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ByteStart’s Start-Up Guide – Part 18 – An Overview of employing staff Overview of employing staff

October 11, 2011

If your new business is a success, at some point you may find yourself wanting to take on some assistance.

Employees can be a real minefield. The right ones will add value to your business and help you scale up. Bad employees will cause untold amounts of damage and could destroy your business around you.

The key here is start as you mean to go on. Your initial meeting of a potential employee is your golden opportunity to assess if they are suitable for the job and if they are the kind of person you are looking for to represent your business. Remember – your company is only as good as its staff.

Paying staff is an expensive business, so before you advertise a vacancy, ask yourself if you REALLY need another pair of hands. Then look at the basics. What specific skills are you looking for? You want your new candidate to live up to these as closely as possible from the outset.

Do you need the new staff member to be full-time? Or are you expanding in a new area, meaning you will need a set of skills and experience perhaps not already existent in your business.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the skills, experience and level of cover you need, draft a job description to attract the desired candidate. First and foremost, include skills, knowledge and experience. Highlight the general nature and objective of the job, along with main duties and tasks. Also, give a job title and location where the job is based.

On the other hand, you may decide to leave all this to the experts: a recruitment agency. This could save you a lot of time, and you could even go down the road of trying out a candidate as a temporary employee first, before deciding whether or not to take them on full-time. If you employ a temporary worker, you will also have less paperwork to tackle, as many recruitment agencies take care of tax issues and pay the workers directly.

However, if you are going for this option, make sure you go for an agency that comes highly recommended. They are expensive – some demand as much as 30 per cent of the employee’s annual salary – and if they do not find you the right person quickly, it could prove disruptive and counter-productive to your business.

Once you’ve found the right candidate, you have to interview them. It takes time and preparation.

Think about what you wrote in the job description and specification. Equally, think about your business and what you can offer a candidate over a competitor. Remember, it’s not just about what they have to offer your business, but what your company can offer in return.

During interview, introduce yourself and explain what the interview process will involve. Tell the candidate some background about the company and give some more information on the role they have applied for.

Encourage the candidate to tell you about their strengths and why they decided to apply.

Ask open-ended questions, rather than closed ones. For example, ask “Tell me about a similar role you have performed before”, instead of “Have you performed a similar role?” You will find out far more about them that way.

At the end, ask the candidate if they have any questions. Tell them about the next stage in the recruitment process, such as second interviews and timescales where possible. As they leave, thank them for their interest so far. You may also want to include an aptitude exercise or some form of test.

If you are unsure between a few candidates, conduct a second interview. Otherwise, make your successful candidate a direct job offer, or do it through a recruitment agency, if you used one.

Once the offer is verbally accepted, confirm it in writing. Now plan how you will welcome and introduce your new employee to the business’s day-to-day running and how you will train them.

Good quality training will keep your staff motivated, and reflects positively on your role as an employer. Likewise, it raises customers’ satisfaction and boosts business.

In order to establish what your training needs are, you should conduct a training needs analysis. This will identify gaps in your workforce and support your business objectives. Conduct an employee survey and involve your customers where relevant.

Ask your staff how they would prefer to be trained – some learn best through observation and questioning, so job shadowing could be a cost-effective method. Try and tailor make your training for each individual.

For in-depth legal articles, visit our People section.

On to ByteStart’s Start-Up Guide – Part 19 – Legal implications of employing staff

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