Many wedding businesses operate successfully for years without staff – and prefer to keep it that way. But you will always be limited by your own time so at some point, if you want to grow, you will need people working for you.
And for some, like bridal boutiques, venues and caterers, building a strong team will be essential from day 1.
Getting the right people doing the right job at the right time will be crucial to your success. Keeping those people motivated, engaged and satisfied at work even more so.
We asked HR specialist Sam Swinstead for her advice on taking on your first employee.
First spend time thinking about what you really want someone to do. What are the aspects of your current workload you’d like to stop doing? Where are your skills and time best used in the business? What tasks would you gladly delegate if you had the right person? What does that look like as a job for someone? What skills they will need and what kind of person will fit with your business values? Also take into account the seasonal pattern of the wedding industry. How will you keep that person busy during the quieter months?
Create a detailed job description and person specification and use these to direct you through recruiting the best person for the job. Time invested at this stage really pays off.
Follow a robust fair recruitment process to guide your decision making and under no circumstances ever recruit the best of a bad bunch – I guarantee you’ll regret it! Consider asking someone else to sit in on the interviews with you for a second opinion. You might plan a work task assessment or ask someone to complete a work trial with you to check you can work well together. Check previous employment details closely and always request work based references where possible.
Get clued up on employment legislation; ensure you comply and that you are following best practice; that way you’ll avoid issues before they become problems, and if a difficulty does arise you’ll have the tools in place to deal with it. If you don’t feel confident with this, perhaps contract an HR company to support you; this can be done at a minimal cost per month. At the very minimum have a contract of employment drawn up for your business; they are required by law in the UK and many other countries and will give both parties clarity on expectations and rights.
Manage your people effectively so they feel part of your business and that their contribution matters, ensure that they have the skills to do their job well, provide them with an environment they want to work in and make sure that you communicate effectively with them. Aim to nurture talent, encourage growth and provide learning opportunities and stimulating challenges that keep your staff ahead of the competition and their contribution to your business at an optimum.
Reward your staff as generously as you possibly can – don’t bankrupt the business with over-inflated wages but do offer pay and benefits that recognise the value your staff have to you, then look for other imaginative and non-financial ways to reward people that maintain their motivation and engagement with your business.
Trust your employees – despite what popular media might have us believe most people are not workshy, and the majority of people come to work wanting to do a great job – if you assume that to be the case and treat people accordingly, they will invariably perform well for you and your business.
Finally – enjoy it! You’ve worked hard to build the business and now you have someone to share the workload. Make sure that’s a positive experience for you as well as them!
Sam has over 15 years’ experience in HR and training, having worked in numerous industry types, the commercial and not for profit sectors, and in both small businesses and large multi-national corporates in that time. Sam is a partner at vivoHR LLP, based in Hampshire, UK and founded in 2011 to help small businesses get it right when it comes to recruiting, managing and retaining the very best staff. Sam regularly contributes as a thought leader to Champions of Small Business and works in association with several law firms to provide HR support to their clients. You can also follow Sam on Facebook