Quick question: Who, in a typical company, knows everyone who works in the office? Most likely you are thinking of the person who works in Human Resources (HR). Even in the largest organizations, the HR department is responsible for the personal well-being and professional success of everyone who works there.
Your company may not have the luxury of having an HR department. In fact, as a small business owner, you probably have many different roles: CEO, sales director, marketing guru and, yes, human resources manager. It boils down to necessity: when you’re building a business from scratch, there’s often no budget to hire someone for each of these positions.
The problem is that, for many business owners, managing people becomes secondary, leaving aside the main objective of “getting the job done”. Or, if you don’t have HR experience, you may not know where to start. As a result, the task of managing your company’s greatest asset becomes a challenging and potentially overwhelming aspect of growing the business.
The good news is that with a little planning and the right organizational tools, you can get rid of much of this pain and demonstrate your commitment to effective human capital management. Let’s take a look at six of the most common HR challenges your small business faces today, and how Evernote can help you minimize potential problems in the future.
Finding the right people
Efficient recruitment is important for all organizations, but there is no doubt that small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding the best talent. An Apple or Google recruiter has incredible candidates knocking on their (virtual) doors all day long. Small businesses, and startups in particular, have to stand out from the crowd to attract the kind of talented people who will drive the growth of their businesses.
However, the recruitment advantage enjoyed by larger companies is often at the expense of agility. The secret weapon of your small business is your ability to recruit quickly, which makes candidates move through the hiring process faster. As SHRM (Society for Management of Human Resources) advises, “Small businesses must be “speedboats” and sometimes outperform slower and larger companies when it comes to hiring.
Here are some tips to increase the efficiency of your hiring:
- Create a notebook in Evernote with job description templates that you can use again. This ensures that you present an accurate and engaging view of your company and work.
- Save resume PDF files on Evernote to keep qualified candidates from going unnoticed. Write down and share these resumes with everyone involved in the interview process, so they have all the documents they need to make informed hiring decisions.
- Create a chart to track candidates’ progress through the hiring process. For example, you can create columns such as: “Application/Curriculum Reviewed,” “Interviewed by Phone,” “Interviewed in Person,” “References Checked,” and “Offer Submitted. As applicants progress from one phase to the next, move their name to the appropriate table column so that everyone knows which phase they are in.
Professional advice: Download this useful template that will help you make the follow-up of the applicants very easy. This interview scoring system can help you keep track of every candidate you talk to.
Make sure everyone is up to date
Last time you started a new job, how was your first day? For many people, it can be extremely stressful. As an employer, you can make it easier to incorporate your new hires by creating a comprehensive “Employee Handbook” to guide them through the process.
Consider saving your handbook on Evernote and sending a public link to new hires before their official start date. It will give them a good first impression and they will have the opportunity to work immediately as they become familiar with the inevitable “How we do things around here.
By creating an “Inidce” note with a link to individual notes covering important topics such as company values, holiday policy, benefits information, social networking policy and anti-discrimination and harassment policies, new employees can acclimate very quickly.
Of course, details change, people leave and eventually you will have to update your handbook. Instead of distributing a new hard copy to all staff, keeping your Employee Handbook on Evernote makes version control simple, so that all staff in your company, no matter how long they have been working on it, always have the most up-to-date version.
Evernote is also a perfect tool for creating a company intranet. Save management announcements, upcoming events, company meeting notes and more in a notebook available to all employees. It informs everyone that they can find the answers to most of their questions on Evernote and that you can help them if they can’t. The advantage? This frees up your time and you can avoid answering the same questions over and over again.
If your company has more than one office, there will undoubtedly be times when employees will have to travel from one place to another. How will they get there? Where will they stay? What should they check while in town?
Consider creating a note and inviting all your employees to include their favorite travel tips and suggestions for things to see and do in their city. This will help make the time spent on the road less stressful and more productive.
Streamline repetitive tasks
Templates can save you a lot of time, especially when you have to complete repetitive HR tasks. For example, there are certain details you should keep of everyone in your company: emergency contact information, health insurance forms and non-disclosure agreements (just to name a few).
While we do not recommend that you save completed forms on Evernote, you can speed up the process by saving blank forms as templates on Evernote. Employees can access the forms they need and instructions for completing them, and then send the completed versions to you, all with a printer in sight.
The templates can also be useful for performance reviews. The process often begins with a self-assessment, so create a template with a list of criteria for measuring employees and a series of questions that will help them reflect objectively on their performance.
Professional Advice: Use this template to help set performance goals and objectives for your employees. You can refer to this checklist later when you evaluate your success in achieving these goals.
Manage the information mountain
For each of the benefits that employees enjoy, such as health insurance and professional development programs, you must put in countless hours of research and preparation. There are plans to compare, providers to evaluate, ROI to calculate, and contracts to sign. As the owner of the company, you have a responsibility to act with due diligence to ensure you provide maximum value to the company and staff.
This creates a mountain of information and contacts that can be overwhelming. Make your life easier by storing all this information on Evernote, and using labels, notebooks and batteries to organize it all.
For example, save a PDF file of an insurance company’s plan benefits on Evernote, along with a note containing your company representative’s details and any relevant conversations between the two. Then organize them in a notebook using the insurance company’s name.
Eventually, you’ll have a separate notebook for each insurance plan, which you can combine into a stack called “Health Insurance. Applying this process to any of the employee benefits you manage will help you control the exponential growth of data and make it easier to quickly find the information you need.
Be the bearer of bad news
Okay, this is a tough one. No one likes having to tell another person that their job at the company has come to an end, but the sad reality of professional life is that jobs are not as “permanent” as they used to be, and sometimes they end for various reasons.
You can make the process a little less painful for everyone by creating a notebook at Evernote with strategies for managing these difficult conversations, as well as documenting the legal procedures you must follow to terminate an employee.
For better or worse, employees often see the HR function as a “blast” that ruins everyone’s fun and games. And while no one likes having to fire an employee (hopefully), managing the conversation tactfully can help you maintain a professional relationship with a fired employee, without destroying any possibility of future reconciliation.
After all, your former employees are likely to tell their network about their experience with your company, so it’s advisable to make your last contact as respectful and efficient as possible.