A company’s day-to-day operations are directly impacted by its policies.
Human resources policy guides both employees and management when complicated issues arise. It is also what governs the company’s response to unethical, illegal, or otherwise unacceptable behavior.
Additionally, policy helps employees know what is expected of them and what they can expect to experience at work. This is why it is crucial that you understand how to implement effective HR policies and procedures.
There are two stages to creating new and effective HR policies: development and implementation. Your HR team needs to be proficient in both of these areas.
A great policy that is never implemented doesn’t do you any good, and a policy that is implemented without careful planning can hurt you in the long run!
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Types of HR Policies
Human Resources is responsible for creating and implementing most of the policies that will affect your employees.
Specifically, HR is involved with policies related to:
- Performance evaluation
- Sick days
- Personal leave
- Vacation time
- Overtime compensation
- Bonuses and incentives
- Dress code
- Recruitment and onboarding
- Termination of employment
- Anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies
- Meal periods and break time
- Timekeeping and compensation
- Attendance and punctuality
- Employee conduct
- Remote and hybrid work
Because every company needs great policies for things to run smoothly, it is important to have an HR team with experience and extensive knowledge about how to craft clear, effective policies.
To be effective, each policy needs to go through the development and implementation stages covered below.
The Development Stage of a New HR Policy
During the development stage of a new company policy, your HR team will ask a lot of questions. This is because it’s time to understand how the policy needs to work for your specific circumstances.
Standard, copy-and-paste policies tend to be insufficient for addressing the real needs of most companies.
Identify the human resources policies you need to implement.
Your first step will be to conduct a thorough assessment of your current policies. Specifically:
- What policies are currently in place and working well?
- What policies are in place but are not working well?
- What policies are missing altogether?
There are several indicators that a policy may be unclear or ineffective. For example, are employees confused about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate? Are they regularly or occasionally participating in behaviors that management sees as inappropriate, but there is nothing on paper to explain why?
Another manifestation of confusion is unnecessary reporting. For example, when policies aren’t clear, team members may be reported by colleagues or management for violating rules that aren’t actually real. A personal opinion can turn into a major conflict if there is nothing in writing to outline a policy or procedure.
New policies may also be needed if:
- No one really knows how to handle situations that arise related to conduct, behavior, employee relationships, or workplace expectations
- The company needs to add policies for legal compliance (for example, a whistleblower policy)
- Unclear policies and procedures are causing confusion or unfair and inconsistent treatment of employees
Craft the language for each HR policy.
You can’t just haphazardly write a policy and hope it works.
Everything in your procedures and policies needs to be as clear as possible. However, you also want to build flexibility into your wording. That will allow you to adapt the policy to the unforeseen circumstances that arise in the future.
Here is some general advice for human resources policy writing:
- Use language like “generally,” “usually,” and “may.”
- Avoid making statements that sound like promises or contracts.
- Don’t make statements about what the organization will always do or must do. You want to maintain flexibility for your future actions.
- When composing a list, always add language that clarifies that the list is not comprehensive.
Components of a good human resources policy
Although the content changes from policy to policy, the basic components remain the same.
Nearly every policy will contain a purpose statement, policy specifications section, information about implementation, an effective date, and a list of defined terms.
Seek input from legal experts in human resources.
There are a few ways to ensure that your new policy aligns with the legal requirements in the regions where you operate.
First, you can always run it by in-house legal counsel. Another option is to retain legal counsel as needed.
Finally, a highly qualified team of Human Resources professionals will bring their legal expertise to your policy creation. Whether they craft the policies from scratch or review policies that you drafted, outsourcing these HR processes will help you confirm that all of your new policies are aligned with local, national, and international laws.
The Implementation Stage of a New HR Policy
After you have crafted the human resources policy, you will want to have it evaluated for legal and procedural implications. You will gather feedback from other decision-makers within the company, especially those who will be responsible for the early stages of implementation.
After gathering feedback and making any changes, it’s time for implementation. There are two basic steps to implementing a new HR policy: build support with stakeholders and communicate the changes effectively.
Build support for the new HR policy with various stakeholders
Some of the normal, human reactions to institutional changes include fear, uncertainty, doubt, stress, and anxiety. That said, some changes are also accompanied by excitement and enthusiasm.
You should expect to encounter all of these reactions from your employees. One of the ways to counter potential negative reactions is to get stakeholders on board before the policy goes into effect company-wide.
Managers, supervisors, and other leaders who are going to be responsible for carrying out the new policy need to be informed before everyone else. The rollout of the new policy should be done carefully, with meetings, video calls, one-on-ones, and emails to get everyone on board.
Be prepared to address the following questions for your company leadership:
- What, exactly, is changing?
- When will the change take place?
- How will they be supported in enforcing the change?
- What are the benefits of this change – not just for the company, but for themselves?
- Where do they go with questions?
Get your stakeholders on board and the rest of the implementation process will go much more smoothly!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Too many companies have faced major pushback when making a policy change because they botched the communication part of implementation.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re updating your HR policy:
- You should provide clear information to your employees about why you are making this change.
- Be honest about how the change will affect them and what they can expect to happen next.
- Communicate in a way that demonstrates that you respect and hear their concerns.
- Be sure to differentiate between any policy announcement and other, more general announcements. For example, if you are announcing the change via email, the email should not blend in with other general emails, and the information shouldn’t be hidden within a newsletter.
Don’t forget to provide your employees with a way to ask questions and provide feedback on the new policy. You also need to inform everyone where they will be able to find the new policy in the future, such as on a company wiki page or in a handbook.
You Don’t Have to Create Policies On Your Own – Europe HR Solutions Can Help
At Europe HR Solutions, we support more than 200 companies that have an operational presence in Europe.
Our multilingual team of HR experts understand the unique needs of companies that operate within Europe, including issues related to policy development and implementation.
We are happy to guide our clients through the entire process, which ensures that they don’t feel alone, uncertain, or overwhelmed by the big task of launching new policies.
Contact us for a free consultation! We look forward to helping you improve your company policies so that you can start seeing better operational outcomes and employee productivity!