Some of the more exacting tasks that have to be undertaken in a typical SME sized business take up an enormous amount of time, effort and emotion, frequently because of the lack of expertise available in-house.
There has been and continues to be a flood of legislation particularly about how businesses employ their people, and in every sense, how are we allowed to recruit them, what can we ask of them when we recruit them, what sort of contract should we offer, how can we make sure that they are looked after during the time they are working and son and so on.
Even more, how can we terminate the employment of a disruptive or non-performing member of staff in a manner that is fair to both sides; consistently a difficult issue for the leader?
I strongly believe that businesses should fulfil their purpose and do what they are set up to do and what they are good at doing. Patently, they are generally not good at keeping up to date with the aforesaid legislation and it makes sense to bring in someone who is.
The two main areas of contention which seem to afflict members of my Vistage group are Human Resources and Health and Safety, both of which need a level of expertise these days which is not normally found in an SME.
For example, it makes sense, if the business does not employ a full time employment and workforce specialist to use a part time expert to advise on contracts of employment, set up procedures, grievance handling and so on. Tracey Murphy of HR Track (www.hrtrack.co.uk) says:
"A good HR expert will bring peace of mind to decision-makers, make them aware of the risks and benefits associated with a course of action, offer them alternatives and reassure them of their rights as an employer - invaluable."
Should a situation escalate to the possibility of an employment tribunal then it may be necessary to talk to an experienced employment lawyer because the time taken up by leaders, inexperienced in the law, can be considerable and at great cost to the business. For example, Vistage member Alison Loveday of Berg Legal (www.berg.co.uk) says:
“‘Employment law is one of the fastest moving areas of law and it is heavily influenced by the European Courts. As some claims in the Employment Tribunal have no limit on the compensation that can be awarded, it is always worth taking advice from an employment expert at the earliest stage , to make sure you are ‘ on the right track’ and to limit you risk and potential exposure so far as possible.”
And what about the vexed question of Health and Safety? Sadly this really important subject has been ridiculed and demeaned by its use in frankly stupid instances by people who know nothing of the subject but are prepared to exhibit their lack of knowledge to the world.
Because of the impact of ever changing legislation, without doubt businesses of every kind need to take sensible advice in setting up a cogent, productive and workable H&S policy. Another Vistage member, David Skews of EDP Health and Safety (www.edp-uk.com) says:
“A working environment in which every individual cares about the health, welfare and safety of their colleagues will inevitably be a highly productive and good place to work.”
The fact is, we should do what we are good at and delegate these vitally important functions to the experts rather than taking up time, effort and emotion doing something at which we are inexperienced and generally lack knowledge.
Forget trying to save costs with DIY – get an expert in. In the end it will be far less expensive and far more effective.