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By Maja Trpevska
Human Resources

Why You Need HR Policies in Your Business

Many companies, especially the small ones, tend to overlook HR practices and often put them on the back burner. Small business owners often ask, “Why do I need policies in my business If 2020 was not a testament of why you need policies in place, 2021 should be the reason why you have them.

As your business grows and you start getting employees on board, it is important to hash out some rules. HR Policies ensure that your staff are well-aware of their rights and responsibilities at work. It also reinforces a standard of acceptable behaviour and conduct in the workplace. Spending your time, money, and resources in creating company policies may not be at the top of your list. However, your business is “at risk” if you don’t have policies written and communicated to your staff.

The Difference Between Policies and Procedures

Before we get into what policies you need, remember that policies are different from procedures. Policies are statements on how the company expects staff to conduct themselves. Procedures, however, provide step-by-step instructions, and how to guides for staff on processes, systems, and tools.

6 Must Have HR Policies for Small Business

There are a significant number of benefits to implementing workplace policies. Workplace policies puts your organisation in a stronger position. It is also a simple way to ensure your business knows how to handle workplace issues or concerns.

Further, all businesses, big or small, are obliged to meet the minimum requirements of federal and state workplace laws. As a bare minimum, we recommend every business has the following policies:

  • Workplace Health Safety (WHS) Policy
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Discrimination and Harassment Policy
  • Workplace Bullying Policy
  • Whistleblower Policy
  • Grievance Policy
  • Leave Policy, including a Family and Domestic Violence Leave, and Parental Leave Policy
  • Privacy Policy

It’s also important to clearly outline unacceptable behaviours and what is not tolerated in the workplace. Clearly defined policies can deter inappropriate behaviour which could expose you to claims or damage under Fair Work legislation.

Covid-19 Policy Requirements

With the recent changes to workplace laws in response to COVID-19, it’s important that your organisation has the following documents in place to support you with this change:

  • Up to date COVIDSafe Plan
  • COVID-19 Policy
  • Working from Home Policy

It is important that, once you have created these documents, you communicate this to all your employees and get their sign off. You should also complete COVID-19 infection control training, educate the employee on the new policy, and set the expectations.

Communicating HR Policies in Writing

Written polices also act as evidence of processes completed as part of onboarding new staff members, or re-inducting staff who have been with you for some time. Something as simple as a staff member posting on social media during work hours, using a company mobile phone/computer, and commenting inappropriately about another person or posting inappropriate literature online could be prevented. Please remember this is about protecting your brand and reputation, as your staff work for you.

Policies During Work Functions Such as Christmas Parties

It is important to set company expectations and provide employees with the standards and requirements during work, and work-related activities. Companies may like to enjoy social activities and provide employees an opportunity to have a few drinks and socialise with their colleagues. Employers should educate their employees about expected standards of behaviour. We would recommend having the following policies in place before a customer or staff event, no different to a Christmas party:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy
  • Internet and Email Policy
  • Mobile Phone Electronic Device Policy
  • Performance Counselling and Management Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Social Events Policy

Of course, policies may not be the answer to all your problems. However, your staff must know what your policies are, and effectively demonstrate their understanding of the reasons behind them. We recommend that you do a Policy Workshop to set out the expectations and standards. This also gives you the opportunity to reunite with your team and focus on the goals to improve your business. Bear in mind, you must get their sign off, digitally or paper-based, as that serves an evidence that they have read and understood these policies. And, as per Colin Wilson’s blog, raising the bar of professionalism is part of having a remarkable business.

Breach of Policy

There have been cases where an employee is terminated for not following the policies provided to them, despite signing the document. Through a Fair Work claim, the employer was questioned if they communicated these policies to the employee and how they went about measuring their understanding of them.  Without your staff understanding them, you cannot expect them to carry out these policies effectively.

It is essential that not only do your managers and supervisors know and understand your policies, but that they also need to conduct their actions and behaviour, and lead by example themselves, in a manner which reflects this.

If you and your team require assistance with the development and implementation of effective workplace HR policies that align with the current legislation or would like to conduct a policy workshop to reiterate the policies, please contact us at Key Business Advisors on 1300 4 ADVICE or email info@keyba.com.au . Book a 15min FREE Chat and speak with one of our qualified and experienced HR Consultants.

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