Workplace safety in small businesses
Guest Post

Did you know that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime?

In simpler terms, you are likely to spend a third of your life at work.

Therefore, if your work environment is toxic, it is highly likely that the negativity will spill over to other areas of your life.

A safe and supportive work environment makes employees more productive, which ultimately translates into a healthier bottom line for your business.

Additionally, when you take steps to ensure the safety of your workspace, you’re less likely to be sued by employees over safety issues.

With this in mind, workplace safety isn’t just a checklist of rules and regulations. 

Instead, workplace safety is an intrinsic part of ensuring your business’ success. 

With some effort and the support of your team, you can create a workspace that is safe for all employees.

These tips will guide you in creating a safe working environment:

Provide the Right Tools

As a business owner, it is your duty to provide your workers with the right tools for their tasks.

By “tools”, we mean equipment, devices, software, machines, mechanisms and anything that assists employees in effectively performing their tasks.

When you don’t provide employees with the right tools, they are forced to use whatever is readily available to them.

This can lead to time wastage and shoddily completed projects that will leave your clients unhappy.

Unhappy clients usually translate into fewer profits for your business.

In addition, incorrect or faulty tools pose a safety hazard to workers. If your workers suffer injuries due to your negligence in providing the right tools, this will have grave consequences for you in a courtroom.

Whether you have an outdoor workplace or otherwise, it is essential to ensure your workers always have access to the tools they need.

It is also your job to ensure that the tools and equipment are regularly cleaned, serviced, and inspected. 

Providing the right tools will: 

  • Make your workplace safer
  • Make the job easier
  • Prevent time wastage
  • Promote a culture of productivity
  • Keep your clients happy and your bottom line fat

Use Proper Uniforms

Did you know that providing employees with uniforms can contribute to their job satisfaction?

In 2012, Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, conducted several experiments on the effect of uniforms on employees.

Galinsky and his colleagues discovered that students who were instructed to wear a doctor’s lab coat were more attentive and focused than those who didn’t. 

In addition to making employees more attentive and giving them job satisfaction, uniforms are also essential for ensuring workplace safety.

Uniforms are especially important for businesses in construction, hospitality, home improvement, manufacturing, food processing, firefighting and other areas which require protective gear.

In some industries, employers are required to provide workers with industrial-quality uniforms

Such uniforms are designed to protect your employees from workplace hazards such as fire, chemicals, electric shocks, falling objects and so on.

Most work uniforms are also made of high-visibility materials to ensure workers are always easily observable, which promotes workplace safety. 

In addition to improving safety, work uniforms also promote cleanliness in the workplace.

Make sure employees know they have to be in uniform at all times in the workplace, for their own good.

Designate Proper Emergency Exits

In the case of an emergency, such as a fire, employees can get trapped in the building if it doesn’t have properly designed emergency exits.

An emergency exit is defined as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit from a building. 

Emergency exits should be easily accessible from any point within a workplace to a place of safety.

Emergency exits are essential in ensuring workplace safety because:

  • They enable quick escape in case of an emergency.
  • They can be used to access the workplace when the other exits are blocked.
  • They can help prevent the spread of fire. This helps save lives, reduces injuries, and minimises damage to the workplace. 

While any exit within a building should be considered a potential emergency exit, you should still have designated “emergency exits.”

To keep these exits safe

  • Ensure they are properly marked “Emergency Exit”. 
  • Instruct employees to keep them clear from obstructions. 
  • Keep any highly-inflammable furnishings and decorations far away from emergency exits.
  • Ensure emergency exits are well-lit. 
  • Post signs on walls to indicate safe evacuation routes.
  • Have clear labels on doors that might be mistaken for emergency exits. The signs can indicate the room’s purpose such as “Closet”, “Restroom” and so on.
  • Maintain emergency exits during construction, renovation, or repairs in the workplace.

Set Boundaries and Expectations

As an employer, it’s advisable that you conduct a workshop for your team where you can set clear boundaries and expectations. 

One of the best ways to promote workplace safety is through clear communication regarding safety protocols and expectations.

To increase worker buy-in, have them take an active role in these discussions.

Employees are less likely to feel like you’re imposing rules and regulations on them if they feel involved. 

Right from the start, make sure employees know the safety requirements.

If you’re unsure about the safety requirements to include in your employee handbook, consider consulting a physical therapist. They will analyze the physical demands of each job role and advise you accordingly.

Make sure all employees know they can report health and safety concerns to you as soon as they notice them. 

Alternatively, you can appoint a safety captain who employees can report such concerns to on a consistent basis. 

Bonus Tip: Words Matter

The words we use can affect people’s attitudes.

When it comes to workplace safety, it is important to use words that make it more likely for people to pay attention.

For example, instead of going with the uninspiring “Safety Regulations”, you can refer to it as the “I Care Handbook.

This kind of language shows employees that the company cares for their safety and wellbeing. Therefore, they will be more likely to adhere to your safety guidelines.

Remember, creating a safer working environment will only benefit your business. 

Try the tips outlined above, and you’ll definitely have a safer workplace for your employees.


Article contribution by Alsco New Zealand. Alsco aims to help create a healthier and safer workplace by providing affordable yet high-quality uniform rental service and hospital-grade first aid solutions.

how to keep top talent
Employee Retention

Survey finds that 1 in 2 managers will leave their company in the next year!

Most companies recognize that their top employees are an invaluable asset they wouldn’t want to lose, but it’s shocking to think that there’s a 50% chance that your top performers will leave within the next 12 months. A new report on talent retention reveals how companies can take better care of their top performers, and prevent them from leaving.

TalentLMS and Dr. Ashley Prisant from Harvard University partnered up on a survey about manager retention. And the results revealed the reasons why managers stay loyal to their companies, and what makes them consider leaving.

“We conducted this research because we wanted to examine how companies can keep their top performers in the long run, and prevent them from leaving. We also wanted to look into whether new managers are getting managerial training, which should prepare them for the new, challenging role. Turns out, employers aren’t delivering, as 1 in 4 managers never received any management training at all.”
-Ana Casic, Media Relations at TalentLMS

This research found that:

  • 1 in 2 managers are thinking about leaving their company in the next 12 months
  • 7 in 10 say they feel undervalued and underpaid
  • 43% feel isolated at work after they became managers
  • 61% say that the number one reason they stay is that they work well with the people they manage

In fact, the more experienced your managers are, the more likely it is that they are considering leaving. Consider the graph below…

manager retention

Why do top employees leave?

So why are our best managers thinking of resigning? This same report found that besides being underpaid, the top factors that drive managers away, are:

  • an unhealthy working environment
  • not being part of the decision-making process, and
  • insufficient training and development opportunities

Most HR leaders will know that their companies are guilty of at least one (if not all three) of these risk factors.

In fact, 76% of respondents said they’d like more training and development opportunities from their company.

Why would top employees stay?

On the other hand, among the top reasons why managers stay at their current companies, besides compensation, are:

  • The people they manage (61%)
  • Decision-making power (49%)
  • Work-life balance (44%)
  • Feeling acknowledged (37%)
  • Training opportunities (36%)

Manager retention survey

Fortunately, many of these factors are ones that can be improved – once you know about them!

The report also looked into whether managers feel taken care of. As it turns out, 93% have a go-to person, while 7% say they have no one to rely on at work. This is another indicator that they are a flight risk and need immediate attention.

The keys to retaining top talent

It’s clear from this report, that in order to retain top managers, especially ones that are more experienced, companies need to;

  • Create and foster a healthy working environment – presumably, this refers to the culture of the company, and its approach to work-life balance
  • Ensure managers are included in the decision-making process – strong communication is key here as well as sufficient agency over their domain
  • Provide ample training and development opportunities – yes, even top managers value training and will leave if they feel like they are no longer learning and growing

How does your organization approach these factors? Do you feel at-risk of your top managers leaving, or confident that you’re in a good position?

simple hr
HR Tools

Is simple HR even possible? If you’ve worked at a big corporation, you might think not! But smaller companies just don’t have the luxury of employing a large HR team. Often, the responsibilities of HR are just one part of someone’s role, or there might be a very lean HR team consisting of just a couple of people. Keeping HR simple is critical to ensuring the highest priority HR functions actually get done.

Here, we outline what simple HR might look like in your organization. (Of course, there’s more you could do, but get these fundamentals in place first!)

A Simple HR Employee Records Management System

When we first talk to small businesses, we find that most of them are somewhat embarrassed about their employee records management. It’s usually some combination of spreadsheets, files online, paper files sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere, and maybe some data in a payroll system or an outdated, installed HR system that barely works any more. So when a business decides they need to up their game with HR, employee records management is usually the best place to start. 

A good HR records management system should;

  • Be cloud-based so that everyone can access it (this avoids duplicate copies of things being creating and causing confusion)
  • Include all the key information your organization needs to keep track of – contact details, salaries and compensation, performance reviews, company assets that are loaned to the employee, training, certificates or other renewable documents, etc
  • You might also have custom types of data you want to collect and store – your HR records management system should be able to handle this
  • Include an employee directory that everyone can access (when your website goes down, everyone needs to know how to contact Bill from IT!)
  • Allow for granular user permissions. For example, you might want to give managers access to the employees in their departments, or everything except pay and performance information 
  • Allow you to store actual documents, not just data. Inevitably, you’ll want to store signed contracts, scans of certification and other documents. Having one place to put these simplifies your role immensely.

HR software for small business doesn’t have to be expensive either. Once you have 20 or so people, it’s really a necessity. So find a good one (or talk to us!) and you’ll soon have your employee data under control. (Many HR managers tell us, this alone just brings so much relief and reduction in workload.)

A Simple HR Process for Leave / Vacation Requests

It might sound surprising, but one of the most time-consuming parts of HR is managing everyone’s leave. Without a system in place, you’ll constantly be answering questions about how much leave someone has, how much they’ll have in the future, what dates others are taking leave, where certain employees are now, and more. Even with a fairly small team, this can get exhausting – and most of it is unnecessary.

So, decide on your process and put a simple system in place. It might be that leave needs to be approved by the line manager and then comes to HR for entering into a leave calendar. You also need to ensure your employees are empowered with information about their own leave balances. This might come from your payroll system (although these can be confusing), or a good HR system will allow employees to access this themselves.

Make Recruiting as Simple and as Time Efficient as Possible

One of the most important roles of HR is to help get the right people on the team. So while recruiting can be time-consuming and at times, monotonous, it’s something that needs to be taken very seriously!

There are, of course, great Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) that can help make the recruiting process more efficient. The best ones of these will include; 

  • A kanban-style interface where you can visualize where each candidate is in the process and move them between stages. 
  • The ability to publish your open positions online – usually on your website. Ideally, this will allow you to include a customized application form so that you can collect the relevant information upfront. (If you ask the right questions here, this helps enormously with the initial screening stage.)
  • The ability to use email templates to communicate with candidates. There are usually a lot of repetitive messages that you’ll need to send, so write them once and well, then benefit from the efficiencies.
  • The ability to manually add candidates to your system – for instance, if they apply through another channel.

Whether or not you use a dedicated ATS, or an ATS included with your HR system (like HR Partner for example), you should define the job application stages you’re going to use. For example, will you do a phone interview, face-to-face interview, and then a reference check? Is there a technical test you could include as another stage? Make sure everyone goes through the same process.

You should also define the selection criteria you’ll use to make your hiring decision. This helps you (and others) to be more objective in their opinions about candidates and can increase the quality of your hires substantially.

Put a Simple Employee Onboarding System in Place

Anyone that does a lot of recruiting knows that the work doesn’t stop there! Once you’ve made a decision to employ someone, there’s usually a lot of steps to getting the new employee started and up to speed. Don’t leave this to chance or send 10 separate emails which end up being confusing for the employee! Instead, take some time to think through your employee onboarding process and then use your HR system to administer it for you. Even if you don’t use an HR system, create your own New Hire Checklist so that nothing falls through the cracks.

It’s another one of those tasks that once you’ve done the thinking, a system can make it so much more efficient for you. Plus, you’ll probably save a few trees in the process by cutting out any physical paperwork required.

Set up something basic, and then try to improve on it each time a new employee goes through it. You might even want to have several steps to your onboarding. For instance, you could have a Pre-First-Day onboarding process, a First-Week onboarding process, and another First-Month onboarding process. But start with the basics first!

Use Simple Performance Reviews – and make sure they happen!

There are so many different approaches to performance reviews, but do you know what the worst type are? Performance reviews that don’t happen.

Even if you don’t have a perfect system in place, your baseline goal is to make sure that all employees have a performance review at least once a year

If you ask managers (or employees), most people will say they dislike performance reviews, but the facts are that organizations that don’t do regular performance reviews, will usually suffer from lower morale and work satisfaction. Everyone likes to know where they stand. Having performance reviews gives everyone a chance to get more clarity about their role and their own development.

To make things easier for your managers, set up a simple template (of course, you could set up a complex template or use a dedicated performance review system but we’re trying to keep things simple here). Your template should include;

  • An outline of responsibilities
  • A summary of performance. This should include both the achievements that they’re proud of and areas for improvement. Make sure it’s clear that it’s expected that ALL employees will have both.
  • A self-assessment against the most important job or company KPI’s.
  • A description of the next goals the employee has for themselves.
  • You may want to include a section here for the manager to add their comments too.

The idea of this document is to facilitate a beneficial discussion between each employee and their manager. You may need to coach some managers on how to do this without being too negative – most of us have a tendency to focus on the areas for improvement a little too much!

Your role in HR is to provide the tools for performance reviews, and then make sure the performance reviews actually happen! Your HR system should be able to where you store previous performance reviews and remind you of when the next ones are due.

Don’t forget Simple HR Hygiene / Maintenance Factors

Another fundamental part of HR are the underpinning hygiene and maintenance factors. This will differ between industries but may include things like;

  • Health and safety
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Managing required certifications
  • Employee relations
  • Employee communications

It’s not necessarily the sexiest part of HR, but it’s probably the part that will keep you awake at night if it’s not well managed. 

A large part of this is to put in place processes for storing the relevant information and setting up reminders of when things need to be done. You might also need reports that can show you certain information (eg which employees have not done first-aid training, etc).

Keep HR Simple: You need to crawl before you walk!

Of course, there’s a lot more to Human Resources, but for most small and medium business, these are the fundamentals that should be in place first. Once you’ve got these humming along, then you can start looking into;

  • Training and development
  • Rewards and compensation planning
  • Benefits and perks
  • Successful planning, and more

Human Resources is a fascinating field with many nuances and specialities. However, smaller businesses usually don’t have the capacity to go to these sorts of lengths. If your company has grown from just being a handful of people where a dedicated HR function is not really necessary, to a mid-sized company, you need some simple HR strategies and processes that you can easily put in place. We hope this guide helps you focus and prioritize those core HR areas.

Time Tracking Without Employees Feeling Micromanaged
Company CultureHR Tools

It can be challenging finding a balance between tracking employee time and giving staff members complete time management autonomy. On the one hand, tracking and scrutinizing employee time can make staff feel policed. On the other hand, daily time tracking can decrease productivity leaks by 80%. Fortunately, there is a middle ground. To help you out, we’ve put together four things you can do when beginning a time tracking program to prevent your employees from feeling micromanaged.

1. Explain the Value of Time Tracking

It’s easy to tell your team members to track their time. However, it’s extremely challenging to get employees on board and motivate them to carefully track their tasks every day. Your employees may say that time tracking is tiresome, reduces productivity, and is inconvenient. Hence, the primary concerns you need to address are the emotional issues. Without clear communication, employees may believe that time tracking is a way to impose management’s unrealistic goals and high expectations, which can result in a lot of fear, stress, and anxiety.

Upper management can combat the fears related to time tracking by communicating the value it brings. Begin by explaining the reasons behind the time tracking tool and why it’s essential. For example, if your organization is charging clients by the hour, you need to explain how productivity while clocked in, is vital to the company’s success. Or if you have projects billed at a fixed price, you can tell your employees how your company’s profit margins work. It’s a great way to introduce the cost of productivity leaks to your organization and how you can work together to reduce time-consuming, mundane work. You can take it a step further by showing employees that your own time will be tracked as well, emphasizing that it will be a tool for awareness rather than enforcement.

Source Image

2. Onboard Your Team

As business consultant Dan Steiner explains, writing for the Huffington Post, “If you do decide to bring time tracking into the workplace, it’s important to take the right approach to avoid upsetting your employees.” 

The first communication to employees about your planned time tracking system plays a critical role in setting the tone. To begin, consider calling a general team meeting to introduce the time tracking tool. 

In the meeting, you can explain why it’s necessary to track time and communicate its benefits. For example, since 80% of workplace interruptions have little or no value, you can go into detail about how it will help in reducing interruptions and unnecessary tasks at work. 

It’s also an excellent opportunity to explain how your organization leverages the data it collects, emphasizing that you won’t scrutinize employees’ time and micromanage everyone’s work schedule.

Finally, explain the other tools that will become available along with the time tracking features of the system that will make life easier for employees. For example, explain how the system will save them time by automatically calculating their timecards for payroll, and how it will make it easier for them to request and track paid time off.


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During the onboarding process, you should also include a demo. By going through the step-by-step instructions to install and use the time tracker, everyone can understand how it works, and how they can implement time tracking into their daily schedules. The meeting and demo will allow everyone to get on the same page, ask any questions, and ensure that your team is on board.

3. Make it Easy and Convenient 

Don’t expect team members to begin adopting time tracking immediately. Employees need to try it out before it can become a daily habit. You want to make the process as easy as possible. After introducing the time tracking tool and having employees try it out, integrate the tool into your team’s workflow.

You can start by encouraging your team members to track their time using the device they use the most. For example, for software developers, since they’re often on their desktop computer, you can recommend a time tracking desktop app. Sales teams, who are often on the go, meeting with clients, can track their activities via a mobile app. As for creative team members who are always on-site but may not be at their desk, they can track their activities on their iPads.

4. Offer Rewards and Create a Positive Experience

While it’s easy to create harsh consequences for those who don’t track their time, it’s more effective if you introduce the time tracking tool as a new positive experience for the team. Motivate and encourage your team to recognize the benefits of time tracking on an individual, group, and organizational level.

A great way to create a positive experience is to gamify the experience. Help people help themselves. Ensure each team member sets personal goals around focus, procrastination, and eliminating distractions. Along with personal achievements, you can also implement a reward system for your whole organization. For example, if in the first week everyone uses the time tracker at least once a day, the team is rewarded with a small company outing. These outings can include a happy hour after work, an office party, or a company lunch at an up-and-coming cafe in town.

If there’s a standout performer, you should also recognize them for their efforts. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom at Forbes noted that “Recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work.” 

It’s important to make sure employees don’t associate time tracking with a negative experience. Don’t punish people or publicly shame them through email or in-person if they forget to time track or do it incorrectly. Negative reinforcement will breed frustration and resentment.

If you want to introduce a time tracking tool to your organization without resistance or stress, make sure you follow the four tips above. Explain the importance and purpose of the tracking tool, onboard every team member, make it easy and convenient, and create a positive experience by offering rewards and recognition when team members perform well. This will help you set a course that will ensure you win over your team’s trust before moving forward. 

If you found this article useful, please share it with your social network!

Author Bio

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online employee time tracking app that helps over 8,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.

job application form

When you’re tasked with creating a job application form it can be daunting, and knowing where to start can be difficult. You need to be able to attract the best and brightest if the business is going to grow, but at the same time, you don’t want the HR department to get a reputation for unintelligible forms. Striking the balance between ease of use and capturing detail is what really matters here, so let’s take a look at how you can make it

Why is the application process going online?

In today’s interconnected world you can do just about anything you want with the palm of your hand. The days of phoning up recruiters, waiting for callbacks, and then getting CVs to the post are long gone. These days, applicants want to be able to search for new opportunities in the evenings, or on their lunch breaks, and that means your application process needs to be online.

Will your applicants be put off by online submissions?

Absolutely not, in fact, you’ll find quite the opposite. Applicants want to be able to take care of their submission at a time and place that suits them, and online submission gives them near-total freedom. By going online you’re opening the business up to more applicants than ever before, which is only going to increase your chances of hiring the best and brightest. Let’s take a look at the best practices of creating online job application forms.

Use a standard template to get things moving

Now that you are ready to get started, a quick search for some standard templates is the way to move things forward. There are plenty of them out there, so don’t spend ages trying to figure out which one is perfect for you. You’re going to have to make some modifications and refinements to anything you find, so accept it, and move forward.

Include a field for the applicant to attach their resume

You want to make it clear that the online form is the one-stop-shop every applicant has been looking for. A prominent drag and drop box where it’s clear the resume or the CV needs to be placed in is the way to achieve this. Then they’ll instantly know the only other thing they have to do is fill out each of the required fields on the rest of the form.

Source: HR Partner

Highlight mandatory fields so they’re never missed

Mandatory fields are obviously important, so make sure they’re clearly highlighted all the way through. You can set the form so it cannot be submitted when any such fields are left blank, and that’s certainly something you need to do. There’s nothing that will slow the recruitment process down than having to have a few of your members of staff chasing for key details from incomplete applications.

Keep everyone in the loop

Keeping everyone involved in the hiring process in the loop is one of your key jobs as the HR manager. By setting each complete application to be automatically forwarded to the emails of everyone involved, you can make it easy for everyone to collate applications as they go. Ideal if you want to avoid any last-minute panics the night before the interviews are set to take place. If you use a decent Applicant Tracking System (ATS), this should automatically keep your recruiting team informed.

Create a style that fits the audience

There’s no use adding lots of complicated and technical language if it’s unlikely to be understood by the type of applicants you’re looking to attract. Keep your language simple, and your choice of words relevant, and you’ll be able to create a text that connects with everyone.

Specialized fields like multiple choice questions are worth a look

If you want to have a simple screening process built into your application form, why not add a couple of subject-specific questions near the end? Ask for definitions of a couple of key terms and you’ll be able to weed out anyone who has clearly applied for a role they’re not well suited to. Remember, this is just a little bit of screening, it doesn’t have to feel like an exam.

Source: 123FormBuilder

Make sure there are logical flow and structure in your form

Ask any of the paper writing sites out there what the best way to confuse people is, and they’ll tell you all about the pitfalls of a poorly thought out structure. If your form chops and changes every 2 lines then it’s going to be hard for any applicant, no matter how bright they are, to make sure they cover all the bases. Think about how to make it simple and easy to follow, and it’ll make it easier for other staff to look over the applications too.

Avoid unclear sentences that cause confusion

Given the topic of this subsection, we could just leave it at that. The point here is that the fewer words you can use to get your point across, the better.

Proof everything so there are no grammatical errors

There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve been sending around a document that’s riddled with errors and typos. Taking time to check everything you put the company’s name to is the right way to go here. Make sure you show it to someone else as well. They’ll have that little bit of distance from your work which will make it easier for them to highlight errors and inconsistencies.

Avoid overly personal questions that will put some candidates off

There’s no reason to try and get to know someone at this point — that’s what the face-to-face interview is for. Avoid questions about relationships, hobbies, and lifestyle choices. All they’ll do is make your form put off some of your most able candidates.

Include key dates and deadlines to add clarity

One of the great things about online submissions is applicants feel like they’re making progress. Add the key dates and deadlines to the bottom of the form so they are ready and waiting to take your call, and you’ll find you have far more people turning up for interviews. It’s such a little thing to include, but you’d be amazed at the number of businesses that assume candidates are happy to wait indefinitely.

Keep everything up to date on a rolling basis

The final thing you need to do is keep everything up to date. There’s nothing more self-defeating than an application form that’s out of date. Periodic reviews are the best way to combat redundant files, so schedule one in the moment the application form goes live.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve heard all about how to create an online job application form that will work in the best interests of the business, it’s on you to make it happen. Bring the other members of the HR department up to speed with what you’re trying to do, and they’ll be able to help you achieve it. Perfect if you want to enhance your reputation as a professional that can really make a difference to your company.

Daniela McVicker is a career coach and an editor at Top Writers Review. She’s also a business communication coach, helping future job applicants and employers to write effective business emails.

Paperless HR
HR Tools

The rapid advancement in digital technology has made it easy for small businesses to go paperless and get rid of piles of HR-related paperwork. So now, the real struggle is not to reduce paper usage, as that has already been done.

Instead, the daunting challenge is about how to eliminate paper completely, especially in the HR division, for the simple reason this department is always engaged in activities that demand a lot of paper usage. From providing appointment letters to new employees and sharing with them a paper-based company handbook to ensuring smooth onboarding, paper forms a crucial element of the HR function. 

What Do Statistics Say?

This is what stats have to say on paper consumption and paper waste. According to The World Counts, companies operating in the US use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper every year. This is even after companies embracing technology for carrying out their business process. Surprising isn’t it?

This massive use of paper for trivial everyday tasks is not only costly and increases paper waste, but also is detrimental for the environment at large. Statistics show that 5,589 large publicly traded companies in the US produced 342 million metric tons of waste and sent it to landfills and incinerators in 2014. In light of this, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation rolled out a report titled, “Trash to Treasure: Changing Waste Streams to Profit Streams” to make companies aware of the business value of adopting the paper recycling approach. 

Despite the widespread adoption of digital technology, such is the extent to which paper is being used and wasted even today. This calls for a drastic change – to not just reduce paper usage but to fully eliminate it. You can start this from your HR division to make sure the paperless trend quickly percolates down to other departments as well. 

A completely paperless workspace will make the hectic and humdrum tasks of your HR team, a smooth sail. No more filing cabinets and managing employee information on paper, when you have better and tech-friendly methods at your disposal. This will not only make a more sophisticated office but also reduce the cost incurred on paper, printers, and shredders. Technology-rich, super efficient and highly engaging – This is what the near future of workspace looks like. 

Paperless HR

Here Is a 6-Step Guide to Help You Eliminate Paper Usage at Your Workplace

1. Make E-Signatures Mandatory

It’s hilarious that we fill a form online, get it printed, sign it, and again scan it back into the system; something HR managers tend to do almost every day. Why not remove the printing part altogether with e-signatures? If we are going digital, we better make ourselves full digitalized. Using e-signatures can ease out the work of your HR staff to a great extent. 

There are some documents, especially those that are employee-related,  that require the signatures of your HR managers. Imagine signing over 1,000 different documents in a day! It’s literally a task. But why fret, when you have electronic signatures at hand. But, you need to be careful as every country has its own laws for e-signatures. Adobe provides a complete list of laws pertaining to electronic signatures in various countries. If you are thinking of implementing digital signatures in your organization, make sure that you go through your country’s IT laws.   

2. Switch to E-Forms, E-Contracts and E-Resumes

Employee recruitment and onboarding is one area where a lot of paperwork is required. Applicant resumes, legal forms, health-related medical forms, and other relevant documents of employees are usually in the form of paper, which makes it cumbersome for HR teams to manage and store them safely. The fact that these documents are necessary to maintain makes the task even more important.  How to make this task relatively easier and manageable? 

Digitizing the process is the perfect solution. While recruiting new employees, especially, ask them to email their resumes, scanned copies of identity proofs, and other important documents.  Create an online library wherein you can store all these documents for easy access when required. Even if your office has already gone paperless, there is always some paperwork that takes place while hiring new employees. To avoid that, switch to online application forms and digital resumes to ensure that there is zero paperwork.  

Thanks to the increasing inclination towards digitization, online onboarding software has become extremely popular. It helps your HR team manage employee records and files effortlessly. New employees can review, fill, and sign the papers online, and your HR managers can have such details safe and secure for as long as they need it. This also saves your staff from manually transferring data into the system, which has a significant chance of wrong data entries. 

3. Phase-out Printers and Fax Machines

A critical step in going completely paperless is to phase out all the printers and fax machines. The logic is simple. If there is no hard copy generating machine at the workplace, print outs cannot be generated! Strategically plan how to get away with these machines. 

Create a multi-phase-out plan that includes easy and effective steps to halt their use. Machines that are not so frequently used can be removed without a second thought. But, in case, there are printer devices, which are used regularly and phasing them out suddenly might hamper the work of your employees, then it’s best to adopt some other way to reduce their usage. You can probably place them at a location, which is inconvenient for your employees. 

4. Insist on E-Receipts from Service Providers

The next thing you must do is inform all your service providers about you going paperless. Contact your contractors and tell them about your initiative. Ask for e-receipts and make it crystal clear that paper receipts won’t be accepted. Once you get into this practice, paperwork will be entirely out of the picture. No manual handling of receipts, no confusion, and no need to devote extra space to keep receipts. All you need to do is make a folder in your system and store all your receipts at a single place.  

Once your HR division starts following this practice, it will set an excellent example for other departments as well, and soon you will see a similar change across your organization. Showcase the benefits of e-receipts to all your customer-facing teams and encourage them to follow suit so that there is a uniformity in transition. 

5. Switch to Cloud 

Storing all information on the cloud has various benefits – easy access, multiple device compatibility, enhanced security, and much more. Since your HR team constantly have to deal with a lot of information, switching to the cloud is a wise idea to ease out their work. A cloud-based HR documentation software tool can streamline your HR operations by helping you to create a single online knowledge repository where they can store information easily. Retrieving information becomes a matter of a click, once you have your online HR document ready. 

Creating an online document for your HR team is extremely easy, provided you use the right software. If you are looking for a robust tool, make sure that you look for some specific features like a text editor, roles & permissions, customization and branding options, security-related features, etc. You will find similar software online, which can make the task of selecting a single one, quite challenging. To avoid this, you can go for trial versions of a software tool to know how it works and how it can help you simplify your HR-related tasks. 

6. Streamline HR Operations with an HRMS 

Small firms are always on a hiring spree, as rapid growth both in terms of business and people is what they look out for. This means that your employee strength will keep on increasing, as you keep hiring new people for your firm. Now, managing this growing employee strength is a challenge. Right from their attendance and leave requests to providing them with timely payslips and keeping them informed of major events, is essential. With a powerful HRMS tool, these seemingly tedious tasks become a mere cakewalk, as your HR managers don’t have to put in manual effort in managing employees. 

Today, everything can be done online in a snap. Such a system is even beneficial for employees, as it eliminates the need for emailing or directly reaching out to colleagues for information. Besides, it also empowers your employees with self-service, meaning, they can directly browse through the HRMS to get information on anything, be it their log-in and log-out timings, their application status for particular office activity, reimbursement on a recent official trip and much more. 

Transitioning from paper-based to completely paperless is difficult and might take time, but given the enormous benefits it offers, all your efforts will be worth it. Also, while you are transitioning, don’t let it go unnoticed. Make an official announcement across your organization about this initiative and set an example for other divisions. Make employees aware of how this big move will benefit them and encourage them to get rid of paper completely for two significant reasons, first to boost productivity at work and second, to save the environment. 

Employee Engagement Programs
Company Culture

Let’s not beat around the bush here: there are few things more important in the workplace today than employee engagement. Why? When organisations have effective employee engagement programs, they report higher levels of productivity and an increase to their bottom line.

Not only that, a work environment where employees feel engaged results in better retention rates. Put simply, it becomes far easier to hold onto your top talent.

Engagement: What it is and what it isn’t

A few misconceptions exist around the idea of employee engagement. Most notably, “engagement” often gets confused with “job satisfaction”. But they are not the same things.

All staff who are engaged will be satisfied with their jobs. However, an employee can still be satisfied but not engaged in a job. A person who isn’t particularly pushed or challenged in their work, but who still picks up a decent salary with a few perks thrown in, won’t modify or improve their performance. 

They don’t need to, so why would they? 

And such employees are unlikely to be adding any real value to an organisation.

Engagement is about much more than a worker simply feeling content in their present position. It’s the extent to which an employee buys into what a company is trying to do, and how personally involved they feel in its success.

Businesses who can develop and sustain an engaged workplace create something greater and more powerful than the sum of all its parts.

The bad news is that you won’t find a perfect ready-made employee engagement program on the internet or off the shelf. It’s vital that your approach is specifically tailored to the individual needs of your organisation and all its nuances.

The good news is that there are a set of key principles to factor into your planning to help you create the ultimate program. Here they are:

A candidate becomes engaged before they become an employee

The recruitment process is where employee engagement truly begins. Yes, even before a candidate becomes an employee. It’s here a company needs to highlight its Employee Value Proposition clearly. Employees are the new customers, after all.

It’s also here that a business has a genuine opportunity to discover whether a candidate is really of the calibre that the organisation needs.

Of course, education, experience and expertise have their place – but qualifications can be studied for and skills can be taught. Attitude and application cannot. People can be trained and taught on the job to do most things – but you cannot change what makes them tick.

Interview questions/tasks that assess a candidate’s emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament are more useful than ones that merely assess a skill set.

Top tip: Look to hire characteristics, behaviours and attitude over skills and experience.

The importance of performance management and setting goals 

Individuals who are empowered are employees that are engaged. This means that it’s vital for staff to have a clear understanding of expectations. Once this clarity is achieved, employees should be allowed to set their own goals. Autonomy is one of the key drivers of human motivation and setting goals in this way inspires commitment and ownership.

Top tip: Have high expectations but encourage goals to be realistic. It’s easy to build on small successes, but it’s far more difficult to build on massive failures or missed targets.

Networking: How to share ideas and insights within an organisation

Never underestimate the value of a well-networked team. When employees have the opportunity to share ideas and exchange insights, the organisation’s whole perspective is broadened. People will feed off the ideas of others and feel inspired.

The culture of the organisation needs to be one of listening as you are speaking. Internal and external networks need to thrive to enable multi-way conversations to take place.

Top tip: Give employees opportunities to network online and offline

Communication and connection are the keys to success

How successfully managers and leaders communicate with staff is the cornerstone of successful employee engagement programs. The best managers know their staff inside-out and understand their personalities and motivations.

But the extent to which managers connect with their teams is often down to their own authenticity and transparency. If staff feel that managers are authentic, it really builds trust and galvanizes a team.

It’s crucial that all managers are seen to be communicating and reinforcing a company’s mission and vision on a day-to-day basis.

Top tip: Managers must walk the talk!

Where do you start with employee engagement?

There is plenty of inspiration to be found from the ways that some of the biggest names in business have engaged their employees. Google, famously, introduced its ‘20% Time’ – essentially an opportunity for employees to devote a day a week working on projects that they thought would most benefit the company.

Similarly, LinkedIn cancels meetings to enable staff to work on individual projects or to attend external training. Employees are also encouraged to pitch ideas to the boardroom.

Successful employee engagement programs tend to think outside the box – but it’s important to recognise that what matters is what is going on in and out of ‘your box’your company.

Whatever initiatives are implemented – or rewards offered – they need to demonstrate that the organisation has its fingers on the pulse of employee needs.

And you should never assume you know what your employees think or want – you need to ask them.

Ultimately though, employee engagement programs are not just about having ideas or a shared vision. Creating the correct conditions and having the right tools in place to execute and apply your program are of fundamental importance too. Only when all these aspects are covered will genuine employee engagement occur.

Retain valuable employees
Employee Retention

The face of successful companies are CEOs who know exactly how to navigate their way through the dizzying world of entrepreneurship. Their success stories make it to the front pages and are printed in bold as inspiring headlines for the masses to see. But in truth, the most successful businesses are built on the backs of their employees.

CEOs recognize that high rates of customer churn are a cause for concern, but they rarely talk about employee turnover rates. Workers who do not feel fulfilled or properly compensated leave organizations to seek better career paths. And sometimes, the most competent members of the team take the exit. When this happens, it leaves your company at a great disadvantage.

To keep valuable employees, take note of our tips and consider making changes to your business.

Build a Conducive Work Environment

A good work environment goes beyond providing a fancy office to toil within. Building a conducive workplace includes creating an environment top team members can thrive as they work towards the organization’s goals. This also includes creating a safe environment for all workers.

Having a professional, but nurturing and stimulating workplace compels employees to stay – even when they experience a lapse in motivation. What’s more, productivity, performance, and engagement increase when workers don’t have to worry about things like discrimination or harassment.

Brush up on anti-discrimination laws and make an effort to place internal safeguards for your employees. You’ll also want to hold team building activities to raise camaraderie. This will help forge a genuine human bond between colleagues that will aid in effective communication. Also, have a hard look at your current company culture and make adjustments based on the core values you desire. It sounds simple, but these aspects, together with providing a pleasant and organized physical space, will result in decreased turnover.

Encourage Discourse

People who are on top of the chain usually get there through the right combination of hard work, determination, and luck. The gruelling journey makes it tempting to highlight hierarchical differences as a constant incentive for climbing up the ladder. But companies that are grounded on this kind of thinking always end poorly with declining productivity and a stifling culture.

Apart from maintaining an environment with equal amounts of respect for all employees, companies should also promote a healthy exchange of ideas between bosses and subordinates.

In practice, this means giving employees the freedom to logically question business models, strategies, and managerial decisions – without repercussions. Those who communicate their ideas are likely those who have the most concern for your business and would like to see it flourish for years to come.

Encouraging discourse will benefit your team members by cultivating their critical thinking abilities, which will, in turn, benefit your company with a steady supply of fresh ideas.

Recognize Hard Work

There are people who only do exactly as they are told, and there are those who will go the extra mile. Clearly, it’s not right to treat them the same way, so make an effort to recognize exemplary efforts appropriately by offering promotions, company stocks, a salary increase, or even simple praise them in public. Make it a point to let your most valuable employees know that their efforts are appreciated. Although it seems simple, praise and recognition go a long way to sustain employees’ drive and reduce their propensity to leave.

Employees who feel as though they are treated as assets are less likely to leave, and are compelled to do better when they realize their employers are helping them grow as professionals. To do this, present them with suitable internal opportunities. Invest in training, show them the ropes to related aspects of the business, and find ways to maximize their potential.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Even the most competitive benefits and salaries are sometimes not enough to keep employees.

While it’s true that money is a major deciding factor for staying in a company, if your employees don’t have enough free time to enjoy their rewards, it can all amount to nought.

Employees need to have a life outside of work, meaning your demands shouldn’t rob your workers of time and energy for other things. Promoting work-life balance is a must to prevent burnout and ultimately keep your team members happy. Organize company outings, keep the workload reasonable, and embrace individual working styles.

Let Go of Dead Weight

Finally, retaining valuable employees also comes down to weeding out those who bring the team down. Negativity is highly contagious and could influence even the most valuable workers. Let go of employees with a bad work ethic, who spread gossip, or interfere with the work of their colleagues. Although it definitely isn’t be easy to lay off some members of the team, doing so is an ultimately advantageous to the stronger performers and steers the whole company in the right direction with the right people.

All in all, retaining valuable employees boils down to how you treat members of your team: remember they are human and not just mere tools to move your business forward.

New Hire Checklist Template

Congratulations if you’ve just employed a new team member! To ensure your employee’s start is seamless, we’ve prepared a new hire checklist template to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

There’s a lot to consider when onboarding a new employee, but if you have a good process, like the new hire checklist template here, you can minimize the stress (and demonstrate that you and your organization are on top of your HR!)

Get the New Hire Checklist Template here (it’s free)

Download the New Hire Checklist Template now…

Get this template in Word format to customise it for your organisation. Create a real checklist you can use for your next new hire.

This new hire checklist is broken into sections by the timing…

New Hire Checklist – 1 Month Before Starting

  • Send offer letter
  • Send employment contract
  • Provide details of start date (+ time and address for place of work)
  • Order any equipment the employee will need (eg computer, desk, phone, etc)
  • Order any supplies the employee will need (eg business cards, uniforms, etc)

New Hire Checklist – 1 Week Before Starting

  • Send welcome letter and employee handbook (include their arrival time, address and map, parking / public transport, dress code, and plan for their first day)
  • Enter employee records in your HR system – including their name, address, contact details, position, start date, compensation, etc.
  • Send a new hire announcement message to the company announcing the new hire’s start date and encouraging everyone to welcome them onboard
  • Set up the employee’s office space
  • Create an email address for the employee
  • Arrange computer and software system login details
  • Select and notify an onboarding buddy to welcome the new hire (or their direct manager can also perform this role)
  • Create a plan for the employee’s first week – arrange for them to spend time with key people or departments
  • Set date and reminder for probation period and review

New Hire Checklist – Day One

  • Welcome new employee
  • Show them to their working area and ensure they have everything they need
  • Give the employee any equipment they need and explain the policies related to those (key card, phone, etc)
  • Introduce the employee to their onboarding buddy
  • Give the employee an orientation tour of the office (be sure to show them restrooms, kitchen, parking, office supplies, etc)
  • Review job duties and expectations
  • Tell them how success is defined in their role
  • Ensure employee can access their email and other core systems (chat, project management, role-specific systems)
  • Collect details and paperwork from the employee (eg tax forms, bank account details, other details needed for your HRIS)
  • Explain the plan for the employee’s first week and discuss with them
  • Ensure employee has submitted all forms and information for payroll
  • Explain how the timing of payroll works and any other compensation
  • Explain any other benefits (eg insurance, bonuses, perks to take advantage of, etc)

New Hire Checklist – Week One

  • Encourage the employee to send out an introductory message to the company (show them past examples to reduce the stress of this)
  • Get to know the immediate team – perhaps a team lunch or introductory meeting where each team member gets to explain their role and talk about themselves
  • Go over the employee handbook
  • Review other relevant company policies (eg code of conduct, safety policy, etc)
  • Assign any required reading / training
  • Introduce the employee to other departments & explain how the company works
  • Introduce the employee to senior executives
  • Overview upcoming key company projects
  • Assign the employee their first goal or project/s
  • Ensure employee is aware of key upcoming dates, social events, etc
  • Check in with employee every day during their first week – ensure they meet with key people and everything is working fine
  • Setup weekly 1:1 meetings with the new hire’s direct manager

New Hire Checklist – Month One

  • Review progress on their first goal or project/s
  • Check employee payroll is running smoothly
  • Conduct an informal performance review
  • Give more of an overview of the company, including the mission and vision, company values, key milestones, company goals, etc
  • Discuss how the employee’s role fits into the bigger picture – revisit the job duties and expectations of the role, and especially, the success metrics
  • Discuss and set next projects and goals
  • Invite employee to connect on company social media accounts
  • Get employee set up with company training sessions

New Hire Checklist – 3-6 Months

  • Conduct probationary performance review
  • Discuss and set new projects and goals
  • Discuss career development plan
  • Schedule next performance review
  • Collect feedback from employee on onboarding process

Some HRIS systems (including HR Partner) also allow you to create onboarding checklists / new hire checklists within the software. These are great because you can include all the documentation and tasks that you want your new hire to go through (eg watching a certain video, uploading files, reading files, etc). Here’s how to create a new hire checklist in HR Partner.

Whether you use a manual new hire checklist template or an onboarding checklist that’s incorporated into your HR system, the philosophy is the same: ensure your new hire has everything they need to have the best chance of succeeding in your organization.

Don’t forget to download this new hire checklist template so that you can customize it to suit your organization’s needs. It’s one more way you can look like the professional HR manager that you are!