An entrepreneur hiring his or her first employee is an event that comes with a mix of excitement, pride, and anxiety. Whether a company has 1 or 10,000 employees, and whether or not it has a formal HR team, there are some foundational HR issues that impact any organization.
Employment Laws and Regulations
Many employment laws and regulations—at least at the federal level—only apply to employers that have a certain number of employees. Other federal, state, and local laws apply to any employer. Whether minimum wage requirements, restrictions on background checks, or discrimination rules, employers should have a basic understanding of and keep up to date on key employment law issues. And, of course, it’s always a good idea to engage a knowledgeable employment law attorney for help in such matters—no matter how small, or big, your company is.
Some companies might think their particular business model negates the need for any kind of employee development program. But even a small ice cream shop that hires one or two high school kids each summer to help with the seasonal boost in business needs to train those kids on the basics of working with and serving customers and representing the organization. The shop may even want to encourage those summertime employees to come back to work year after year. The training and efforts taken to boost retention are part of employee development.
Many small businesses rely on one or more key team members who have been with the company for almost as long as the company has been in business, and they may even include family members. Too often, though, these companies fail to consider what would happen if one of those key players leaves. What if the owner decides to retire? Does the business simply end? Succession planning involves building in redundancy for job functions, as well as mentoring future leaders of the organization.
Work can be stressful, and it’s perfectly normal for conflicts to emerge. One of the functions of HR management is to ensure those conflicts don’t escalate into a morale problem, a legal issue, or even physical violence at work. Therefore, every company should have policies and procedures in place for dealing with the various conflicts that can arise at work.
When a small business owner hires his or her first employee, it’s generally a sign that things are going well. But being an employer in addition to a business owner also presents some important challenges. Even though many small businesses can’t justify the expense of a dedicated HR staff, they can and should be conscious of some of the key HR issues facing companies of all sizes.