hiring staffGuest article written by Charma Voller, Charma Voller Consulting

Your business has grown so much that you can no longer do it alone? Congratulations! Is the thought of hiring staff exciting yet a little overwhelming? With any unfamiliar new business process there is a lot of information to absorb. So let's unpeel this onion and give you some simple layers to dice and save the tears for another time. Let's start with some great tips to get you moving forwards:

  1. Do your research or seek advice even if you are employing one person – unfortunately ignorance is not an excuse for getting things wrong.
  2. Do your analysis as to what type of employee you need and what work they will do – you may find an outsourcing or contracting arrangement may work better. Alternatively you will decide at this point what type of employee your will need - casual, part-time or full-time.
  3. Have an employment agreement in writing – even if you are hiring a relative, this will save any future misunderstandings.
  4. Get a basic policy & procedure manual in writing – keep it simple not full of legal jargon and ensure it reflects the culture of your company.
  5. Make an agreement in wiriting –most employment relationships begin with the best intentions however things can go pear shaped when there is lack of clarity. At any point in time.

The key legislation you need to be aware of when it comes to hiring staff includes: 

The National Employment Standards (NES) – the basic terms and conditions you need to consider and provide. This is a national (Australia wide) employment standard so it doesn't matter what state you employ your staff – all conditions will be the same (phew, yes we all breathed a sigh of relief when this came in). The Fair Work Ombudsman provides NES fact sheets that summarise the terms and conditions. Fair Work should become your best buddy – any questions just give them a call they provide a great helpline, just make a cup of coffee and grab a snack before you call as you can wait a while. 

Modern Awards – Always check to see if the type if work your new team member will do is covered by a Modern Award. A Modern Award is a formal agreement that covers either an industry or a particular role. Most employers in Australia will pay at least the minimum Award conditions; you are welcome to pay more. Be careful to consider all entitlements such as allowances, overtime or irregular hours of work if you are paying award rates. Reading the Awards can be confusing, so again make your cuppa and give your friends at Fair Work a call.

Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Discrimination – don't overlook this simply because you are a small employer. Apply common sense but also be aware of many of the things you can't ask in interviews, even if you are meeting for a friendly coffee; such as "are you planning to have more children soon". It is advised to refrain from job advertisements that are unlawful, such as:

'Seeking fabulous Personal Assistant to join a small intimate team. It is preferred the successful candidate is male, around 25-35, good looking, prepared to work topless and enjoy giving good foot massages, along with basic administrative duties."

Just remember your job ad is not just a call to action for job seekers it is a representation of your brand, your culture and you (particularly in small business).

Occupational Health and Safety – like the employment terms and conditions the government produced a national standard for managing safety however not all states agreed to the standard so as an employer you need to play it safe! The most important thing to ensure is your Duty of Care to provide a workplace that is free from harm to your employees. You must also have a Safety Management System in place, for a small employer this may be as simple as having policies and procedures in place including a process for reporting and managing accidents/incidents in the workplace. It is important to note the workplace is not restricted to the office; this could be a client's premise or the car so ensure your policy is aligned to your type of work. Make sure you have WorkCover insurance in place as soon as your employee commences.

Hiring staff is an extremely empowering opportunity. You do have a number of protections as a small employer which helps you should you need to end an employment relationship at any time. Always keep in mind how you would like to be treated. Communication, honesty and integrity is extremely important as how you treat your staff can be seen as a reflection of how you do business in general.
The following resources should help you source more information on this topic:

National Employment Standards

Modern Awards List

Occupational Health and Safety


hiring staff



Charma Voller, Charma Voller Consulting

Charma Voller Consulting provides Human Resources advice for small to medium sized businesses with a specific focus on maximising employee performance, culture and leadership programs. We also provide career coaching services to individuals with a particular focus on women in leadership roles and parents returning to work after a career break and children.


"We are Hiring" image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net