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5 Human Resources processes that destroy the focus of small business

Posted by Chad Dawson

May 9th, 2017

5 Human Resources processes that destroy the focus of small business

Entrepreneurs value time more than anything.

How they spend that time can make or break their business. At the very least, how they spend that time can determine if their business is growing and thriving or sputtering along.

The highest value activity an Entrepreneur can perform is creative work. That includes strategic planning, marketing and customer acquisition, product/service expansion or enhancement – generally focusing on what their business is, where it can go and how it can grow. Everything else becomes tactics driven out of the creative work.

However – many Entrepreneurs get bogged down in the details of the day to day, putting out fires along the way. It’s a frustrating, uber unproductive process. Most important of all – it quickly and easily takes the place of the awesome creative work they can and love to do. A week can blow by with nothing but time-consuming, energy-sucking “stuff.”

The best way to get off that ride? Implement standard processes and systems to deal with all the non-creative stuff.

One of my all-time favourite books is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. The gist of the book is that entrepreneurs need to work ON rather than IN their businesses. Working IN your business makes you an employee, working ON your business makes you an Entrepreneur. Working ON your business involves developing processes, procedures and systems to handle regular, re-occurring items – from customer acquisition to human resources to janitorial services and everything in between.

In our business (Benefits/Pensions/HR/HRIS/Payroll) we see the good, the bad and the ugly of the entrepreneurs and small business owners we work with every day.

So – here are 5 human resources processes that destroy the time and focus of small businesses and the people that work in them and how that can easily be avoided.

  1. Hiring - if you do a little or a lot – hiring can crush a small business. Creating job descriptions (often new ones), posting, filtering applications, interviewing – can be a black hole of time, effort and energy – often with very little ROI. Hands up if you’ve put in all that effort, hired the best candidate and then had them fail miserably putting you back to square one. Ugh.
  2. Onboarding – assuming you can find the talent you need – how do you get them up, running and productive as quickly as possible? Onboarding involves a lot of little steps – everything from furniture, equipment, training, orientation, paperwork, enrolment in things like benefits plans and more. It’s admin heavy, can take forever and if done poorly can sabotage the success of the person you hired (back to square 1 – hiring!). Double Ugh.
  3. Compliance – there may be no word more disliked by business than compliance. Just think of the images it plants in your brain. Making sure you, and your people are doing all the things you are supposed to be doing can be chaotic at best and drives extreme paranoia (what did we miss????). Most businesses, regardless of industry are only getting more complex so compliance is here to stay. And for the most part compliance has no major upside – only a downside if messed up. Grunt.
  4. Policy Management – every time somebody asks – “What do I do if” is a scream for a policy or process. The various scenarios, issues, problems and fires that constantly pop up throughout the day are the creativity eating termites that seem to breed like they are facing extinction – non-stop. Reinventing the wheel every time is a recipe for disaster. Blech.
  5. Termination – chances are there is nothing good happening here. Someone is leaving the organization – either by their choice or yours. It’s not as easy as showing them the door – a whole host of stuff has to happen, encompassing all 5 of the above (presuming you need to hire to replace them). Terminating someone sets off a chain reaction of events that will destroy any free time you had or were hoping to have. Done wrong and things escalate. I’m feeling nauseous just thinking about it.

So what’s a creativity starving Entrepreneur to do? Here are 4 simple, fast and easy ways to streamline 99% of the human resources tasks that kill your time:

  1. Develop processes – FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO FOLLOW. Whether you are the owner, a manager, an HR professional, a supervisor or anyone involved in running a small business – creating documented processes outlines what people should do. That means a) you don’t have to tell them every time and b) it creates consistent outcomes that don’t generate other time consuming problems. This doesn’t have to be a massive project either – it can be done on the fly, creating processes as required. This constantly advances the business and returns future time to you. Hello!
  2. Develop policies – these are the rules. It’s how and why things are the way they are. Clear, concise policies eliminate questions and offer self-serve answers and solutions. Policies also ensure consistency and oh yeah – compliance. Boom!
  3. Automation – The holy grail. Yes your human resources processes can most definitely be automated. HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems) software can take all of the processes, policies and systems and automate them. It can store them for everyone to see. It can initiate them with the click of a button. It can follow-up, chase down and monitor every step of the way with little to no human intervention. HRIS software ticks off all the boxes and returns the gift of time in spades. Hallelujah!
  4. Elimination – Finally – and maybe the most under-rated step. How many times have you asked: Why the #$%# do we do this? Elimination often has the highest ROI of all – as THAT never happens again. Easier said than done, but eliminating unwanted “stuff” is awesome and soul-freeing. Ahhhh…..

What happens if you consistently do these things?
You have more time – to focus on the creative work
You have more energy – focus on the creative work.
You have more enthusiasm – to focus on the creative work.
You have more passion – for the things you are most passionate about.

I’d love to hear your comments, thoughts and feedback. Dialogue helps ideas evolve.

Questions? Contact me at

5 Human Resources processes that destroy the focus of small business

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