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Crafting the Right Human Resources Policies for Your Organisation

Editorial Team
Last Updated: 22-05-2024 8:07 AM

For many organizations, human resources (HR) policies and procedures are either nonexistent or outdated. This lack of clear guidelines can lead to a number of problems, including inconsistent treatment of employees, low morale, and difficulty navigating legal issues.

This article explores the importance of well-developed HR policies and procedures, the difference between these policies and a staff handbook, and how to create and maintain an effective HR manual.

The Downside of Non-Existent or Outdated Policies

Some companies avoid creating written HR policies because they fear being locked into specific practices. However, the absence of documented procedures can have serious consequences.

  • Lack of consistency in employee treatment: Unwritten policies, often residing solely in the minds of management, can lead to unfair and unequal treatment of employees in similar situations.
  • Low staff morale: Employees who feel confused about company expectations or believe they are treated unfairly are more likely to be disengaged and unhappy.
  • Difficulty navigating legal issues: Unclear policies can make it difficult for employers to comply with labor laws and regulations.

Developing Effective HR Policies

Documented HR policies provide a clear roadmap for employers and employees alike. However, poorly written manuals can be more trouble than they're worth.

It's important to consider the following when developing HR policies:

  • The importance of documented policies: Clear and written policies ensure consistent treatment, improve employee morale, and help employers navigate legal issues.
  • Risks of poorly written manuals: A poorly written manual can be confusing and lead to more problems than it solves. In some cases, it may be better to have no manual at all.
  • Starting from scratch vs using external resources: While some companies may feel the need to develop HR policies entirely on their own, there's no shame in using resources from other organizations as a starting point. However, it's crucial to adapt these resources to fit your company's specific culture and needs.
  • Considerations for legal compliance: All HR policies and procedures must comply with relevant labor laws and collective bargaining agreements in your industry.

HR Policies vs Staff Handbook

While both HR policies and procedures manuals and staff handbooks provide important information to employees, they serve distinct purposes and have different target audiences.

  • Target audience and content: HR manuals are detailed documents intended for managers and supervisors. They outline company policies, procedures for implementing those policies, and relevant forms. Staff handbooks, on the other hand, are introductions to the organization for new employees. They provide a general overview of company policies, benefits, and expectations.
  • Purpose of a Staff Handbook: The primary function of a staff handbook is to familiarize new employees with the company culture, benefits, and expectations. It should be clear, concise, and easy for employees to understand.
  • Avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach: Combining HR policies and procedures with a staff handbook creates a document that's too detailed for employees and not detailed enough for managers. This can lead to confusion and a lack of understanding for both groups.

Creating a Professional HR Manual

A well-organized and professional HR manual is easier to navigate and understand.

  • Importance of standardized formatting: Using a consistent format throughout the manual ensures a professional look and makes it easier for users to find the information they need.
  • Establishing a Policy Committee: A committee composed of representatives from various departments can provide valuable insights and ensure the policies are relevant to the entire organization.
  • Committee composition and expertise: The committee should be small enough to be efficient but large enough to include expertise from all areas of the company. Ideally, committee members should have a good understanding of the company's direction and operations.
  • Avoiding an HR-centric approach: While HR professionals have expertise in policy development, it's important to remember that these policies apply to the entire organization. Involving representatives from various departments ensures the policies are practical and relevant.
  • Information gathering during policy development: The policy development committee should gather information from various sources within the organization to ensure the policies are comprehensive and meet the needs of all departments.

Maintaining HR Policies and Procedures

HR policies and procedures are not static documents.

  • Regular review and update process: Regularly review and update your HR policies and procedures to reflect changes in the law, company operations, and industry best practices.
  • Ensuring legal and employee relations viability: Regular reviews help ensure your policies remain legally compliant and continue to foster positive employee relations.

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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