Taking on your first employee is an exciting time for any start-up, but many entrepreneurs are unclear on the legal issues, processes and how to find the right person. Here’s our guide to how to start building your team.
1. Job description
It sounds simple but nailing the job description will set your employee/employer relationship on the right track from the start. Important points to consider are:
- Day to day responsibilities of the role and what will be involved
- Whether you want someone with specific qualifications or background
- If you are looking for a junior employee who you can train up or someone with more skills who can hit the ground running
2. Setting the salary
If you are hiring a junior member of staff make sure you are familiar with any statutory minimum wage legislation which might apply.
Think about whether you want to include benefits, such as performance-related bonuses or additional perks to secure and retain the right candidate. It’s always important to consider whether your salary is attractive enough to secure the right candidate, while also being realistic in putting it against the running costs of your business.
Your job ad is your perfect opportunity to sell your business and attract the right person. Remember in advertising your role, you need to use language which can’t be construed as discriminatory. This includes:
- Racial discrimination – if you’re looking for someone who speaks a language, make sure you advertise for ‘French speaking’ for example, rather than someone who is French.
- Age – be careful not to ask for experience based on a certain number of years. You could be accused of discriminating against younger applicants.
- Gender – don’t include a gender-specific job description unless it is a legal requirement to advertise for a single gender role.
- Disability – make sure your advert doesn’t discriminate against any form of disability in its wording and think about whether your office/place of work is accessible.
Refer to your job description to help you shortlist as this will help you stay on track and focused on exactly the sort of person you set out to find when screening applications.
Consider whether their qualifications and experience fit the criteria you originally set out and what benefit they would get from your business. Be honest about whether your organization would be a good fit based on their previous experience.
The first interview no longer must be face to face. If time is of the essence, then why not hold interviews on the phone or via Skype? You can then meet the candidates you think could be a match in person, which will save considerable time.
Avoid cheesy interview questions and remember to avoid discriminatory language or questions (see the advert section above). However, you can be creative in interviews by using problem-solving tests, personality tests or even just choosing between structured and unstructured interview formats.
6. Making an offer
If you make a verbal offer, it's important to follow it up with a written offer. If you’re making a verbal offer, it’s always a good idea to follow up with a written offer. There are two types of job offers:
- Unconditional: which legally binds a candidate into the job once they have accepted the offer.
- Conditional: this can be withdrawn if the candidate doesn’t meet your conditions (for example their references aren’t satisfactory).
Once you have offered the position, set a date for acceptance which gives you the right to also withdraw if the candidate doesn’t reply by that date. Idealy offer letters should include the following: job title, reporting structure, place of work, probationary period, salary, hours of work and holiday entitlement.
7. Background checks
There are several ways to vet potential employees which don’t require a huge budget:
- Look for gaps in employment history in their resumé – and explore these at interview.
- Length of service in previous roles – understand why they may have left previous roles.
- Check their social media – this is now common practice. Do they look suitable to represent your business?
- Check work permits – if they are from overseas, do they have the right to work in your country?
- Check two references – contact them directly.
8. Contracts of employment
ACAS has free employment contract templates you can use, or you can pay an HR consultancy for a bespoke version. A contract starts as soon as the offer of employment has been accepted, and most employees are legally entitled to a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months of starting work. This includes details on pay, holidays and working hours.
Even if you only employ one person, you are required to give your employee the option to join a workplace pension scheme. They will be auto-enrolled if they are over 22 years of age and earn more than £10,000 per year.
It can be a good idea to work with an IFA to set up pensions, or you can subscribe to NEST (National Employment Savings Trust) which is the government scheme to help employers.
A good onboarding process is crucial to retaining your new employee. Many of the exit interviews we conduct reveal that employees feel let down by poor onboarding. This is the first impression of your business, so it’s important to set the tone from day one. Plan their first week, get their resources ready and (most importantly) take them out for lunch on their first day!A good onboarding process is crucial to retaining your new employee. This is the first impression of your business, so it’s important to set the tone from day one. #Youpreneur Click To Tweet
Alison King is the founder of independent HR consultancy, Bespoke HR. Alison set up the company in 2005 after working in numerous in-house HR positions. Bespoke HR now works with over 100 small to medium-sized business owners offering outsourced HR services ranging from recruitment to redundancy.