Human resources management should be involved from the very first conversation about workplace policies to the final publication of employee handbooks. In addition, HR leads the communication and marketing plans that support the unveiling of personnel policies. Strategic planning, development, implementation and interpretation are within HR management’s purview to ensure that the company’s policies reflect sound business principles.
Workplace policies serve an important purpose for small businesses and large organizations alike. They provide structure, protect the interests of both employees and employers, and support employment decisions ranging from sourcing job applicants to counseling departing employees on retirement issues. Operating a company without some type of personnel or workplace policies can be costly, time-consuming and can do irreparable harm to the company’s reputation. Personnel policies mitigate potential losses, confer rights on employees and the employer, and serve as a road map for conflict resolution. Policies differ from standard operating procedures, checklists and process steps; they’re guidelines that can be fluid, yet give organizations the necessary framework for success.
An HR manager or director generally is who leads the charge in policy development. She might be leading a committee of department managers, conferring with executive-level directors or consulting with a legal team on the most important personnel policies that align with the company’s mission and philosophy. For example, small businesses often don’t want the kind of bureaucratic process-intensive policies that large organizations might need. Therefore, an HR leader may be responsible for deciding how the combination of workplace culture and workplace policy help or hinder organizational structure and growth.
Implementing personnel policies requires that HR management design workplace change. Whether the company is developing and implementing its policies for the first time or revising old workplace policies, change management is the process best managed by HR. Communication is a key element of change management. Towers Watson, one of the top three HR consulting firms, says organizations must prepare their employees for rolling out changes and the critical channel for doing so is communication, in addition to employee training.
HR management provides leadership training on how to interpret personnel policies. Two schools of thought don’t go unnoticed when you consider how much autonomy the company gives supervisors and managers in policy interpretation. Writing iron-clad policies that company’s leaders simply follow step-by-step robs them of the opportunity to resolve workplace issues through using their own critical-thinking skills. Some supervisors are OK with this. On the other hand, empowering supervisors entails providing them with guidelines and entrusting them to render accurate interpretation, yet consistent application of workplace policies. The latter is far more acceptable to leaders who don’t need a rigid playbook to do manage their teams.