A company’s Human Resource policies define the inner workings of the business. After all, HR is the interface between the corporation and the people. Your Human Resource policies shape employee experience by defining the regulations that they work within. If HR establishes a dress code, that dress code essentially creates the clothing experience for every employee on the clock, which can entail employees’ comfort levels along with your business’s level of professionalism and formality. When HR defines vacation and leave policies, this shapes when and how employees can take time off. However, it’s not all vacations and uniforms. Human Resources runs far deeper into payroll, regulations, and equal opportunity treatment inside the workplace.
Each complete set of HR policies must include all required regulations, meet acceptable labor standards, and help the workflow run like a well-oiled machine. Even a few minor mistakes can result in lost team members and even legal trouble in the future, so it’s vital that everything is carefully considered as you construct these important central documents. So what should you keep in mind when building your HR policies, procedures, and practices? Let’s dive into the top ten considerations for a new HR stack.
1) Catalog Your Regulation Requirements
Mandatory HR policies are defined by regulations and labor laws. The first step in putting together HR policies is to know what is required by law or industry regulations to be included. This includes all legally mandated HR policies and the proper ways to handle any situation the policies may relate to. Document every mandatory policy and every regulation that influences your policies so that all the required work is laid out at the start. Use this as your launching point and a reference to ensure your final documents are fully compliant with legal and industry codes.
2) Reflect and Guide Daily Work Experiences
HR policies often miss the mark when it comes to directly helping employees. HR policies should be built to reflect and guide the real-world daily workflow of your teams. A policy may require all tools to be returned to individual cases, but the workflow involves a pegboard where tools are usually hung. Be certain that any HR policies you write can be applied in the actual workflows of company teams. Either refrain from unnecessary detail where you’re unsure about the workflow or be prepared for more flexible policies as workflows naturally adapt and change.
3) Correctly Handle Injuries and Incidents
What happens when an employee sustains an injury or is involved in an incident with a coworker? These are two situations where your HR policies are absolutely vital, and many fall short. Prepare your HR policies to swiftly and correctly deal with injury reports, leave, and worker’s compensation claims without creating trouble among working teams. Put in place fair fact-checking and out-of-sight reprimands where necessary. Likewise, have a fast and quiet reporting system ready for coworker conflicts and prepare your policies to safely resolve issues or quickly separate coworkers who can’t resolve their issues.
4) Every Policy Must Make a Balanced Impact
When it comes to fair labor and equal opportunity, HR plays a central role. Ensure that each of the policies you write, and the way you write them, impacts the entire workforce evenly. More importantly, make sure no policy unevenly impacts one or more demographics on the team. For example, now outdated dress codes once unfairly targeted women for dress restrictions and appearance expectations. Some policies might unfairly impact parents or religions that worship on Saturday. Be very careful so that your policies are even-handed for every lifestyle, gender, culture, and creed.
5) Include Policies for Remote and Hybrid Teams
It’s a bright new world in the post-pandemic industry, and one of the most significant changes is remote work. Companies across the globe have accepted hybrid and remote teams when off-site work was once thought impossible. Whether you are writing policies for a new company or overhauling your old HR policies, be sure to include details for your remote workers and hybrid teams.
Remote work policies will vary because teams are not in the office, don’t see their superior in person, and never have to refill the break room coffee pot. Hybrid teams will need careful management because they blend in-office policies with regular remote work flexibility.
6) Alternate or Neutralize Pronouns
Should your handbook default to “He,” “She,” or “They” when it comes to passive pronouns? You will need examples and the occasional pronoun to articulate your policies. The answer is either alternation or neutrality (or both). Alternating pronouns switches between he/him/ and she/her for pronouns. Many textbooks over the decades have used this trick to keep the subject matter both engaging and overall gender-neutral.
If you prefer, however, you can also rely on the safe, neutral pronoun of they/them at any time, and sometimes this is the best approach for fully neutral policy statements. Alternation is best when giving examples.
7) Prioritize Timeless Statements – Use Terms That Won’t Become Outdated
An employee handbook can become outdated with surprising speed. Write your HR policies to be as ‘timeless’ as possible. Refer to titles instead of names. Keep dates and ‘this year/last year’ references out of your copy. Avoid policies that might be quickly outdated or go into too much detail on things that can easily change in the near future. The last thing you want is for your handbook to be a snapshot into working life in 2022 and need re-writing by 2023.
8) Prepared for Diverse Handicap Accommodation
HR is responsible for assisting disabled employees in finding accommodation. Sometimes this means ordering the special chair or authorizing the purchase of specialized software. However, not all HR teams (and their policies) have a great track record with willing, helpful, and successful accommodation. So aim for the opposite. Strive to write your HR policies to be the most beneficial and prepared to help employees with any handicap accommodations they require.
Remember, when writing your policy, that handicaps come in all forms; from poor eyesight to motor control issues or problems with physical stamina. Another instance could be an auditory processing handicap. Employees might need software, tools, chairs, ramps, or just access to a quiet room. Your policies should never focus just on physical handicaps or those most easily understood. Accommodation comes in many forms, and flexible accessibility is key.
9) HR Policies Concerning Cybersecurity
Don’t forget cybersecurity in your HR policy documentation. Today, security measures are something that every employee needs to take, even entry-level associates. Work with your IT team to determine the best cybersecurity code of conduct and policies to help teams maintain their own cybersecurity through device maintenance, workstation access, and more. This is especially important if you give employees devices or allow personal devices to be used for work. Your IT team will have more insights on the right cybersecurity policies to make an HR matter and the proper remedies should issues arise.
10) Allow and Prepare for Exceptions to the Rules
Finally, be ready for exceptions. Throughout your policies, leave room for people and situations that don’t fit the mold. HR isn’t about rigid, unbending policies because humans aren’t rigid and unbending. Sometimes, you will need to let someone take a leave day without filling out the paperwork or to start work without the usual two-week waiting period. Use statements like ‘generally’ instead of ‘always’ and ‘avoid’ instead of ‘never’ so that future enforcement of your policies remains flexible instead of becoming rigid.
Putting Together Your HR Policies the Right Way
Human Resource policies aren’t just the rules that everyone behaves by. HR policies define your internal company culture and how employee assets are managed. HR includes payroll, regulations, equal opportunity employment, and there can also be serious consequences if your HR documents are constructed without all these necessary considerations.
Fortunately, with foresight and the expertise of a skilled HR team, your new policies can define a company culture that runs smoothly and supports your employees in all the ways that matter. Contact us today to consult on your plans for your HR policies, procedures, and practices and how you can build and manage them the best way possible.