HR & Employment

Why are HR policies and procedures important?

Bryan Brown | 28 July 2021 | 3 years ago

Why are HR policies and procedures important?

We could bore you with dense, corporate-speak about the definition and need for policies and procedures, but, in a nutshell, they are simply the roadmap for the everyday, correct running of your company’s operations. They ensure regulation compliance, assist with decision-making, and make internal processes more efficient.

Not all employees like the structure supplied by rules, and it is important to coach them around to appreciate the business value that the HR policies and procedures bring to the business.

The importance of HR policies and procedures

Getting staff on board with policies and procedures is not achieved by force but by selling the positive outcomes and clearly conveying the business value. They need to understand the benefits derived from the consistency of processes, the efficiencies gained from the structure and the success achieved by avoiding operational chaos or operational wastage.

When policies and procedures are adhered to, operations run smoothly, management can be more strategic, and operational productivity levels are higher. Mistakes will occur, but in a disciplined team, these errors are picked up quickly, and there is the capacity to correct them.

All resources, human and other, will be used more efficiently, growth will be achieved faster as well as company goals.

Policies and procedures also clearly explain what each employee is responsible for, what outcomes are expected of them, and what their supervisors and co-workers should be delivering. This is empowering and develops confidence whilst improving output quality.

Better customer service

A disciplined team will do things correctly, consistently, and this leads to happy customers. Your brand value is directly impacted by this. When employees are told they are adding to the company value, they take more pride in their output quality.

Workplace safety

Policies and procedures are a fundamental and regulatory part of reducing workplace accidents. This reduces your risk profile, enhances staff well-being, and reduces losses from lost production, injury claims, and asset damage.

When employees can see that their managers and the company care about them, they become more engaged with its objectives.

HR policy and procedure implementation

How can you ensure a better engagement of staff with your HR policies and procedures? Here are some tips:

  • Ensure that ALL policies are highly accessible for all staff on all pay-grade levels.
  • Go digital. Use policy management software that will ensure policy updates and signatures are distributed, tracked, and stored.
  • Make sure the digital copies are mobile-friendly. Large portions of staff will not have laptops and desktop computers.
  • Ensure policies have search functions enabled for simple keyword searches.

Training for policies and procedures

Having policies and procedures nicely written up does not immediately equate to employees understanding the policy or implementing it. Training forms an important part of comprehension and, therefore, buy-in. Like nuclear power stations, all staff and visitors must undergo retraining multiple times per year in high-risk industries.

The staff training should cover the substance of policies as well as the actual implementation relevant for their roles. Every new hire should go through this training early on. There is a lot of data showing greater productivity, faster proficiency, and earlier milestone achievement of employees who underwent formal onboarding training.

Online training programs are resource-light options and are popular with employees as it offers quite a degree of flexibility time-wise.

Training programs allow you to upload training materials such as slideshows, videos, and more. They efficiently record an employee’s training journey and collate helpful feedback on the training material.

Comprehension testing

Now that your staff have easy access to the policies and procedures and have been trained, you might think you have ticked the final box. This is an incorrect assumption.

Staff should be tested and should be regularly retrained. A test could be as simple as a quiz at the end of a training course or an operational task demonstration to a supervisor. Gaps can then be addressed early on.

Accountability and disciplinary action

Policies and procedures apply to everyone in the, hopefully not too vertical, hierarchy. Employees abide by the rules if their leaders abide by them. Prior to any contraventions happening, your staff should know the consequences of breaking the rules, i.e. your disciplinary procedures and performance improvement procedures must be fully known from day 1.

For these 2 procedures to be successful, if ever needed, it is imperative that the managers are highly competent in them OR an external service provider is appointed to be consulted with initially and then to run or guide the process.

An HR consultant can also advise you on how to set up reporting mechanisms to monitor if employees are on track without needing micromanagement.

Deviation from policies and procedures is not always misconduct but is often misunderstandings, forgetting a rule due to lack of retraining, or a personal issue that needs support from HR and leadership.

Reviewing policies and procedures

There will always come a time when an operational practice or statutory requirement outgrows a policy, and then a review is necessary. Not doing so could cause employee actions to contradict policies or force the team to fall behind technological developments.

Regular review and revision will ensure compliance with new regulations and industry standards, the inclusion of better technology, and the incorporation of structural changes.

And with every revision that comes about due to reviews, there needs to be the same, structured distribution of information:

  • Notify your teams that there have been changes to policies and procedures,
  • Establish comprehensive training on the changes as well as the entire policy,
  • Test the staff and,
  • Reiterate, to each team member, their accountability in complying with the policies and procedures,
  • Reiterate the value each team member brings to the company when they do comply.
Ensuring buy-in and compliance with policies is not an easy task. It takes time and effort, patience and mentoring. The more talented and the more lateral thinking a staff member is, the more likely they will challenge policies and procedures. The investment spent in getting them on board will reap great rewards for your company long term.

Using policy management software will certainly make your HR administration a lot easier, much more accurate, more effective and will keep training schedules regular.

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