Human resource policies are the formal rules and guidelines that businesses put in place to hire, train, assess, and reward the members of their workforce. These policies, when organised and disseminated in an easily used form, can serve to preempt many misunderstandings between employees and employers about their rights and obligations in the business place.
It is tempting, as a new small business owner, to focus on the concerns of the business at hand, and put off the task of writing up a human resource policy. All business analysts and employment lawyers will advise a new business owner to get a policy down on paper, even if it is a simple one drafted from a boilerplate model.
Having policies written is important so that it is clear to all what the policies are and that they are applied consistently and fairly across the organization. Moreover, when issues concerning employee rights and company policies come before federal and state courts, it is standard practice to assume that the company’s human resource policies, whether written or verbal, are a part of an employment contract between the employee and the company. Without clearly written policies, the company is at a disadvantage.
Does My Small Business Need HR Policies?
Small businesses—and especially business startups—cannot afford to fritter away valuable time and resources on drawn-out policy disputes or potentially expensive lawsuits. Having a human resource policy in place from the start can help to avoid this situation. The business owner who takes the time to establish sound, comprehensive human resource policies will be far better equipped to succeed over the long run than the business owner who deals with each policy decision as it erupts. The latter ad-hoc style is much more likely to produce inconsistent, uninformed, and legally questionable decisions that may cripple an otherwise prosperous business.
Consistency Is Key
For as many small business consultants state, human resource policies that are inconsistently applied or based on faulty or incomplete data will almost inevitably result in declines in worker morale, deterioration in employee loyalty, and increased vulnerability to legal penalties. To help ensure that personnel management policies are applied fairly, business owners and consultants alike recommend that small business enterprises produce and maintain a written record of its HR policies and of instances in which those policies came into play.