With increasing public debate about the responsibility of businesses to have equal and fair practices, following recent media revelations, now is the perfect time for Welsh SMEs to take HR seriously, says Business Wales advisor Lowri Dundee.
Working with as a HR consultant, Lowri has supported more than 500 organisations in North East Wales and has seen an increasing need for business owners to recognise the importance of having clear HR policies.
“I think the recent media coverage on equal rights and discrimination in the workplace has really highlighted the need for businesses of all sizes to have clear HR policies in place. SME owners need to recognise that they have legal obligations to uphold and society is now expecting businesses to be responsible when it comes to its employment practices.
“More than 90 per cent of all businesses in North East Wales are SMEs and I’ve worked with many who don’t have clear employment contracts, internal staff policies or processes to deal with complaints and employee issues. Often owners don’t think ahead – if employees are happy now, then they always will be. They don’t predict staff unhappiness or an HR crisis occurring.
“Employers need to be more aware about the risks of not having correct HR policies in place and be proactive to correct it. There can be financial penalties if laws are broken and the negative press associated with bad treatment of employees can ruin business brands.”
It shouldn’t just be the legal obligations that are important for SMEs either. With HR often seen as a side-thought for many busy owners, neglecting HR can also impact their potential business growth in the future.
“When an entrepreneur starts a business, it might just be them and maybe one or two employees who are close associates. However, when a company needs to grow and recruit, there must be clear internal HR policies to manage them. Putting these in place from the beginning can ensure employees are happy, understand their roles and as a result, the business will perform better.
“I really want to emphasise the benefits of having clear HR policies in place because it can offer so much more to Welsh SMEs than just being a box-ticking activity. With greater social awareness on equality and safe working environments, companies and SMEs can’t hide from their legal commitments and they should view this changing environment as an opportunity to take a lead from their competitors and improve how their businesses run.”
If you would like to receive free support and advice on how to implement successful HR policies by an experienced Business Wales adviser or would like to know more about how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru, visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.