So you’ve stumbled across this article either out of interest or because you are a small business owner facing some people challenges that you need support with. Either way, you’ve come to the right place!
Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to read our first instalment of the Top HR Issues that small businesses face…we shared with you our top 3, but now we’ve got some real crackers for you – all from current business owners who told us about their main HR issues, and we’ve provided some resolution recommendations too!
1. Employee Conflict
With small and growing businesses often comes conflict. Whether that be between employees themselves or managers and employees – they are bound to happen. Not all problems between employees involve harassment accusations, sometimes people just don’t get along.
Although might not appear as serious as harassment, these issues can create a toxic working environment for everyone – so take swift action!
Normally, the HR department will act as the mediator for conflict issues like these, but not all businesses have the luxury of having their own dedicated HR professional and so tends to fall on the business owner. Follow these steps to come to a resolution – but if in doubt, pick up the phone to Best!
a) Clarify what the disagreement is – get both sides and ask questions under all parties understand the issue.
b) Establish a common goal – get both sides to agree on a desired outcome. Discuss with each party what they’d like to see happen and find common ground.
c) Agree on a resolution – explore all options until both parties are in agreement.
You can reduce the risk of conflict at work by bringing people together, but remember we are all human beings and conflict is inevitable.
2. Hiring family members
It’s very common for small businesses to hire people they know – normally family members. You either want to run a family business or it’s just much easier to employ people you know. You already have a good idea of their strengths and you don’t need to worry about a long hiring process.
But then they’ll expect extra freedom like coming in late, taking time off and missing deadlines. As the boss, you might not even notice but your other employees will.
Hiring individuals who you already have a personal relationship with does come with a fair amount of risks as mentioned above, however the most common that we have to deal with is when the personal relationship ends badly and this affects the employment relationship to the point you have to part ways. You’ll then find yourself in a situation where you are arguing over employment terms and remember that you didn’t ask them to sign a contract when they joined. You didn’t think it was necessary. Now you wish you had because they are expecting all sorts of compensation.
There are of course many benefits to working with your family. You get to work with people you trust and they have a vested interest in the company. A family member will make up in loyally what they lack in skill, they’ll work long hours to get the job done or go the extra mile for a customer to sign a deal.
TOP TIP: Ensure all of your employees have contracts, regardless of your relationship with them. Setting the employment relationship and expectations for both parties is really key.
3. Blurred lines between manager and friend
When you work in a small business and spend a significant portion of your time at work, it is very common for employees to become informal with management. Having a friendly relationship with your employees can contribute to job satisfaction and positive culture. You’ll start off by being friends and the boss identity comes second, at which point the lines are already blurred between what is appropriate for the workplace.
It’s not just brand new managers that ask us this question, but long term experienced managers struggle with this too!
Being a manager, it is important to keep a professional distance from your employees. Part of your job is to have difficult conversations, and sometimes discipline your employees, even fire them.
Be fair – don’t play favouritism in the office, judge employees on their job performance and this will make it much easier and fairer when it comes to salary reviews and promotions.
Be the boss – whilst overlooking deadlines and tasks in favour of socialising may be fun in the short term, you won’t be taken seriously as a people leader long term. Challenge employees to grow and recognise and reward good performance – they are less likely to seek other opportunities elsewhere and they’ll look up to you as a leader.
We’ve covered yet again a very small list of HR issues that small businesses might face, some are pretty serious stuff! But the good news is, there are solutions to them all. Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought, but if you have a specific scenario you’d like to discuss in-depth you can give our HR specialists a call.