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Hiring, recruiting, managing people and benefits and more comprise the discipline of human resources. While many small business owners feel HR can be taxing, Linda Kraus of Paychex says, “HR is a process, not a luxury or something nice to have… it’s a necessity.” All business owners should be well-versed in that necessity, and be able to handle any issue that may come up in the day-to-day business. In the recent SCORE LIVE webinar “Top 10 HR Issues: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls,” Linda discussed topics that business owners should understand if they want to avoid issues that may impact their businesses in the future. Below are 5 mistakes Linda recommends avoiding:

Copying Someone Else’s Handbook. Although writing an employee handbook can be difficult and costly, it’s important to make one specifically tailored to your business. Using another company’s handbook is a mistake. All businesses are different (varying in size and type), each business has unique regulatory controls and required standards, and the handbook you copy may not be in compliance with laws that are specific to your business.

Poor Communication. Linda says the most common reason an employee leaves is a lack of communication with their direct supervisor. Setting clear standards and expectations, clearly explaining rules, and monitoring performance promote good communication with an employee.

Lack of Knowledge of The Law. Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws is critical to a successful small business. Laws may change every year, so it is important to stay current with legislation. Updating your handbook with new legislation is also important.

Failure to Treat Employees Right. Linda says employees are exposed to legal options on a daily basis. Billboards on the highway, television ads, and public websites all offer easily accessible legal representation for an unhappy employee. It’s important to treat everyone fairly no matter who they are or what they do for your business.

Mishandled Employee Terminations. Understanding the two different types of employee violations can help you with employee terminations. Policy violations are much easier to prove because you can objectively determine any employee violations with the help of your employee handbook. An employee handbook is one of the most important pieces of documentation. It helps to have employees sign certificates confirming they have read and understood that handbook. Performance violations require additional documentation (current job descriptions, employee conferences, prior warnings and the like). Performance violations are harder to prove because the information is subjective.

Maintaining and staying current with relevant HR news in your business, though challenging, is essential. Taking time to update your employee handbook, communicate with your employees, and understand key legislation can add long term value to your business. To learn Linda’s other 5 HR issues to avoid, listen to Linda’s webinar at www.score.org/workshops/top-10-hr-issues-how-avoid-common-pitfalls. You can also discuss your HR practices with your SCORE mentor.

About the Author(s)

 Jim  Martin

Jim Martin is a skillful writer and publicist whose background was in the semi-conductor and aerospace industries. He worked in both market development and strategic account marketing, and along the way produced materials for product role-outs, brochures, technical manuals, and press releases. Jim also served as editor of a technical magazine in the electronics field.

Writing and Marketing, SCORE SCCS

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