For dealing with staffing issues big and small

There has been a lot of talk recently about employment legislation: will the government be cutting employment red tape, what will the tribunal reforms actually do, will the extension of rights to claim unfair dismissal make a difference to employment?  The list goes on …

Firstly, I urge all employers to pause, take a step back and remember what employment legislation was originally introduced for!  Sometimes it is hard to believe, but the legislation was quite rightly introduced to protect workers from unscrupulous employers and business owners!  In subsequent years, EU influences and successive UK governments have over complicated the whole employment arena and introduced a baffling array of legal obstacles that can penalise the very businesses the original laws hoped to encourage and promote!

Despite these obstacles, I strongly believe that all you small business employers and family businesses out there should not despair. For you have a very powerful weapon at your disposal – YOUR COMMON SENSE!

From my experience, it is the companies that nurture good relations with their staff, promote transparent people systems and encourage open communication channels who run into far fewer employment problems.  When occasional problems do occur in these organisations, they have straightforward processes to follow that help them resolve most issues efficiently and effectively, in a calm and reasonable way.  There are no dark HR arts or alchemy at play, just a bit of forward planning and common sense.

To help Shropshire businesses get off to a flying start in 2012, I would like to share with you the KHHR Employer’s Common Sense Toolkit for dealing with staffing issues big and small (irrespective of legislative changes):

  1. Set the Ground Rules – make sure you agree (and communicate) what people are expected to do and what systems they must follow, to reduce uncertainties
  2. Write it Down – it may sound obvious, but whether you employ one or twenty people, don’t leave things to misinterpretation.  Ensure you provide all staff with their terms and conditions in writing and get into the habit of noting down conversations about performance or behaviour, to avoid doubt or confusion.
  3. Keep it Private – even if you have a small business with few processes, make sure you keep any staffing issues private and confidential
  4. Stay Calm – staffing issues and problems can easily become fraught and emotional, but it is important to remain calm and act with integrity
  5. Nip it in the Bud – always deal with problems quickly, fairly and consistently (seek professional HR expertise where necessary – the earlier the better)
  6. Know Your People – find out how and what makes your employees ‘tick’  so that you can find the most appropriate way of tackling difficult subjects with your people
  7. Walk in Their Shoes – remember what it was like being an employee and be prepared to listen to all sides – this can help guide the approach you take with a specific employment matter (have a peek at my earlier article: First Impressions for some further ideas when taking on new staff)

Make a note of these 7 steps, give them a try and let me know how you get on!

If you’re new to my website, I recommend the following HR articles for more tips, ideas and practical advice, try:

Employee Engagement

Aren’t you Retiring Yet


Keeping it in the Family

I’m always happy to answer niggling HR questions – just give me a call on 05600 434 727 or email me:


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