September 11, 2015

How do I develop good HR policies and procedures?

A good HR function hinges on really good internal HR policies and procedures. This is the bread and butter stuff of HR and it’s so important to get it right. Whether you are developing policies and procedures for the first time or reviewing and updating what you already have, it is essential to take a strategic, considered approach.

To start with, let’s establish what policies and procedures actually are. A policy is a formal statement of a principle or set of principles that the business operates by and the workforce needs to adhere to. The procedures bit is how to carry out and implement those policies. So it’s a case of ‘the what’ (policies) and the ‘how to’ (procedures). It’s all about how a business operates, what its values are and what is expected of employees, clients and business partners. Business needs, values and objectives need to be at the core of any policies.

How do you, as an HR professional, make sure policies have the business at their core? By ensuring the policies are aligned to business needs and goals, just as HR should be aligned to business needs and goals. As a good HR pro, you should know what policies are needed and how they should be implemented.

However, even if you do know what’s needed, don’t work in isolation. Develop any policies and procedures in conjunction with the business. This will have a two fold benefit. Firstly, it ensures that policies and procedures are on target, that everything is being covered that needs to be covered and in the right way. Policies need to be implemented well in order for them to work so it’s important to work with your business counterparts and with line managers to ensure everything is workable. Great policies aren’t worth much if they are too unwieldy to implement.

Secondly, having the business on board means you get buy in. You need the business to be engaged with what you are doing.

There needs to be an external aspect to these policies, however. All policies must comply with legislation, follow best practice and be up to date. It’s no use coming up with a set of policies and then leaving it at that for ten years. Business needs change, legislation changes, the working environment changes. So must policies and procedures change.

Formulating policies and procedures is an important process in itself. It necessitates HR and those involved in setting the policies having a really good think about what the business stands for and where it is going. It also tells employees what is expected of them. It tells managers what is expected of them as managers. This is very important both in terms of setting out clear expectations but also as a precautionary measure. Good policies and procedures can provide protection against employee claims.