Helpful Tips for Drafting Effective HR Policies & Procedures
Human Resource (HR) professionals have all been required at one time or another to draft HR policies and procedures. Although this may be a monotonous task, a well thought out and drafted HR policy and procedure will not only serve to comply with legal requirements but also have huge benefits for the organisation.
What are HR Policies and Procedures?
HR policies are formal rules and guidelines that organisations implement to manage their staff members, while HR procedures are step-by-step instructions that specify the actions required to comply with those policies.
Essentially, HR policies and procedures provide rules and guidelines about how staff members must perform their job as well as what is considered appropriate behaviour. The implementation of HR policies and procedures is a core function of human resource management.
HR policies and procedures cover a variety of HR matters such as but not limited to recruitment, social media, workplace bullying, dress code, performance evaluation, workplace health and safety, termination and more recently for some industries, vaccine mandates. Given the broad range of HR matters, it is more practical and feasible to deal with these matters in HR policies and procedures rather than individual employment contracts.
Why are HR Policies and Procedures required?
Some HR policies and procedures are required by law. For example, from 1 January 2020, the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) has required public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of registrable superannuation entities to have a whistleblower policy that is made available to officers and employees.
The protection of the organisation from legal claims is also an important reason. Many HR policies and procedures are implemented to deal with and reduce exposure to claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal.
They also play an important part with fostering a culture of trust, fairness and inclusion as well as ensuring uniformity of decision-making.
For these reasons, HR policies and procedures need to be carefully thought out and drafted to have maximum HR efficiency across the organisation.
Helpful Drafting Tips
To assist with drafting HR policies and procedures that have maximum effect for the implementation of HR and business strategies, here are some key tips!
1. Identify the need for a HR Policy and Procedure
It is important to first review the circumstances to determine current organisational requirements. Once this is determined then it is appropriate to draft the content of the HR policy and procedure. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has previously resulted in many staff members working from home and therefore a requirement for a ‘Work From Home’ policy and procedure. In other cases, an existing HR policy and procedure may need to be updated. Determination of organisational requirements ensures the HR policy and procedure is directed towards organisational requirements and not some other purpose.
2. Involve key stakeholders from the beginning
The creation of HR policies and procedures will have greater benefit, acceptance and commitment if co-created with key stakeholders. For example, management input may be sought about organisational culture, values and existing organisational protocols. Legal advice may need to be obtained to ensure compliance with specific legislation. Staff members can also be key stakeholders. Further, modern awards and enterprise agreements may contain provisions requiring consultation with employees prior to implementation.
3. Select a suitable title
The title of the HR policy and procedure needs to describe its basic content. This is vitally important as staff members, who are primarily not HR professionals, need to be able to identify the appropriate HR policy and procedure relevant to their circumstances. Technical terms should be avoided where possible.
4. Use clear language
The primary purpose of HR policies and procedures is to communicate relevant information to staff members. It should be assumed that staff members do not have HR experience. Short and simple sentences should be used without the use of complex or legal words. HR policies and procedures should not read as contractual documents. Unless staff members can understand what is being conveyed then it serves little or no purpose from a HR perspective.
5. Avoid information that may outdate
While HR policies and procedures should be as specific as possible to ensure understanding, these should also be drafted in general terms so as not to become quickly outdated. References to staff names or other variables that are likely to change over time should be avoided.
6. Determine content
It is important that HR policies and procedures are drafted in a clear and uniform manner. A comprehensive HR policy and procedure should include the following elements:
- Policy name
- Policy purpose – This will further assist staff members to identify the appropriate HR policy and procedure
- Policy details
- Policy procedures
- Eligible groups to whom the policy applies
- Any exceptions to the policy
- Policy owner – The position holder responsible for administering the policy
- Reviewer – The position holder responsible for updating the policy
- Effective Date – The date the policy comes into effect
- Definitions – A section devoted to defining any specific terms.
Take home points
Taking the time to draft good HR policies and procedures can save you time dealing with problems that may arise from their absence – including, workplace bullying, workplace accidents and dealing with unhappy staff members. The time saved should allow you more time to implement positive HR strategies in the workplace.