Ask your employees what they need and want in order to allow them to flourish
Most large organisations will run a satisfaction survey programme; there’s no reason why SMEs shouldn’t do the same.
In order to make sure your employees are happy and working to the best of their ability, you should ask them what they want and need in order to do their job. There are different ways of doing this. Some organisations might have a culture that’s so informal that a survey would be out of place in which case meet with staff either individually or in groups and ask them.
You could have a more formal process and you can devise your own survey or there are companies that could do it for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated and employees will appreciate being asked and may be more candid in a survey than they would be face to face.
Get things right with HR
When you start employing staff, get the legal and human resources aspects right from the beginning.
In terms of your legal responsibilities, you need to:
- register as an employer with HMRC;
- make sure the prospective employee either doesn’t need a visa or has the necessary visa to work in the UK
- obtain P45s from employees or if they don’t have a P45 give them a P46 to fill in.
Have an open and fair application process using a job description and person specification. Again examples can be found on the web and there’ no excuse for not being professional in these areas.
Issue a contract.
At all stages you need to keep the necessary documentation.
If you don’t feel comfortable getting things right with payroll, subcontract it to an outside organisation.
The link below highlights how millions of small businesses in the UK are breaking the law and risking costly employment tribunals with lax HR policies, according to research by business insurance comparator SimplyBusiness.co.uk.
Tax free expenses and benefits
Expenses and benefits is a tricky tax area; the requirements for which many employers are blissfully unaware. In my opinion it’s an area HMRC could make a killing on.
There are several benefits that are exempt from tax and NICs and as an employer it’s worth reviewing them and seeing if you could implement them in your organisation.
- Welfare counselling
- Mobile phones (only one mobile phone per employee but it can be used for private use too)
- Cycles for work
- Works bus
- Public bus subsidy
- Provision of sports facilities (as long as certain criteria are met)
- Eye care
- Childcare – either for:
- Employer contracted childcare (the employer contracts with a nursery to provide places for the children of its employees);
- Childcare vouchers
Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave and Adoption Leave
If you want your employees to flourish surely one of the most basic things to do is make sure you are sticking to their statutory rights. Don’t try to make it hard for employees when it comes to claiming maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave. Planning is the key to making sure your company can afford to give employees’ their statutory rights. In particular succession planning; if an organisation has good succession plans in place, statutory leave shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
Also, don’t assume statutory leave is going to be too expensive for your organisation.
Currently if an organisation has an annual NIC bill of less than £45,000, they will claim back 103% of the maternity pay. That’s an additional 3% compensation from HMRC. If the NIC bill is over £45,000 they can claim back 92% of the maternity pay.
Very few of the ideas about how to help employees flourish require a significant financial investment. Mostly it’s about time and having a strategic perspective on employees’ welfare. Any investment of time in this area should be well rewarded with improved productivity and employee retention.