During the recent presidential campaign, voters heard plenty about blueprints for creating jobs and five point plans for growing the economy. Political rhetoric? Perhaps.
When you consider though that small business accounts for nearly 50 percent of private sector jobs and 64 percent of net new jobs in the private sector, it makes sense to formulate a sound plan to strengthen those companies. I’m not a politician, but as a small business owner with significant experience in human resources, I devised my own five-point plan.
1. Find time to focus on the core – As small business owners, we often get weighed down with the heavy burden of back office administration and daily employee matters. But that’s not why you started a business, and it’s certainly not the best use of your time and expertise. Find ways to rid yourself of tedious tasks so you can focus on the more strategic elements of your operations. HR outsourcing and advanced HR software applications can help alleviate the day-to-day demands of managing a workforce and streamline administrative processes.
2. Figure out what’s broken and fix it – Make time to focus on and repair aspects of the business that aren’t working as efficiently as they should. Objectively evaluating business policies, procedures, and even people, can identify opportunities for money saving process improvements and workforce performance optimization. A thorough HR assessment provides an objective review of a company’s business practices to pinpoint issues that need immediate attention, spot areas of inefficiency, and ensure that the company’s policies and procedures are compliant with government regulations and industry-specific standards. Regularly evaluating employee performance helps workers set goals and ensures that their efforts are properly aligned with the company’s objectives.
3. Minimize waste – Look around. Where is money being spent or lost unnecessarily? For example, everyone knows that hiring the right people is critical to a company’s success, but small business owners are often so desperate to fill a gap they rush to hire someone who may or may not work out. Getting it right the first time can save thousands of dollars. Sourcing, screening and selecting job candidates that fit your company’s culture and have the right competencies to properly meet the job requirements minimizes the risk that a new hire will be gone in six months. Targeted online applications and key applicant assessments can narrow the field so you are focused on the most promising candidates. When employees do leave, small businesses often disregard any formal exit procedures. As a result, companies literally leak dollars by continuing to pay insurance premiums, monthly cell phone bills, and other expenses for months after an employee is off the payroll. Airtight HR procedures can help companies seal leaks and minimize waste.
4. Engage employees – The presidential election is finally over, but there remains a lot of uncertainty about the economy and where it could go from here. Workers are genuinely nervous about their jobs and their personal financial security. Distractions like these can lead to reduced productivity and poor performance. Do what you can to help your employees remain engaged and productive. Communicate openly, honestly, and often about what’s going on in the company. To the extent possible, provide opportunities for professional development through targeted training programs. Not only can learning opportunities bridge the gap between an employee’s existing skills and job competencies that are still needed, but training can contribute positively to an employee’s level of job satisfaction, engagement and overall commitment to the company.
5. Reinvest in your business – As a small business owner, you will seize any opportunity to cut costs, but you should also grab good opportunities to reinvest in the business and its infrastructure. There is an adage that says you need to spend money to make money, but sometimes you need to spend money to save money. Engaging outside experts to automate and administer payroll or investing in advanced HR technology to help manage employees’ time and attendance can reduce waste, minimize mistakes, and ultimately save your company money over time. Incorporating more strategic recruiting, training and performance management practices can optimize workforce productivity and position your company to grow.
My five-point plan isn’t revolutionary. It’s not going to turn the economy around. It is, however, smart, sensible business practices that could transform your company. Now if only Washington would behave smart and sensibly.