Overcoming Key Human Resource Challenges Facing Small Business Owners

Published by BradyRenner CPAs | November 14, 2019

As a small business owner, you face many competing priorities that demand your attention in the everyday operation of your business. One of those demands is the operational steps involved in managing employees and the human resources activities that accompany that.

Effective human resource management is an extremely complex endeavor, made all the more demanding by increasing regulatory and compliance requirements every year. With that in mind, how can a small business owner effectively overcome these challenges and stay current, compliant and proactive in both managing HR operations and providing value and support to team members?

To help us answer these questions, we sat down for a discussion with Tiffany Orford, an Elite District Manager with ADP who focuses on Small Business Services, to learn more.

Q. In today’s increasingly complex environment, what are some of the most glaring HR challenges facing small business owners?

Small business owners face many challenges on the topic of Human Resources (HR) resulting in the need for support by a full HR team. This team is responsible for drafting and finalizing a company employee handbook that covers all company policies and procedures including drug testing policies in place, payroll and payday services, as well as personal conduct guidelines. Another challenge small business owners face is training. It is important that a business have an employer relations training program in place along with strong talent acquisition and support.

Q. What are some of the statistics that indicate how employees feel about workplace culture and support?

When discussing workplace culture and support, over half of employees report wanting a stronger health and wellness focus. In fact, nearly 75% of employees report feeling more satisfied, motivated and loyal knowing their employer cares about their wellbeing when programs around wellness are implemented. It’s also important to consider that companies who invest in employee training not only increase their likelihood of staying in compliance with the law; they also experience 24% higher profit margins when compared to firms that don’t invest similarly.
This is essential to consider since the statistics also show that just under half of all employers are worried about being unable to find the necessary talent, and it costs more than a third of an annual position’s total cost just to replace an employee. Putting all of that together, we see the fundamental point: Successfully retaining employees is one of the most essential priorities a company can focus on, especially a small business.

Q. What are some of the training programs and topics that employers will benefit from?

Employers can benefit from an array of training programs including sexual and workplace harassment — two of the most focused on and highly volatile topics in any workplace. Being able to not only identify these behaviors, but also be confident in the actions that should be taken when dealing with such sensitive matters, is truly essential in today’s environment.In addition, HR record keeping is one of the most essential responsibilities for a successful operation when handling such delicate issues in the workplace. Training in this area will educate a small business owner on what records should be retained such as personnel files, employee applications, random drug test reports (if applicable), disciplinary records, performance evaluations and more. These employee files contain personal and private information which in turn becomes the employer’s responsibility to keep private.

By educating small business owners on these risks as well as the implementation of security procedures that keep the company compliant with state and federal laws, a small business can further reduce its risk of legal exposure and increase overall compliance.

Q. Can you describe some of the common legal issues faced by small businesses and what are the factors that lead them to hesitate in accessing a small business attorney?

Due to the high costs associated with retaining a small business attorney, some small business owners choose not to seek legal advice when they clearly need to (either proactively or reactively). This can, in turn, put them at risk for unanticipated legal issues. And this stretches far beyond HR alone.

Some of the issues small businesses typically face in the legal arena include debt collection as well as contract and document review or disagreements. Every business has day-to-day dealings with contractors and suppliers where some disputes may arise, warranting an attorney to unfortunately have to get involved in solving the matter.

Small businesses can also face liability issues regarding company products or services, tax audits that any company should be prepared for at any time, and threats of lawsuits by customers. And getting back to HR, it’s not uncommon to have to address wrongful termination claims, contractual disputes, and in some cases, employee theft or embezzlement. Not being prepared for these situations can lead to lengthy legal proceeding to resolve that can become extremely costly to the business owner.

Q. What are some employee-facing services and benefits that can be easily deployed and which add value for small businesses?

Employee-facing services that a small business owner can easily deploy include programs such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAP is a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance abuse.

Today, however, most now address a wide range of issues such as childcare, eldercare, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are typically partnered with comprehensive health insurance plans. Services can be delivered via phone, video, online chat, email or in person.

Also available can be discount programs to help an employee’s household on large monetary purchases as well as everyday issues and items. Further, some companies will extend their benefit offerings with programs such as supplemental insurance offerings that help cover costs that typically are not covered by core policies. These can include coverage for accidents, cancer or other critical illnesses, short-term and long-term disability coverage, an income-replacement support.

As previously mentioned, employees will feel more loyalty to the company knowing that they and their families are of importance to the company and being taken care of through these services and options.

Q. What are some questions that small business owners should ask themselves to begin focusing on improving their HR strategy and compliance?

A small business owner must ask themselves some essential questions when attempting to improve their HR strategy and compliance. First off, they must be certain that all employees are following best HR practices on the most sensitive issues in the workplace such as sexual harassment which can be highly detrimental to a business if not handled properly. Part of this includes training employees on how to recognize behaviors that can be classified under sexual or workplace harassment.

Remaining questions might include how a small business owner is using professional development to not only recruit and retain employees, but also what actions are being taken to support long-time employees as well. Without employee retention, a small business will spend needless amounts of time and money associated with employee training.

Finally, the effectiveness of training programs in place should be one a key focus for any successful business. It is important to carefully manage these aspects of a small business operation thoroughly and effectively. Finally, in today’s multi-generational workplace the business owner should consider how each generation’s needs can be met with the right benefits and solutions.

Editor’s Note: ADP now offers HR Pro, a new all-in-one solution for small businesses that helps to address the need for HR support, employee handbook and document development, talent recruiting, employee and employer training, and legal support services — all in one offering delivered online. When combined with ADP Run, small businesses can receive a comprehensive, integrated offering including payroll, human resource management and related services from one partner. To learn more, reach out to the author using the contact information noted below.

About the Author:

Tiffany Orford is a District Manager with ADP, where she works closely with small business owners to meet their needs in the areas of human resource management, payroll and benefits administration and the delivery of other services such as Professional Employer Organization (PEO) solutions. Prior to joining ADP, she worked as the head of institutional marketing for Sidoti & Company, and as an executive team leader for Target Corporation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she served as vice president of the American Marketing Association chapter and as an active member of student government. She may be reached at (732) 546-8584 or via email to tiffany.orford@adp.com.

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