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  • Writer's picturePeter Searle

The employment cycle

Employing and managing staff is an enormous subject. For business owners of SME’s the task is daunting. It is no wonder as there are many specialist roles within human resource management in large organisations, but the owner of a business requires an appreciation of the specialist aspects, to have a solid overview. By considering an employee’s journey each part of their journey different features surface. This blog is an introduction to the main features of human resource management for the owners of SME’s. The journey starts with recruitment, continues with training and retraining. Then throughout their journey they will be rewarded, until finally they are either released or they resign. All these steps can be managed a lot more easily if they start with the right foundation and are regularly reviewed, and updated, as someone’s employment progresses.

A sound foundation for managing staff.

Start with an organisation chart, with reporting lines and responsibilities. The chart should represent the roles needed in the business. Do not fit the staff you have into “near enough” roles. For each position there should also be a job description. Ideally you should add the necessary requirements of experience and skills to do the role well. This forms the basis for recruitment or appointment to a role and how performance can be measured.

Recruitment or appointment

There are three options available. A business can choose to advertise themselves, use an agency or make an internal appointment. Where there is a shortage of staff for the role, an agency fee is a good investment when compared to the cost of a failed recruitment. Different processes for recruitment can be used, testing the skills to be used, psychometric testing and interviews being the most common. No matter which is used, you are endeavouring to ascertain if a person “can do the job”, “will do” the job and “will they fit” the culture of the business.

During the recruitment process employment legislation should be complied with and the potential employee made aware of the rules of the organisation by the issue of a staff handbook which should set out the expected standards of behaviour, even though some of the standards may seem unlikely at the time that they will ever be needed.

Fully successful appointments are difficult to make but taking care with the supporting documentation makes ironing out any difficulties that much easier.


When a new staff member arrives, an onboarding process should be implemented, and any specific training mentioned in the recruitment process delivered. The first few weeks of a new employee’s time at a business shapes the relationship with the business for a long time. Consider appointing a mentor so they have someone to confide in and ask questions that may seem petty. The quicker they settle in the quicker they can become productive.

Staff Reviews

Many managers are uncomfortable holding staff reviews and consequently staff actions go unchecked. Providing feedback to staff is crucial for ensuring productivity levels are maintained and good feedback can be very motivating for staff. At the end of a probation period targets should be set for both parties. The business may offer to provide certain training and the employee given certain levels of output or changes of behaviour to achieve. Regular reviews should be held, regardless of how uncomfortable the manager feels. The review meeting should be fully documented. This record become the means to act, should the businesses expectations which have been set, either at the point of recruitment, or at a review, not be met. Specialist training is available for delivering difficult conversations when a staff member is not achieving their targets.


The career path of individuals changes as they get older and the tone of the reviews should be sympathetic to the change. Ambitions to be promoted may eventually give way to being content in a certain position. This is fine, not everyone in a business needs to be on the promotion ladder, there is a place for people who perform well and are reliable. The review should check that these people are still content and their observations on the business acknowledged. It should not be taken for granted that they will not seek a change at some point, and this should be identified and a plan going forward agreed so the person is not lost from the business if they are truly valued.


There are several reasons why staff may need to be released. If the forgoing recommendations have been followed, then it should be relatively straight forward.

Misconduct. At the recruitment stage the issuing of a handbook with the expectations of behaviour sets out the standards required. By reference to this misconduct can be dealt with, ultimately leading to dismissal if necessary.

Non-performance. The targets and agreed actions from the regular reviews form the basis for the expectation around performance. If issues arise, concerning performance, reference to the reviews and any intermediate reviews will form the basis for escalating sanctions, eventually leading to dismissal if an improvement is not forthcoming.

Redundancy. The world is an ever-changing place and a business must move with the times. If a business cannot retain a person when it restructures to take account of a revised direction, then redundancy is an option. Again, the sting is taken out of the situation if the redundancy policy is included in the recruitment pack.


When a person leaves a business, for whatever reason, it is good practice to carry out an exit interview. At the interview their relationship throughout their employment can be discussed. The purpose of the meeting is to improve how the business manages staff and can gain maximum productivity in the future.

If you would like guidance on the most suitable support for managing your staff, then please contact me.

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