At a social gathering, I asked my two accountant friends Larry and Graham, why they don’t use a Human Resource expert in their respective businesses. To which Larry the CFO immediately quipped, “… because I have Google.”
Larry then regaled yet another anecdote regarding current HR problems. Suffice to say the incident involved a recently hired manager uploading his workplace ‘selfies’ onto the company computer as his screen saver. Unfortunately, the employee was wearing nothing but the company logo t-shirt in the photos!
Whilst this little story made amusing dinner party conversation, it became clear that Larry was spending an inordinate amount of his time dealing with the consequences of inadequately equipped HR practices.
In fact, Larry is heavily involved in hiring, firing and addressing employee related issues on a regular basis in addition to his busy CFO responsibilities. He also works long hours, travels extensively and is a committed, dedicated and an invaluable contributor to the success of the company. Surfing the internet for employer advice is a serious distraction from his real job, as well as impinging upon his family life.
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Graham, my other CPA friend at the dinner party, gave a contrasting answer to my question. “Most of my clients could really do with HR expert advice. They are frequently troubled with how to deal with employee related situations but don’t know how. So I refer them to lawyers”
Hearing both Larry and Graham’s approaches, as trusted accountants, support their clients confirmed what I had already been told by others. It’s clear that my experience with larger corporations is not necessarily reflected by what smaller companies do in practice.
Whilst larger corporations typically recognise the necessity and criticality of engaging appropriate expertise to look after the company’s often most valuable investment, being its employees, smaller businesses generally do not.
Most start-up businesses readily source an accountant and bookkeeper to look after financial matters either prior to or within the first few months of achieving an ABN.
However, it is quite unusual for a company to have engaged an expert HR advisor on retainer or as staff until employee numbers have grown beyond 50 or 100 people. This perhaps suggests that there are many smaller businesses with salary commitments of, say, $2m annually that are not efficiently or adequately managing their most expensive, complex and critical investment!
Further, as all successful leaders know, and as a colleague prompted me to emphasise here, that “a business’ most valuable commodity is not its bricks and mortar or product but its people. If you don’t attract and retain the best people your business will suffer greatly”.
We will train your managers in how to handle employee issues. Know what your rights are as an employer. Reduce the risk of breaking a law.