The Importance of an HR Policies & Practices
Just like societies need laws to create order and common understandings, organisations need policies. Often, when businesses start small, they leave things loose and create rules as they go. However, there comes a point when an organisation needs to coordinate among its members and provide itself with legal protection.
Many an organisation has asked us at Osprey hrc “why,” do I need a policies and practices strategy for my business?” The simple answer is because you have people working for you. With human nature being what it is, employees will test limits and act “creatively” in workplace situations, so you need a strategy for developing, communicating and enforcing a set of policies and practices that comply with legislation and reflect your standards of acceptable behavior.
When you get to the heart of the matter, performance improvement and growth of the business is really about the process of setting expectations and meeting them. The focus in business is not just about meeting specific goals, but also about how you achieve them. And the “how” affects the liabilities you create in the process.
Therefore, building a great company has a lot to do with how people work together, have clear expectations and treated fairly as they help to build your company. The answer is found in the way policies and practices can improve the way your employees interact, while minimising the personnel obstacles that often arise in today’s workplaces and protect the business from expensive litigation. So, to expand on the foregoing:
Why policies are important?
Policies serve several important functions:
- Communicate values and expectations for how things are done at your organisation
- Keep the organisation in compliance with legislation and provide protection against employment claims
- Document and implement best practices appropriate to the organisation
- Support consistent treatment of staff, fairness and transparency
- Help management to make decisions that are consistent, uniform and predictable
- To support business strategy and,
- For smaller organisations, a desire to develop a more formal and consistent approach that will meet their needs as they grow.
HR policies provide written guidance for employees and managers on how to handle a range of employment issues. They play an important role in practically and effectively implementing an organisation’s HR strategy. They also provide consistency and transparency for employees and managers, helping to enhance the psychological contract and create a positive organisational culture.
Defining policy and procedure
A policy is a formal statement of a principle or rule that members of an organisation must follow. Each policy addresses an issue important to the organisation’s mission or operations.
A procedure tells members of the organisation how to carry out or implement a policy. Policy is the “what” and the procedure is the “how to”.
Policies are written as statements or rules. Procedures are written as instructions, in logical steps.
Which policy should be introduced?
It’s difficult to identify a comprehensive list of HR policies that employers should introduce since, as noted above, other than those policies needed to comply with legislation, HR policy needs often vary widely between organisations.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to designing effective HR policies; their content should be based on the unique needs and characteristics of the organisation and its workforce. Rather than following a ‘best practice’ approach which may be unsuitable for the diverse range of organisational contexts, a focus on why there’s a need for a particular policy, and how it’s aligned with the business strategy and business plans, allows an appropriate policy to be implemented for the particular context.
However, certain HR policies and procedures are specifically needed to comply with legal requirements. For example, a written health and safety policy is required for any organisation with five or more employees or workers, while there are also important legislative provisions surrounding the setting out of formal disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Even where a policy or procedure isn’t specifically required by law, employers often find it helpful to have a policy in place to provide clear guidance that reflects the legal framework for handling the issue in question and it also helps employees to be clear about the organisation’s stance on a particular subject.
You want to be sure that any policies you bring into the organisation address a real need and are in line with what your company values and how work should be accomplished. You also need to ensure managers have the skills and resources to be able to implement and monitor the policy.
Whatever your approach, the key to success is to devote the time and resources it takes to develop a policies and practices strategy for your business before the need arises. It’s an investment that can pay large dividends in increased productivity and minimised litigation. And it’s an essential component of your comprehensive people strategy. Many organisations do not have their own HR Department or the one they have is not in a position to develop the people strategy and policies.
If you think I need HR policies in my business… so now what?
Whether you are a small business employing only a handful of staff, or a larger company, HR issues will inevitable arise, and require your time and energy away from other business activities to address.
Osprey hrc can support and assist you with developing and implementing HR policies and strategies in your business, regardless of your business size. For further information please contact Paul Middlemast on 07831 427234 or email .