Managing Employees – Policies and Procedures: Do You Need Them and If So Which Ones
Having company policies and procedures in place, not only for new employees to signoff on but for all staff to adhere to, building compliance, leadership, and culture; It’s just good business practice.
Implementing defined systems in the workplace, not just around the HR function but also around business operations, codes of conduct, personal mobile devices, and health and safety keeps the business running right. This definition of systems provides clarity to everyone involved. Policies and procedures do not discriminate between one employee to another. Everyone receives the same treatment.
Policies and procedures for new employees set up an operational order. I’m sure you’d like all your employees to do what you want them to do all of the time. In order to achieve this, you need to make your expectations apparent.
Someone walks into work on their first day, “Let’s go. Well, there’s your job.” And if:
- They don’t do it right;
- They don’t have their break when they’re meant to;
- They don’t go home when they’re meant to; or
- They take leave, and they don’t tell you
It’s your fault if you haven’t sat down and discussed what the employee is supposed to do.
With precise policies and procedures in place, it’s basically like having a work Bible of the way things are done. Remember to include a code of conduct, which is one of the important ones to have in place:
- This is the way we treat each other.
- This is what we don’t do.
- This is what we do and set it out clear as well.
- They know exactly what to do when to do it, and how to do it. Yes.
Like, when you pick up a new car – I’ll admit that I don’t do it all the time myself – but when you pick up a new car, you will pull out the manual, wouldn’t you?
The employee handbook (policy manual) isn’t any different. If something’s going wrong or not quite working, it’s something for you to go back to get things sorted. The employee handbook adds the same value as a car manual does.
The benefits to having and following an employee handbook are numerous; if something does go wrong, you’ve got a reference and guidance to fall back on. And, say, for example, an employee wants to take leave. Now, in a lot of the central policies I put in place is do not assign consent until it’s been authorized. Don’t book your travel or you might have to cancel it. Set it out clearly, so staff knows that, “Okay this is the process I need to follow; the same process all employees follow:
- I need to fill in the leave form.
- I need to put it in.
- I can’t book my travel first until I’ve got the authorization back.”
Illustrated policies make that expectation very clear. Another important strategy is the absence of policy. If someone’s going to be sick, the administration clearly outlines:
- Who do, they call and what number(s) to dial?
- How far in advance from their shift do they need to call?
- What happens if they are sick on a Monday or a Friday, or before or after a period of leave?
Give it to everyone and make sure they sign and a record of their signing off is filed in their file. When this is done as part of your policies and procedures, they have signed and acknowledged that they understand and agree to abide by the policies and procedures, you have a mechanism then to take managerial action up to and including disciplinaries.
You can call someone to a meeting and say, “Hey look, you haven’t followed our procedure. You are aware of it. You signed it on this date. We are looking at taking formal action against you.”
I’m not going to discuss disciplinaries currently because there’s a whole process around that, and I don’t want to confuse matters, but by having the policies in place, you have a professional mechanism in place to be able to enforce a fair disciplinary process.
Everyone understands the expectations. Ensure individuals are all treated fairly, and disciplinaries are consistent. That’s important, so there’s no discrimination, no harassment, no accusations of bullying, or treating people differently because of a particular characteristic.
Employee handbooks should include all the expectations of the company. I would recommend but not limited to these sections in a Handbook, complete with a fact sheet and sign of sheet:
- Our General Business Principles
- How We Conduct Ourselves
- Employee Duties and Responsibilities
- Understanding attitudes of success
- Open Door Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Disclosure of Personal Information
- Conflict of Interest
- Attendance and Absenteeism
- Leave Policy
- Leave without Pay
- Internet, Email and Computer Use Policy
- Social Media Policy
- Personal Phone Calls at Work
- Mobile Phones
Make sure to update the handbook when new laws come into effect, or there are significant changes. The handbook sets out some of the signs of policy breach and then what the employer will do if that happens. A directive may be to go home. If they’re intoxication, they won’t be driving. The directions that you’ll need to make and what the consequences are. It’s essential to make sure that everyone knows the results. If you need one Fresh HR Insights have you covered.
Internet, Email, and Social Media Use
Employers need to consider these policies seriously. I’ve had a past client who dismissed someone when they turned up at work because they had written something on social media that wasn’t particularly polite. However, they had no policy in place. That’s considered unfair dismissal. They didn’t follow a process, and they ended up having to pay about four and a half grands because the employee made a claim, and they didn’t have a written policy in place. The expectations weren’t clear, and they didn’t follow a procedure. They got fined for that.
- Workplace bullying. That’s another big one — the legislation changes with workplace bullying. An employee does not have to go through the company processes. They can go straight to Fair Work Commission now, – and lodge a claim.
- Health and safety as well. Very important.
If you’ve got staff, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got your Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
Make sure that you aren’t cheap protecting them in their environment. Provide a safe work environment. I was talking to a Worker’s Health and Safety expert the other day, and there are fines from 50 to 100 thousand. They can be, for breach in not providing a safe workplace for someone. Can you afford that?
Not having the right policies and procedures in place is a considerable risk to your business. You need to have a lot of things, and the system’s not going to cover every eventuality. A lot depends on your business model and your operations. If you’re operating in the construction business, then I would recommend you have a full workplace health and safety policies, process, and procedures handbook regarding just that.
It’s vital to have systems and procedures for HR as well as for all areas of your business. I find that being a business owner, having the systems in place makes my life a lot easier; I can work all my business, not in my business all the time.
For small business owners, don’t go in there to work 23 hours a day and sleep for one hour.
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Reasons for having written policies
Number of reasons
There are a number of good reasons for having written workplace policies in place. Not the least of these is the fact that workplace policies are useful documents to rely on when a legal dispute arises between an employer and an employee. In many cases, where the employer can point to a policy to show that the employee ought to have known what his or her responsibilities were in relation to the disputed matter, the employer is likely to be in a much stronger position before a court or tribunal. Well-written company policies aim to help businesses in many ways. Policies demonstrate that the organisation is being operated in an efficient and businesslike manner, raise stability and ensure consistency in the decision-making and operational procedures.
Other reasons for putting policies in place are explained below.
Some employment related laws include a requirement that a policy be in place and that the policy fulfils certain specifications. For example, workplace health and safety laws require employers to put in place a rehabilitation policy outlining the responsibilities of the employer. Where no policy is in place this will constitute an offence under the legislation. In other areas of the law, such as equal opportunity, there is no specific requirement in the legislation that policies be put in place. However, where an employer can point to a policy, that will go some way towards substantiating the employer’s compliance with the law should the matter arise before a court or tribunal. To this end, many organisations have policies on EEO, workplace harassment and grievance handling procedures.
Policies that are required by the law, either directly or indirectly, serve the function of stating in the least what the minimum legal rights and responsibilities of both the employer and the employees are. This gives employees a clear indication of what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer. Some employers choose to have policies that set a standard higher than that required under the law.
Codes of conduct
Many companies introduce policies relating to matters that are not regulated by law but are based on standards set by the employer in an effort to ensure a high standard of behaviour in the workplace. Such policies usually deal with employees’ behaviour at work, including the way employees relate to each other, as well as their responsibilities towards the employer and to company property. Setting policies in these areas again indicates to employees the standard of behaviour that is expected of them at work and what the consequences of a breach will be.
Policies can deal with such matters as: fighting, language, dress standards, alcohol, drugs, smoking, confidentiality, other employment, maintaining the workplace, borrowing of company property, theft, and statements to media.
Examples we have in our code of conduct are;
- Be honest and fair in dealings with customers, clients, suppliers, co-workers, management and the general public.
- Display the appropriate image of professionalism at your workplace. Wear the required uniform, safety equipment or work clothes, and if a workplace participant wears their own clothes, ensure their appearance is neat and tidy.
- Treat customers, clients, suppliers, co-workers, company management and the general public in a non-discriminatory manner with proper regard for their rights and dignity. In this regard, discrimination, victimisation or harassment based on a person’s race, colour, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, union membership or non-membership, mental or physical disability, or any other classification protected by law will not be tolerated.
- Promptly report any violations of law, ethical principles, policies and this Code.
- Maintain punctuality. If a workplace participant is late or cannot report for work, please telephone and let the supervisor know as soon as possible.
- Do not use work time for private gain. If a workplace participant is required to leave the work premises for personal reasons, they should advise their Manager well in advance.
- Maintain and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out duties and responsibilities.
Conditions of employment
There is a whole range of conditions of employment that may not be prescribed by law but which are agreed to by the employer and the employee at the commencement of the employment contract. Some companies issue policies on such matters so that employees are clear on what their rights and responsibilities are. Conditions of employment that may fall within this category include: attendance, absenteeism, punctuality, transfer, training, promotion, probation, performance review, discipline, abandonment of employment, exit interviews, notice, and termination.
It is useful to develop policies on employee entitlements that are prescribed by award or legislation so that employees and human resources staff are easily able to ascertain what the entitlements are. Policies included within this category will include annual leave, long service leave, bereavement leave, parental leave, carer’s leave, jury leave, special leave, overtime, shift work etc. This also now includes Family and Domestic violence leave.
Some companies provide a whole range of benefits that employees enjoy as part of their job. These are often not prescribed by legislation or award but are provided by the employer for the benefit of employees – sometimes as incentives aimed at increasing productivity. Other benefits are provided with the idea of increasing employee morale. These can relate to such things as employee health, or assisting employees to balance work and family responsibilities. It is important to clarify how such benefits are awarded to employees in a company policy in order to ensure that all employees know of their availability, they are distributed fairly, and that any conditions applying are understood.
Employee benefits that fall into this category and which should be included in policies include company cars, mobile phones, employee assistance programs, salary packaging, career breaks, and study assistance.
Running a company without a rulebook is like going on a voyage without a sail. Don’t gamble with your policies, don’t gamble with your goals. Contact us today to find out some more
You can also grab our checklist –
- Why do you need to have Policies and Procedures
- Communicating Policies
- What are the benefits to my business
- What is included in an employee handbook policy
- What are the essentials (Must-Have) Policies that a company needs
- How to Implement workplace policies effectively
Answering the BIG question – Why Outsource your HR requirements?
- Outsourcing your HR support requirements to an HR consultant can save you both time and money. Having a human resources consultant means that you have available to you someone with more experience and specialized knowledge than you have. The extra money you save can be reinvested into the business. You might be able to hire more people or operate more efficiently which could put you a step above your competitors.
- Experienced outsourced providers can often deal with HR processes more effectively – especially quite complex HR functions such as employee regulations, employee handbooks, investigations, disciplinaries, and workplace health and safety. This will reduce the time that employers and managers spend on HR-related paperwork and procedures, and more time dedicated to their areas of focus.
- Outsourcing HR functions can help businesses manage employee performance and development. If desired, your human resources consultants can implement performance management plans to ensure employees comply with company policies and procedures and successfully meet business goals.
- Business leaders often get embroiled in the day-to-day HR issues, distracting them from their main business focus. Outsourced HR consultants allow you to shift your focus back, while providing comfort knowing that the HR side of things is being taken care of.
- HR consultants can often be brought in to help create some of the more difficult HR documents such as employee handbooks and employee files, and to help establish best practices. In turn, this documentation contains the answers to many employee questions. By having the answers at their fingers tips, employees (and employers) get consistent answers to their questions, faster.
- Employment legislation changes regularly and it can be difficult for employers to remain up-to-date on regulations that affect the workplace. It is the job of HR consultants to stay on top of this legislation so that you don’t have to. They will make sure your policies and procedures comply with legislation and that both the employer and the employee are protected. They may also regularly maintain your documentation to make sure you are continually up-to-date.
You may not need a full scope of support and instead someone there to provide support when needed.
This is why Fresh HR insights have developed their own support package for Small Business-
$295 per month for 3 hours support*
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Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd has created a fact sheet covering the following
- Reducing Employee Hours
- Options to reduce hours of work
Use the button below to download the fact sheet. Any questions please let the team at Fresh HR Insights know by emailing in firstname.lastname@example.org
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New Year, New Start, New Employees.
New Employee Recruitment – Why getting recruitment right is vital and if you don’t, guess what?
There was the case of the small business that advertised a position for a new receptionist. The appointed interview panel agreed to a points system for assessing the performance of candidates and agreed the post would be offered to whoever achieved the highest score. The interviews went ahead, and the best candidate was agreed. Just the post was offered, the department head decided to give the job to his niece instead. There was a great deal of acrimony and the result was a number of senior personnel handing in their resignation.
Let us, and you, start on the right track.
New Employee Recruitment. A fresh start for everyone is a good idea, and the New Year is as good a time as any to check you are doing everything right by your employees and by potential employees. 2018 has come – and the year ahead may bring many unexpected things your way: success, opportunity, laughter, lawsuits (we hope not), new premises, a new strategy, an industry award, and new staff. If you are looking for new staff, either replacing those who have left or expanding parts of the business and creating new roles, then Fresh HR Insights can help you.
Fresh HR Insights does not want anyone to get into hot water so early in 2018, so let this New Year be the start of good practice in your workplace. Recruitment is not easy, but if done properly it will bear you benefits that mean you will avoid the “lawsuits” in the list above!
It is important that you know the law regarding employees and that you recruit fairly and widely, this will help you reach as many of the right people possible for the job. Don’t forget a secretive closed appointment will create suspicion and anger – always be fair and accountable and old and new staff will respect you.
Remember in August last year, the case of the Railway Union which lost the battle to keep jobs advertised internally? Well we don’t want that happening to your business. Make sure you advertise externally, as well as internally, and that the details of the job are clear, and that terms are conditions are lawful and appropriate to the job.
Good practice is as important as compliance with the law! When you are shortlisting for interviewing make sure the criteria of selection is fair and if possible involve a panel to oversee the process and to make decisions, then respect what that panel decides!
When you interview, make sure the candidates know what your plan of interview is, how long it will be and with whom they will be interviewing. Make the interview fair to all. When you make your selection, make sure you make a job offer that is as promised within the advert placed at the start of the recruitment.
Fresh HR Insights has a lot of experience in recruiting in small and large businesses and has developed many materials that will inform you. We will hold your hand from start to finish. In the words of Oprah Winfrey:
“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right”
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New Employee Recruitment can be difficult to navigate but not any more with our COMPREHENSIVE eBook that includes all the templates, advice and tips you will need.
Recruiting and selecting the most appropriate person for the job is a complex task which requires trained staff who are aware of anti-discrimination laws and guidelines. Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd has developed a comprehensive guidelines that will help you to implement a consistent method of recruitment and encourage applications from the widest possible pool. Our comprehensive Recruitment and Selection eBook contains some best practice guidelines for developing selection criteria, advertising, short listing, application forms, testing, interviewing, referee reports, and making the decision, when recruiting and selecting the most appropriate person for the job.
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