SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SMALL BUSINESS
HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Beverly L. Little, Lander College
This paper addresses problems and frustrations often felt by owner/mangers of small businesses in managing their
personnel. It offers specific advice, particularly in the realms of selection and motivation.
Small businesses have self-professed personnel problems. Study after study report small businesspeople's frustrations.
A Roper Organization poll found that the most difficult problem for small businesses was "finding competent workers
and then motivating them to perform." A national survey by Dun and Bradstreet and a study of rural entrepreneurs
in Texas reported similar findings -- the most frequently-cited problems of small business managers were personnel-
Small businesses find themselves in a conundrum. They are dependent on their employees for success, and the
importance of each employee is magnified in the small business, where each constitutes a larger percentage of the
workforce. But human resource planning is a very low priority in most small businesses and is viewed as
something that anyone can do. While recognizing personnel as a problem, the owner/manager is reluctant to get outside
professional help, choosing rather to perform the personnel-related duties himself.
Research has shown that, in fact, most small firms do not employ a full-time personnel-related employee.
Accordingly, the employers' actions become the personnel policies. This complicates the problem doubly, for the
owner/manager not only is not trained in personnel activities but also views any time spent on personnel duties as time
spent away from other business functions.
One study has shown that in small businesses the owner/manager performs the duties of: establishing wage and salary
levels, screening and interviewing applicants, counseling and disciplining employees, and evaluating employees. Even
among those small firms employing a full-time