10 Valuable HR Lessons for Small-Business Owners

Question: What is the most valuable HR practice every new business owner should be aware of?

HR Is a Potential Employee's First Impression

"Human Resources departments should strive to not just be super efficient and organized with onboarding new hires, but should really think of themselves as the first ones to welcome a new employee and make a positive impression. Taking care of a new employee/intern's unique needs is an important responsibility that should be done carefully."

- Annie Wang | Co-founder, Chief Product Officer, Creative Director, Her Campus Media

Put It in Writing and Set Expectations Upfront

"Don't assume new hires know what your organization expects. What may appear simple to you is foreign to the next person. Develop a straight forward employee handbook or manual to address the basics including job descriptions, attendance expectations, email communication etiquette, payment methods and more. Review standard operating procedures via an on-boarding and set people up for success."

- Erica Nicole | Founder and CEO, YFS Magzine
Screen for Culture Fit

"Every organization has a culture of its own. It is up to the entrepreneur to choose to define and build it or let it develop on its own. Screening a candidate for a cultural fit is critical. We have passed over numerous very talented candidates because they were not appropriate for the culture that we have worked so hard to build."

Understand Motivation

"You must know what motivates your employees -- financial rewards and money is not always the best way to give your employees drive. Every HR department must set-up non-financial rewards programs like mentorship lunches, featuring special employees or better parking. Money is not the only driver of strong employees!"

- Vanessa Van Edwards | Behavioral Investigator, Science of People

Go Hi-Tech or Go Home

"Streamline the HR workflow by using technology to improve communication and accessibility. Some specific examples include HR management system software, Internet based payroll and electronic applicant tracking. These electronic systems will save time, money and reduce the errors caused by archaic paperwork."

Be Transparent

"Generation Y-ers heavily emphasize workplace culture, benefits and transparency. Sometimes these issues even trump salary considerations. Therefore, the most crucial HR best practice that every business should implement is stressing the transparent culture of the business during interviews."

- Zach Cutler | Founder and CEO, Cutler Group

Create a Talent Community

"Turn your careers page into an interactive social community by utilizing talent community plugins or setting up a separate Facebook page aimed at prospective employees. Provide valuable content through these means and regularly interact with interested individuals."

- Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended

Be Consistent

"After setting up appropriate policies and procedures, be sure that you're enforcing these rules fairly and consistently across all employees. Nothing undermines your respect like the perception of playing favorites (and be sensitive to how things may be perceived). Even if employees do not like certain policies, if they're enforced consistently it makes it much more difficult to be questioned."

Keep Your Eye Out for Who You Want to Hire

"Relying on applications means that you're relying on people who self-select (and are driven by the need for a job more than anything else). For some positions, that's fine, but you need to keep an eye out for people who are fantastic and already have jobs. Hiring employees away from other companies tends to mean you're selecting the pool of potentials."

- Thursday Bram | Content Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting

Be Personally Involved

"As an organization grows, the owner must choose their battles wisely and hiring is one of the most critical because it's the lifeblood of your company. Eventually you'll need to hire an HR director, but by being involved in each and every hire you set the tone for how your company runs and who's in charge. Employees work harder for owners they can tell are 100 percent dedicated to quality control."

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs.  The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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