4 human resources tips for small business owners

By Lucas Parker

If there is one thing that matters for any business, it’s how you treat your people. When you own a business with a small, tightknit group of employees, you can do magic, or you can drive each other crazy. There is a sense of closeness and fraternity that you get in teams like these that you simply can’t find anywhere else. It is this tight bond that can give you amazing benefits as a small business owner working with a small team, and this same closeness can get you into trouble. HR can help you get this issue under control.

Having a good HR system in place can help you give that much-needed distance to stay objective and run a good business, while still maintaining good employee relations and a positive work atmosphere.

Take your time when hiring

Don’t just get anyone on your team; actually think things through when hiring. This person may have amazing credentials and recommendations, but can they truly fit into your team? Will they fit in with the company culture, or will they have issues when working with a team? Do they seem like a right fit emotionally, do they have the mind-set you want?

You can always train an employee, teach them how to do their job (to a certain extent). But changing their personality, having them fit in with your group is much harder, if even possible at all. So, take your time, vet your candidates, and don’t just look at their CV and leave things at that.

You can even have (paid) internships and tests that let you see how they do their jobs. However, these have to not only focus on the work itself, they also need to test how they interact with other people on the team, did they “click.”

Keep up to date with the newest laws

On a more boring, bureaucratic level, you need to always be up to date with your federal laws, local procedures, and acts. Namely, there are certain standards and rules you need to adhere to if you want your HR processes to go as they should. This means sticking to any and all occupational health and safety requirements, being up to date with all employee rights and obligations.

If this is too overwhelming, and if you don’t actually need a regular HR departments set up in your small business, know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you need some extra help, you can also go outside your company. Some proper HR management solutions run by professionals in this field might help you stay on the ball for all of these problems.

Stay professional

While you want to build up a good relationship with your people, you also want to make it clear that you are the boss here. Now, some people do this by throwing their weight around, by “pulling rank,” so to speak. Staying professional and reminding people that you are in charge requires a bit more subtlety and understanding.

Above all you want to stay consistent in how you approach tasks and the workload. Never play favourites, even if you truly and obviously like a person more. Be even-handed, let people trust you, stay true to your word. Always lead by example.

On the flip side, never let anyone get off scot-free. If they made a mistake, a blunder, explain what happened, help them understand how to not make that mistake again, and don’t let them take the easy way out.

Put your rules on paper

Finally, you want to maintain consistency. You need to set very specific, concrete rules, and have them in paper (or some other fixed format). This allow you to basically remove leeway for ambiguity, confusion, unfairness.

Favouritism happens, sometimes unintentionally. If you want everybody to be treated fairly, if you want to have consistent policies affect all of your workers, than having it all written down can help you stick to the rules. It also means that everybody knows what to expect.

Of course, one of the best parts about running a small business is its flexibility. You can move and change on the fly. It’s pretty easy to add some rules, to amend them, to change them, as relationship dynamics change. Just try not to do this too often, otherwise they won’t matter much to begin with.


To keep your business running at full capacity and still have a happy work environment, we suggest you follow the above-mentioned HR tips. Try to stay professional, remember that you are the boss here. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity – all the rules should be on paper, codified in a manual or handbook. Keep communication channels open, stick to the newest data, and you should be fine.


Lucas Parker is a business consultant and editor in chief at savingforserenity.com. Besides that, he has a passion for writing. Doing his research, exploring and writing are his favourite things to do. Besides that, he loves playing his guitar, hiking, and travelling.

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