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HR Policies – Do they Help or Hinder your business?

How often have you heard Managers say: “If we did it for you, we’d have to do it for others.”

Too many companies’ HR policies are overly restrictive, convoluted and overly paternal.  They attempt to control the behaviour of well performing employees through rules designed to rein in the ‘bad apples’.

Let’s assume that you hired people for their talent and tenacity. If that is correct, you must get out of their way and allow them to shine. Then manage any people who choose not to meet expectations on a case-by-case basis. But when you spend time thinking up rules to stop every conceivable (bad) behaviour, you disempower people and their discretionary effort will stop.

Employment policies are an organisation’s message to its employees regarding how it values its people. If you believe employees need strict rules and enforcement to be productive, hiring and retaining high-performance people will be a challenge for your business.

Yes, your business does need to ensure it meets legal requirements and complies with sector specific standards by having specific policies and procedures in place.  However, this does not mean having a policy to legislate for every eventuality.  That only creates unnecessary bureaucracy and hinders the day-to-day management and operation of your business.

Reasons why you should have HR policies:

  • To communicate and inform employees
  • To provide evidence of good practice
  • To guide managers
  • To meet statutory requirements
  • To comply with industry and sector specific standards

Reasons why not to have HR policies:

  • Because you assume (wrongly) that you need to have them all
  • To avoid management of an issue by deferring to (or blaming) ‘the policy’
  • Fear of getting things wrong

Employee engagement is all about valuing your employees. If your business must have policies in place to regulate behaviour or demonstrate compliance, then ensure your senior leaders empower and expect managers to use their discretion and judgment in administering these policies. But more importantly, ensure your policies are supportive of people succeeding.  When that happens, everyone wins. And who doesn’t want that?