When starting a new business, the early decisions can make all the difference. This includes choices like how you craft your business strategy or the tools you use to create a professional website, but equally important are the hiring decisions you make.
The policies you have in place from the very beginning will impact how early employees view their roles and responsibilities and will help set the tone for the future of your company. To get you off on the right foot, take a look at these seven policies that you should definitely have established before hiring your first employee.
1. Non-Discrimination Policy
This is sometimes known as Equal Employment Opportunity, or EEO. Non-discrimination policies essentially mean that employers will treat all their employees (or potential employees) equally regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, or age. Pay close attention to your state and local laws to review the specific EEO stipulations for your area. Having a non-discrimination policy in place will let your workers know they will be evaluated solely on their performance, making for a more comfortable and safer work environment.
2. At-Will Agreement
An at-will employment disclaimer helps to define the relationship between employer and employee. This agreement states that the relationship can end at any time either on the part of the worker or the employer. If the employee wishes to leave the job and look for a new one, she can. And if an employer feels that a worker is not the right “fit” (for whatever reason,) she can let them go without fear of a wrongful termination suit. The disclaimer grants more freedom for both sides, which can be especially important early on in your company’s process.
This policy has everything to do with holding onto company trade secrets, strategies, and talent. With it, employees agree not to disclose confidential information about the company to competitors or other institutions. Confidentiality agreements usually last even after a worker has been terminated by or has simply left a company. A non-compete agreement means the employee cannot work for a competitor, normally for a specified amount of time after leaving the company.
4. Acceptable Use of Technology
You probably have plenty of technology on hand at your place of business, no matter what type of company you run. But even if you do, employees are likely to bring in their own smartphones or tablets for use while on the job. Be sure to set out policies for acceptable use of that technology, whether the device is company-owned or a personal gadget. Many companies have begun adopting comprehensive bring your own device (BYOD) programs, implementing specific measures to ensure safety and confidentiality of company information. If network security is a concern (for example, when employees are using an unsecured – or “open” – wifi network,) your company may even wish to establish a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure improved security in an age where security breaches are common.
5. Compensation and Benefits
Every job should obviously come with compensation, and employees will want to know what it is before they start. Explaining compensation and benefits will help set expectations early on. Be clear about how much vacation and sick time your employees will get, what kind of health benefits you offer, and the holidays you’ll be closed for. New business owners are notorious for promising bigger, better pay or benefits “as the company grows.” Avoid headaches by setting concrete expectations upfront and then delivering on those promises.
6. Misconduct/Discipline Policy
No employee is perfect. And even the most well-meaning of employees can perform a damaging action out of neglect or ignorance. You should make it clear through your policies what will happen when such an employee does violate the rules. A clear process for discipline will help wayward employees know what steps they should take to get back into good standing, while also clearing up confusion over what behaviors are grounds for termination.
7. Workplace Safety Policy
Employees want to feel safe while they’re at work, which is why having a workplace safety policy should be a priority. Even if your business isn’t in a dangerous environment, establishing a policy that identifies the types of dangers employees may come across could help avoid an accident in the future. With a good workplace safety policy, damages caused due to negligent employee actions can be minimized, preventing potential lawsuits.
A good beginning is always important, and making the right decisions early on will go a long way toward making your start a smooth and successful one. With these seven policies in place, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your employees, ensuring success for your company for years to come.