No business I know of operates without people, and managing people is a top priority and challenge for success.
It is often true that tiny businesses with 2-3 employees can be run in an informal way. The boss can usually keep track of everything; all issues that come up can be addressed by using common sense.
Once a business grows to 8-10 employees, managing employee issues gets more complex. In addition, legal issues often become more formal as the company grows. As the organization grows, issues of cost and fairness become more important.
Developing Human Resource Policies has some important advantages. Uniform policies -
* usually lead to fairness.
* help control costs.
* minimize problems with legal issues.
* are to some extent automatic. When a policy is in place and known by everyone, questions should not come up often, and some aspects of management become self-managing.
* Uniform policies improve employee relations.
* Uniform policies can also help create a culture of accountability.
Employees know that if there is a policy regarding some aspect of their job, then they can be held responsible for performing and acting in accordance with that policy.
Policies should be written to fit the organization. Most smaller organizations can work well with 15 - 25 policies, depending on how complex is the organization.
A second question that comes up almost immediately is what form do policies take, and where do they reside. How do employees get at the policies?
We often advise our clients that communications is one of the areas that are most important when working with employees. Part of the budget should be allocated to communications - no one likes to be in the dark, and we cannot hold employees responsible for rules they do not know.
There are a variety of ways of assuring that employees can access the policies.
* Employee handbook.
* Dedicated section on the employee section of the web site.
* Periodic newsletters - in print or electronic.
* Employee meetings.
* Training - lunch and learn etc.
Our approach to Employee Handbooks is to organize them roughly into the natural lifecycle of the employee.
The Handbook will cover all aspects of the human side of the business, including recruitment, integration of new employees, managing ongoing performance, recognizing and rewarding employee achievements, and reinforcing a culture that will attract and retain good performers. The policies in the Handbook will provide consistency while still allowing the organization some flexibility to manage effectively.
A well-designed Handbook provides a convenient, easily accessible place where employees and managers can find answers to most of their questions. For managers, the manual is the library of information that otherwise would not be clearly and regularly communicated or that might be forgotten, misinterpreted, or incorrectly communicated.
Creating a Handbook provides a structure for presenting operating rules and company procedures and is a source of information for employees and managers alike. This resource is a good way to promote an environment of fairness and consistency - and it is an effective communication vehicle. It is a tool for managers to handle the day-to-day questions, as well as the unique issues that arise.
A Binder is obvious.
Depending on the company's business and culture, an Employee Handbook or Policy Manual can be web-based.
Make It A Project
Developing an Employee Handbook is an opportunity to review existing policies, update them, and assure that they continue to be legal, competitive and cost effective.
We generally recommend the following steps:
* Gather any existing policies and practices and review them to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and company organizational and strategic requirements.
* Draft a Table of Contents, which will outline the current and any additional policies to be included in the Handbook. Review the list with representatives of all stakeholders to assure that nothing important has been missed. It is sometimes a good idea to create a committee to provide input to the process.
* Identify the information and decisions required for the development of each policy.
* Gather the individual policies into a Handbook format. This need not be a sophisticated book printed in four colours. At a minimum, a 3-ring binder can be adequate, and this type of presentation has the advantage of being easy to revise and update.
* Plan the introduction to employees. Consider employee meetings with a presentation, particularly if there have been changes to existing policies.