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.


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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


  1. Policies offer an objective approach to issues in line with Corporate values and principles, whenever dealing with issues affecting people
  2. They provide frameworks on which consistent decisions are made.
  3. They promote equity in the way people are treated in the workplace
  4. They provide guidance to managers on what action or decision should be made in particular circumstances.
  5. 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.
  6. They eliminate discretionary decisions, which are often the source of conflict and prejudice.
  7. 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.


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

  1. They offer a basis for consistency in decision-making.
  2. They are easy to communicate to the employees owing to their documented nature
  3. They promote equity in the work place and can be seen to promote transparency
  4. 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)


  1. Enable the organisation carry out its set objectives in the desired manner. i.e. Policies create order.
  2. Ensure employees are informed of the expectations of the employer.
  3. Protect common interests of all parties in the organisation
  4. 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.
  5. Provide security of employment. I.e. where policies are well documented in all aspects, the organisation is perceived as a stable employer.
  6. 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.
  7. Creates a sense of responsibility for those in authority. I.e. arbitrary decisions are reduced.
  8. Helps preserve institutional memory


Good personnel policies embrace certain characteristics:

  1. They should be definitive, positive, clear and easily understood by everyone in the organisation.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. They have to be in tune with the challenges of the environment.
  5. 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)
  6. They should be formulated after careful analysis of all available facts.
  7. They must be consistent with public policy and the legal statutes.
  8. They must have the support of the management and workers.
  9. They must be uniform and applied equally throughout the organisation.


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:

  1. Past practises in the organisation
  2. Prevailing practises in similar organisations and the
  3. Philosophies, ideals and attitudes of the Directors and
  4. Knowledge and experience gained from handling day–to-day personnel problems
  5. Employee suggestions and complaints
  6. Collective bargaining processes and agreement
  7. Existing Government legislation
  8. Consultants and professional bodies dealing with HR matters
  9. Changes in the Economic Environment
  10. Culture, attitudes and social values of the labour force.
  11. Goals and objectives of the organisation.
  12. Technological changes i.e. changes in the ICT field, -internet as a valuable source



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