It seems that some small business owners see HR services as unnecessary and as an added expense, rather than viewing HR in terms of a business asset that not only can provide people solutions but also save them time, energy, money, and increase their profitability — Innovative HR does.
Employees represent the lifeblood of every business and yet, Human Resources – whether in-house or consulting – represent one of the least understood and underestimated business services in the market. The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Anna Carney and Michele Sparling, Co-founders of Innovative HR.
“When people ask us what we do, you can almost feel their eyes roll when they hear words ‘human resources’ and ‘consultant’ used in the same sentence.
While HR can get a bad rap – and sometimes deservedly so – as ‘human resources consultants’ we need to understand not only the business owner and their business, but also be able to think creatively, manage complex and challenging situations, and provide unique solutions and suggestions in support of assisting the business achieve its goals and objectives,” says Carney.
With combined experience of 50+ years, Carney and Sparling formed Innovative HR to focus on small business owners, offering them access to a level of human resources experience and expertise that is typically available only to larger companies. “Small business owners need to realize that not dealing with HR issues or not having effective HR strategies and solutions has a greater impact on their business’s bottom line than it would in a larger company.”
Innovative HR focuses on creating human resources strategies and solutions that enable a business to reach its goals and objectives, creating a holistic approach to the business situation and the goal of the business owner, whether those goals focus on growth, increasing profitability, becoming an employer of choice, downsizing or improving the overall management, Innovative HR provides specific solutions to client’s needs. “We have extensive experience and knowledge in human resources management in both the private and public sector, federally and provincially regulated business, profit and not for profit, non-union and union environments, and multi provincial experience across many sectors including airlines, broadcasting, hospitality, healthcare, research, IT, and manufacturing to name a few,” says Sparling, pointing out that each industry and sector come with a unique set of goals and challenges.
Innovative HR also brings added value to their clients by utilizing their extensive network of professionals who can support small business owners in all aspects of their business.
Small Business Owners
Small and medium size business owners are notoriously known for spending too much time managing the day to day operations, and not spending enough time on developing long term business and growth strategies. According to Innovative HR they wear too many hats, taking on finance, HR, marketing, business development, sales … you name it, and as a result can’t do a lot of things well. “Managing human resources is a good example of what business owners don’t like to do, and often don’t do it well. Most business owners don’t have the time or the interest to deal with their employee’s challenges or issues.
Yet often it’s the problems within their team and organization that keep them up at night,” notes Carney.
Common Employee Issues
Employees are every business’s most valuable asset, yet it is estimated that two thirds of employees in Canada and the United States are not fully engaged in the workplace. Disengaged employees have higher absenteeism rates, lower productivity, negatively impact the client or customer experience, take more out of the business than bring in, and have a significant impact on the company in terms of service, quality, product and reputation. “Business owners need to understand why their employees are not engaged and develop and implement HR strategies to reengage them before it costs them their business,” says Sparling.
Hiring and keeping good staff is an issue for small business owners. According to Innovative HR, the hiring cost of a new employee is about 1.5 times the salary of the person hired. “You want to make sure you protect your investment. Yet, it costs the businesses significantly more when you have hired the wrong person. Bad hires or underperformers have significant impact on the business in terms of lost productivity, lost sales, time, and business opportunities, not to mention employee morale and backlash from the rest of the employees. But can you afford to keep them? For many business owners it’s difficult to get pass the terminating a person, as they lack the support necessary, or the ability to terminate a person in such a way as to keep the respect and dignity of the person who’s time has come to move on. It is important to remember that people don’t always remember how they started with a company but they always remember how they left, and in this age of transparency offered by the social media, businesses need to be cautious and manage people, even when they are on their way out the door, with respect and professionalism,” advises Carney.
Another challenge for the small business owner is the daunting and complex world of employment legislation and, regardless of size, they are still held accountable to understand, uphold and comply with the law including the Ontario Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards, Ontario Human Rights Code, Ontario Labour Relations Act, AODA, WSIB, and that’s just Ontario provincial labour law.
At the end of the day, the goal of Innovative HR is simple — take the stress out of managing employees so business owners can sleep at night. “For us there is nothing more satisfying than the business owner who calls you to tell you that they have had the best sleep in years because they finally taken back control of their business, or the business owner who had record profits and attributes a big part of their success to the role Innovative HR played in creating an engaged and dynamic workforce.”