Your employees are the face of your business to the world. They are, in effect, YOU.
Step by Step: Achieve Small Business Success
By Paul Samakow
Let’s see if you can answer this question correctly: As a small business owner, what is your greatest asset?
If you answered by saying anything other than your people, you got it wrong.
Products, processes, and other assets can all be bought and sold, but your people are the one aspect of your business that you cannot do without. You must hire the right kind of people, you must train your people, and you must take good care of your people.
It’s not a matter of choice. It’s a matter of business life and death.
Ready for another question? Here it is: What is the purpose of hiring employees? This is one question that I find draws all sorts of answers. I’ve heard answers such as “To have effective teamwork,” and “To provide gainful employment,” and so forth. But here’s the hard truth. The reason you hire employees is so they can help you can make money. That’s it. Period, end of sentence.
Now, do you want great teamwork? Of course. Should a business offer gainful employment and meaningful work? Absolutely. But none of those things happen if the business, through the work of the employees, isn’t making money.
So as a business owner, you will employee people, and through them, your business will produce more for you. Before we get to the specifics, let me give you just a bit of motivation to keep reading. As the business owner, you must always remember that your business is business – NOT the trade or skill of your business. So properly leading, managing, and empowering your employees is a top priority in the business of business.
With that priority settled in your mind, you first must hire the right kind of people. I call them “A” people. “A” people are the only kind to hire because they have traits which cannot be gotten through training – they have honesty, integrity, and character. They are the self-starters, the people that you know can take over if you are away. “A” people are motivated by the opportunities you provide and by their accomplishments. “A” people come in early, and leave when they are done, without concern about the clock. Finally, “A” people are the ones that have that “sparkle” in their eyes. Only hire “A” people. No matter how much you invest in training employees what to do, no amount of training will replace who they are.
Next, once you hire your “A” people, you’ve got to train them well and treat them well. Part of treating them well not only involves compensation, but also letting them know what to expect as a member of your team, and the way you do that is by having an employee handbook. It is a huge mistake for a business owner to think of an employee handbook as something that is optional. You must think of it as an essential business system, in the same manner, you think of every other crucial business system.
Here is an alphabetical listing of some of the things an employee handbook might include:
- Acceptable Use Policy
- Acceptable Clothing/Dress Code
- Attendance Policy
- Benefits Policy
- Computer Usage Policy
- Confidentiality Policy
- Drug Policy
- Ethics Policy
- Food Policy
- Harassment/Professional Conduct Policy
- Hiring/Firing/Discharge Policy
- Payroll Procedures
- Performance Evaluations
- Travel/Entertainment Policy
- Workers’ Compensation Policy
You do not have to start writing an employee handbook from scratch. There are numerous resources to help you get started.
Billionaire Richard Branson has said that rather than putting your customers or clients first, as a business owner, you should put your employees first because when they are well taken care of, they, in turn, take good care of your customers. Having an easily understandable employee handbook is essential to taking good care of your employees. Do this and you, the business owner, will reap many rewards.