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HR Leaders: 7 Policy & Procedure Documents That May Need An Urgent Rewrite

HR strategy should be focused on aligning the needs of the people and the needs of the organisation. 

Achieving that requires a strong foundation in many aspects of HR – and we should not ignore the policies and procedures that form the ‘baseline’ of performance, process, and behaviour. 

Well-conceived, well-written policy and procedure documentation can underpin our efforts to raise performance across the organisation. It is the foundation and can guide us when we are not sure where to turn.

Over-focus on policy and procedures can lead to an excessively mechanical approach to HR; it should not be a case of people ‘serving’ the policies; the policies should serve the people.

But ignoring this important documentation and failing to update it regularly can cause confusion across the organisation – including in your HR team – and lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.

So which policy and procedure documents should you concentrate your efforts on? Which ones need to be dusted off and updated to reflect the present needs of your organisationand your people? And how can this documentation help yourorganisation reach its overall goals?

1. Role descriptions

Role descriptions that accurately reflect each position will not only help you attract the right people with the right skills and personal credentials to your organisation; Descriptions should be more than a general list of duties and responsibilitiesThey can help to ‘sell’ the role and inspire potential candidates.

They also provide clarity and structure, and potentially highlight any ‘gaps’ in your team. But make sure that they also meet all applicable state and federal labour regulations.

2. Employee contracts

Well-designed employee contracts are essential for protecting your organisation’s interests and for clearly laying out what’s expected of you and your employee in the engagement.

You probably have a few templates for various roles – but are these complete and have they been updated recently? If not, it’s a good idea to revisit them for all the key roles in your organisation and remove any areas of doubt or confusion. 

If you have crossed the ‘t’s and dotted the ‘i’s, it can pay dividends down the line in the case of a dispute.

3. On-boarding and induction documents

This documentation is essential for establishing a system to welcome new employees to the company and to ensure that they become familiar with the main management practices.

It helps them understand your organisation, its culture, and where they fit into it.

You want your new employees to grow with your organisation, so it’s important to engage and inform them. Help them feel part of the process from day one.

Include all the essentials of both employee and employer expectations in your on-boarding process documents.

4. Policies and procedures manual

All company policies and procedures should be documented in a manual accessible to all employees. 

This needs to be compliant with federal and state employment laws and should outline everything from policies with regards to employee leave to sexual harassment and worker safety. It also needs to provide acceptable conduct guidelines.

Policies need to apply equally to all employees and your manual should be detailed enough to remove confusion and avoid future conflicts.

5. Defining competencies

It’s important for employers to be able to evaluate performance and track progress towards the wider vision of the organisation; and for employees to understand how they can be productive and meet expectations.

By creating a structured model, you can identify competencies required in the organisation for each role. This can support your business and help it grow in line with your values.

6. Objective setting and KPIs

You also need a specific framework for measuring how you and your employees are doing. By setting objectives and KPIs, you are better able to measure performance.

This will vary from role to role, of course. For sales people, there will be appointment and sales targets; for customer service people, customer satisfaction levels are important.

The job description should provide an overview of what’s required but this is where you need to be more specific and provide some benchmarks for measuring performance.

7. Employee discipline and termination 

This is another area that, legally, can get troublesome. You need to ensure that, when an employee is disciplined, investigated, warned, or terminated, it doesn’t come back to bite you.

Policies must be well-defined and communicated to employees as appropriate.

Ensure that policies meet all current federal and state laws and enforce them fairly and consistently to avoid facing a legal backlash from a disgruntled ex-employee.

The above seven pieces of documentation, when professionally written, can bring extra structure, consistency, and clarity to your organisation – both for management and employees

It will help you avoid misunderstandings and conflict and will serve as the ‘rudder’ that guides you through the storm, when common sense, experience, and HR expertise alone is not enough. 

For this reason, it deserves attention: make sure that it doesn’t get placed at the back of a cabinet and ignored for the next five years. It should evolve with your organisation and be written by someone who understands the complexities of current state and federal HR law.

Do your policy and procedure documents need refreshing? If you don’t have the time or expertise in your own department, I have a legal background and considerable experience in tailoring HR documentation to organisations’ unique needs

Email me here: ush@collaboratehr.com.au.

Posted on October 19, 2017

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