Without carefully thought-out and documented human resource workplace policies and procedures, an organization could lose everything it stands for – equity in its employment practices, a competitive edge in growing and sustaining its operations, compliance with federal and state regulations and, importantly, fundamental principles and values to which its employees are bound. For creating a successful enterprise, HR policies and procedures aren't a one-and-done endeavor, however. They must be regularly updated and reviewed to ensure they're current and applicable.

Leadership and Human Resource Practices

In many organizations, the HR department can appear to be a standalone entity, whose purpose is separate from the business's daily operations. But HR actually is an extension of the values and principles that the organization's leadership supports. The company's vision and mission are fundamental to creating sustainable policies and procedures; the HR department is responsible for upholding those values and principles through the consistent application of HR policies and procedures.

Ideally, the HR department manager or director should be a member of the executive leadership team – the HR strategic direction, and thus the HR policies and procedures, should parallel the company-wide strategic direction. For example, if the organization is to create cutting-edge technology, the HR goal is to recruit and hire the best-in-class engineers and scientists capable of accomplishing that goal.

Equity and Fairness

An example of an HR policy that promotes workplace equity and fairness might be articulated as, "The ABC Company values diversity in hiring, and as such utilizes a number of recruitment vehicles that ensure we are able to attract applicants and candidates who are representative of the community we serve. Our outreach efforts include colleges, universities and technical schools with diverse populations, as well as supporting fairness in internal employment practices, such as promotion and retention of talented individuals, without regard to race, ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, or veteran status."

This also is standard workplace policy for employers that are bound by local and federal laws of fair employment practices, so this is usual policy language for many organizations. The corresponding procedures might include establishing a recruitment plan that includes educational institutions in the area, as well as schools with diverse populations, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal Colleges.

Another procedure might be a requirement that hiring managers and HR department staff complete annual diversity training to increase their awareness of unconsciousness bias in hiring and promoting employees.

Sustaining a Competitive Edge

An organization's most valuable resource is its employees. Competing with other industry players can be difficult if you don't hire the right people, and sustaining that competitive edge is even more challenging if you can't keep the right people. The HR policy goals for surpassing your competition might include, "ABC Company is dedicated to hiring the highest caliber candidates, whose professional goals include working for the global leader in software development."

The HR procedure might then include identifying high-potential – and maybe passive job seekers – who have proven their worth. Steps in this recruiting practice could involve attending industry conferences to identify high-profile software developers, or researching scholarly journal articles to identify scientists and engineers who are publishing research about state-of-the-art technology.

Good Business Depends on HR Compliance

The vast majority of organizations are bound by federal, state or local laws and regulations that prohibit unfair employment practices. Employers must abide by laws concerning minimum wage and overtime pay, child labor, equal employment opportunity and right-to-work status. The human resources structure is created to ensure that the organization is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Because laws and regulations can change, based on administrative changes and other government transitions, HR policies and procedures must be up-to-date and relevant.

For example, an organization's pay practices and wage scale must be current, and that requires HR to revise its policies based on legislative changes that affect minimum wage rates. Even companies that have sound risk management plans and effective legal teams will see their balance sheets and their business reputations suffer, if they aren't in compliance with the various applicable laws and regulations.

It's more than required to have HR policies and procedures in place. It is sound business practice.