Whatever your product or service, your people are your business. So you will want to find the best people that you possibly can - and keep them for as long as you possibly can. These tips will help:
- Recruitment. Be innovative when hiring new staff: look beyond ads in newspapers and online jobs boards. Develop relationships with universities and make use of your wider network, such as former colleagues and the social media website LinkedIn.
- Interviewing. Before inviting candidates to interview, review the CVs that you have received against a checklist of the key qualities, skills and experience that the role requires. Watch out for spelling mistakes, lack of progression and unexplained employment gaps. Google the candidates' names - this can be a good way to double-check the claims they have made on paper. Telephone interviews can be a useful initial screening measure. For later interviews, it is a good idea to set a simple task for candidates, such as a presentation, to test their commitment to the role.
- References. If you make a job offer, it is advisable to make it conditional on satisfactory references. Carry out thorough checks on your candidate's background and follow up on the references they supply.
- Contract of employment. It is best practice to provide your employees with a contract of employment, but, at the very least, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement that outlines their duties within two months of their start date.
- Duty of care. You have a duty of care towards your employees, to make sure that they work safely and have a reasonable chance of succeeding in their job. It is sensible to provide them with training, regular performance appraisals and an employee handbook so that they understand the business's main policies and procedures. You also have a responsibility to provide free eye tests to staff that use display screens and make sure that equality and diversity are respected in your workplace.
- Disciplinary and grievance procedure. You should have a disciplinary and grievance procedure in place to address unsatisfactory performance and conflict between employees. In the case of dismissal, you may want to seek advice from an employment lawyer.
- Redundancy. You should follow a statutory redundancy policy when making employees redundant.
- Pay. If you want to keep your staff, it is wise to pay them fairly so do some market research on pay rates in your industry and region. You also need to give them paid annual leave. Since October 2012, the minimum hourly wage for workers aged 21 or over is £6.19. As an employer, you will have to operate a PAYE (Pay as You Earn) scheme for HMRC. This means deducting tax and National Insurance contributions from your employees' pay and paying employer's Class 1 National Insurance contributions if they earn above a certain threshold. You pay these amounts to HMRC monthly or quarterly. Following the end of the tax year, you must file an employer annual return (forms P35 and P14) online with HMRC.
- Pension. Over the next four years, starting in October 2012, all employers will need to automatically enrol their employees into workplace pension schemes if they are not already in one and make minimum contributions to those schemes. Large employers will have to comply first, followed by medium and smaller employers.