The HR Advisor

The Importance of Policies and Procedures in the Workplace

Developing workplace policies and procedures

The absence of structure invites chaos. Countries that have strictly enforced road rules can be clearly told apart from those that don't, by just spending a few minutes in heavy traffic. Schools with upheld boundaries and values result in demonstrable behavioural differences from those that don't. It, therefore, stands to reason that having up to date, relevant and complaint policies and procedures in your workplace is critical.

Policies and procedures set the guidelines and parameters for how your business operates. Without well developed and effectively communicated policies and procedures, there are no solid rules, and when there are no rules, people create their own.

Elements of successful policies

Policies need to be clear, compliant, in the same format, and accessible for all employees. Each industry will have unique policy requirements, so it is vital that you engage an HR professional to assist you in developing your policies, to ensure all relevant regulatory obligations are met.

Once developed, you must conduct regular reviews of your policies to ensure that they are compliant with any legislative changes and also any changes in your business.

Regular education and training on your policies is equally as important as having policies in the first place. Employees must understand what the policies mean. If an employee is dismissed for breaching workplace policies, but the policies were not communicated properly or were not applied consistently, then it is unlikely the dismissal would be fair or even lawful.

It is therefore crucial that your induction process includes a training session on company policies. Depending on the size of your business, policy training can be classroom-based, one on one with your manager or HR manager or via an on-line platform. As a business, this is a critical compliance step for many of the HR policies. Respect in the Workplace training, which covers bullying, equal employment opportunity and harassment is something each employee should receive, with an annual refresher.

What is a procedure?

Having robust procedures to support your policies is also key. Procedures explain the steps that an employee needs to take to comply with that policy.

A legislative compliant procedure that is tailored to reflect the organisation language will provide a fair, predictable and consistent approach to managing potential workplace issues.  This provides an accepted method of dealing with complaints and misunderstandings to help avoid claims of bias and favouritism.

Engage with your employees to seek their input and feedback

Research shows that policies that outline the benefits and opportunities your company provides to its employees help to improve team morale, employee retention and overall job satisfaction.  When employers engage with their employees to get their input to developing policies and procedures, they experience far greater understanding and adherence. This is certainly the case with policies that are tailored to business needs.

Pet-friendly offices are an example of employee lead policy, with more businesses now recognising the potential animals have in boosting morale and productivity. Pets are proven to promote a positive mood, relieve stress and can even improve physical health. 

Risks of not having policies and procedures

Best-practice policies and procedures ensure a shared understanding and protect your business as a result of complying with legislation, including the OHS legislation and National Employment Standards (NES) and any applicable Modern Award.

Policies and procedures provide employees with an understanding of expected behavioural and performance standards while providing rules and guidelines for decision-making and consistency across organisational operations. 

The importance of workplace policies and procedures cannot be overstated. Without them, your business is exposed.


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Topics: HR Tips HR Advice