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Beyond Business Basics

Winning Starts with Having the Right Team

Beyond Business Basics

Successful business people have a wealth of insider tips and insights that Hillsborough County can help you tap. We've asked local business experts to share their experiences and expertise on the entrepreneurship journey. In this edition we discuss building the right team for your business.

Meghan Deveau

Meghan Deveau
VIP Contributor
Sr. Vice President of HRTrust and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources

Why is making sure new employees will be a good addition to a small business' company culture just as important as having the right skills for the job?
There is a saying that you hire for attitude, train for skills. What this means in the real world of small business is that you can teach someone how to use your software but you cannot teach someone how to be friendly, exude warmth to your customers, or be a continuous learner.

Yes, the new employee must have a minimum skill set to perform the job. This is why it is important for companies to understand the competencies and knowledge, skills, and abilities that the job requires so that they can ensure that a new hire has those or identify the skills gap and develop those. Once these have been identified in the job description and identified in candidates, it is important to see where that person fits into your organizational culture.

One way to evaluate fit is to have prospective employees shadow or "audition" at the job, where you can observe key behaviors such as their friendliness, willingness to engage with others, and their energy (does this person drag after a break?). Also, you can ask the other staff their impressions. It is important to know your values and company culture and think of what observable behaviors indicate such, then create a checklist to see if candidates demonstrate those. Trying on a job is also a great way for candidates to see if your business is where they want to spend 40-plus hours a week.

Having worked in both larger and smaller organizations, I know that having someone who is not aligned with the company culture shows even more in smaller organizations because they have more exposure and you cannot simply hide them among a large staff.

When should a small business consider using independent contractors instead of hiring employees?
There are advantages to a small business when using independent contractors because it will save the company money. Usually a business will pay more per hour for a contractor but will save money because you do not have to pay employer-provided benefits, office space, or equipment, and the required payments on their behalf, such as Social Security. There is also more flexibility on staffing because there is greater leeway in hiring and firing of workers so this is beneficial if you have workloads that fluctuate or are temporary in nature. Lastly, a small business will want to see what expertise and software that they have already and decide whether it is worth it to invest the money in technology to execute that function.

I see payroll and benefits outsourced a lot in small businesses because it is such an important function that requires a lot of expertise and software systems. I also see small businesses use outside resources for recruiting because there are so many legal elements in hiring and since they may not hire often, it can be a challenge to ensure that you are doing it "by the book." By using an outside vendor or independent contractor, small businesses can concentrate on other more key functions like growing the business.

You do want to make sure that when you do use an independent contractor that they are classified correctly and that you are not treating them as employees. Independent contractors should not do the same work tasks as employees. Basically, contractors should have their own equipment, software, set their own hours, and direct how and when they do their work as long as they are fulfilling the deliverables spelled out in the contract.

What are three best practices that can help small businesses retain and manage their workforce, while still focusing on their own customers, products, and services?

  • It starts with hiring the right people for the company. You want job descriptions, the selection process, and the on-boarding process to be thorough and reflect your company's true self. You do not want to promise one thing, and then the employee starts and it is something totally different.
  • Openly communicate with your employees. That includes listening to them in order to create a company culture where employees feel comfortable sharing both ideas and concerns.
  • Create measurable goals for your employees so that they know the expectations and let them know how they are doing in achieving such. You will want to recognize employees in a meaningful way who are meeting their goals and going above and beyond for customers or their expected tasks.

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Our Expert Contributor
Ms. Meghan Deveau brings over 11 years of experience in both private and public sector human resource management that includes talent acquisition, test development, selection and performance management, benefits, training, and employee relations. Ms. Deveau earned a Bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and received a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of Central Florida. She earned her Senior Professional in Human Resources certification in 2015. In her free time, Ms. Deveau enjoys volunteering, running, cooking and spending time with her dog and cat.

HRTrust is a boutique HR company where our vision is to be your one stop HR shop with a mission to provide value-added, responsive and innovative HR solutions. We offer a host of services ranging from talent acquisition, compensation, training to organizational excellence.