The arrival of a new year gives small business owners a great opportunity to look at a variety of human resources issues and decide what changes they should make.

“Do an overall check of your HR procedures (in January),” suggests Rob Wilson, president of Employco, a Chicago-based human resources firm. He noted that during the course of the year, “when you’re trying to run a business, sometimes the last thing you think of is HR.”

Many companies are setting their annual budgets in January, and determining what staffing levels they’ll need should be an integral part of that process. But owners should be looking at more than numbers — they need to think about whether they have the right people in the right jobs.


That’s where meeting with workers one by one is critical, looking at their performance over the past year and discussing the future with them. “Help them set goals individually and parlay them into corporate goals. How can they coincide with your corporate goals?” Wilson said.

Conversations with workers should be two-way, with an owner open to hearing what staffers have to say.

“Take a survey of employees about what they think of things,” said Rick Gibbs, a senior human resources specialist with Administaff, a company that provides human resources outsourcing.

While owners need to meet with employees individually — of course, if there are many employees, other managers will need to help out — it’s a good idea to hold staff meetings as well. And think about a schedule of meetings throughout the year; setting that now will make it less likely they’ll fall through the cracks later on.

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