The HR Advisor

The 6 Essential HR Foundations For Your Business

happy employees

As business owners and leaders, we sometimes know we have work to do on our HR processes, but it all feels too hard. But you know what’s harder? Mopping up the inevitable HR issues if you don’t have the foundations right! There are several areas that should be a priority for all business leaders to ensure that issues are minimised and your people are engaged and productive.


It is so important to dedicate time to ensuring that the HR foundations are in place to enable a thriving happy workplace where people stay and create long-term success, not only for themselves but also for your business.

Below are 6 pieces of the puzzle to nail. If you get these elements right, you will notice marked differences in the health of your business. It’s worth revisiting every year, to make sure you’re still happy with your decisions. It will take you less than half a day to do, so go ahead and diarise it now!


1. HR Compliance

Having robust, legally compliant contracts and policies is paramount to ensuring that any risk or legal exposure is minimised. Employer obligations and employment legislation changes regularly, so keeping across this is an important part of being a business owner or leader. There are many resources available on-line to assist with this, or use a legal or HR professional to ensure that you have watertight compliant documents that won’t cause headaches down the line.

Policies are part of life in business, but what percentage of the team actually read them? That is why educating your team on the key policies is imperative. Take the time to take them on the journey, outlining the reasons you have policies in place. These don’t have to be laborious sessions, there are fun and engaging ways to present this sort of content. But they do need a serious tone as well so the message is meaningful. The policies are in place to provide everyone with a safe work environment in which people feel they can be themselves without the threat or fear of harassment, bullying, intimidation or other. Make sure your team members know what to do if they do have a complaint and ensure they feel they’ll be heard without judgement.


2. Zero Tolerance to Bullying & Harassment

Harassment and bullying in the workplace is all too common in Australia. (E It’s important to have strict policy around bullying and harassment and for your entire team to know that nobody is above your zero tolerance policy.

Bullying often comes from both managerial positions and lower ranks of any organisation and must be stamped out immediately to nurture a supportive culture in which all members can flourish in their roles.

Likewise, harassment can take many forms and come from all levels within an organisation. It’s critical you lead by example, role modelling respectful behaviour to your teams and empowering people to call out any inappropriate behaviour. Casual comments intended to be harmless can end up in harassment claims very quickly!

Training your employees on respect in the workplace is a great way of reminding your team about your zero tolerance to bullying and harassment and an opportunity to provide specific examples of how bullying and harassment shows up so that everyone understands the repercussions of this very serious issue. Your team’s wellbeing and psychological health should be your priority and a respectful workplace should be your baseline for this.


3. Review your Recruitment & Induction processes

Assess how you’re sourcing people to join your business. Is it working? Are you finding stars? What are your critical and hard to fill roles and how does your talent pipeline look for these positions? If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, seek advice from an HR expert.

Ensuring you get the right person for your vacancy is well worth the upfront investment. It lessens the risk of having to go through the process again within six months, saving time, energy and expense.

If you have great talent in your business your workload and stress levels will decrease. You’ll have time back in your day to invest in more important tasks.

When considering whether you’re attracting the best talent, it’s worth pausing to think about how you’re inducting them. Remember, this is their first impression of their new workplace. You don’t get this opportunity twice, so it needs to be the best possible experience.

New employees want to be made to feel special! They’re excited to be there. You should be excited to have them on board. They’re going to make a great impact on your business!

Set up their induction so they feel they’ve been provided with the tools and background knowledge required to succeed. Having them hit the ground running and becoming productive as early as possible ensures that your return on investment is realised sooner.

The more team members you can get to take part in their learning, the better. It will help them feel connected more quickly, build relationships more readily and understand different peoples’ roles in your business.

Don’t forget it’s their first day/week. Harness their excitement and build upon it! They will remember it and it will set the tone for their long-term experience with your business.


4. Reward & Recognition

There are lots of ways to recognise your team members’ efforts, but the best place to start is a performance & development process that enables frequent performance and feedback discussions.

Once you’ve got a good structure in place, these are easy to perform and provide a great platform for praise, feedback and plans for growth or improvement. Your employees will benefit from knowing where they stand, not just once a year – but at regular intervals throughout each year.

Feedback and recognition should also be provided spontaneously. It is amazing the power of a “good job” email or conversation, or calling it out in a team meeting – encouraging and reinforcing great work will in turn prompt more great work, so don’t underestimate how impactful informal recognition can be.

If your employees are receiving a pay increase or bonus, it’s important to tell them why they’re receiving it, so they can ‘grow toward the light’. Likewise, if they’re not receiving one, you can help them understand, in a one-to-one setting, the reasons for that whether it is company performance, individual performance or other.

The important part is getting the process in place, educating your team about the process and allaying any fears that may arise.

Employee benefits may sound like something only large companies provide, but we’re tipping you already provide a few. Is there fruit in your office? Parking spaces for all? Do you offer a half day off per month so that team members can take care of life admin?

Benefits are the cherry on top of an employee’s salary package, so think of the little things that might have a big impact. If you need help here, give us a call to talk it through.

These things don’t have to come at great cost to your business, but they do make a great difference in the lives of your team members. And happier employees means better nights of sleep for you!


5. Winning Culture

The best way to build a winning culture is to foster a healthy environment. By this, we mean healthy for your team in mind, body and spirit. Put in place some wellness measures, be they workplace flexibility, walking meetings, meetings outside of the office in a relaxed environment, encouraging proper lunch breaks to be taken rather than working through.

Measures such as these need to be driven and modelled from the top. If you don’t take lunch, arrive at 7am and don’t leave before 7pm, this can result in ‘unsaid’ pressures being felt by your team members. Remember they have families, lives, and commitments outside of work that must be nourished if they’re to come to work feeling good and performing at their best.

Culture comes from the top, so having the best possible leadership team who role model the values of your business and seek to engage and empower their teams will be a significant contributor to a great, high-performing culture. Ensure that any mis-alignment to your values is not tolerated and dealt with swiftly. You want your people to be all singing from the same song sheet when it comes to what you stand for and what’s important at work.

Don’t assume you know how your team feel about your business’ culture. Ask them! (regularly). If you don’t feel they’ll tell you honestly to your face, you might like to conduct an anonymous & confidential engagement survey. Ensure that any feedback received is fed back into continuous improvement processes. People want to see that if they are going to be asked about their experience and they are going to take the time to give you feedback, that something will be done with it. Seeking employee feedback should be a regular process, because if you can’t understand the experience of your employees, how can you provide the best workplace possible?


6. Leadership capability

You can’t run the whole show, you need a support team that you can trust and defer to on important decisions. You need leaders within your business to take some of the load from you and they have to have the skills and tools with which to do so.

Sit in on some meetings to observe your leaders or get them to undertake a personality profile to understand the communication styles, strengths and weaknesses of your leadership team. If they need work in certain areas, it’s time to figure out how to upskill them.

Your people are looking to these leaders for advice, direction, support and encouragement and they are the example to your broader team. The more capable they are as leaders, the more available they are to their team to coach and mentor - the better your business will run.


Tackling the people and culture side of your business can feel overwhelming, but when you set out the priorities and attack them piece by piece, it is doable and can even be enjoyable, especially once you start to realise the benefits of having strong foundations.

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Topics: HR Tips HR Advice