Small Business: Where to start with your Human Resources Management


Happy Monday! This week’s topic is key employment items for all businesses regardless of size. Human Resources Management (HRM) is a full cycle from pre-employment to post-employment and I recommend having processes, policies, and practises around your HRM but often times small or new businesses do not know where to start or do not have the time to establish and maintain the key items. Below is a brief summary of what I consider the top employment items every company should have to ensure alignment with legalisation and clear expectations for employees. Having these key items can be a huge cost savings as it can prevent employee issues and non-compliance with standards and Human Rights. I will get into each topic in more detail with future blogs, as well as more HRM practices I recommend. As always if you have any questions or would like to know how you can implement in your company contact me for details.

Employment Contracts – from a basic level they review the key employment terms so it is very clear and there is no confusion or misunderstanding on things like pay, schedule, basic qualifications, start date, type of employment, vacation, benefits, etc. Offer letters/employment contracts can also be a great tool for outlining confidentiality agreements, termination terms (for termination without cause), company’s mission/key focus areas, job descriptions, and more. Without these you leave yourself open to a verbal agreement which can have lots of misunderstandings. Protect your company and ensure clear employment contracts. Also whenever there is a change to the terms of employment ensure there is a letter detailing the changes provided to your employee.

Personnel/HR Policies/Employee Handbook are a great practice to ensure employees have clear expectations, your company is aligned with provincial standards and legislation, and has fair and consistent practise for dealing with breaches. So what policies should you have? Here are my recommendations for all companies, there are many more that can be tailored depending on your company.

  1. Anti-harassment policy – with clear process on what happens with workplace concerns, every company needs to ensure they comply with Alberta Human Rights and a policy is a great preventative and proactive approach to this.

  2. Code of Conduct/Ethics/Basic Employment Expectations – usually aligned with your company’s vision or mission statement this can be included in another policy or a stand alone. Provides clear expectations on key performance items to your business.

  3. Attendance Management Policy - details expectations regarding workplace attendance, process when expectations aren't met, and can include any leaves you may offer (with any benefits over and above minimum standards) and process around them. Provides a fair and consistent approach to managing workplace absences.

  4. Performance/Progressive Discipline Policy - describes process around dealing with workplace performance concerns as well as details termination for cause process; can include the basic employment expectations in this policy

  5. Privacy Policy - discusses alignment with Personal Information Protection legislation (PIPA Personal Information Protection Act) and how your company safeguards personal information as well as how employees can access their personal information

  6. Workplace Health and Safety Program – usually as a stand alone program and policies, outlines your commitment to workplace safety and OH&S

A couple optional ones depending on nature of your company, there are many more optional policies, these are a couple that many companies implement.

  1. Overtime Policy - depending on the nature of employment can be included in the individual contract; if not can use the minimum AB employment standards as a reference just want to make sure it is clear.

  2. Internet/Computer Usage/Mobile Usage/Social Media Policy - detailing expectations of computer, internet use and etiquette (not exposing corporate computers to company viruses, inappropriate use of internet and company time, etc.)

Now what?

So you have the contracts made and policies rolled out – now what? Need to ensure training, compliance and great documentation. More on this in future blogs.


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