These are continuing guidelines on the approach the organisation intends to adopt in managing its employees.
Policies define the philosophies and values of the organisation on how people should be treated. It is from these policies that principles on how managers are expected to behave and act when dealing with Human resource matters are derived.
The policies therefore serve as reference points when HR practises are being developed and when decisions about employees are being made.
A policy thus provides generalised guidance on the approach adopted by the organisation, and therefore its employees concerning various aspects of employment.
A procedure on the other hand spells out precisely what action should be taken in line with the policy.
HUMAN RESOURCE OBJECTIVES
HR objectives are derived from the overall corporate goals of an organisation. The organisations corporate goals precede the objectives formulated by the Human Resource. In other words the organisation defines its goals; the strategic direction it intends to take and then the HR formulate their strategies to support and achieve the corporate objectives and strategies chosen.
There are 2 types of objectives at this level:
- a) The desire to increase efficiency
This refers to the comparison between inputs needed to produce a given level of output against the actual amount produced.
Efficient organisations maximize outputs while minimising inputs.
HR decisions affect the organisation’s efficiency by employing the workforce (human capital) in the most efficient manner and ensuring optimal capacity utilization.
- The inclination to maintain equity
This is the perceived fairness of both the procedures used to make HR decisions and the decisions themselves.
In other words the HR decisions made should not only be fair and beyond reproach but must be seen to be so.
Many people are interested in the rules and procedures used to decide pay increases, hiring, laying off staff, promotions as well as the effects of these decisions.
Proper policies therefore provide the criteria and the basis on which decisions are made.
CASE FOR HUMAN RESOURCE POLICIES
- Policies offer an objective approach to issues in line with Corporate values and principles, whenever dealing with issues affecting people
- They provide frameworks on which consistent decisions are made.
- They promote equity in the way people are treated in the workplace
- They provide guidance to managers on what action or decision should be made in particular circumstances.
- They facilitate empowerment, devolved authority and delegation in decision makinge. where the policy is clear on what should be done there is often little need to make reference to management for guidance but only make recommendation along the policy guidelines.
- They eliminate discretionary decisions, which are often the source of conflict and prejudice.
- They can be useful in shaping the corporate culture of an institution.
In order to make prudent decisions devoid of any prejudice, managers need to follow the 4 P’s of management in the order of Policy, Procedure, Precedence and professional Personal opinion.
FORMAL AND INFORMAL POLICIES
Policies are to be found in practically all organisations. In some of these organisations the policies are not documented but exist as a philosophy, belief and an attitude to employees that is expressed in the way Human Resource issues are handled. In such organisations the philosophy is transcribed in “the way we do things here”
Non-formal policies have the advantage of being flexible and non-constrictive i.e. they give wide discretionary powers to management.The disadvantage is that they are highly subjective and employ the rule of thumb in decision-making. The rule of thumb is a rough and practical approach to decision making based on experience rather than laid down theory. They tend to be inconsistent, difficult to understand in terms of rationale and prone to abuse by managers as a result of the discretion they give.
To introduce objectivity in decision-making, it is important that policies are expressed in written form.
The advantages of having policies in writing are:
- They are objective since the basis of the decision can be inferred
- They offer a basis for consistency in decision-making.
- They are easy to communicate to the employees owing to their documented nature
- They promote equity in the work place and can be seen to promote transparency
- Provide a framework for establishing and reviewing decisions.
Formalized HR policies can be used in induction & management training to help participants understand the beliefs and culture of the organization
The weaknesses of written policies are that they are rigid and inflexible, highly summarized (constrictive) and nonspecific (general and lacking precision)
THE AIMS OF HUMAN RESOURCE POLICIES
- Enable the organisation carry out its set objectives in the desired manner. i.e. Policies create order.
- Ensure employees are informed of the expectations of the employer.
- Protect common interests of all parties in the organisation
- Provide for consultative participation by employees in management through devolved authority. I.e. where policies are clear on subject matters very little reference is required.
- Provide security of employment. I.e. where policies are well documented in all aspects, the organisation is perceived as a stable employer.
- Provides opportunity for growth in the organisation e. employee growth/advancement in the organisation is assured when there is consistency of decisions made as a result of policies being in place.
- Creates a sense of responsibility for those in authority. I.e. arbitrary decisions are reduced.
- Helps preserve institutional memory
CHARACTERISTICS OF SOUND PERSONNEL POLICIES
Good personnel policies embrace certain characteristics:
- They should be definitive, positive, clear and easily understood by everyone in the organisation.
- They are written in a way that protects the organisation against loss and also prevent promulgation (spread) of numerous, differing and temporary oral policies from multiple sources.e. good policies should never be anti-establishment, they serve to protect the interests of the organisations
- They have to be reasonable, stable and able to stand the test of time but not rigid in that they cannot be revised. They should be evaluated, updated and revised periodically to make them current.
- They have to be in tune with the challenges of the environment.
- They should be formulated with due regard to the interests of all concerned parties. (Should not be imposed on employees, involve them at formulation stage)
- They should be formulated after careful analysis of all available facts.
- They must be consistent with public policy and the legal statutes.
- They must have the support of the management and workers.
- They must be uniform and applied equally throughout the organisation.
ORIGINS AND SOURCES OF PERSONNEL POLICIES
Policies can be drawn from various sources from within and outside the organisation. Some of the most common reference points when coming up with HR policies are:
- Past practises in the organisation
- Prevailing practises in similar organisations and the
- Philosophies, ideals and attitudes of the Directors and
- Knowledge and experience gained from handling day–to-day personnel problems
- Employee suggestions and complaints
- Collective bargaining processes and agreement
- Existing Government legislation
- Consultants and professional bodies dealing with HR matters
- Changes in the Economic Environment
- Culture, attitudes and social values of the labour force.
- Goals and objectives of the organisation.
- Technological changes i.e. changes in the ICT field, -internet as a valuable source
HUMAN RESOURCE POLICY AREAS
Human resource policies can be expressed as overall statements of the philosophy of the organisation and of its values.
The overall policy defines how the organisation fulfils its social responsibilities for its workers and sets out its attitudes towards the workers. It is an expression of its values or beliefs about how people should be treated. Any organisation gets its reputation from its value systems.
The values expressed in an overall statement of HR policies may explicitly or implicitly refer to the following:
This refers to the treatment of employees fairly and justly. It includes amongst others policies that are deliberately put in place and aimed at:
- Protecting individuals from any unfair decisions made by their managers
- Providing equal opportunities for employment (EEO)
- Providing fair and impartial promotion policy
- Creating a fair and impartial disciplinary policy
- Operating an equitable payment system
Decisions made by management in the organisation must be fair and founded on sound policies and should be seen to be so in the eyes of the employees.
Refers to taking into account individual circumstances when making decisions that affect the prospects, security or self-respect of employees.
In any decision making prudent managers should evaluate all the intervening circumstances and then make judgement based on this. Employees should be given the benefit of doubt whenever circumstances indicate that the employee for instance did their best, even if the policy states otherwise.
Decisions should also never seek to undermine the person of the employee, and direct references that may undermine the self-respect, or esteem of the employee should be avoided.
Organisational learning refers to the enhancement of skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to improve work performance and also prepare staff to take up higher responsibilities in the organisation.
A belief and commitment in the need to promote the learning and development of all members of the organisation by providing the processes and support required.
The organisation should endeavourto continuously develop and maintain highly skilled employees by investing in training and development courses for all members of staff.
PERFORMANCE THROUGH PEOPLE
This refers to the significance attached to developing a performance culture and to continuous improvement.
In performance management a mutual agreement is made on the expectations of each party i.e. the employer defines his expectations to the employee and both of them agree on the objectives/targets to be met.
A fair and impartial evaluation or assessment is then carried out at the end of the agreed duration to evaluate how well the employees are performing .reward and training considerations can then be determined from the outcomes of the appraisal.
This is a conscious and continuous objective to improve the quality of working life.
- Increasing the self-esteem and satisfaction of employees in the work place through encouragement and recognition.
- Reducing monotony in the place of work by offering challenges to employees (job rotation or job enrichment, job enlargement could be used)
- Delegation e. shared responsibility through assignment of duties to subordinate officers.
- Devolved authority e. reassignment of authority and influence in certain areas to subordinate officers
- Adopting motivational strategies aimed at enhancing morale & reducing stress at work (recognition, bonuses, commissions, honoraria, lunch, overtime, time offs, salary increments, extra mural activities g. choir, sports club.)
- Impartial reward systems – fair grading structures and compensation scheme which have regard to the job compensable factors like the level of skills, training, experience, mental and physical effort exerted on the job etc.(equal pay for jobs of equal value)
- Fair training systems-with proper course objectives and programs
- Providing for an acceptable balance between work and outside it. I.e. work –life balance.
- WORKING CONDITIONS
This refers to the provision of a healthy, safe and a pleasant working environment.
Here you look at the components of both the physical and administrative work environment.
Under the physical work environment you look at the minimum work place standards, which include:
- Well lit and ventilated office and working space at correct temperatures
- Facilities such as toilets and sanitation provision (water, soap dryers. hand towels tissue etc.)
- Fire safety standards and fire fighting equipment
- Provision of basic working tools, equipment and protective clothing
- Putting up suitable notices and signs to direct staff and clients to entrances and exits (and emergency exits)
- First aid facilities for minor on the job injuries and dispensary services
- Clean drinking water and canteen facilities
- Fire escapes which are well lit and an evacuation area.
- Changing facilities for staff
- Noise reduction and pollution free work environment
- Rest and waiting areas for staff and visitors
- Consideration for the disabled staff and customers – ramps for wheel chairs
- Adequate working space in terms of area etc.
Under the administrative work environment you examine at the following:
- The Policies and procedures on health and safety in the work place that create an enabling and conducive work environment.
- Evaluating the management style and supervision
- Proper reporting processes for incidents and accidents in the work place
- A communication policy -Communication of the strategic plan & direction of the organisation to employees
- Promotion of team work (involvement and participation)
- Safety information for staff and customers
- Risk assessment in all areas of the organisation, (the risk assessment must be written down.)
SPECIFIC AREAS COVERED BY EMPLOYMENT POLICIES
The policies developed by HR should cover the following areas:
NOTE: The list given below is by no means definitive for every organisation. The policies developed by any one organisation depend on the nature and needs of the organisation.
- Equal opportunity
The equal opportunity policy spells out the organisations resolute decision to afford equal opportunity to all persons, irrespective of gender, race, disability, age or marital status.
Affirmative action, which seeks to address the issue of imbalances between numbers employed according to gender or race, or to differences in the levels of qualifications and skills, falls in this category.
The policy could contain the following provisions that seek to expound the commitment of the organisation in the area of equal opportunity:
- This organisation is an equal opportunity employer –which implies that the organisation does not discriminate either directlyor indirectly against any employee or candidate seeking employment on the grounds of race, sex, disability, religion, marital status or Age etc.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly than others are being treated, or would be treated in similar circumstances. E.g. “all candidates appearing for interviews should be seated by 10.00 a.m., the interview of members of the European community will take precedence over all others. Please bear with us. “
Indirect discrimination takes place when a condition is applied that adversely affects a considerable proportion of a race, Nationality, sex, religion or marital status, the disabled or older employees. E.g. “this advertisement relates to Indian Nationals only”. Or “men need not apply.”
- The organisation will ensure that equal opportunity principles are applied in all its HR policies, and specifically to the procedures relating to recruitment, training, development and promotion of employees.
- Whenever applicable and permissible under the legal provisions, employees of underrepresented groups will be given positive training and encouragement to achieve equal opportunity –the concept of affirmative action (AA).
- Managing diversity
A policy on Managing diversity recognises that differences exist among employees and that those differences if managed properly will enable work to be done more efficiently and effectively. Managing diversity focuses more on issues of recognition of differences among people e.g. skills, abilities, attitudes, talents, competencies & potential and harnessing these differences to create a productive environment in which all workers feel valued and fully utilised in meeting the organisations goals.
Managing diversity recognises the benefits derived from differences. The difference between Managing Diversity and Equal Opportunity is that the latter seeks to legislate against prejudice and discrimination in a work environment while the former recognises that the work place contains people of diverse backgrounds in terms of abilities, talents and competencies which could be yoked together to achieve organisational goals. The policies formulated focus attention on the individual differences as opposed to group or cluster differences.
A policy on managing diversity could contain the following:
- The organisation recognises and acknowledges cultural as well as individual differences that exist in the workplace and is committed to harness these dissimilarities to create an industrious atmosphere in which all employees feel appreciated and fully utilised in meeting the organisations goals.
- The organisation values the divergent qualities, ideas, talents and skills that people bring to their profession.
A promotion policy gives guidelines on the intention of the organisation to promote from within whenever a vacancy occurs as a means of satisfying its requirements for highly skilled staff.
The policy nonetheless recognises that there will be occasions when recruitment can be made from outside.
The need to infuse new talents, ideas and competencies from outside the organisation is desirable so that the organisation does not stagnate or become obsolete. The policy recognises this fact and expresses it.
The policy might also state that workers will be encouraged to apply for internally advertised jobs, and will not be prevented from being promoted to those positions by the management if successful.
- Work- life balance
Policies on this define how the establishments intend to allow workers greater flexibility in their working patterns to enable them balance their out of work life with what they do at work. It aims at making the workers responsible and conscious that they need to strike a balance between work and their interests outside work.
For instance the policy will stress that the number of hours worked will not be treated as a criterion for performance assessment. The policy will set out the hours of work which must be flexible and give provisions for breaks, weekend duty, compressed work schedules and the resultant off duty awarded, recuperative leave, special leave (casual leave to attend to emergencies or a private matter), maternity leaves both pre and post natal, career breaks –special leave after attending a prolonged training, and child care centres –common in the western worlds.
- Age and employment
The policy seeks to define the appropriate age for employees joining and exiting the establishment. In this policy the organisation spells out the mandatory age for joining and leaving employment as listed in the legislation.
The policy also recognises that age is a poor yardstick for predicting ability of an employee to perform. It contains exceptions or exclusions of circumstances when an employee can be retained in service after retirement age. E.g. when it is found to be in the interests of the organisation to retain that employee, then a special contract can be drawn to retain him on this basis or when there is no suitable candidate to succeed the retiring employee.
The policy may state that the organisation shall not equate physical and mental ability with age and that the ability of the person to deliver shall be based on the output produced against clear and agreed targets.
The policy is also specific on the approach the organisation adopts in the recruitment, promotion and training of older employees. It should stress that the only criterion to be used in determining these actions is ability to do the job and benefits that the employee will derive from the training for instance.
The policy should also state that age requirements will not be set out in the external or internal advertisements.
- Employee Training and Development
This policy expresses the organisations commitment to the continuous development of the skills and abilities of employees in order to maximise their contributions and to give them the opportunity to enhance their skills, realise their potential, advance their careers and enhance their employability both within and outside the organisation.
The policy could cover the following areas: –
- Training and development objectives in the organisation and underscoring the need for training and development
- Eligibility for training and development in the organisation.
- The conducting of Training needs analysis before any training to identify gaps and ensure equity in the process
- Formulation of a training programme and its Implementation.
- Role of training committees and composition of membership
- Criteria for selection of training candidates
- Sponsorship of training courses/programmes
- How Overseas trainings will be handled
- How Self sponsorships will be addressed
- Monitoring and evaluation of training activities
A reward policy could address matters such as:
- The provision of an equitable pay system
- Job grading with equal pay for work of equal value
- Performance related pay system-which recognise skills, contribution and competence
- Gain sharing or profit sharinge. sharing in the success of the organisation
- Address the relationship between levels of pay in the organisation and those of the market rate of remuneration
- The provision of benefits
- The importance attached to non-financial rewardsg. recognition, commendations, nomination for study tours, autonomy, challenges, opportunity to develop /attachment.
- New Technology(Technology) A policy on new Technology could state that the management will consult when introducing new Technology. It also spells out what would be done by the organisation to minimise the risk of compulsory redundancy or the effect on the other terms and conditions of employment occasioned by the introduction of the new Technology.
- Health and safety This policy covers aspects on how the organisation intends to provide safe working environment and systems of work.
The main areas this may address are:
- Provision of a conducive and safe work environment
- Proper housekeeping and sanitary convenience of the work place
- Proper equipment and fire fighting accessories
- Proper ventilation, lighting system, clean water
- Provision of first aid and dispensary facilities
- Occupational health check ups
- Environment protection including a statement on the management commitment to this, as well as a corporate undertaking as form of social responsibility.
- Issues related to the proper disposal of solid and liquidwaste
- Prevention of gaseous emissions, smoking and noisepollution
- Involvement and participation
This is also referred to as the “employee voice policy”. It spells out the organisations commitment in giving the employees an opportunity to have a say in matters that affect them. It defines the ways and means for employees to voice their opinions. An example is the inclusion or provision of joint staff consultative meetings or committees, suggestion schemes and open forum with management in the policy.
- Employee relations
This policy sets out the organisations approach to the rights of employees to have their interests represented to management through trade unions or staff associations. It covers the basis upon which the organisation negotiates with trade unions and may state that this is regarded as a form of affiliation rather than a contest. In other words the policy recognises the collective bargaining process as a give and take process rather than a tussle.
The disciplinary policy in an organisation should state that employees have a right to know what is expected of them in terms of rules and regulations as well as the code of conduct and the consequences of violation of this set of rules. Emphasis on fairness and impartiality needs to come out in the administration of disciplinary matters in accordance to the natural rules of justice.
The policy must also state that employees have the right of appeal against any action taken against them and that representation will be granted if desired.
- Sexual harassment policy
A policy on this should express the commitment of management in ensuring that:
- Sexual harassment is not tolerated.
- It must clearly define what the term “sexual harassment” means and the context in which it is applicable.
- It must state that employees subjected to sexual harassment will be supported counselled and matters treated in confidence.
- It must give assurance that every attempt will be made to resolve the problem informally with the person complained about.
- That assistance will be made to the employee to complain formally if informal discussions fail.
- That a special process will be available for hearing complaints about sexual harassment. The reason being that it enables the harassed employee to bring the complaint to someone of their own sex if they so wish.
- Should contain a statement that complaints will be handled sensitively and with due respect to the rights of both the complainant and the accused.
- That sexual misconduct is regarded as gross misconduct and if proved, shall render the individual liable to instant dismissal.
- Substance abuse
A policy on this could include management commitment that:
- Employees identified as having substance abuse problems will be given advice and appropriate counselling.
- Employees on a recovery programme will be given time off for rehabilitation on full pay and be treated on the organisations medical scheme.
- An opportunity will be accorded to the member of staff to discuss the problem once it is discovered that work performance is being affected by substance related problems
- The employee will be accorded the right to be accompanied by a friend or employee representative in any such dialogue
- An Organization or society will be recommended to which the employee can go for help if necessary
- The employee rights will be safeguarded during any reasonable period of treatment.
An aids policy could contain the following statements:
- That the risk of infection in most work places in the organisation is negligible. This is aimed at reducing fear and stigma associated with the dreaded disease.
- That where the occupation involves blood contact, as in hospitals, doctors and laboratory staff will be protected as advised in the health and safety guidelines and special precautions will be taken to prevent infection.
- That employees will not be obliged to disclose their HIV status but that if they choose to then that fact will be kept confidential.
- There will be no discrimination against any one with or at risk of acquiring AIDS.
- Employees suffering from AIDS will not be accorded any special preference over other employees. This may be tied to the organisations EEO policy.
- Internet and E-mail policy
A policy on this could contain statements such as:
- Sending or downloading of Emails should be for official purposes
- Downloading or sending of offensive Emails is not allowed and those sending or downloading such Emails will be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions.
- Reasonable use of the Internet browsing facility will be allowed to staff but this will be monitored by the administrator to check abuse.
- A policy statement that the company reserves the right to monitor, access all email messages created, sent, stored or retrieved on the company’s system should be included.