Workplaces develop and implement policies as a way of outlining the organisation’s values, to convey how employees are expected to conduct themselves as representatives of the organisation and to provide a framework for how any issues that arise will be dealt with.
Workplace policies are usually introduced or provided to new staff members as they are onboarding and this helps to immediately highlight expectations, set the standard for the way the organisation operates and provide clarity on the organisation’s profile and how it manages human resources matters.
When an organisation holds a comprehensive stable of policies that are embedded in its culture, it can effectively deal with issues as they arise, in a manner that is consistent no matter who is involved or where the issue has taken place.
What policies should every organisation have?
Not all workplaces are the same and therefore not all workplaces will carry the same policies, but there are some fundamental policies that every organisation should have.
It is not essential for every single workplace issue to be covered by a policy. Some matters may simply be dealt with as they arise, however, it is most prudent to have policies in place for matters that intersect with the law, such as discrimination, bullying and harassment issues or matters where disciplinary action must be taken, such as if a criminal act has been committed.
Examples of common policies that exist in most workplaces include:
- anti-discrimination and bullying and harassment policy;
- code of conduct;
- recruitment policy;
- internet and email policy;
- social media usage policy;
- drug and alcohol policy;
- health and safety policy;
- grievance handling policy; and
- discipline and termination policy
During 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way many organisations work and as a result, COVID-safe policies are more frequently being introduced into workplaces. Some organisations may choose to update their existing policies to discuss COVID-19 or they may elect to write a standalone policy that covers topics like working from home guidelines or distancing yourself from others in the office.
What should a workplace policy contain?
A workplace policy can contain as much information as the organisation wishes to include. Some organisations choose to keep their policies brief and factual, free from jargon and without leaving room for ambiguity.
Policies are usually kept up-to-date by a member(s) of the human resources or risk management team, but it is common to outsource the development of policies to someone who specialises in employment law to ensure consistency across the tone and themes.
Seeking the assistance of a human resources consultant also ensure your policies will be compliant with relevant legislation.
You should always aim for your policies to:
- provide clarity around rules and responsibilities;
- provide direction when staff are seeking guidance on the way a matter is supposed to be approach;
- align with the organisation’s values; and
- be easily accessible to all personnel whom they affect.
At the minimum policies should include:
- what its aim is;
- a brief explanation about why the policy was developed;
- which personnel the policy applies to;
- an outline of what is acceptable or unacceptable under the policy;
- what non-compliance with the policy looks like; and
- dates on which the policy has been updated in the past.
How often and why should policies be updated?
It is important to ensure that policies are reviewed on a regular basis and updated if needed. Amendments may be required if laws have changed, if the organisation has changed premises, if a merger has taken place or when a global event like the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred.
Updates may also be required for more simple matters such as if an organisation has decided to allow casual Fridays or they are now allowing employees to have personal mail sent to the office.
If you require assistance in developing or updating your existing policies, speak to a human resources specialist in Cairns today.