What Is the Meaning of an HR Policy?

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HR policy and procedures are a critical part in managing a company’s employee culture and behavior. They are a set of guidelines for how employees and management should conduct themselves, and if they’re written well, they’ll also provide resolution tactics for conflicts and misconduct.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

An HR policy enables companies to protect themselves from employee and managerial misconduct.

Understanding HR Policy and Procedures

Having an HR policy means there is a clear definition for all conduct of employees in the workplace. Typical HR policies will include everything from how employees should dress to how many days bereavement they get if a spouse or family member should die. They will also include a lot of bureaucratic things like job descriptions and noncompete agreement definitions. Policies will also discuss menial things like tardiness and personal phone calls and critical topics like sexual harassment and employee benefits.

The human resources policies are often a mix of labor code and company-dictated policy. Some are criminally enforceable, and others will result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Either way, it is imperative that HR policies be on paper and be given to all employees so that there are no misunderstandings. The policies should also govern the behavior of management and the company itself.

Why HR Policy and Procedures Are Needed

If a company doesn’t have its HR policies in writing, employees can argue that they didn’t know something was against company policy. It can mean they have legal basis for suing for wrongful dismissal. The policies are how companies protect themselves and leave nothing vague for interpretation.

If employees contravene written policy, it makes it far easier for the company to fire them with cause. In the modern era, there are so many more reasons for having clear, actionable policies for protecting the corporation. Today’s human resources policies should include sections on blogging and social media because it is so easy to find out where people work, and if they’re spouting racism and hateful speech online, it can blow back on the company. With a policy in place, the offending employee can be terminated with cause quickly and easily, thus saving public face.

Some Common Topics for HR Policies

HR policies can and should be incredibly comprehensive. The clearer and more informative they are, the better a company is protected. The best policies and procedures will detail what consequences and reconciliations are assigned to each topic as well. When starting out, it can be challenging to hit all the right notes for a comprehensive document, so it’s often wise to look for HR policy templates online and get a helpful start.

Some of the big talking points in HR policy handbooks include:

  • Attendance: This section should include all kinds of topics, like absenteeism and how to call in sick, sick days allowed, bereavement policies, vacation pay and booking time off as well as working overtime and statutory holidays observed. Even breaks and lunches should be outlined here.

  • Digital policies: From email to internet use at work to receiving personal calls on smart devices and even social media use after hours, these are all real-world policies that need to be hammered down to protect the company.

  • Fraternization: This will touch on things like dating colleagues, staff parties, harassment and unwanted advancements and much more. This can be a critical section in which to be clear so as to protect the company from lawsuits down the line.

References

About the Author

Steffani Cameron is a professional writer who has written for the Washington Post, Culture, Yahoo!, Canadian Traveller, and many other platforms. Some writing projects have included ghost-writing for CEOs and doing strategy white papers. She frequently writes for corporate clients representing Fortune 500 brands on subjects that include marketing, business, and social media trends.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images