Human Resources basics and how to manage your team

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As your business grows, hiring and managing people becomes a bigger priority. It’s important to know what you’ll need to keep track of your employees, how to report their employment, and how to protect your company in the event of termination of employment.


  • Understanding of important employee documents
  • Why and how to create an employee handbook
  • The types of benefits you can offer
  • Using technology to manage your employees

Documentation for your employees

There are three employee files that are key to managing your employees. Make sure you are protecting these files to the best of your ability and keep them confidential. 

I-9 file

An I-9 form is a way to verify the identity and employment authorization of your new hires. Every company in the United States must fill out an I-9 for each employee. Visit the United States Citizen and Immigration Services website for more information. Keep your I-9 forms saved after completion as long as your employee is with your company and after they’ve left. There are guidelines for how long you should keep an employee’s I-9 on the USCIS website

Employee file

An employee’s file should contain information about the employee from when they were recruited all the way through the life of their employment. Include their resume, employment application, offer letters, employee contracts, payroll information, W-4, recognitions, disciplinary actions, evaluations, and termination documentation. 

Employee medical file

This is probably the most sensitive file you’ll keep on your employees. These files must remain separate and confidential from other files. These files can contain insurance applications, sick notes from doctors, and information related to any disabilities. 

How to keep documents safe

Keep all sensitive employee paperwork and files in a secure and locked location and limit who can access them. Remember that medical files must be kept separate according to the law. A great way to secure files is to keep a log of who accesses them each and every time.

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Making an employee handbook

Employee handbooks set clear expectations for your employees and protect your business. Use this checklist when putting together your employee handbook to make sure you include everything you think is important.

  • Introduction
  • Equal opportunity policy
  • Expectations for new hires
  • Harassment and discrimination policy
  • What information you will keep confidential
  • Technology policy
  • At-will employment policy, if applicable
  • Work hours expectations
  • Alcohol and drug policy
  • Company property policy
  • Timekeeping and payroll expectations
  • Schedule of payroll deductions
  • Code of conduct
  • Safety expectations
  • Disciplinary action
  • Benefits
  • Paid time off policy
  • Holidays
  • Bereavement leave policy
  • Jury duty policy
  • Military leave policy
  • Maternity leave policy
  • Insurance information
  • Workers compensation insurance information
  • Healthcare continuation policy
  • Retirement plan information
  • Expense reimbursement

Although this is a long list, making sure you communicate with your employees all of the expectations you have for them is key to a successful working relationship. If you’re unsure what your rights are as an employer when it comes to certain policies, check with your local and state government websites. They will likely have resources for business owners. 

Required Notices

There are many rules and regulations at the state and federal level for your business. Make sure your business posts all its required notices for employees by investing in state and federal notice posters. You can find these posters through online providers. 

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Effectively managing employees

Managing your employees may seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re closing deals or working on a project. Focusing on developing and communicating clearly with your employees can prevent headaches and misunderstandings. Here are some tips on ways to effectively manage your team. 

Set performance targets

Whether your employee has just joined or is a veteran, work with them to set performance targets for them. Annual or quarterly targets can create a sense of purpose and guidance. Work with them on setting goals to help them take ownership of their performance. Send them a worksheet that asks them to set three to four goals over a year or quarter (Example: Sell 10% more in revenue in Q2). Then, sit with the employee and go over what they’ve written. Offer your feedback, agree on the goals, and sign the form.

Your form should include their information and space for at least three or four goals. Each goal should have room for comments, a target date, and a space for checking in at the end of the performance period. 


Use performance target goals to evaluate your employees’ performance. Every quarter, twice a year, or annually, sit down with your employee and go over the goals they set and their performance according to those goals. This should be a time to give recognition for good work and advice on any goals that may have been missed. 

Clear disciplinary boundaries

The more your team grows the amount of personalities you’ll have to manage will increase. This means that you’ll have to create a system for addressing breaches of your employee handbook. Anywhere from ignoring safety protocols to harassing other employees could call for disciplinary action. Depending on your comfort level and what you want for your company, decide on a system that includes verbal warnings, written warning, coaching, and/or termination. The more detailed you can be, the better. Make sure you are documenting all disciplinary actions and conversations in your employee’s file. 

Schedule team events

Don’t forget that building friendships and understanding throughout your team goes beyond the work site. Scheduling get-togethers where your crews can unwind with each other and share a good time can go a long way in creating bonds that improve your employees’ work life. 

Choosing Benefits

Benefits can be the reason a great employee decides to join your company. If you’re in a position to offer benefits, these are some of the most common offerings to employees. Keep in mind that some of these are optional and others can be mandatory depending on your company’s size. Consult with experts before making any decisions.

  • Health insurance
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Wellness programs
  • Paid time off
  • Paid holidays
  • 401(k) plans
  • Employee discounts
  • Employee assistance programs

Make sure that you find a brokerage that can help your business make the right decisions for you and your employees. First, create a list of brokerage companies you’d like to work with. Then, reach out to those companies, and get more information about their services. Compare their answers and pick a couple of finalists. Setup meetings with your finalists to get more information. Finally, pick your company. A brokerage should be able to help you manage this crucial part of your company.

Using technology to your advantage

Mistakes can happen when using manual entry and file-keeping systems for your human resources needs. Here are a few ways that you can use technology to automate some processes and give you peace of mind. 

Securing employee files

Some software systems give you the power to secure your employees’ files electronically. This can help you save time and space tracking down paperwork when you need it. 


Tracking hours and payroll deductions can be made easier with the right software. 

Paid time off

Approve requests and check accrued paid time off. 

Documenting employee performance

Some HR software helps you create goals with your employees and track evaluations. 

Tracking benefits

Enroll your employees in employer benefits with HR software. Employees can look at their options and select their preferred plans on the web.

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When managing your employees, it’s helpful to ask yourself if you would work for you. Giving yourself a different perspective on what you offer and how you communicate can help you tweak your approach and how you manage your employees. There are occasions when another company may try to poach your most talented employees. The way you communicate and what you can offer beyond a wage can make the difference between them staying or leaving.

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