Setting up a small business in Ireland is a leap of faith, an exciting time, and a learning curve.
Some small businesses are one-man operations. All of the responsibility for the running of the business, falls to one person, the financing, the governance, the hiring, the firing, sourcing business, maintaining it and developing it. It can be overwhelming.
A good solicitor will be invaluable in guiding the small business owner in his/her legal responsibilities, and a good accountant will advise on and monitor the finances of the enterprise. There is also some great advice available from Local Enterprise Boards, and peer support from Chambers of Commerce.
HR functions in any business are vital. In a report carried out in 2015 by The HR Department, it was revealed that a surprising 68% of companies who employ 1-10 employees do not have an HR function, with this figure only dropping to 36% for companies with 11-50 employees and 29% for businesses who employ 50-250 staff members.
The research also discovered that more than a third (35%) of businesses surveyed do not have the most essential HR material – a staff handbook – which is imperative to ensure company policies are in place should a business be involved in an employee/employer court case.
Conflict in Small Business
When conflict arises in the workplace, no matter where it starts it needs to be addressed. The small business owner/manager is worst placed to deal with it, and it can be overwhelming. An external mediator can often bring a sense of calm to the matter at hand. S/he will hear all sides in the matter, identify issues, clarify perspectives change understanding and plan a way forward in a peaceful and respectful way. This can have the effect of improving relationships and identifying genuine issues can benefit the business.
“Ensuring employees are happy and productive means communicating clearly, and being approachable. Good companies foster a relaxed atmosphere where staff feel able to talk to management. You should also ask for employee feedback on their needs – this is not an option, it’s a must. Too many businesses don’t look at what their employees want, assume everything is fine, then wonder why they have a high staff turnover”. (Hiveage)
Exit interviews are also a part of this. For any business to allow an employee to leave without discovering why they are leaving is a wasted opportunity to learn something, about the employee certainly, but perhaps more importantly about the business. This is particularly true of valuable employees as the investment in them will be taken somewhere else.
The most fruitful of these interviews are conducted by externals, with whom the employee has not had a prior relationship. A mediator is well placed to handle this type of interview, to elicit the information required. The mediator will have the permission of the employee to bring back the required information to the employer. Confidentiality should still be part of this, to allow for an open exchange.