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  • Writer's pictureChris Tate


I'm often accused of not understanding HR, and continually calling them the "Fun Police" doesn't go down well either, so I asked my friend Georgina Bradshaw of Blue Ram HR to tell us more about it and why your MSP should be taking it seriously...

Likelihood is that when you decided to start an MSP you did so because you are good at IT, not HR.

Often when I speak to a client for the first time they will share their perception of ‘HR’. The words boring, complicated, scary have come up a few times but most of the time they tell me that ‘HR’ is something they know they are responsible for and want to get right but they have no idea where to start, or sometimes what it involves!

So here are my Top Ten HR Tips for Business Owners.

1 – Get it right from the start – Understand Employment Law

Now I’m not asking you to spend hours with your head in a textbook or to be able to

quote clauses from the Employment Rights Act, but if you employ people then you have legal obligations and it is important that you understand what they are.

Employment Law runs through every part and point of the employment relationship, get things wrong and not only can it be costly to your bottom line but also for your reputation.

A solid foundation in the basics is something that benefits you as a business owner, making it easier for you to navigate being an employer and feel comfortable that you are doing things in the right way from the start.

2 – Develop a Company Handbook

Newsflash! There isn’t actually a requirement for HR Policies and Procedures to be boring!

On so many occasions I have spoken with businesses who have proudly told me that they have a handbook in place, however when I ask what it contains quite often what exists is an impersonal, long winded template and they have no clue what it contains or says.

Handbooks set out how the company operates and sets expectations. They should be a handy and easy to read guide that contains your company policies and fits with your company’s size and culture. Having an unworkable and unreadable handbook is of little use to anyone and if it is merely a tick box exercise then it may actually end up causing you issues in the long run if you ever have to follow the policies that it contains.

A well written handbook should be more than just trying to include the bare legal minimum. It should be seen as a useful go to tool to communicate ways of working, reflects your business ethos, and how you interact as a team while providing protection for your business.

3 – Understand how your employees really feel

Having happy and engaged employees that enjoy working for you not only makes the workplace a better place to be for everybody, but it is also is proven to boost your bottom line.

Create a culture that welcomes constructive and open feedback and where employees feel able to be honest when telling you what you do well as an employer and what could improve.

Some ways to help you do this could be;

  • Conduct an engagement survey - Engagement surveys are incredibly valuable and give great actionable data if done properly. There is a vast range of platforms and tools out there that suit all needs and budgets but make sure to get some advice first to ensure that you are structuring your survey in a way that is right for your business.

  • Take the pulse of your employees – Conducting short, to the point, pulse checks to take the temperature of your organisation. This can be aimed at getting feedback on a particular topic or could be a simple regular check in that gives you a snapshot of how your employees feel at that point in time so that you are able to quickly identify any peaks or dips in engagement.

  • Q&A sessions- Whether it be in a 1:1, during a Monday morning stand up or a company meeting, ask for feedback from your team members. Ask for ideas, insights, and feedback so you can deliver what is important to your employees.

However you gain insights into your team’s engagement make sure that you acknowledge and take action on the areas that are highlighted. Nothing is worse for engagement than asking your employees to take the time to tell you how they feel for you to then to do nothing as a result.

4 – Don’t underestimate the importance of a good recruitment process

  • Firstly, really understand what position it is that you need to hire and what skills and attributes a candidate needs to be successful. Put together a job description each time you recruit, make sure it is up to date and that it reflects the reality of the position.

  • Putting together a few bullet points to give a generic overview of the role and posting it on a free job board will not get you the response, or calibre of candidates that you want. We are in a very competitive sector where candidates can afford to be picky. Grab attention, be authentic, paint a picture to the candidate of what working for you would be like, what they will be involved in and what opportunities will be available to them.

  • Where does your ideal candidate hang out? research the right job advertising platforms, forums, and groups where you are able to reach people with the skill sets you are trying to find and think outside the box.

  • Build your employer brand. Even if you are not actively recruiting you should be giving passive candidates an insight into what you're like as an employer and the culture of your business. Use your website and social media as a window into your team and showcase what makes you a good employer. Check your Glassdoor and Indeed ratings. Candidates have the ability to do their research and what they read will affect whether or not they press the apply button.

  • Partner with local schools, colleges, and universities to support students with developing their skills for future employment and highlight career routes that could be available to them. As well as helping to develop future talent that may benefit your business this is also a great way to give back.

- A quick chat on the phone or over zoom is very unlikely to give you the best opportunity to assess a candidate and increases the risk of making a bad hire. Understand what you need to assess and structure your interview process and questions as well as any hands-on assessments to best help you to do so.

  • Make sure that even unsuccessful candidates still have a good experience. Ensure communication to all applications and provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates. If someone has a great experience applying for a role within your business, they will spread the good news to others, but if someone has a bad experience, they will also tell people which can damage your reputation as a potential employer in the market.

5 – Invest in Onboarding New Hires

Hooray you found someone that you want to join your team! Now what?

  • Keep the contact going even before they join

From when your new hire signs their contract until their first day doesn’t need to be a period of radio silence. Stay in contact with your new hire before their first day on an informal basis. Remember your new hire has been actively looking for work and will likely still be receiving alerts and calls about other opportunities, keep them engaged and confident that joining you is the right decision for them.

  • Make sure they have what they need.

Too often I hear stories of new starters having been set up without the access they need, not having a desk ready for them, left for hours on end twiddling their thumbs or even not having a laptop ready for their first day. It makes you look unprofessional and it makes them feel like a second thought, so get organised!

  • Put together an onboarding plan

Spend time mapping out what your new hire needs to know from who and by when. Keep the plan flexible but make sure you have something to follow to keep your training on track to help your new hire get up to speed as quickly as possible. Make sure your onboarding brings things to life, break it into chunks and keep things varied.

  • Set goals

Set objectives for your new hire to achieve during their first 90 days. This will help to give them a sense of achievement as well as helping you to assess their progress. Give regular feedback and Identify knowledge gaps and further training they need.

  • Ask your New Hire for their feedback

Check in with your new hire to ask how they are finding their onboarding process and what you could do different to improve the experience for your next joiner

6 – Embrace Flexible working

The standard office based 9 to 5 as we know it has gone. Yes, after Covid-19 people will go back into offices and the commuter rush will start again, however employees have different needs and expectations now when it comes to how and when they work.

Working from home is one form of flexible working but there are many others the

employers need to understand and embrace if they don’t want to be left behind.

During the next 12 months there is expected to be a surge in flexible working requests. Anyone with 26 weeks continuous service has a legal right to put in a request and you should have a flexible working policy in place. Make sure that any requests either informal or formal are dealt with fairly and with an open mind and look at the possibilities that different forms of flexibility could bring to your business, rather than why it might not work.

7 - Take your employees on the journey with you.

Update your employees regularly on what is going on in the business. Help your team members to understand your vision and goals, how you intend to meet them and your progress towards them. Celebrate successes but also be transparent about the challenges you face.

Encourage your team members to be inquisitive and ask questions to understand the bigger picture and to put forward their ideas across teams

Make sure you set individual performance goals that align to company and team goals and hold each other accountable. You will not create a winning culture by having a transactional relationship with your employees, help them to understand what they are part of and how thye contribute to success.

8 - Don’t shy away from performance conversations

Addressing a performance issue is uncomfortable and it is so easy to bury your head

and pray that the problem goes away or fixes itself. However, if you do not address the issue with your employee the problem is likely to happen again or get worse, you then get more and more frustrated and all of a sudden there is a major problem.

Working backwards from this point is painful for everyone involved and the likelihood of rectifying the issue quickly and in a way that doesn’t do any damage to the employment relationship decreases drastically.

If someone’s performance isn’t meeting expectations, then have an open conversation early on. Align expectations, understand any issues and identify ways to help get things back to where they need to be.

Managing performance is one of the trickiest parts of management. Always get some HR advice if you are unsure on how to move forward with any issues.

9 - Make sure employee wellbeing is a top priority.

Employee wellbeing is no longer seen as a nice to have, it is a must have

A successful wellbeing strategy doesn’t have to break the bank, but it should be thought through and meaningful.

A good wellbeing strategy is more than the odd yoga class, wellbeing is holistic and encompasses someone’s physical, emotional, social and mental state. Understand what is relevant to your employees and take the time to adapt your policies, ways of working and introduce initiatives that will support them and your business.

10 – Make time for fun!

It’s very easy to get bogged down in all the things we need to do but having fun doing what you do, with the people you spend your time with at work is vital.

It could be volunteering, a team dinner, a team challenge or drinks in the local, but as a business owner, take the lead in allowing time for your team to come together to forget about the to do list and to just have fun!

Georgina Bradshaw is Owner and Principal Consultant at Blue Ram HR Solutions.

Blue Ram HR provides the MSP community with outsourced and project-based HR support and initiatives that are forward-thinking, personalised and relevant to your business and goals, helping you to get the best from your people. You can contact Georgina via or checking out


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