers.
  7. Be clear. Even if you can’t compete monetarily with larger employers in the groundwater industry, you can get creative. Small companies have an advantage over larger companies because they can quickly and inexpensively introduce low-cost or no-cost creative perks. Consider allowing workers to extend their shifts in the summer so they “earn” one or two Fridays off a month. Try feeding them regularly—breakfast treats once a week or a monthly lunch that’s on the company.Advertisement

    Clarity is so essential to running a company, regardless of size. Be clear about the company’s business goals and expectations. Make sure workers clearly understand the organization’s rules, language, and culture.
  8. Training, training, training.
    Taking employees out of work for a training course can be difficult in a small business where people usually fulfill more than one role. But in most industries, and this includes the groundwater industry, training is essential if you want to keep up with your competitors. The best training for a small company is short sessions focused on a specific need.Consider joining up with other businesses—it cuts the cost of training and time spent away from the office. “Training clusters” of companies in the same geographic area produce economies of scale and allow workers to learn from different approaches.Trade associations like the National Ground Water Association, business clubs, chambers of commerce, and state and federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can all play a part in bringing small companies together. Training sessions can take place in industrial parks or even spare rooms in shopping centers.
  9. Designate an HR “go-to” person.
    Very few small businesses can afford to employ a full-time human resources manager. But personnel issues are too important to leave up to chance. Every company should have a strategy to deal with areas such as training, keeping staff informed, health and safety, maternity cover, and pay awards. Putting a senior manager in charge of seeing to it all these areas are covered highlights the importance of human resources to the rest of the organization. The manager should review HR policies regularly and make sure staff knows HR is there for them too.
  10. Consider outsourcing.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small business owners spend anywhere between 7% and 25% of their time handling employee-related paperwork. Not the most productive use of their time. But by outsourcing some or all of their employee-related functions—such as payroll, benefits, health care or recruitment and retention—small business owners can focus on what they do best. And in the process, they can improve productivity and even save some money.Give some thought to using a human resource outsourcer—also known as a professional employer organization (PEO) or an administrative service organization (ASO). The main benefit of using such an outsourcer as opposed to hiring or designating someone in-house is the depth and breadth of expertise these companies bring. Put another way, instead of hiring one generalist, you get dozens of industry-specific experts.