Common Fallacies of the Small Business Owner

Our core client demographic at HR pros is small business; that is, companies with less than 50 employees.  Since incorporating in 2008, HR pros has assisted hundreds of small business owners to develop both their strategic human resources management plans and their tactical procedures.  Along the way we have taken notice of a few fallacies; fallacies which we would characterize as detrimental, if not fatal, to the small business reaching its full potential.

Employee Policies.  Employee policies do not create a rigid working environment as too many small business owners would believe. Employee policies are the workplace rules. Employees are adults. Adults have an innate need to know the rules. Without written rules even the most conscientious of employees could find themselves in an unnecessary disciplinary situations.  Further, without written rules decision makers will spend precious and unnecessary time re-inventing the wheel each instance there is an employee problem. Finally, without written rules decision making among supervisors and leadership will vary and could consequently lead to employees “shopping” their questions to get the answers they want, at best, or accusations of favouritism, at worse, thereby opening the door to potential unionization.

Job Descriptions.  Job descriptions do not limit workforce flexibility rather job descriptions create accountability and are a necessary source document, a “foundation” document, of any good human resources system. Job descriptions have many uses including:  background information required to write comprehensive job ads, interview guides and reference checks; a tangible tool to assist the new hire learn their job; a tangible tool against which to coach under-performing employees; a set of standards against which to fairly performance appraise employees; and, job descriptions provide a view into an organization, into what everyone is supposed to be doing, and when viewed comparatively job descriptions increase organizational efficiencies and effectiveness and reduce redundancies.

Occupational Health and Safety Programming.  OHS is not a cost, it is a money generator.  Safety is more than compliance, safety is first and foremost about family and community. Employees will be happy knowing that you care about their long-term health and wellness. And, happy employees are more productive.  If you want to increase productivity, ensure you have necessary OHS programs in place and ensure you have trained your workforce on those policies.  (And, then there are the fines for not being compliant and the bottom line hit from higher than necessary WCB premiums!)

Formal Recruitment Program.  We have a labour shortage.  Perhaps more importantly, we have a talent shortage.  Wrongful hiring wastes precious time (eg. time to recruit, time to onboard or orient, time to train, time to terminate, etc) and money (eg. lost productivity of both the new hire and the trainer, lost productivity of the hiring manager, lost productivity of the administrator to first hire then terminate payroll and benefits, etc).  Perhaps more significantly, wrongful hiring creates speculation (about why the person was fired or quit) and from speculation comes workplace “noise” which negatively affects overall employee morale.  Companies should have more than a conversation with candidates.  There should be a be a comprehensive and well-thoughout process of interviews, testing and checks to ensure that only the most qualified and suitable candidate is offered the job.

Twenty-five years ago companies with the most money had the competitive advantage in the marketplace; they could buy their solution whether that be a marketing, equipment or employee solution.  A dozen or so years ago that competitive advantage shifted to companies with the best IT; they could data mine for the best pricing, on-time manufacturing, purchasing trends.  Today, given our labour and talent shortage, it is not necessarily the companies with the most money or the best IT that have the competitive marketplace advantage rather it is companies who have the most qualified, engaged, and motivated employees, committed to their employer’s objectives, that have that advantage.

Tanya Sieliakus, CHRP

VP, Consulting Services

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