No matter how much cash there is in the bank or how large its stock is, a firm's most valuable asset is its employees. Taking care of your staff can make the difference between an ordinary business and a truly successful one.

    > Evaluate your training needs

    Training its staff in new skills not only can make a firm more efficient, it can also have the equally beneficial, morale-boosting effect of creating workers who are motivated and clear-eyed about their role.

    > Set up a training programme

    Skills are precious commodities in a world where knowledge - knowing how to exploit technology, knowing how to adapt to change - is increasingly the difference between achievement and underperformance.

    > Setting pay

    Every employer knows just how important wages are to recruiting and keeping good employees. So how best to go about setting rates of pay?

    > Workplace pensions

    Auto-enrolment makes it easier for people to save money for their retirement. It means that every employer must automatically enrol eligible staff into a qualifying pension scheme.

    > Maternity and paternity leave

    Any female employee who becomes pregnant can take 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave.

    > Holidays

    Holidays form an important part of the working year: important for employees because they give them the chance to recharge batteries

    > Part-time employees

    Many smaller businesses choose to employ staff on a part-time basis. This often has the advantage of controlling costs when there is no need for a full-time worker and of adding flexibility to the running of the business.

    > Employee contracts

    A contract of employment comes into effect the moment that a person agrees to work for an employer. In accepting the offer of a job and by starting work in return for pay, the employee is also agreeing to the terms and conditions attached to that job.

    > Managing a contractor

    A number of businesses use contractors and subcontractors to carry out short-term work or to supply specialist skills on specific projects.