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15 Basic HR & Payroll Functions for SMEs – Guest Blog by Carlene Campbell, Navigate HR

You want me to think about HR and payroll stuff?!!

As a small business owner myself I am well aware of the juggle, kid, fur babies, husband, friends, family, accounts, GST, Income tax, marketing, forecasting, product/service development, networking, social media and online stuff, meeting new clients and maintain existing relationships and actually doing client work.

No wonder small business owners put stuff in the too hard basket. And let’s be honest most of us cringe at the thought of paying someone else to do the stuff we aren’t any good at – which can be a sizable chunk of the stuff we need to do to run a successful, compliant business!!!!

That stuff we aren’t good at, don’t want to do or don’t have time to do like HR, payroll and accounts if not done right can have adverse effects on our businesses. But don’t worry – Google is the answer! As an HR business partner, I don’t entirely disagree. However, Google can’t talk you through the details, it can’t advise you that the template you just downloaded, albeit good, is not really fit for purpose for your brand. It can’t talk you through that difficult conversation your about to have and it certainly can’t challenge your thinking and push you to be an employer of choice. It won’t pay your staff or pay those accounts. Payroll stuff – why would you rely on Google for that anyway?! As a self-confessed non-payroll expert, I will always direct my clients to an actual person who is an expert.

At this point, I think we need to define “basics”.

For most this simply means I have a file with my staff’s stuff in, I follow an array of checklists I googled to ensure I’m compliant and I have “systems” in place to hire and pay people. Where in fact it means you:

  • Know about all the employment laws that affect your business.
  • Take care of your staff members’ training needs.
  • Benchmarked your compensation to make sure it’s competitive.
  • Are doing everything you can to keep your staff safe, to resolve conflicts effectively, to create a diverse and inclusive workplace and more.
  • Are compliant with the Holidays Act and all other legislation that effects staff remuneration.
  • Maintain records which are complete and compliant.

If you’re reading this and thinking s#@t I’m not doing half of this stuff, you’re not alone, most startups concentrate on starting and gaining momentum and as they grow will make do as the HR and payroll function hasn’t been a priority or in most cases an affordable function to outsource.

My top 15 basic HR & payroll functions

If there is one thing I am good at it is HR, and to help my fellow small business owners, here are some basic HR & payroll functions you should be aware of, and because this is a high-level overview, I’ll give a brief introduction to each topic.

1. Hire the right talent

You are only as good as the people you hire.

2. Take time to induct your new staff

How you welcome your staff says a lot about your culture and your ability to retain talent.

3. Offer competitive remunerations and benefits

The answer to this is compensation benchmarking.

4. Keep your employees safe

It should be clear that your employees’ safety is your most important responsibility. So it’s important that you:

  • assess the risks
  • put controls in place
  • ensure that everyone follows the safety rules
  •  you have safety rules!

5. Clear & accessible workplace policies

No matter your size you want to create an environment that supports creativity, innovation and great team spirit that ultimately supports the vision and brand of your business.

6. Measure Employee Achievements

It’s the great debate, however, there is a place for performance reviews, just be sure your system reflects your culture and resonates with your staff.

7. Communication

A slow a painful death of any company – get it right!

8. Learning & development

Attracting and retaining staff – you should not shy away from these opportunities.

9. Social engagement

Are you and your team having fun?

10. Comply with Employment law

Part of running your business and keeping yourself safe – from hire to exit and everything in-between.

11. Resolve conflict

Shutting your office door and not looking at anyone doesn’t mean the issue has gone away.

12. Be good at Payroll or outsource!

Your staff love to get paid on time. Running payroll effectively is not everyone’s cuppa tea so it is very advisable to outsource this to someone who is good at it!. There’s no surer way of losing an employee’s trust than being late with a paycheck.

13. Have efficient systems in place

Managing the paper war overwhelm is difficult when your staffs and business documentation is sensitive. Most business owners are time poor so this is another outsource area. Support a fellow SME and engage a Virtual Assistant and VHRA (virtual HR Assistant) today!! They will manage the overwhelm for you and ensure you are compliant.

14. Tax Compliance

If your eyes have glazed over or you get that shudder when you read “tax compliant” then outsourcing is your ticket to ensure the right amounts are deducted, appropriate forms are filled out

15. Stop Making Do

The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to contact a virtual assistant and talk to them about how they can reduce the overwhelm help organise and ensure compliance for your business admin, bookkeeping, payroll and HR functions.


There are so many solutions available today to assist business owners, your first step is to identify a few and make contact with them.

On that note, if your keen to discuss how a virtual HR business partner can help to reduce your overwhelm then call today for a no-obligation chat.




About the Author: Navigate HR was formed by Carlene Campbell, who after 16 years of providing HR support to various corporates, global businesses, DHBs, manufacturing and many other sectors decided it was time to offer that all important people & culture support to NZ owned businesses that was simple, human & affordable.