In the early stages of development, start-ups usually deal with the costly human resource function by not having it; most can’t afford to hire a full-time HR specialist and outsourcing is also expensive. But, HR is essential for any business organisation, big or small, especially if you want your business to reach its ‘next’.
Clear and defined HR policies will make your fashion SME more efficient and can prevent common business problems. What’s more, doing this should help you get the most out of your most valuable asset – your employees.
Start-ups that implement HR practices from the beginning are generally more productive and have stronger market performance than their competitors that don’t. The below tips will help you unlock your employees’ potential using sound HR practices and, in so doing, help your business reach its full potential.
1. Build your dream team
A talented, stable team is crucial to the success of your start-up. When hiring, search for people who have experience in your field and who display a willingness to learn. Independent self-starters are also a good choice; a start-up will require large chunks of your time and attention, meaning your employees can’t – at least, not always.
Also avoid hiring ‘yes-men and women’. You don’t want constant conflict, but healthy and constructive disagreements can lead to innovation and ingenuity.
2. Create a clear mission statement
You cannot control every decision made by your employees, but a strong mission statement can guide how they perform their tasks.
A mission statement is a summary of your company’s aims and values. It should inspire your employees to work towards the success of your start-up with dedication, integrity and enthusiasm.
Remember to discuss your mission statement with each potential new hire.
3. Draft clear contracts and policies
A policy that outlines basic terms and conditions of employment will save you and those who work for you a lot of stress and confusion in the future. It should cover:
● Working hours
● Remuneration and bonuses
● Workplace conduct
● Disciplinary code
This policy needs to be signed by both you and your employer. It also needs to align with South African labour law. To ensure that it does, you can consult the Department of Labour Relations free of charge, or you can pay a professional to draft proper documentation.
4. Enforce policies firmly and fairly
You need to be fair and consistent when enforcing the policies you put in place. Ignoring small infractions sets the tone for slack workplace discipline.
The same rules must apply to all employees regardless of title and enforced without favouritism. If you do need to make exceptions occasionally, explain why to your staff.
5. Create an employee handbook
An employee handbook can be an integral part of your employee retention strategy; not only should it communicate what is expected from all staff, but it shows that you care enough to create and inform them of key procedures and rules.
Though the size of an employee handbook will differ from company to company, the following components must always be included:
● Harassment and discrimination clause
● Work hours
● Attendance policy
● Disaster and evacuation policy
6. Performance management
Every six months, you should have a one-on-one workplace performance discussion with each of your staff members. You should:
● Discuss your requirements
● Set goals
● Evaluate employee performance
● Consider opportunities for training and development if your start-up can afford it
Maintaining a small business takes courage, determination and confidence, all the traits you already have if you’ve set your heart on a career in the fashion industry. But everyone can benefit from expert guidance from time to time – if you need help taking your start-up to the next level, speak to an experienced Standard Bank advisor.