Q&A: what small businesses are asking now

November 10, 2016

Forward Ladies hosted our very first #HR180Chat on Twitter in early November 2016. HR180 came up with some answers on the day to questions about common problems businesses are looking for help with. Here’s a transcript with a few more ideas for the melting pot!


Q We are finding it difficult to fill general roles, do you have any tips?

A Think about your target audience & then be where they are! If you need a part time admin, put a flyer into the local school or GP. Everyone does the job boards but sometimes it’s about doing something different. In the past we did a beer mat advert campaign (for less than cost of job board) to get drivers! Or specific FB targeting – rather than just general job sites.

Q I prefer to recruit women/men/young people etc. is this discrimination? What about employing only female staff to create a better-balanced team?

A Unless you have a specific need – i.e. a female carer or need a woman for a role in a play – then the answer is yes it is discrimination. Whilst you can’t say no to anyone you can make sure the people you want to apply ACTUALLY apply, by attracting them properly! It’s about your adverts, your employer branding, your values to attract the people you want.

Q What is the biggest mistake you see small businesses make when recruiting? 

A Either taking 2nd best because its ‘urgent’ OR discounting people with transferable skills because they haven’t industry experience.

Q A member of staff has just walked out. What should I do?

A It would be important to find out why – and if you think they’ll come back.

Q Any effective ideas on rewarding staff whilst on a budget this Christmas?

A Here’s some ‘quick wins’ in terms of keeping within a budget but still making your reward meaningful: contributory vouchers to a pantomime, bake something personal, write a personal card saying thanks for their help, get everyone a Helium balloon, hold a Fuddle (food cuddle!), set up a mini playroom in the office with random games, Lucky Karaoke £4.99 subscription for one month! Also don’t forget to issue Total Reward Statements – these tell people more than what they just get for their salary meaning that their whole package is really clear, which can help show how generous you are!

Q If you run a small business can you still benefit from recruiting HR specialists? And what are the main benefits?

A Yes absolutely – you might not need someone full time but access to an HR specialist such as an Outsourced HR company will be hugely helpful and cost effective. You know your specialism and we know ours – you’d be annoyed if someone told you that they could easily do your job, but this happens to HR all the time! So let someone with the knowledge, experience and time help you get it right and avoid the costs you will incur by doing it yourself which will be huge if you get it wrong.

Q What is the best way to motivate an introverted staff member?

A Ask them! Everyone is different, and people need an individual package of training, support and motivation – don’t guess! Also think about things like giving privacy to think, build strong relationship, help them to be creative and use their ideas.

Q It’s difficult finding the right people? Where do you find great people?

A You don’t FIND them, you attract them! If your advert is boring and standard – then you’ll get boring and standard people applying. One person’s good is someone else’s mediocre! Explain what you are looking for really clearly! Be totally committed to getting it.

Q If I want to make someone on maternity leave redundant, can I do that?

A Yes they absolutely can – like any redundancy though there MUST be a business case – not that you just don’t want the person back at work! Don’t forget redundancy is still very strict requiring proper consultation, at least 7 days to think, then a final decision. We regularly encounter project clients who simply told everyone they were going to be made redundant so NO meaningful consultation and fall out that requires help from HR180!

Q I employ some people from the EU. I’m worried about BREXIT

Until we know what’s happening it’s BAU – we do need to be careful about a rise in discrimination in our workplaces.

Q How long should be the probation period for an employee you hire? Is 5 month too much?

A Evidence proves it takes at least 12 weeks for someone to even understand their role let alone demonstrate competency in it, At HR180 we have a 6 month probation thought generally it depends on nature of the role. For some 3 months is enough but 6 months gives everyone an idea of how it’s going. There are times when you’ll know well before the 5/6 months is up and if you’re still guessing at the 6 month point it’s a no!

Q With all the noise about the FIFA refusal to allow players to wear poppies will employers be tempted to ban the poppy?

A I really hope not! The poppy is not religious it’s a symbol of thanks to those who sacrificed themselves. Generally we can help put in place standard procedures of how to deal with any issue which may or may not have a religious symbolism and also any discrimination which may arise.

Q We have staff needing time off when their children are sick / off school, should they be made to take holidays or unpaid leave?

A Personally I would offer them either option. It also depends on how long they need: potentially they could work the time back.

Q I (my company) am about to become an employer for the first time. What do I need to do?

A Offer letter, contract, payroll, pension are just a few of the things to think about. It’s important to get it right so consider asking for help. HR180 offers Outsourced HR – both as a rolling contract, consultancy or short term project – investing in your staff is in fact investing in your own business so it is well worth asking for costings.

Q I’ve a contract of employment from a corporate I worked for. Why should I spend money on new one for employees in my own business?

A It is important that your contract is fit for purpose and right for YOUR business not someone else’s! What fits a large corporate may be too costly for a growing SME. We can easily put a contract together for you and an Employee Handbook to help you save expense later.

Q What do I do if staff members don’t get along but all are very good professionals? How do I deal with this situation?

A It can seem impossible but with mentoring, knowledge share and appreciating diversity you can have a successful team. It’s important to try & help each team member to understand their own but others strengths & what each of them brings to the party. When everyone is ‘in it’ together for the business, and for each other too, there’s less not getting along!

Q Is it better to hire an experienced person (startup) & not consider recent graduates because of lack of knowledge?

A It depends on your aim! Someone to hit the ground running and help you build up the biz or someone you can train in house style? We’ve always had a good mix here at HR180, which keeps everyone fresh, helps the youngsters get trained quickly and keeps us older ones ‘cool’!

Keep on chatting! Follow us on Twitter by clicking the little bird at the top of the page. We will keep an eye on #HR180Chat but to really get the right answers to all your business questions take time out to call us on 0113 287 8150 or press the Rescue Me button over on the right! Speak soon!

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