Whether you employ 2 people or 30, there are a myriad of things you need to know and need to have in place to ensure you are complying with our industrial relations laws in Australia. But when you are so focused on running your business and doing what you do best, these things are often ignored or not given priority over other day to day business activities. Even more so, these things are not known to the vast majority of small business owners, which leaves you exposed during and after employment of staff. The good news is, you are definitely not alone!

By covering these 4 key ‘people’ related priorities that can be implemented in your business now, even the most experienced leader/business can begin building a basic HR structure.

1. Human Resource Framework

This does not have to be complicated nor overwhelming, however you need to have a basic framework in place. This includes having contracts of employment and clear terms around your employee’s engagement with your business, policies that govern what is acceptable behaviour, or not, within your business and clarity of your expectations of each employee – this is usually defined in a job brief/position or job description. There are many more layers to a typical HR framework, however getting these things in place is a great place to start as everything else is born out of these things. Without structure, performance and behavioural issues can start creeping in which has a detrimental effect to your businesses reputation and more importantly, long term sustainability.

2. Modern Award Compliance and understanding

This area of compliance can be a minefield for those with limited or no experience with Modern Awards and our industrial relations system. A lot of small business owners are often not aware that they may be covered by multiple awards, depending on the roles, responsibilities level of experience/qualifications of your employees. Nor are they aware that there are multiple reporting and record keeping requirements you must have in place to satisfy compliance to Fair Work. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding, and the complicated award provisions and conditions, means a lot of employers are unknowingly breaching the award and are at risk of heavy fines by the Fair Work Commission. Don’t stress though, help is only a phone call away and you can be in shape very quickly! Tip – speak to an expert to ensure you are classifying and paying your employees correctly!

3. Clarity of Role and Expectations

Once you have gone through the costly recruitment and selection process, a lot of small businesses do not provide their new employee with a clear outline of the responsibilities and key deliverables to which the new employee will be measured against. And when it comes time to review their performance throughout the probationary period (reviews are point 4!) there is no clear path to provide constructive and data-driven feedback, which in most cases, leads to frustration and confusion especially if you think the employee is not performing to the required level. Job descriptions that clearly articulate the key responsibilities, desired outcomes and measurable deliverables will significantly reduce the ambiguity and make having performance and behavioural related discussions much easier to hold.

4. Managing for Performance – during and after probation expiration

Whether you hold weekly, fortnightly or monthly 1 to 1 meetings with your staff is completely up to you. The most important thing is, that you actually do them on a regular basis and not just within their probationary period. For the tech savvy, there are some great HR platforms out there that enable this process quickly and easily. Otherwise, a simple 1:1 meeting agenda should be followed, discussing such things as safety, performance progress, objectives and goals for the next period, and longer-term development aspirations. If regular discussions are taking place around poor performance, making decisions to cease the employment relationship becomes less risky whilst in the probationary period, and a lot easier to execute through performance management. **Performance management requires a lot more structure, so keep an eye out in future blogs for a ‘how to effectively manage performance’ guide!