7 HR Policies And Procedures That Make Your Business Better

HR roles have changed in recent years; 83% of HR leaders say that they’re expected to do more now than they did prior to 2020. To tackle all that’s required of you as an HR manager, it’s critical that you build stability within your organization and trust with your employees. Surveys have revealed that only 16% of employees feel their organization is predictable, and just over 50% of employees trust their organization.

One way to provide a better employee experience that builds this stability and trust is to develop solid HR policies that ground the organization and make things more predictable for employees. A good employee experience is so crucial to an organization that it can affect critical metrics like employee turnover.

Statistically speaking, employers have just 44 days to convince a new hire to stay. Among the 44% of new hires who experience regret within just the first week of their new job, many say it’s because they don’t feel supported or have clarity. Fortunately, much of this can be solved by having clear and stable HR policies that provide guidance during the onboarding experience and throughout the employee’s tenure.

When you can provide this guidance, statistics show that you are more likely to keep 58% of your employees for at least three years, and 77% of those employees are likely to hit their first performance milestone during the onboarding process. Without HR policies and procedures in place, it could mean higher turnover, more compliance risk, and less productivity and efficiency for employees—all things that can affect the company’s ability to meet its strategic goals.

A Definition of HR Policies

HR policies are an official set of guidelines that govern employers and employees. They cover the entire employee experience, from recruiting and hiring to onboarding, performance, compensation, leave, attendance, and safety. They also guide how employees behave in any work setting, including hybrid and remote teams, and how HR teams handle that behavior.

Throughout an employee’s tenure, HR policies act as a resource for the employee, whether they’re provided in physical form or in an electronic employee handbook. They’re critical for HR managers when it comes to things like employee discipline, as they ensure that employees know what is expected of them and outline clear guidance for progressive discipline and termination.

HR managers should know the difference between HR policies and procedures. While policies govern the “what,” HR procedures govern the “how.” They outline how policies are implemented throughout the organization.

Having human resource processes and policies in place is what ensures that all employees are treated fairly and equally. However, before you can develop the right HR policies, it's important to understand their function and the role they play in your organization.

The Function of HR Policies

HR policies serve a critical function in your organization. They contribute to your ability to manage HR compliance and avoid legal risks. Well-communicated policies ensure that organizations follow the law by informing employees of their rights. They provide guidance for managers about critical topics like sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and data privacy. They also protect the organization in the event of an employee lawsuit.

Additionally, HR policies communicate the company’s mission, vision, and values to employees by setting guidelines and expectations for employee behavior. This not only brings clarity to employees and helps them understand the “why” behind company decision making, but it also helps to build, preserve, and connect employees to a positive workplace culture.

HR policies also lead to fair and equal treatment of employees by ensuring that the organization is meeting employees’ needs and properly administering the benefits that were promised to them. These include compensation, time off, health plans, and retirement benefits.

They also protect employees from unscrupulous behavior from colleagues or the organization (such as discrimination or harassment) and provide employees an avenue to address issues and grievances.

Still, HR processes and policies are more than just a functional necessity. They also provide plenty of benefits for the organization.

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How HR Policies Benefit Your Business

Comprehensive HR policies are necessary for your organization to run well and stay in line with legal requirements. However, HR policies also bring the following benefits to stakeholders across the organization:

As you consider drafting or updating policies and procedures in your HR department, make sure you put the right ones in place to address all important employee-related topics.

7 HR Policies to Include in Your Employee Handbook

Whether you start with a set of HR policy samples or draft yours from scratch, a comprehensive employee handbook is vital when it comes to compliance, a positive culture, and efficient HR administration. Here are seven essential HR policies you should include to ensure your organization stays protected and functions well.

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1. Recruiting and Hiring Policies

Your recruiting and hiring policies and procedures address the “how” behind your recruitment efforts. They govern whether you share open positions internally first, how long the recruitment process will be, how you manage employee referrals, and how you select candidates.

If you have a diversity, equity, and inclusion policy, it’s important to address that here, as it influences how employees perceive company values. This policy should also address new hires and the onboarding process, outlining necessary forms and submission timelines.

One way to keep new employees informed and satisfied is by developing a solid employee handbook with robust HR policies and procedures in place. Though it may seem like a mere formality, this one action can help support employees throughout their tenure with the organization, making it likely they’ll stay longer and perform better.

2. Employee Exit and Termination Policy

Employers must think about the entirety of the employee experience, from recruitment to exit. Consequently, you should have an HR policy in place for when employees leave, either by choice or due to termination.

These policies need to outline and address layoff procedures, how much notice employees should give, offboarding procedures (including those that address access to the network), returning company property, exit interviews, and severance pay.

You also need policies in place to address termination and possible reasons for it. Addressing issues like poor performance and behavior violations helps ensure you stay in compliance with state and federal regulations and avoid issues with discrimination and possible lawsuits.

3. Health and Safety Policy

Health and safety policies keep employees protected, ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations and standards, and protect the organization from lawsuits. Make sure your HR management policy addresses the reporting of workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims.

It’s also important to address recent trends, such as how to handle harassment and psychological safety with remote employees or address national or global health emergencies as outlined by the World Health Organization, the CDC, the NIH, or other official organizations.

4. Employee Leave and Time Off Policy

Every employee needs time off. Whether it’s to take care of a sick family member, care for themselves when they’re sick, have time for bereavement, have a baby, or go on vacation, you need time off policies that govern when and how employees take breaks.

Your employee leave policy needs to address legal compliance and paperwork surrounding the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You should also tackle appropriate reasons for leave requests, how far in advance employees should request time off, expectations for working holidays, human resources processes for making the request, and possible reasons for denial.

Make sure employees know what to do after approval so things run smoothly at work while they are gone.

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5. Attendance and Remote Work Policies

In the age of remote and hybrid work, you must have attendance policies that govern where and when your employees are expected to work. Ensure that your policy covers how employees keep track of their working hours, including any electronic tools they must use.

Though you may already have an HR management policy for PTO in place, your attendance policy should also address unexpected absences, late arrivals, and disciplinary action for attendance issues.

6. Compensation and Benefits

Compensation in your organization should be governed by well-thought-out and carefully crafted policies that make things clear and fair for all employees. Having a solid compensation and benefits policy also helps you clearly communicate this information to potential candidates.

Make sure your policy addresses salary determinations and how and when employees get paid. It should also address the other benefits (such as PTO, healthcare, and retirement matching) that come with the job.

7. Non-Discrimination & Anti-Harassment Policy

When asked about discrimination, 91% of employees say they’ve experienced discrimination at work. Additionally, 23% have experienced violence or harassment.

This is why you should have anti-discrimination and harassment policies in place outlining how the company will respond to these actions. Because they’re prohibited by law in every corner of the workplace from hiring to termination, you must ensure all policies adhere to all federal and state laws, provide training for employees, and embed values into your company culture that promote fair and equal treatment for all employees.

Be aware that help is available to draft a compliant policy. Some federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, provide HR policy examples and tips for organizations that need them.

HR Policies Build a Workplace Culture of Compliance, Support, and Positivity

The employee experience is essential to the health of your organization, impacting everything from turnover to daily productivity. By addressing important issues like harassment, discrimination, time off, compensation, attendance, safety, and recruitment, you can streamline your responsibilities while ensuring your organization is a great place to work.

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