Having run a business on my own and with others, with a few Directors and a few employees the difference that employees can make is both exciting and alarming.
When you have no one else to answer to but yourself, your time, workspace, whereabouts and general attitude are completely in your own hands. Suddenly when you have an employee you have to start thinking about other things and how you look to them is one of these.
I once worked as one of two directors in a company where we employed one person to begin with in the office. She seemed great until we realised that when we were not around she was doing work for other companies and we had to fire her. We had not considered what putting someone in an office alone for most of the time when we were out delivering the work might be like. When we had other staff it was fine leaving them some of the time but we were usually using temporary staff for short periods and we had to be there to support them. We solved the issue by having a virtual office and PA in order to continue getting the support but not having to employ a permanent member of the team.
Of course there are legal things to consider such as contracts, health and safety and payroll but there are also other considerations which are about business practices to think about, so here is a list of 5 things to consider before employing people.
1. Where will the person work? – This may sound silly but there is a big difference between a virtual team and one which shares business space whether it is an office or a factory. If the person is working from home you need to consider equipment, security, hours and how you will monitor their efforts. In an office space there are still considerations about space and equipment to be had. I have worked in a few organisations where I had to find my own desk and chair and search for equipment and others where I hot desked (sharing desks).
2. What hours are usual in a day? – Another question which seems to go without saying but every place I have ever worked in has had its own unspoken rules. Even when hours are flexible there may be core times to be in and available. Some companies are very much run during business hours only but in others out of hours phone calls and work may be the norm. Some people who run businesses do far more than an 8 hour day and may need to consider what they think is reasonable for someone who is a paid employee to do. If the culture of a company is long hours it should be made clear rather than raising eyebrows when someone carries out their allotted time and goes home.
3. Is there a dress code? – If you work in an industry which traditionally wears suits is that what you want from an employee? As the boss you might think that a dress code is obvious but unless it is actually spelled out it may well not be. Jewellery and piercings may need to be considered and things such as appropriate hair, make up and length of skirt. You may decide to do dress down Fridays or if you are techy company jeans, flip flops and flowing shirts may well be the uniform. Again it pays to think this through and consider your customers and the impression you want to give.
4. How do you want customers to be addressed? Customer service is key to any good business whether it is in a service industry or a creative one. The way staff answer the phone, address people who come into the office and generally behave towards customers is important. If I visit a company who make me wait, dont give me a drink and chat about the office or mention their work or clients whilst I listen in I make certain assumptions, first impressions count.
5. How will you get employees to be as passionate about the business as you are? I do know some small business owners who complain that their staff do not put as much into the business as they do. Frankly I am not surprised and know that as a business owner I have a different take on the business to employees. Large organisations sometimes get buy in by giving share options to employees and that is one of the keys to getting passion even for a small company. If employees share a sense of ambition for the business, are totally impressed by the product and understand where you are headed you will get passion in spades. That is something that every boss should strive to engender and should seek out at interview.
HR Forum – Wed 7th March 2012 Clayton conference Centre Junction 7 Business Park (M65).