It’s a wonder that any small business owner isn’t completely turned off by the thought of employing someone for the first time. There are so many scare stories, tales of horror, red tape and endless admin that surround the topic, we aren’t surprised that some business owners just decide to stay small, do everything themselves, and work themselves into the ground while they do so.

This week’s headline was about HMRC clamping down on SMEs due to Payroll mistakes costing business £700m a year – why would anyone bother employing people and exposing themselves to all the risk involved?

In reality, yes, there are a few hurdles you need to jump to get yourself set up as an employer – you need to be registered with HMRC, set up a way to do payroll, do some basic checks on potential employees, maybe even set up a pension scheme but there is loads of help and useful advice out there and you can keep it simple.t’s a wonder that any small business owner isn’t completely turned off by the thought of employing someone for the first time.

There are so many scare stories, tales of horror, red tape and endless admin that surround the topic, we aren’t surprised that some business owners just decide to stay small, do everything themselves, and work themselves into the ground while they do so. This week’s headline was about HMRC clamping down on SMEs due to Payroll mistakes costing business £700m a year – why would anyone bother employing people and exposing themselves to all the risk involved?

We have put together an essential guide to employing staff for the first time which you can download from our website here.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and employ someone, there is lots of good advice on our website and elsewhere about choosing the right candidate.  However, once you have someone on board, many business owners worry about what they can do if they’ve made the wrong decision or how to deal with someone who isn’t doing what they expected or behaving in a manner that they’d like.  It’s a typical myth that your hands are tied and there’s nothing you can do in the face of a ‘problem’ employee.

We are firm believers in using a probation period to give you both the opportunity to assess whether your hiring decision was right. If you follow this simple 4 stage process, you can be confident that you have assessed their suitability effectively and that, if you need to, you can part ways in a constructive and managed way that is risk free:

1. Set clear expectations of the employee from the start

  • Be clear about what they are responsible for and your expectations about how you want them to carry out their role.
  • Make sure they understand what you expect from them by the end of their probation period.
  • Consider setting some short term objectives they can work on during their probation. Make sure they are clearly described, easily measurable and attainable
  • Provide an overview of the general business practices and procedures they need to know, including standards of attendance
  • Provide details about your core values and ethos and the behaviours you expect of them. For example, what standards of customer service do you wish to see?
  • Schedule any necessary training or development that will help the employee reach your requirements
  • Explain how you intend the evaluate their performance and when reviews will take place

2. Review progress regularly and give honest and open feedback

  • Reinforce the areas where the employee is doing well.
  • Be open and honest with the employee about where they are not meeting your expectations. Have examples ready to talk about and where possible, use facts and evidence to back you up. Explain why its important to do things as you’ve requested.
  • Give the employee the opportunity to respond. There might be some other factor behind the problem
  • If there is an ongoing problem address it, do not let it fester. Try to reach an agreement on the nature of the problem. If joint agreement can be reached the employee is more likely to react positively to any suggestion for improvement
  • Offer guidance and support on how to overcome the difficulties. This might include extra training/coaching or closer supervision
  • Ensure the employee understands the degree of progress required and that successful completion of the probationary period dependent on it
  • Warn the employee that if this standard in not reached it may be necessary to terminate his/her employment.

3. Provide opportunities for improvement

  • Further training
  • Shadowing competent employees
  • Resolving outstanding pieces of work to a satisfactory standard
  • Meeting specific short term objectives set in the review meeting

4. Confirm the outcome of probation

  • Confirm employment or move to dismissal if necessary

Take a look at our full guide to Managing Probation in our free resource library, or for further advice, please get in touch with Julia or Angela by calling 01768 753001.