For many businesses, their HR policies exist inside an induction manual, which is loosely referred to on an employee's first day and beyond that does nothing more than line the bottom drawer of their desk.
However, truly successful companies don't see their HR policies as just a compliance requirement. They recognise that these vital components set the guidelines and parameters for how their business operates.
They don't choose to create policies because they are successful; they are successful because they have well-developed policies.
Without well developed and effectively communicated policies, 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. Additionally, Respect in the Workplace training, which covers bullying, equal employment opportunity and harassment is something each employee should receive, with an annual refresher.
Engage with your employees to seek their input and feedback
Research shows that policies that outline the benefits and opportunities your business 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, 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
Best-practice policies 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 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 cannot be overstated. Without them, your business is exposed.