Staff are the heart of every business

A big part of the success of every business is its staff. Do you look after yours?

The idea is important, of course, and that came from inside the head of a person. The structure is also important; thought through by a person. Delivery, equally so – in most businesses what is being ‘sold’ is, or has in some way been, the responsibility of a person. The list goes on.

Despite this, some business owners view staff as something to be tolerated; employees’ legal rights and protections unnecessary red tape, and employment contracts and policies as nice to have, rather than must-have. Given the importance of people to all businesses, this is, at best, naïve. 

The business may be successful, even very successful, but think how much more successful it would be if the staff, at the heart of the business, felt looked after, valued and respected. A business that does not look after its staff is most likely being held back from great (or greater) success.

Think about how much easier it would be, and how much time could be saved, if there were contracts and policies to turn to for steps to take in most situations – good or bad. This applies to the business as well as the individuals.

As with any relationship, a business’ relationship with its staff has a beginning, middle and end and, sometimes, can have an after.

Recruitment is the beginning and vital first step

Taking it is daunting but it is an exciting position to be in. 

What role are you recruiting for? What duties will it undertake? What qualification or experience is needed? Is it full-time or part-time? Permanent or temporary? What will they be paid and how? What benefits will be given? Will the right candidate apply? How will you decide the successful candidate? How will you introduce them to the business, their colleagues and how you work? 

There are lots of questions and lots of things to make sure are in place: 

  • a job advert

  • a job description

  • an offer and contract of employment

You must ensure right to work checks and any other legal or regulatory checks are carried out (for example, criminal record checks) and the induction process leaves them with no doubts they made a good decision and with both feet firmly through the door. Good candidates and recruits will appreciate being treated well from the start and, generally, give their best.


The middle is the individual’s contribution to the business

Were they the right candidate? Are they performing to the best standard? Are they in the right role? Do they need training? Could they do more with more, or different, training? Are they unwell? How can the business get them back to work from illness? How do we review how they are performing? Is their manager managing them? What pay are they entitled if they are sick? What about if they are pregnant or their partner is? What is the national minimum wage?

There are so many variables and, again, so many questions and things to think about.

A good staff handbook is a must and it doesn’t have to be long. Whilst things are going well, the handbook will include things like policies on benefits, entitlement to and how to apply for leave as well as performance reviews so you can let them know they are doing well and their contributions are valued. 

If things aren’t going well, a contract with expectations as well a disciplinary policy in the staff handbook will be invaluable. In most situations, a good staff handbook is a road map for both the business and the individual and demonstrates to the individual the business is committed to doing things in accordance with their obligations.

Every employment relationship ends

Some will last minutes, if even that, and some many years. Some will end through resignation and others through wrongdoing and can sometimes lead to a bad reputation if not dealt with properly. 

Following the right procedures in the staff handbook and making sure individuals receive the right payments as set out in the contract and handbook will help to avoid unnecessary stress and potentially significant awards. It will not only help to protect the reputation of the business amongst its existing staff but also prospective staff and potentially even customers, suppliers and business partners.

The after is a different story

Some staff will sail away and never be heard of again. Others may have a good and long-lasting relationship with the business to everyone’s mutual benefit. This isn’t always the case, but having followed the right procedures and paid the right amounts, in accordance with the employment contract and employee handbook, well drafted post-termination restrictions could well help protect a key customer or enable you to recover a client database unlawfully downloaded.

Doing the right thing by your staff and having the right documents and procedures in place won’t make a business successful alone, but it will certainly contribute to a successful business’ success. 

Julie Temple

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.