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By Maja Trpevska | Hr Consultant
Human Resources

The need for HR policies in your business

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

Difference between policies and procedures

There are a significant number of benefits to having workplace policies. It puts your organisation in a stronger position.  Besides it’s one of the simple ways to ensure your business knows how to handle workplace issues or concerns

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, where a procedure is providing step-by-step instructions, and how-to guides for staff on processes, systems, and tools.

6 Must-have HR policies for small business

All businesses, big or small, are obliged to meet the minimum requirements of the federal and the state workplace laws . As a bare minimum, we recommend every business to have 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 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 with 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 a covid-19 infection control training, educate the employee on the new policy and set the expectations.

Communicating HR policies in writing

Written polices can also act as evidence of processes completed as part of onboarding a new staff member, or re-inducting staff who have been with you for sometime. 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 a Christmas Party

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 have to 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, this is all about having a remarkable business because you raise the bar on professionalism.

Breach of policy

There has 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.

About The Author

Maja Trpevska

Maja joined the Keyba family as she believes in taking businesses to the next level using the HR process.

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