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What is HR?

Human Resource management, commonly known as HR, is one of the important areas to consider in running an organisation. Important because HR involves all aspects of managing people (the human resource) that work in the organisation.

HR encompasses the values of the organisation that you want to instil in those that work for you, as well as the culture of the organisation, i.e. “how we do things around here”. HR also includes all the practical aspects of working with employees which ranges from how people are encouraged to apply for a job, how they are recruited, appointed and inducted into the organisation, the determination of appropriate salary and benefits, how the employee’s productivity/performance in their role is managed, how employees are grouped in the organisation to make everything work efficiently and effectively, the actions put in place to retain and motivate employees and how to handle effectively movement of employees out of the organisation, for whatever reasons.


Why is it important for a social-entrepreneur?

Human Resources is all about people issues so it is evident that this is of prime importance to any social entrepreneur who is starting to grow their business and thinking about bringing in others to help to deliver the outputs of the social enterprise. It is like many things in life, if you invest time in getting your human resources strategy, policies, procedures and processes right from the beginning, then you will be building your social enterprise on firm and stable foundations.

As a social entrepreneur your business will likely have some values around social and/or environmental outcomes which will be important for your employees to understand and reflect in the way in which they go about their work. Good recruitment practices will ensure that you have in place employees who are able to help you maximise your business and impact. Tailored HR policies and procedures which reflect your values will ensure that you motivate and retain high performing employees.


What is the first steps someone starting their own social enterprise needs to consider?

It may be a daunting prospect to employ your first person as a small social enterprise. However, the trick is to have a clear understanding of your responsibilities as an employer and to know where to go for good advice.

Some of the issues you will need to have a firm grasp of and have some understanding of the related legislation are:

  • Defining the role required – is it an employee or something else, e.g. self-employed support or casual worker?
  • Compiling a clear job description
  • Understanding how to conduct a job interview to obtain quality, objective information from candidates to make a good recruitment decision
  • The salary to be paid and how you will pay that salary
  • The employee will require a contract of employment within two months of starting work with you which outlines the terms and conditions of employment and complies with employment legislation
  • Understanding your responsibility as an employer for pension provision
  • Being clear about the essential HR policies to have in place as you start to employ people, e.g. how to manage fairly and consistently absence of an employee, issues with poor performance or misconduct or how to deal with employee concerns on a formal basis.
  • Equality issues – understanding which characteristics are protected by legislation, e.g. gender, disability, sexual orientation etc. and developing your people policies to reflect this.


Good starting points for free employment advice are the following:

Government website:



The Pensions Regulator:

Community voluntary services organisations in your area

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