HR 101: Hiring Your First Employee

Ange Connor

Hiring your first employee is exciting……. And it can be a little daunting. It’s the next phase in your business journey, the business is growing and evolving. Hiring your first employee doesn’t just mean finding that superstar to join your business. With hiring your first employee comes a whole lot of new responsibilities and legislative requirements. This shouldn’t deter you from moving forward and hiring your first employee. You simply need to consider what you need to put in place to set your new employee up for success, as well as protecting you, the business and your employee; should any issues arise down the track.

Just like you would engage an Accountant to help you with your finances and tax obligations, and you’d engage a lawyer to help you get your terms of business and legal matters sorted, it may be worthwhile seeking out some Human Resource support and advice to make sure you have all the boxes ticked when employing people. All too often I have seen businesses ‘wing’ their HR. They either don’t put anything at all in place or they google what they think they need and download a document, manipulate it and implement it; not realising that it is missing a whole lot of critical information. As a business owner, you don’t know what you don’t know. Investing in getting your HR foundation and frameworks right from the start will make life so much easier as your business continues to grow and as you employee more team members.

Here are the top 3 things we would strongly encourage you to put in place from a HR perspective when hiring your first employee.

Position Description

I’ve listed this document first because you’ll need it to assess potential candidates against as you go through the hiring process. The position description details the requirements of the job; the purpose of the role, the key tasks and responsibilities to be performed, level of authority, qualifications, skills and experience required to perform the role (the key selection criteria). This document is a must have and will help you assess potential candidates against the same criteria (so you don’t end up simply recruiting the person you like the most or who barracks for the same footy team). It’s also an essential document once the employee is hired. It’s what you will use to measure and assess their performance against. It’s how you assess if they are below, meeting or exceeding expectations in the role. The Position Description becomes the tool that guides the employee on what tasks and responsibilities they have and are required to perform. It also helps determine the level of the role when we assess the pay rate under the appropriate award or are trying to benchmark the salary to offer.

Employment Contract

You’ve found your new employee now it’s time to use the employment contract to formally set out the terms and conditions of employment. This document is not a one size fits all and will need to be tailored to each employee you hire, but once you have the template and your key terms and conditions it becomes much easier to tweak and tailor for future employees. This document is what details all the legal terms and conditions of employment. It will be critical should an issue arise in the future and even if an issue doesn’t arise, it’s still a critical document, so there’s no room for you and your new employee getting your wires crossed. It details things like the pay rate, hours of work, who they report to and the position title. It also details some of the intricacies, like when is overtime applicable, notice period if the employment was to be terminated or they were to resign, the probationary period, confidentiality, restraint of trade; whatever is relevant and specific to your workplace.

HR Policies and Procedures

When it comes to policies and procedures, there are the essentials and what I call the nice to have policies and procedures. Some businesses start out small and just implement the essentials, adding more over time, while other businesses implement them all right from the start. These are policies such as Workplace Health and Safety, Equal Opportunity, Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment, Disciplinary Management, Grievances etc. The nice to have policies are the ones that are relevant to your business. For example, a motor vehicle policy might be critical to one business, but not another. These policies and procedures detail how you do things at your business. You don’t have to have every policy and procedure under the sun; there is no need to over complicate things, but there are certain policies and procedures you will want to have in place to protect the business and your employee/s.

My advice to business owners is to put these documents in place right from the start. When we employ someone it always starts out positive. You’re excited to have a new team member joining your business, they are excited to be taking on a new role; it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything is great and you don’t need these documents, even if your new employee is a friend or family member. Having everything documented and in place also makes it easier to have the difficult conversations down the track because you have the documents in place to support the conversation so it doesn’t become a she said, he said issue.

Putting these documents in place shouldn’t be a burden. These documents, when used well, are the tools to help set your employees up for success and to protect all parties.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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