For a business of any size, clearly identifiable values and strong core principles are essential for success. From company rules and expectations to brand ethos and mission statement, tangible guidelines ensure that everyone is on the same page.
It goes without saying that your company values and principles should prioritise the wellbeing, comfort and safety of employees. What’s more, these guidelines should be officially documented and communicated amongst your workforce. This is where having proper policies and procedures come in.
Internal policies and procedures are designed to clarify the expected behaviour of individuals as well as the ways in which they should deal with certain situations. That said, how can you be sure that the correct policies are in place and, more importantly, how are policies created?
HR Policy and Procedures: An Overview
Policies and procedures affect nearly all areas of a business. From employee behaviour and dress codes to holiday, sickness and resignation, every event or issue should be accompanied by a relevant guideline. Once in place, a policy outlines a company’s planned response to specific issues. For example, an individual found to be misusing company computers may face disciplinary action and/or termination of employment, as stated in company policy.
With the above in mind, procedures are means of actioning a policy. They outline the steps that should be taken by employees in certain situations and the point at which further action may be required. Typically, a procedure is linked to a low-level process, such as requesting holiday or logging an absence.
Poorly constructed HR policies are not only ineffective, they can be actively detrimental to your business, clients and customers. Of course, no two businesses are the same and the policies deemed appropriate will depend on the nature of your company. In order to identify those policies relevant to you, it is worth considering the goals and values at the heart of your organisation. With a better understanding of your business’ expectations and principles, you will be able to create a roadmap of sorts, outlining the ways in which you operate and the policies by which you adhere.
The policies required by a company will often vary depending on the nature of their work and the size of their organisation. That said, UK law deems certain policies essential for the wellbeing and safety of employees. These are:
- Health and Safety Policy – This only needs to be written down when you have 5 or more employees
- Disciplinary Policy
- Grievance Policy
Failing to implement the above-mentioned policies may expose a business to high-risk legal issues. Properly documented policies and procedures will ensure that your operations are not only legally compliant, but clearly understood by all employees. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that although these policies are mandatory, they are by no means exhaustive.
To foster a comfortable, safe and legally compliant working environment, businesses should establish further policies and procedures, tailored to their needs. Below, we’ll discuss the process of identifying and writing appropriate policies and procedures.
What Makes An Effective Policy?
To maintain relevance and effectiveness, a policy or procedure should be realistic, meaningful and clearly communicated to all employees. When it comes to workplace policy, transparency is key; using simple language is far more effective than an abundance of legal jargon. Well-defined procedures and identifiable instructions will prevent confusion and keep everyone on the same page.
Above all, a policy or procedure should be actionable and applicable to all, no matter their position within the company.
How Are Policies Created?
Establishing effective, watertight policies and procedures is no small task; it requires a thorough understanding of workplace law as well as company operations. An expertly written policy will exhibit the above characteristics while also incorporating company-specific requirements.
The process often begins by identifying the need for a certain policy. For example, a company may recognise the need for a policy on the use of social media and the internet. It is important to understand that a poorly crafted policy or procedure can do more harm than good; this process should be entrusted to an expert. An HR professional will gather the required information, delegate responsibility and clearly articulate the policy.
To better understand the policies relevant to your company, it is worth taking a look at those commonly implemented by other businesses. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, a firmer grasp of basic HR policies is the first step when identifying those appropriate to you.
Common HR policies implemented by UK businesses include:
- Sickness and Leave of Absence
- Timekeeping and Attendance
- Privacy and Data Protection
- Use of Social Media and the Internet
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Bullying and Harassment
It is important that HR policies provide an element of flexibility. This will allow them to adapt and evolve as a company does.
The Employee Handbook
It goes without saying that even the best policies and procedures are rendered futile if employees are unaware of them. To ensure transparency, clarity and accessibility, company policies should be contained within an employee handbook. The purpose of this document is to articulate the values, policies and rules to every member of the workforce. By presenting individuals with an employee handbook on or before their first day, it ensures that they are aware of company policy and can easily revise procedures as required.
As is the case with the policies themselves, an employee handbook must be expertly crafted. It is a reflection of your company, professionalism and often the first impression of working life that your employees receive.
Policies and procedures are designed to ensure legal compliance, employee wellbeing and company-wide transparency. As such, they should be identified and implemented by experienced professionals. At The HR Dept, we’re here to discuss your company’s requirements and walk you through the process from start to finish. Contact a member of our team today.