The chief concerns or challenges any HR guy will have in a startup environment are
1. Not having the right policies in place
Having the idea of “I’ll worry about it later” can lead to major setbacks when it comes to hiring and managing employees. Prior to bringing on any staff members, make sure that you are working with a well-versed HR professional to establish, in writing, complete job descriptions, attendance policies, vacation policies and any other policies that speak to what is expected of all employees, via a company handbook.
2. Not keeping proper records and paperwork
In order to stay out of the hot seat with the EEOC, DOL and NLRB, maintaining proper employee documentation is key. Prior to the employees’ first day, confirm that they have thoroughly reviewed the employee handbook and signed documentation stating that they understand all company policies and procedures. Federal and state forms, such as I-9, W-4 and E-Verify, as well as a formal job application and insurance benefits information, should all be provided and recorded properly. Finally, should there be any changes to an employee’s status or should he or she exhibit problems with performance, work with your management team to ensure that each instance is properly documented and kept on file.
3. Not hiring and firing smart
Finding great employees and terminating the bad ones can be a major burden for new business owners. From hiring the wrong people for the job to letting inappropriate behavior run rampant out of fear of potential litigation, employers face a multitude of challenges when it comes to proper employee recruitment and management. Prior to bringing on any new staff members, make sure you have a clear understanding of the employment laws that pertain to your size of business. Knowing what questions to ask during the interview process (and which ones not to ask), rules on background checks, and what types of termination issues could lead to litigation could save you a tremendous amount of time and money in the long run.
4. Having a “too small to matter” mentality
All companies, regardless of size, need to follow a variety of employment laws at the federal and state level. Not adhering to wage and hour laws, improper employee classification, inappropriate enforcement of sexual harassment/discrimination laws, and ADA accommodation issues tend to be the Achilles’ heel for most employers. Whether you have 1 employee or 100, work with your legal team to establish that you are following all labor and employment laws that apply to your size of business.
Even before looking abroad, it’s important to remember setting the stage for success begins with recruiting at home. We talk a lot about diversity, but here’s a case study in how important this concept can truly be for businesses. The cultural complexities of moving to a new market or country, often starting an office from scratch, can be staggering. That’s why the more diverse your existing workforce is, the better equipped (and better exposed) every employee will be, expat or otherwise, for dealing with the many nuances and cultural complexities inherent in partnering with others of different backgrounds, worldviews and social norms. Diversity is the secret weapon for global mobility success.
When it comes to assessing new and existing workers for international assignments, behavioral skills should weigh heavily as a hugely important component of the selection process. While recruiting and internal mobility related assessments typically measure mostly more traditional skills like leadership potential or technical ability as a basic benchmark, employers need to look at such often overlooked, but critically important skills such as adaptability, cultural sensitivity and emotional intelligence when deciding who’s the most likely to survive – and thrive – in a foreign business context.
These factors can significantly impact success in regions where challenges like differing value systems, business norms and social conventions are drastically different than what workers might already be accustomed to in their native culture – or your company culture, for that matter.
Of equal importance is the ability to work autonomously and to solve problems independently, particularly if the employee in question would be responsible for establishing and managing a new office. The ability to inspire trust within new employees, to guide them through uncertainty and grow a business while growing internal capabilities are all critical for these leadership roles in developing regions.
Many companies, however, find that the employees with the technical skillsets and functional expertise required for these roles aren’t necessarily well suited to survive – and thrive – in developing regions. Just because someone has the hard experience doesn’t guarantee they have the soft skills required for these assignments. This means it’s increasingly important for employers to identify, and rectify, this talent supply and demand mismatch as soon as possible – or face an uphill battle, and bigger issues, later.
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