HR Basics for Small Businesses

c2fd9e3b004b3a494987_headshot.jpg
c2fd9e3b004b3a494987_headshot.jpg

A common mistake small business owners make is to assume they are too small to be concerned with Human Resources issues. While it might not make sense to hire a full-time HR Director or make big investments in HR management information technology, it does make good business sense to make sure you have certain HR bases covered. In this space, I will discuss various HR-related topics that you can't afford to overlook. I'll start with one of my favorites:

Employee Handbooks

An Employee Handbook can be much more than a doorstop or paperweight, if written properly and used regularly. How?

Sign Up for E-News

  • It can take the place of an on-site HR Director when simple benefits or leave policy questions arise.

  • It can also outline your company's discipline and grievance policy and answer related questions before they become a problem.

  • Additionally, it can clarify whether or not it's o.k. to check your Facebook page during the workday, for example.

Basically, having a well-written, up-to-date Employee Handbook will save you and your employees a lot of time and confusion.

A smart early step is to meet with the senior members of your company to discuss what's important to your company. What are your values? Do you have a mission statement? These things will help you ensure that your Employee Handbook looks and feels like your company and its culture. The last thing you want is an Employee Handbook filled with strict policies and images of employees in suits when in reality, your employees wear shorts and flip-flops and work from home when business allows.

Next, you'll want to dredge up whatever policies you have in place, even if they seem outdated. Some may have to be completely rewritten, but others may just need a few updates. Think about things that occur around the office. Have you noticed staff members spending a lot of time on the Internet during work hours, for example? Or sending personal text-messages on their company cell phone? Do you have a social media policy? What about time spent away from the office? Nothing ruffles employee morale more than the perception that some employees are not pulling their weight. What does your policy say about work hours, absences and working from home? Seven words to live by: Make a policy and stick to it.

There are many basic areas you'll want to include in your handbook, but one critical topic you don't want to leave out is Employment-at-will. This legal doctrine states that employers can fire non-contracted employees at any time for any reason, as long as those employers are not breaking the law. Including this in your Employee Handbook can help defend your company against a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Other topics to be included in an Employee Handbook will be covered in future articles. Sexual Harassment, Performance Management, Family Leave policies, Whistleblower protection, to name a few. These are not topics that should be addressed casually by non-professionals.

So where do you start? If no one on your staff has experience with HR issues and time to devote to creating and revising policies, consider working with an HR consultant, who has experience with local and federal employment laws and the necessary knowledge about what should and shouldn't be included in an Employee Handbook. This also will free you up to concentrate on your core business.

Alison Rivlin, principal of Rivlin HR Consulting, has over 15 years of experience in all aspects of Human Resources. Rivlin HR Consulting helps small businesses proactively address critical Human Resources issues to provide legal protection, to polish the company's professional image and to strengthen employee morale. Contact her at
Alison@RivlinHR.com or 908-327-3817 or see RivlinHR.com for more info.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Mike Zuko at Salem Roadhouse Cafe

February 19, 2018

Raised on a diet of The Beatles, Buddy Holly and The Doors, Michael Zuko was exposed first hand to the thrilling music of the legendary 70s NYC club scene. Zuko and the band show a skilled singer-songwriter who is backed by solid musical talent, bringing original, fresh and intelligent lyrics to the stage. A true entertainer, Mike engages the audience fully and leaves them wanting more. Mike and ...

German Language School of Morris County Raises $1,000 for Market Street Mission

February, the month of all things red and romantic with red, hearts, roses, and chocolates, is also a time to show our love of friends and community. Students from the German Language School of Morris County (www.njlearnsgerman.org and www.glsmc.org), took that lesson to heart and raised $1,000 for The Market Street Mission (www.marketstreet.org), a Morristown haven for the needy for more than ...

Kick Off for the Relay for Life of Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, New Providence & Summit 

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - There will be a Kick Off for Relay for Life on Thursday, March 1st. It will be held at the Gov. Livingston High School Cafeteria at 7pm.  The theme of Kick Off is Back TO GL - we envision a future that is cancer free. Everything you need to know about Relay for Life will be presented in an interactive setting. Relay ...

Home for Good Dog Rescue's Annual "Taste of Italy" Dinner & Tricky Tray

For the ninth consecutive year, Home for Good Dog Rescue's "Taste of Italy" Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner and Tricky Tray returns to the Long Hill Community Center in Stirling, NJ. More than 300 guests will gather on Saturday, March 3, for a family-friendly Italian-themed dinner featuring a wealth of prize baskets, including but not limited to gift certificates, pet products and ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

February 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Colleen Mahr Is The Leader Our Party Needs

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward. I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for. Last week, I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county chairman.

Mr.

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, February 19

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, February 19, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21, 2:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

The Underground Railroad Documentary

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...