How to Write HR Policies

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Clear, concise and effective HR policies can make all the difference in managing your workforce. Employees thrive in an environment where they understand the company’s expectations and are predictably managed in accordance with the written policies. Failure to appropriately document important policies can lead to confusion and frustration in the workplace thereby diminishing productivity. Therefore, it is important to do your homework up front and create policies which protect the interest of the company while allowing the employees to fully understand the expectations.

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Gather all pertinent information for consideration prior to writing any policies for your organization; it is important to understand federal and state or local laws which may impact your ability to manage your employee population. Additionally, you should understand the company culture, management style and prior history of the population.

Use a policy creation template in order to ensure consistent policies throughout your organization. A popular model includes sections to record the purpose, scope and procedure to be followed. These three categories are really the bare minimum in order to effectively outline a comprehensive policy. Other categories such as definition and eligibility are also frequently used. A company may choose to add in other categories to cover in their policies depending on the purpose of the policy such as adding in a Complaints section in a sexual harassment policy so that you may identify how employees may report incidents of concern to the proper person.

Utilize the categories which fit your specific policy in the following manner:


Start by indicating the purpose of the policy. An example might be: This policy establishes and defines the processes to be followed by employees who work from a remote location.


Define the scope of the policy by defining exactly whom or what is covered. For example: This policy covers the employees at all x company sites or This policy applies to all salaried exempt employees.


Define within this category anything which may be ambiguous. An example might be Salaried Exempt Employee: Employee who is paid a set salary for a period of time with no overtime compensation, or Company owned computer equipment: All equipment of an electronic nature provided to the employee by the company for the purpose of completing work on the company’s behalf.


This category typically is used to define when a policy will become effective for a given employee. As an example, if the policy is written on a particular benefit for which the employee is not eligible until after meeting a certain length of employment, the eligibility area may be used in this manner: Full-time employees are eligible after 90 days of employment.


The procedure area is used to define how the policy will be administered. This is where the bulk of the policy is created. Write the procedure in a clear, concise and easily understood manner. Keep it as simple and straight forward as possible. This area will typically be longer than the rest and will include a list of items outlining the policy.

Have the company's legal compliance officer review all policies prior to implementation in order to ensure that they meet the needs of the business and comply with federal, state and local law.


  • Local HR associations are a great resource for those new to policy writing. Society for Human Resource Management provides resources to members including sample policies.


  • Write your policies in a manner which allows management some room for independent interpretation rather than writing them rigidly. This allows management to assess the seriousness of an infraction and make an independent judgment on how it should be handled.


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