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Human resources topics of interest to small businesses.  

Basic Human Resources for Every Organization

By Renée Bucklin

Every organization, no matter how large or small, should have some basic human resources practices in place to ensure compliance and consistency in its recordkeeping. State and Federal regulations provide the minimum requirements, dealing mostly with wages and labor laws.

Organizations should have standard policies and procedures in place to assure that the company is productive and efficient, while also being in compliance with state and federal rules and regulations. The following areas are crucial elements of the HR process: recruiting, hiring, performance evaluation, promotion, wage increases, and termination.

1. Recruiting:

  • A standard application form should be completed by each person seeking employment with your company. Information such as previous wages and reasons for leaving former employers captured on these forms can be valuable in evaluating applicants.
  • The interviewing process should be the same for each applicant, including questions asked and company information shared.

2. Hiring:

  • An offer letter should be given to each new employee, documenting the job title, wage/salary, start date and any other specifics the new employee should know for their first day.
  • Every new employee will need to show proof of eligibility to work in the United States , and the organization should keep track of these I-9 forms appropriately.
  • Each new employee should receive a job description, an employee handbook, and an orientation. They should know the safety procedures (i.e., fire escape procedures, equipment operation), hours they are expected to work, and the organization’s structure. This is also the appropriate time to issue company property that they will need.

3. Performance Evaluation:

  • Every employee is entitled to feedback about their performance. Most companies give a probation period (60 or 90 days are standard) in which the employee will receive extensive training. After the completion of the probation, a formal performance evaluation should be conducted at least once a year.

4. Promotion:

  • Procedures for promotions should be spelled out, so that all employees know what they need to do to qualify for other jobs in the organization, especially if additional schooling or training is necessary.

5.  Wage Increases:

  • The company’s policy on giving raises should be communicated to all employees. Some increases may be legally required or mandated by a union contract.

6.  Terminations:

  • All employees should be aware of the behaviors that will lead to immediate dismissal; these should be included in the employee handbook.
  • If an employee is to be discharged without notice, they should be allowed to retrieve personal belongings within a reasonable timeframe and in a manner that is not disruptive to the company’s operation.
  • Some organizations require a “notice period” for voluntary resignations. It is a good idea to request such notice in writing.
  • All employees should be given information about their unemployment and COBRA rights.
  • Any monies owed for work or eligible benefit payments (i.e. vacation time) should be paid in the last paycheck.