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How to hire employees for the first time

If you've reached the point in your business where you can no longer operate by yourself, you'll need to take on some staff. This article will help you answer the question: how to hire employees for the first time.

You will learn

  • How to create the right role for your business
  • How to advertise for a new member of staff
  • What regulations you need to be aware of

Figuring out how to hire employees for the first time can be daunting. It feels like a huge step, sharing your business expertise and trusting in the new person to help you take your business forward. Managed correctly it should be a positive business decision enabling you to grow your business in a number of ways.

Following some straightforward procedures should get you on the right track with your first recruitment:

Take a step back – who do you need?

Write down the details of the job you require them to do. This outline is often called a job description and should include as many of the tasks/accountabilities of the role as possible.

Try to set out a clear job description

It is also useful at this stage to think about what kind of person you are looking for in terms of their skillset, personality, qualifications and experience. Be careful not to discriminate though in relation to gender, age, disability or race. Consider, do you need them to be vivacious and outgoing, perhaps, to work in a sales role? Or good with numbers and attention to detail for an office role, for example?

two bar owners looking online about how to hire employees for their business
Where are you going to find them?

There are many ways to find the right member of staff your your business, including: word of mouth, social media, recruitment agency, internet job search, advertising and apprenticeships. Give some thought as to the best place to find your new recruit as some solutions can be expensive and also think about how you are going to screen and select them. Asking for a CV is a good starting point as it will provide information on a number of levels. Perhaps talk to the interesting candidates on the phone, and then invite a small number to an interview.

What documentation do you need?

An employee needs to be provided with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment, or contract, within 2 months of starting work with you. This must clarify certain aspects of the working relationship such as pay, hours and start date, for example. This is a really useful document to formalise the relationship in terms of what has been agreed and also how you like to work as a business. This is your opportunity to make sure that you have stipulated exactly what you expect from your employee and what he or she can expect from you. As such it should conform to certain legal standards and as such it is worth having an HR specialist check it for you, or assist you in writing it.

Make sure your documentation is in place

You need various to collect various personal details from your new employee such as bank account details, emergency contact details and documents to prove they have a legal right to work in the UK.

I always recommend taking up employment references, as a previous employer may offer useful insights – good or bad - into your prospective candidate.

What else to think about?

Having the correct employers’ liability insurance is key. As a small business you will naturally do your best to limit the possibility of injury or illness to your employees resulting from their work, but if they do have an accident or become ill, your business could be sued for compensation under your employers’ liability insurance. As a result, businesses in the UK that employ staff are legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance to provide cover against a claim from an employee. 

You will need to set your new employee up on the payroll. Your HR company may be able to help you with this, or your accountant. It is essential that the pay you agree is in line with the national minimum wage which changes usually every year and is based on the age of your employee. Find out what you should be paying your staff here.

young business woman learning about how to hire employees for her business
First impressions

Studies show that the first couple of weeks of employment are key for your new member of staff. Familiarise them with their surroundings and make them feel welcome. Think about what training they need, either in-house or externally, and also ensure that they have all the equipment to carry out their role. You should set up an employee induction to help them settle into your workplace, and you can check out our tips for inductions here.

Make sure they are equipped to do the role

I always encourage clients to sit down with their new member of staff at the beginning to ensure they are clear about their role, expectations, targets and objectives. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to spend with them and not leave them floundering without guidance from you. This may feel frustrating when you have your own workload to consider, but investing the time is important.

How are they getting on?

Arranging a get together in the first couple of weeks/months for a formal or informal appraisal is a really good idea to ensure the working relationship is working out for both parties. Communication in the relationship is key both in the early stages and ongoing. Any little niggles can be ironed out in the early stages if you foster an ‘open door’ policy. Take at look at our advice for having great 1-1 meetings with your staff here.

Looking ahead

Attaining and retaining staff is key to the success and growth of any business, so be sure to treat the employment process with due diligence, obtaining professional guidance along the way to ensure you are protected from any potential disputes in the future. Consider employing older workers in your business, as they bring with them lots of experience and connections that you can benefit from, as well as typically being very loyal to the business and check out our tips for making your workplace so good your employees want to stay.


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Written by:

Sarah Seastron

HR expert

Email Address:

Telephone: 01729 851345