When you start out as a small business owner, you only really have to take yourself into consideration. The success of the company may well be entirely on your shoulders, but if things go wrong, it also only affects you too. As your business grows and expands, however, you’re going to have to start considering taking on other members of staff to be able to keep things ticking over smoothly and moving forward in a positive and progressive manner. After all, you can’t do absolutely everything alone! But with taking on employees comes great responsibility. Here are just a few things that you need to bear in mind when welcoming people into your workforce!
Adhering to Employment Law
When you first start taking on staff, you may not be able to fully get to grips with employment law in its entirety. Afterall, you’re a business person, not a lawyer, and you may not have time to completely pick everything up in a matter of days, weeks or even months around your own responsibilities. There’s employment law that pertains to pretty much every aspect of work. From holiday or sickness record keeping to grievance, discipline, and the particularly tricky area of dismissal. Luckily, you can follow employment law guides at the same time as gaining an HR department through outsourcing. This should clear all of your issues up and ensure that you’re following employment law at all times!
Creating a Safe Working Environment for Employees
When you have a workforce in action, something that should always be at the forefront of your mind is their health and safety. After all, these individuals are the backbone of your company and without them, you’d soon be flooded with work and all sorts of tasks would become neglected. It’s also important to acknowledge that with the rise of compensation culture, you (as an employer) are increasingly prone to being faced with lawsuits and court cases if you fall short when it comes to taking care of your staff. As soon as you become an employer, you take on a position of authority and become responsible for your employee’s safety and wellbeing as long as they are in the workplace. This may seem like a lot of pressure to take on, but it is necessary and as long as you handle health and safety in the correct manner, you can eliminate both the chances of people becoming hurt or injured at your hands and swerve expensive court cases at the same time. So, for the moment, let’s just focus on a couple of things that you can do to ensure everyone’s health, safety, and wellbeing at all times.
When you’re busy working it can be easy to miss hazards and dangers that may seem pretty obvious to someone who has nothing else on their mind. So make sure to effectively sign any potential hazard, whether it’s permanent or temporary. Permanent hazards are perhaps the easier of the two to label. After all, they’re always there! So, survey your commercial property and take note of any potential problems. These could include steps and low ceilings. Make sure to clearly sign the hazard. Simple signs such as “mind the step” and “low ceiling” will do – just make sure that they’re around eye level close to the potential problem. Temporary problems, such as wet floors, should also have signs. You can purchase bold wet floor signs and store these away in storage cupboards until they are needed. Signs can also be used for information during times of emergency, as well as to indicate hazards. So make sure to have fire exit signs in case of fire. The glow in the dark versions are preferable, as they can still be seen in times of power outages.
Health and Safety Training
The majority of small business owners focus the majority of their efforts on training their staff to fulfil their given roles to the best of their ability. But there’s additional training that every single staff member should also receive: training in workplace health and safety. This will vary depending on the type of role that they’re carrying out and the kind of environment that they’re working in, but generally speaking, you will have to give tutorials on fire safety procedure, correct lifting techniques, and dealing with injuries and incidents effectively. You may also want to bring in professionals to train staff members in basic techniques such as CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. You never know when this knowledge could come in handy and even prove to be life-saving! Ensuring that everyone knows what to do when emergencies arise means that they can be handled much more effectively. Also, encourage staff to keep a log on incidents and events so that they can be referred back to if necessary.
Storing Hazardous Substances Safely
This may seem like a relatively minor piece of information, but it’s extremely important. Most workplaces use chemical products for cleaning. So make sure that they are stored away safely in a designated location whenever they are not in use. You’d be surprised how often dangerous substances are mistaken for drinks, or can be spilt and touch the skin and eyes when incorrectly stored.
Making Your Workplace Accessible to Disabled Individuals
If you have lived your entire life as an able-bodied individual, it can be extremely easy to forget to cater to disabled individuals. After all, you automatically take a lot of things for granted. You can easily access most buildings and don’t have to worry about being judged on something like a disability, or not being able to manoeuvre your way around any given space. But not to worry. There’s plenty of advice out there when it comes to helping to make your workplace accessible to disabled individuals. The first step that you need to take as an employer is to ensure that positions within your team are accessible to the disabled. The first is to completely eradicate your employment process from prejudice. It is important that you do not indicate any preference for able-bodied individuals when you advertise any position. You can neither state or imply that disabled individuals will not be offered the job. You are also prohibited from making any inquiries into whether potential applicants are or have been disabled. In regards to individuals within your workforce, you cannot dismiss anyone on the grounds of them becoming disabled if they are able and competent to carry out the work required of them. In regards to the workplace that you provide your staff with, you may need to make some adjustments as and when you do employ disabled individuals. This may involve making doors wider, lowering work surfaces or surfaces in spaces such as staff rooms. Make sure that any member of staff feels comfortable approaching you with requests for changes should they be facing difficulties with the current layout of things.
Helping Your Team to Bond
While helping your team to bond may not be a legal requirement within the workplace, it is something that will help to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible while they are in work. Not only will it make the workplace a more positive area, but it will also make it much more productive, which is great for business and profit too! While individual brilliance is desirable within your employees, a sense of team spirit can bring things forward in leaps and bounds. As the old saying goes, many hands make light work! Staff who can easily communicate with one another can bring their individual strengths and talents together to overcome problems and move your business forward in various areas. So, what’s the best way to help your team to bond? Well, the answer is to enforce team building activities regularly. Now, the majority of us will cringe at the mere mention of “team building”.. We tend to associate it with awkward meetings where we’re forced to engage enthusiastically with others, often ending in awkward silences and general feelings of discomfort. But when carried out in the correct manner, team building activities can surpass any awkwardness within a matter of minutes and will have your workforce chatting away and working together in next to no time. You can make team building activities whatever you want them to be. Whether it’s a short series of icebreaker questions each morning before everyone is set to work or a full day of interactive treasure hunts and other challenges. Find what works best for you and make sure to keep on top of it regularly for the best results!
As you can see, taking on a workforce comes hand in hand with a whole lot of responsibility. You become responsible for a whole team of people. Not only do you have to ensure that they’re completing all of the tasks that you set them and are meeting a high standard at all times, but you also have to ensure that you’re providing them with a good job in a positive and healthy environment. At first, this may seem a little overwhelming. But as long as you stick with things, always offer room for constructive criticism and improvement, and follow the above advice, everything should be fine and go swimmingly!