Human resource work sometimes goes unheralded—often, people don’t realize the hard work you do, but if something goes wrong, you can be held liable for serious problems. Here are some things to watch out for to help you handle the numerous responsibilities in human resources.

Leave the Door Open

Some human resource managers rely on their employees to report issues to them. While it is important to help your employees feel empowered to communicate workplace issues, it is far from a cure-all. Also, if a problem is not communicated early on, it can become too late to resolve the problem effectively. It is essential to take the initiative to ask the tough questions directly and early to employees. You need to find the problems before they find you.

Know the Laws

There are so many laws that relate to employee relations that it is impossible to stay on top of them all, but you should do your best to know the most significant ones. Stay on top of the Fair Labor Standards, HIPAA, and other laws that protect the privacy and well being of employees. If you’re not sure how to interpret or implement policies that relate to those laws, consult with an attorney.

Leave a Trail

Document (and backup) everything that is relevant to your employees. It is as important as ever that you have documentation to support your statements whether you’re dealing with complaints or lawsuits. Important files to document include those that pertain to legal issues, disciplinary issues, performance reviews, and other critical records.

Reward Your Employees

This might sound trite, but let your employees know you care about them and that you are invested in their success. Be transparent and candid with your feedback on an individual basis, but reward high performance openly and often. If employees only hear negative feedback about themselves, they’re more likely to view the company through a negative lens. Because it is so important to retain talent for small companies, you need to continually give your employees a reason to stay.