HR for Small Business

(From left) Cissy Pau, Crysta Walski and Gayle Hadfield.

Can’t afford a dedicated HR team? You’re not alone. Three local experts offer tips for small-business owners

Cissy Pau, Principal Consultant, Clear HR Consulting Inc.

One key practice is to develop a consistent hir- ing process that sets forth your hiring criteria, rather than basing hiring deci- sions on gut feel or instinct. Many entrepreneurs hire people who they have a good “feeling” about, but it often results in poor hires because the candidate may not be the best suited for the role. It’s also impor- tant to provide a written employment offer letter. Many small companies make verbal offers and this results in “he said/she said” misunderstandings and increased costs. A common mistake is small businesses hiring before they’re ready; they feel they need help, but haven’t developed job descriptions, established appropriate pay rates, and don’t have time to train and mentor new staff.

Crysta Walski, Vice-president of HR, WCG International Consultants Ltd.

Small business owners need to understand their unique needs and de- velop an HR strategy that is specific to their business requirements. Don’t try to use a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s also important to understand the legal requirements and have a working understanding of the Employment Standards Act. And the best advice is perhaps the simplest: ask for help. A little advice from an HR professional can go a long way and really pay off in the long term. Reference checking is an important part of the hiring process that is too often overlooked. Checking two to three employment references is critical. Always ask if the former employer would hire the person back.

Gayle Hadfield, Principal, Hadfield HR

The first advice I offer small business owners is to ensure employees under- stand the business model, the competitive advantage, and service expectations for clients. They should also gain an understanding of basic people practices such as job clarity and perfor- mance expectations, then manage and recognize staff so they can retain skilled talent. Communication about how the business is doing and what may be changing, then encouraging input, is crucial. The biggest mistake small business owners make is to focus on elements they are most comfortable with such as financial management, customers or products and services, and ignoring solid employee practices—when it’s the people who power their business success.