Human resource mistakes can cause huge legal headaches for businesses -- particularly small businesses. Fortunately, as the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"; most HR mistakes are easily avoidable. Read on to find out six of the most common Human Resources mistakes that businesses make, along with tips on how to avoid these pitfalls.
Mistake #1: Interviewing prospective employees inappropriately.
Certain topics -- religion, age, nationality, marital status, to name several -- should never be brought up in an interview. Even though it's tricky to avoid seemingly innocuous questions like "So how many kids do you have?", broaching topics like these in an interview is actually against the law. Keep your interviews focused on the topic of the job itself and the prospective employee's qualifications, and avoid questions and discussions that are irrelevant and personal. Laying out questions and preparing in advance can help you stay on track during interviews. Tweet This Mistake
Mistake #2: Failure to understand business-specific laws.
Laws can vary by state, business type, and company size. It's important to have a good working knowledge of what laws apply in your state to your individual company. Failure to comply with labor laws can result in heavy fines and legal troubles -- issues that are easily avoided by simply making yourself aware of the laws and ensuring that your business adheres to them. Remember, too, that laws can change; you'll want to keep on top of any updates or revisions. Tweet This Mistake
Mistake #3: Neglecting to create a clearly-laid-out Employee Handbook.
Failure to create and provide an Employee Handbook tends to be one of the most common HR mistakes small businesses make. Protect yourself and your company from potential legal entanglements by making sure that your employees know what's expected of them on the job. Also, be sure to check periodically for any legal changes and update your policies accordingly. Tweet This Mistake
Mistake #4: Forgetting to document employee work history.
Simple advice here: document everything. When everything is recorded in writing, dealing with any issues that arise is much easier. You'll be legally protected by having a written account of things, especially when any disputes or potential violations by employees come up. Tweet This Mistake
Related: 9 HR Basics for Any Small Business
Mistake #5: Sloppy documentation of overtime hours.
Keeping track of extra hours employees put in can feel like a chore, but it's legally necessary. And it'll save you a lot of trouble later on; fail to document hours and pay employees appropriately, and you may find yourself owing several thousands of dollars in back pay and fines. Tweet This Mistake
Mistake #6: Underappreciating your employees.
Your business might be following all the rules, but that's not going to do your company much good in terms of growth and profit if your employees are feeling overworked and unhappy. Your employees need to feel valued. Performance-based bonuses or raises are great motivators if your company can afford them; regardless, giving public praise and regular constructive feedback is always helpful. Tweet This Mistake
Human Resource mistakes can be costly and time-consuming, but fortunately, most of these mistakes are fairly easy to avoid. By taking the time to follow the above steps, you'll be setting your small business up for success.