HR Policies - The Last Thing On A Small Business Owner’s Mind

This is a guest blog post written by Ben, COO and Co-Founder of CharlieHR

HR policies - the last thing on a small business owner’s mind.

The entrepreneur’s journey is a well-known one nowadays. It starts with an idea never before conceived, a genuine insight borne out of a unique perspective. And it ends… well, there’s a long way to go before the journey ends in either success or failure.

In the middle, there is the struggle. A struggle to take the idea and make it into a reality. Hiring a team, building a product, and making sales. These are the core activities that dominate the brains of the leadership team. HR documentation and regulation compliance... not so much.

And fair enough, it’s not likely to be the thing that makes or breaks the business. But it is crucial - for the following 3 reasons.


Let’s get the most obvious benefit of having your HR policies in order out of the way first. If and when anything goes wrong with a member of your team, you want to make sure you’ve got the right policies in place to protect your business legally.

Without the proof that you had the right processes in place for your team, you can find yourself exposed to legal action. So while the chance of actually facing legal action from a member of your team is rare (relative to all the other things that might happen to your business) if it does happen, it could potentially be a knock-out blow.

Given the severity of the risk, this is one task that you can’t just leave for another day.


Some small business owners, especially startup founders, want to avoid becoming “corporate” at all costs. In itself, this is not an unadmirable goal. They’d prefer to run their business with a human touch and treat everyone as adults. Policies and documentation can be seen as the codifying of rules and authority to keep their team in line and that all feels very corporate and unfriendly.

But quite frankly, the ‘we’re adults, they’re adults’ approach can just cause stress and confusion amongst your team. What started out as an admirable goal of making your team feel comfortable at work ends up having the opposite effect.

If your team is having to guess how many days notice for a holiday request is appropriate, or whether leaving early to attend a medical appoint is acceptable, there’s a chance they’re getting a little anxious about how that is going to be perceived by the rest of the company. Having clear policies in place cancels out that feeling immediately.

So if you don’t want to be corporate - that’s fine. Instil that human touch into a set of policies that everyone can understand, and we’re onto a winner.


As you grow as a business, chances are that you will find yourself caught up in the talent war that seems to be sweeping the nation. Hiring and keeping great talent is now one of the hardest activities associated with growing a business. Not to mention the simple fact that working with talented people is one of the great pleasures of coming into work each day!

One of the simplest ways of attracting and retaining great people is to have your house in order. And one of the best ways to get your house in order is to sort out your HR policies. As part of the onboarding process, run your team through your annual leave policies, the employee handbook, etc. Show your team that you have taken the time to think about how you run your business and the processes you’ve put in place.

This will give them a chance to understand your thinking behind many of the policies and will see you care enough to attempt to run your business proactively and with passion. Get the documentation done early doors and enjoy these types of benefits later.

These are just a few of the reasons why CharlieHR have worked together with CIPD-accredited HR consultants to create a free tool to help business owners create legally robust HR policies.

On the Charlie website, you can find our new, free Leave Policy Generator. Use it to ensure your company has annual leave, compassionate leave, family leave, or emergency leave policies in place for your team.


About the author

Ben is a co-founder and COO of CharlieHR: a free, cloud-based HR toolbox used by thousands of small businesses worldwide. Having started and grown a number of successful companies since his teenage years - including BORN SOCIAL, one of the largest social media agencies for challenger brands in the world. An outspoken champion of positive workplace culture, frequent volunteer and engaging public speaker, Ben is a passionate advocate for all things “people”. Learn more at