Taking the plunge into employment is terrifying - but if you get the basics right, it'll be the best investment you ever make. Here are my top 5 things to do before taking on your first employee!
Identify Your Dream Employee
You've done this work in setting up your business and identifying who you want to work with, who your customers are. Now it's time to take those skills and think about who you want to work for you.
It's important that you get this right before you start advertising your role. You need to be really clear on why you want to employ someone and who the perfect employee might be. You should think about what is important to you and your business and what values a person should have to be able to best represent you to your customers.
That doesn't mean employing people who are exactly like you, because we all know we need diversity to keep things interesting. But you do need people who share your beliefs, your values and your mission. Abilities and skills are obviously helpful, but you can teach someone all of that.
You can't teach people values.
So start off by writing down what sort of person you need. Do you need someone who's trustworthy to handle money? Do you need someone who has a good sense of humour to connect with your clients? Do you need someone who will work tirelessly to build your business with you?
Then you can think about the skills you need for the role. Break these down into essentials and desirables. For example, essentials are things like qualifications you must have to be able to work. Desirables are things you would like but can teach someone.
Benchmark Your Offering
Benchmarking means doing your research against your competitors. You might have an idea of what you would be prepared to pay someone to work for you, but if your competitors are paying more and offering additional benefits, how are you going to attract your dream employee?
Remember, it's not all about the money.
Go back to your dream employee. What is important to them? Do they value money or time? maybe both? Maybe they like having a work-life balance so they can spend time with their family.
If you put the work into identifying what is important to your dream employee and looking at what your competitors offer, you will attract and retain the best employees for your business. Failure to do so, puts you at a disadvantage and increases the risk that you'll be searching for a replacement in 6 months time.
Take a look at what pay, holiday entitlement, sick pay, pensions, company cars etc your competitors offer across the relevant region and decide how these things relate to your dream employee.
Most new employers try to play it safe by offering the statutory minimum on everything because it feels safer. And yes, it's cheaper. But at what cost to your business?
You get what you pay for in staff too.
Draft a Contract of Employment
On 6 April 2020 it became a legal requirement to provide all employees and workers with a statement of main terms (contract of employment) on or before their first day of employment.
In order to draft your contract of employment, you will need to know what holiday entitlement, sick pay, pension and other benefits you are going to offer your new employee.
You will also need to know what hours you want your new employee to work and what you will pay them.
Once you have all of this information, you can get your contract sorted. There are several ways to do this including free contract builders online, but I don't recommend using these unless you are proficient in drafting legal documents.
Online contract builders rely on you to know what you need and unfortunately, you don't know what you don't know.
Always, always, always speak to a HR consultant (like me!) or an employment law solicitor to get these documents drafted properly. We pros can help to make sure your contracts are relevant and fit for purpose and, most importantly, won't land you in hot water!
Policies sound complicated but they're actually just documents outlining what the company will do in certain situations. They enable you to manage situations consistently and in line with your values.
You should think about the statutory entitlements afforded to employees such as annual leave, sickness absence, maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and parental bereavement leave. There are more but I shan't bore you!
Do you know how to manage all of those procedures in line with best practice? Do you know what information must be provided to your employees?
If not, I recommend getting some policies in place. Start off with the basics like GDPR and annual leave.
You might also have some company specific policies you want to include such as dress codes or driving policies. Having these rules and procedures written down on paper and accessible to your employee(s) means you have much more welly if the rules or procedures aren't followed.
Consistency is key to managing people successfully, and you can't be expected to remember everything.
Verify Right to Work
Regardless of nationality, you must verify your new employee's right to work on or before their first day. Again, consistency is key here so as to avoid any claims of racial discrimination.
All you need to do is ask your new employee to bring their right to work documents with them on the first day, check the documents are correct and current and take a copy for your records.
This will be especially important as we come out of the EU and we transition to a new immigration system.
And there you have it! Your new employee ready to rock and roll.
Remember, you're not expected to be an expert in everything just because you run a business; so make sure you ask for help where you need it!
All five of these steps are things that we can help you with here at Lilac HR - so don't hesitate to get in touch to book your complimentary conversation!