Small businesses looking to be competitive and demonstrate consistent growth face a number of unique challenges to achieving these goals, so making sure the right HR and performance management systems are in place is crucial. Creating a positive relationship with employees, encouraging innovative solutions through effective communications and engagement, and handling performance, all require clear processes and expectations of outcomes.
These 10 HR solutions for small businesses will help your company recognise the positive and negative impacts of a variety of behaviours, giving leaders a data-driven grasp of priorities so that they can focus their efforts where it counts the most.
1. Utilising onboarding and offboarding processes
Small businesses have an additional challenge when hiring new employees compared to larger companies as they don’t have the luxury of carrying ineffective new hires for long. To combat this, implementing smooth onboarding processes which feature streamlined induction and probation tools allows HR leaders to bring new employees up to speed quickly on how the company operates and the requirements of their role.
Digital HR tools are also essential for managing relevant documentation and are increasingly replacing the traditional filing cabinets loaded with paperwork. Contracts, payroll information, employee handbooks and a host of additional documentation can be logged on your company’s performance management tools, while templates for both onboarding and offboarding can offer a consistent workflow while providing new hires with the relevant company policies and procedures.
2. Providing new hires with training
Once a new employee has joined the team, it’s vital they get the appropriate training required for their role, whether this is bringing them up to speed on the methods expected in their role or teaching them how to use your company’s internal systems.
User manuals, training videos and other media and documents new employees might require to bring them up to speed can all be shared from your intranet. HR leaders and managers can use their HR software to schedule meetings with the new employee’s team leaders and other colleagues, whether these are in-person for staff working on-site, or virtual meetings for remote or off-site workers.
3. Prominently displaying your company’s culture branding
The culture of a successful company changes over time, as the business grows and more people join the company. In the early days of Google, co-founder Larry Page said of its culture, “Don’t get in the way if you’re not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else.”
Over a decade and 55,000 employees later, Google described their culture as follows: “We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with start-ups, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.”
Setting the culture and values of your business gives it a foundation on which to grow, establishing the right tone and boosting this signal to your workforce. Just as companies craft a clear message for their customer-facing branding, prominently displaying cultural values across your company’s performance management tools helps to reinforce the desired mindset and align employees with teams.
4. Managing absence and time-off
A core feature of any comprehensive suite for HR is absence management, allowing HR leaders and managers to organize and track employee time off and identify patterns of absence that may need to be addressed. You can use absence management software to calculate holiday entitlement for full-time and casual workers, as well as track other types of absence, including maternity/paternity leave and sick leave.
Use your HR tools to create custom reports and clarify your company’s absence policies for employees, while keeping them up to date on any restrictive booking periods to make sure you’re covered for staff when project deadlines and other key moments require all hands on deck.
5. Establishing and tracking OKRs and KPIs
Goal setting and employee motivation are intimately tied, and multiple studies have demonstrated how effective goals act as powerful motivators capable of boosting productivity. Whether you’re setting SMART or stretch goals these need to be clearly defined, with a system in place for tracking objectives and key results and key performance indicators.
KPI objectives provide managers, HR leaders and CEOs a birds-eye view of your company’s targets, from the department level down to individual employees, allowing key stress points and other trends to be easily identified while providing a data-driven measurement of performance.
6. Managing your employees’ performance
With consistent and achievable goals in place, managing your employees’ performance is the next challenge faced by small- and medium-sized business enterprises which are looking to identify inefficiencies, deliver timely feedback and keep their staff motivated.
Continuous performance management encompassing monthly and quarterly reviews, regular one2one check-ins and annual performance reviews allow HR leaders and managers to keep constant track of both performance and sentiment and offer real-time proactive feedback.
7. Encouraging engagement
Employees make the best contributions to their teams – and your company – when they are fully engaged. You can best encourage engagement by implementing a communications platform that allows for the flow of information throughout your company’s hierarchy, not just from management to workers, but also from the bottom up, allowing new ideas and solutions to reach those with the ability to implement positive changes.
Small businesses can benefit from a multi-channel communications platform that functions across multiple devices including PC/laptop and mobile phone, connecting your workforce instantly and keeping the important conversations going.
8. Developing skills and knowledge
A well-structured small business should create an environment geared towards growth, and a fundamental aspect of growth requires your employees to develop new skills and knowledge. Understanding which employees to invest in training and focusing on the value this will bring will help ensure that your resources will be directed towards the most committed and talented employees.
Performance management tools can be used to put a spotlight on a wide variety of skills and behaviours, allowing HR leaders and managers to identify employees who will most benefit from training.
Some of the positive skills you can pinpoint include:
- Relationship building skills
- Knowledge of business structure, roles and responsibilities
- Quality Assurance knowledge
- Data handling skills
- Process design skills
- Project management
- Communication skills
Use this data to identify unique skill sets so you can focus your talent where it matters the most.
9. Managing poor performance
Numerous studies, including ‘One Bad Apple: experimental effects of psychological conflict on social resilience’ from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, have proven the theory that one bad apple can ruin the bunch. Unacceptable standards of work, low productivity, failure to complete objectives and difficulty working with colleagues can all impact negatively on teamwork and your company’s overall performance.
Data provided by your performance management software can help management and HR to identify the causes of poor performance, clarifying expectations, modifying workloads and offering any additional training they may require. While there may be cases where the person simply isn’t cut out for the role. or has personal outside influences preventing them from performing, others will benefit from corrective action.
Taking action early on is always better than reacting to problems, so developing Personal Development Plans for managers and leaders as well as employees ensures that skills are identified, achievements understood and any misalignment between your company and an employee is flagged sooner rather than later.
When dealing with poor performance, it is important to allow time for any improvement to register, and managers should provide consistent feedback to employees throughout the improvement process. Any formal documentation relating to Personal Development Plans can be managed via your company’s HR tools’ and stored in personnel files.
10. Tracking employee sentiment
HR software for small businesses which features employee sentiment tracking and analysis allows HR departments, managers and leaders to keep their finger on the pulse of the organization in real time. Sentiment can be tracked in a variety of ways to give your company the necessary data to understand the mood of the workforce, for instance analysing intentions, such as interested vs. not interested, on a scale of positive-neutral-negative, or with more refined emotional measures such as happy or sad.
While smaller companies working exclusively in the same building have an advantage over larger companies for face-to-face engagement and understanding sentiment, putting sentiment tracking systems in place makes sure leaders continue to identify feelings towards the company’s culture and other successes and failures when the business grows. Companies with a workforce split between on-site/off-site and remote workers, as well as freelancers or contractors, can easily pull together the data required using sentiment analysis tools.