Human resources and values – more than hiring and firing employees.

How do you capture what is important to your employees whilst also ensuring that you are meeting your compliance obligations and providing best practice human resources?  The key is to understand your human resources value proposition.

To make human resources work for your small business you need to keep in mind the human aspect. Your employees want to know that you care about them as individuals and that they are not just another number contributing to the goals of your business.

This is why it is important for any small business, including yours, to consider the human resources elements required to firstly engage with employees and secondly for business growth.  To do this, let’s start by first understanding what is your human resources value proposition.

Put very simply your human resources value proposition is actually every touchpoint you have with your employees during their employee lifecycle, from what happens when they need to access leave to participating in training.

It is about defining how your business wants to run its human resources function and capture the tangible and intangible benefits that you provide – beyond your product or service itself. It’s about what makes your business stand apart from the others.

To assist in determining the tangle and intangible values your business offers, start by considering each stage of the employee lifecycle;

  • Planning – for the current and future staffing needs of your business to meet growing numbers and expectations of customers. Also ensure you have the right process and systems in place to support the human resources needs of the business.
  • Attraction – of the right candidates and ultimately employing the right person can be a lengthy process, so it is important to ensure you are investing in a process which sets the employer and employee up for success.
  • Management – of the development, expectations and behaviours of employees will enable them to be engaged and grow with the needs of the role, the business and customer expectations. It may also require disciplinary action for underperformance, absenteeism, behavioural issues or misconduct.
  • Engagement – of employees is an important part in making individuals feel a part of the business, valued for the work they produce and developing a good brand.
  • Concluding – employment is the end of the employee lifecycle and can occur in a number of ways.

Now that you understand each stage of the employee lifecycle identify what extra things can you offer your employees. Your human resources values does not end with a robust offer letter, update to date position descriptions and timely payroll. It can be how do you want to promote employees within your business, what types of leave and flexibility arrangements can you offer to support your staff and what workplace environment do you want to foster.

When we talk about coming up with what extra things you can offer your employees, we are talking about engaging with your employees as humans to grow your business.

Getting this right can be the difference between positively influencing your brand and employee value proposition, attract candidates to apply for vacancies, engage and retain employees to work hard and improve longevity of employment.

Get it wrong and the consequences will range from an employee leaving the business and creating disruption until a replacement is found (temporary or permanent) through to a breakdown in relationships with customers due to underperforming and unmotivated employees and damage to your business’ brand.

Now that you understand a little more about the different areas of human resources and the benefits of defining your human resources value proposition, let’s look at some examples.

Look at training. By proactively upskilling your employees in the future needs of the business and in response to changes in the industry, your employees will be better placed to adapt to the changing demands and continue to perform at their best.

Compare this to a business that has employees that are not growing with the needs of the business, that are taking longer to complete their daily tasks, that are becoming disconnected from the role and the business and are becoming negative in their interactions with other employees and customers or clients.

Another example. Look at flexible work arrangements. By considering the needs of your employees and offering flexible work options that are supportive of temporary or permanent changes in personal circumstances, you are creating an environment where employees want to come to work whilst still being able to take care of personal matters. They know that when they need to modify their work arrangements there are options available for them to choose from that will not impact their employment.

It makes someone more connected and motivated to work towards their goals and the goals of the business if they are considered as a human with a life to live that sometimes requires some time away from work. Some leave entitlements might be temporary reduction in hours, working from home or rostered days off.

Compare this to a business that is not supportive of their employees’ life circumstances and makes it difficult for them to access flexibility. Employees may become unproductive and unmotivated or take leave at short notice impacting the rest of the team.

Now that you have considered the human resources value proposition of your business, you will want to put it all together in a handbook so that everyone can easily access it when they need to.

You will be able to give this to new employees when they start with your business. Also you will be able to easily access this information when you are hiring a new employee and promote this as your employee value proposition.

Finally, remember that this is not a once and done process. As your business values and goals change, it’s important that you review your human resources values to ensure they are reflecting what is important to your employees and making a positive impact.

Contact Small Business Society for assistance with your Human Resources.

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required. If you are a small business with less than 15 employees your obligations may vary from the advice provided.


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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


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