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HR policies and procedures: A guide to get you started

What is an HR policy?

A policy is a formal statement of rules that group members are expected to abide by. There is a separate policy for each topic important to the organization. These can be broken down into seven main categories of HR policies:

  1. Recruitment and Selection

  2. Leave and Time Off

  3. Health, Safety and Security

  4. Employee Conduct

  5. Performance Management

  6. Equipment Use

  7. Work Expenses and Travel

Each of these have a general theme, and then will break down the specific rules within.

There are many benefits to including these policies in your employee handbook Employee handbook article:

- HR policies make sure every employee is taken care of and respected in the workplace.

- HR policies act as one central point of reference when staff need information (like which holidays are paid, how to take time off, and how they’ll be compensated for working overtime.)

- HR policies make employee responsibilities clear.

- HR policies bring ease to the onboarding and training process.

- HR policies protect your business from legal issues. (Rules are hard to dispute when they are laid out clearly and you’ve covered all the main topics.)

What is an HR procedure?

A procedure tells group members how to implement a policy. It’s the ‘how’ to a policy’s ‘what’. This comes in handy when there is a policy violation, a change in the nature of an employee’s job, or when an accident happens in the office. If you have the proper procedures in place, staff will know exactly how to deal with these occurrences.

Most common human resources policies and procedures

But it’s important to understand that employment law Is my business compliant? is different depending on where you operate your business. Most of the time, the variations between provinces and states are minor, but it’s vital that you research and comply with all that are applicable to your company.

● Anti-harassment

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Hiring Practices

● Vacation Policy

● Parental Leave

● Workplace Violence

● Conflict of Interest

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

● Disciplinary Action

● Termination

● Computer Usage and Security

● Expense Reimbursement

● Privacy

● Health and Safety

● Remote Work and Telecommuting

● Leave and Time Off Work

How to develop your own HR policy

Writing effective human resources policies and procedures can be overwhelming— your final product may be hundreds of pages! We’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor, but then take a look at these five tips that will make this a whole lot easier:

1. Use clear language

Picture this. Your brand new hire is given their employee handbook and excitedly flips to a random page. Are they met with margin-to-margin legalese, or reader-friendly copy?

This is going to seem obvious, but if you expect your employees to abide by the rules, they have to understand what those rules are. So when a staff member smuggles the company stash of sticky notes home, they aren’t surprised there are consequences.

Avoid grey area and even legal liability by writing your policies and procedures with your staff in mind. Everybody on your team should be able to understand the language used.

2. Keep it succinct

Avoid unnecessary flourish. And if you’re going to include details that can quickly become outdated— which in some cases can be a good idea— dedicate yourself to regular review of the material.

3. Adapt standards to your business

It would be easy to download a bunch of policy templates and call it a day. But in order for your human resources policies and procedures to be truly effective, they need to be catered to your company’s specific needs. Carefully consider each policy and how it relates to your staff.

4. Consult an HR pro

Before you’re ready to start handing out your shiny new policies and procedures, it’s important to have someone well-educated about legislative compliance look it over. Ensure you’re up-to-date with both provincial and federal employment law (Canada) with the help of one of our consultants. (Or, if you look deep into your heart and realize writing this stuff on your own isn’t actually something you want to do, we offer policy development too.)

5. Organize, organize, organize

You’ve thunk the thoughts, written the words, now it’s time to organize it all. This step is crucial to having staff buy into your new set of guidelines. Here are a few things you can do to make sure all your hard work doesn’t go unread:

- The table of contents is the shining star of a document this big. Keep it organized and clear for an easy reading experience.

- Where possible, use charts, infographics and other visuals to organize the most complicated information.

- Break down your topics into concise headings and subheadings.

- Use colour to organize information. Everybody loves a nice colour system.

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