From health care reform to policies and training, use this checklist to manage your team.

As the economy improves moderately, small businesses are seeking for ways to reduce costs while supporting their most valuable assets – employees. By understanding the human resources trends and issues that will impact their business, entrepreneurs can continue to achieve more with less by heightening employee productivity while maintaining operational efficiency.

Below are three HR-related issues small companies should take into consideration during their strategic planning process:

  1. Prepare For Healthcare Reform : While the Healthcare Reform Act is still being discussed and debated, small business owners should take a prudent approach by ensuring they’re aware of the proposed changes and being prepared to act accordingly.
  2. Develop Social Media Policies  : Employees spend more than one hour on social media sites daily, the study also showed that time spent on social media sites is more for personal reasons than for job-related activities, with less than 7 percent of respondents indicating they use social media exclusively for work purposes.A number of problematic workplace issues can arise when your employees engage in social media activities at work without a formal company policy in place. They might divulge trade secrets, violate confidentiality and their productivity could decline, to name just a few.This reinforces the need for small-business owners to take control by creating a social media policy. Consider the following when developing your company’s rules about proper social media use by employees:
  • Assign a dedicated team to create and manage your social policies.
  • Research other companies’ social media policies to identify the best practices that will work best for your organization. For example, IBM’s social media policy book can serve as an effective reference point. IBM provides the following perspective about its employees use of social media: “If your use of social media helps you, your coworkers, your clients or your partners to do their jobs and solve problems; if it helps to improve knowledge or skills; if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of your company’s products, processes and policies; if it builds a sense of community; or if it helps to promote your company’s values, then it is adding value.”
  • Once you’ve developed your company’s policy, follow the “Three Cs” to inform your staff — communicate clearly, comprehensively and continuously.
  1. Provide Leadership Training to Top Performers : For a small company to succeed, employees must have faith in leadership and feel they belong to an organization that recognizes outstanding performances. Investing in leadership training for top performers will not only help you retain your best and brightest, but others in the organization will be motivated by the understanding that management rewards those who excel on the job.Leadership training doesn’t need to be intensive or lengthy. Practical programs can quickly give managers the skills they need to lead successfully. For example, the “Situational Leadership” framework, in which a small group of employees identified as potential leaders meets regularly to discuss “what would you do if” scenarios. Hiring a consultant to facilitate the sessions and offer specific leadership-driven remedies is an effective means for ensuring the group stays focused and on track.

By preparing to manage forthcoming healthcare reform changes, developing and enforcing a corporate social media policy and instituting leadership training for high-performing employees, small businesses can improve operational efficiency and productivity while positioning themselves for growth beyond.