Managing human resources effectively is a challenge for most small business owners. With limited staff and budgets, creating formal HR processes can seem daunting.
The statistics reveal an urgent problem. Almost half of small businesses don’t survive past their first five years. One of the reasons many of these promising startups fails? HR challenges. Many young companies struggle with payroll, have trouble finding the right talent, or fail to comply with laws. As a small business owner, focusing solely on product, marketing, or customers is not enough–Everything revolves around managing your team.
So, what practical steps can you take to make your HR practices ensure—and not undermine—your success?
This article explores the basics of managing human resources for small businesses in an approachable way and offers five simple, actionable tips you can start implementing to manage your team more effectively.
Human Resources for Small Businesses: What You Need to Know
Many small business owners realize they need HR support but need more internal expertise and bandwidth to do it all themselves. Unfortunately, hiring an in-house HR specialist costs precious time and money that struggling business owners can’t typically afford.
But plowing ahead without guidance can lead to complications like tax errors, compliance oversights, and more. The answer, then, is to seek outside support, right? But where do you start?
The wrong HR partner can create more problems than it solves, bogging you down with confusing clauses and payroll complexities.
What’s the ideal solution? Consider partnering with an affordable HR service provider that offers specialized support. Outsourcing HR functions to an experienced, dedicated provider helps you efficiently handle critical people management processes like recruiting, onboarding, payroll, and compliance. They also act as an extension of your team, guiding you and lifting the people management burden so you can focus on growth.
At ConnectPay, we can connect you with a local HR expert, or set you up on our program, the ConnectPay HR Resource Center. Our blog can help you decide–do you need to outsource an HR consultant as-needed? Or is an HR program–with hotline access to HR professionals–able to get the job done? Let’s explore our top five HR tips so you can decide which option best suits your business.
5 HR Tips for Small Businesses
Managing human resources for small businesses is tricky, but it’s also one of the highest-leverage activities you can get right. Building strong foundations for essential processes like hiring, onboarding, payroll, and ongoing communication establishes a healthy infrastructure that lets your business scale. So let's dive in!
Nail Your Onboarding Process
Your onboarding process makes or breaks how you integrate new hires in those critical early days, yet it’s an area many small businesses overlook. When employees don’t receive thorough training and resources upfront, you see the consequences in long-term performance and retention. And, new hires who feel ignored or lost from day one are more likely to underperform or quit sooner.
How do you nail your onboarding process?
Set clear expectations from the start so new hires understand their exact responsibilities. They offer hands-on training and ample learning resources tailored to each role so employees feel equipped to excel at their jobs. Check in regularly, especially during the first few weeks, and give new hires a chance to ask questions.
Finally, remember to welcome fresh talent through small gestures like introductions, a quick team lunch, or a studio tour. Investing this intentional time upfront saves frustration for everyone later. Do HR onboarding right, and you’ll boost productivity, confidence, and retention.
Research Employment Law Basics
Staying legally compliant is critical for every business. However, legal requirements can get tricky, especially if your employees work across multiple states and localities. But the consequences of overlooking a fundamental law can be disastrous.
Be aware of federal regulations and specific state and local laws where each employee works — not just where your business is registered. Consult free public resources like the Department of Labor to educate yourself on requirements so you can follow them.
You can also work with an HR professional or specialized partner who can easily connect you with local experts to ensure full compliance for nuanced issues. Having a trusted point partner who gets you in touch with localized tax, insurance, and legal support provides the invaluable perspective you need to navigate compliance across different regions.
Build an Efficient Payroll Process
Handling payroll efficiently keeps your team happy, reduces errors, and saves you time. Yet, it’s an area that trips up many small businesses. Why? It takes time and effort to build a sustainable payroll process, and if you’re not a payroll expert, it can be hard to get that process in place.
However, if you don’t create a streamlined process, you’re wasting valuable hours manually processing payroll each period — not to mention creating a significant liability if tax payments or filings fall through the cracks. So, how can you mitigate these issues and master payroll for your small business?
Start by choosing reliable payroll software or an experienced provider to minimize the chances of errors. Set employees up with direct deposit for added convenience and another layer of security against errors and fraud.
Next, automate any repeatable steps in your process. Try integrating timekeeping software with your payroll system or scheduling automatic quarterly tax payments. Lastly, thoroughly review your deductions, earnings, taxes, and other factors every pay period to verify accuracy or catch slip-ups in time to correct them.
Create Clear Employment Policies
It’s tempting to skip documenting formal employment policies, especially if you have a small company with only a few employees. However, vague expectations are the surest way to end up with misunderstandings and disputes that aren’t worth the headaches later on.
To create clear employment policies, consult experts on relevant local laws across locations where your team works. Address important topics like codes of conduct, internet usage, anti-discrimination, confidentiality, and security protocols. Detail time off allowances, attendance expectations, remote work eligibility, and anything else that’s standard at your company.
Have employees sign an acknowledgment form indicating they’ve read your policies and agree to comply. Then, review policies annually or whenever regulations change to keep them current.
Pro tip: What’s the easiest to get acknowledgments signed? Include them in your new hire documentation to make sure every team member knocks it out first thing.
Prioritize Clear Communication With Employees
It’s easy for communication breakdowns and friction to impact small teams with limited touchpoints. That’s why continually cultivating open, direct communication must be a priority.
Hold brief weekly or monthly all-hands meetings to align on company news, let team members interact directly with you and other leadership, and maintain an open-door culture encouraging people to voice concerns transparently.
It's also important not to assume your team is happy just because they’re productive. You need to ask them! Seek feedback through surveys or one-on-ones to see how your policies play out in real life and address simmering conflicts before they escalate.
Putting these guardrails in place is essential for making communication a cornerstone of your culture and compliance efforts.
Managing Human Resources for Small Businesses: The Right Payroll Partner Can Help
The nuances of HR aren’t glamorous. However, getting these foundational components right creates space for everything else in your business to thrive.
With fundamental best practices in place for managing human resources for small businesses, you’ll spend less energy grappling with HR fires and staff frustrations and have more mental bandwidth to serve customers better and stand out in your market. Want to take an extra step in elevating your small business operations?
We’ve got a platform dedicated to HR resources like customizable job descriptions, interview questions, an Employee Handbook builder–and even access to an HR hotline monitored by industry professionals. Our HR Resource Center is home to hundreds of training courses, compliance documents, and materials for you and your employees.
Want to see it for yourself? Watch the HR Resource Center Demo to see all the features in action! If you still have questions after the demo, we’re here to help! We can also connect you with local experts in specialties like workers' compensation, employee benefits,, and yes, even general HR resources.
Learn more about how we can help by scheduling a free Payroll Tax and Compliance Review today.