When we start a new business, putting employment processes and practices in place and ensuring labour compliance is, understandably so, not one of our biggest priorities. Let’s be honest, there are so much to think about and so much to do, that we generally say “I will sort this out later”.
However, the absence of the correct employee practices, processes and policies can land us in quite a precarious position filled with labour disputes, fines, disruptive employee behaviour, etc. Apart from managing your risk, there are also other reasons why putting the basics in place are important, and they have become more prominent in the past few years, especially for professional firms employing people with scarce skills. Let’s look at those.
When you start a new business, one of the most important focus areas is to employ the right people. Especially if you start out small. But it is not an easy task. Today’s job seekers are very information focused and make a point of properly researching prospective employers. This does not merely mean that they check out your website.
No, they tap into their professional networks and find out how you run your company, how you manage your people, what benefits are available and your company culture. They talk to each other over social media, LinkedIn and at social gatherings.
Simple things could make a big impact:
- having your policies in place and compliant, accessible, meaningful and consistently applied and having communicated this to staff;
- having contracts in plain language;
- having an open and transparent company culture; and
- generally just being a company that puts a lot of time into continuously working on their employee strategies.
I recently spoke to a professional who started a new job and the first thing she told me was: “it was so nice to have a meaningful and structured on-boarding programme. It made me feel valued, welcome and as though they were prepared and excited about my arrival”. Something as simple as a carefully thought through induction programme goes a long way in achieving employee engagement and buy-in from day 1.
The tables have turned: as companies, we need to be attractive to job seekers and no longer only the other way around.
Here are some of the questions that you need to be able to say “yes” to, to ensure compliance, to manage your risk, to prevent disputes, and to at the same time, build the foundation to attract the people you want to employ. If you can say “yes” to the following questions, you are well on your way.
- Do you have Employment Contracts in place that are fully compliant with all Labour Legislation? (Do you have fixed term contracts and know how to use them? Do you know which sections are applicable if the employee earns below/above the earnings threshold? Do you know what to put in the contract and what to leave out (yes, it is not a good idea to put everything in there!)).
- Are your remuneration, hiring practices, promotion and the awarding of benefits fair according to the guidelines in terms of the Employment Equity Act?
- As a start, do you have the critical employee policies in place? And is the message punitive or positive? Are they in a language that employees understand? Are they properly communicated and employee input considered?
- Do you have competent payroll specialists assisting you? Are the appropriate payroll deductions being made? Is your registrations for PAYE, UIF, COID in place? Do you know whether you have to pay SDL Levies?
- If you are a designated employer, do you have an Employment Equity plan in place? Are you submitting your Employment Equity reports?
- Do you have a meaningful induction process? Does this include a probation management plan? Do managers know how to use them? DO they use them?
- Do you comply with the Health and Safety Act’s requirements?
- Do you have a recruitment process that makes sense? What is your policy? Do you comply with employment equity requirements?
- Are their meaningful job descriptions in place and discussed with and explained to employees?
- Most importantly, does your Human Capital strategy align with those of your company?
Now, get to work!