There are lots of reasons why an organisation might wish to upgrade all, or a number of old HR policies. They may have been written in the stone age and never resurfaced, they may be too complicated and difficult for managers to interpret or they might not reflect the tone of your organisation as it has developed over the past few years.
If you are considering a policy revamp, read below or watch our video where Yvonne Saxon, Vista’s Head of HR takes us through the important things to consider:
Understand your aims and objectives
Think about why you introduced your policies in the first place, what job do they do for your organisation, and why do you need to change them now? Keep this forefront of your mind when you are amending old policies or introducing new policies to make sure they continue to do their job. Otherwise there really isn’t much point.
Decide which policies to change
A policy review can feel like a mountain to climb. Start with the ones that give you the biggest headache. These are usually the policies with either too much detail which has tripped you up in the past, or the ones that have just become unwieldly to deal with. We trust you will be able to pick these out easily! It may also be that significant changes in legislation or your internal processes have taken place which need to be revised, and this may be the opportunity to also revamp the whole policy.
Don’t worry about having short, simple policies
Many organisations are worried about having short, simple policies that don’t cover every minutiae of detail. We recommend keeping life simple.
In our experience, overly detailed policies that span pages and pages in length actually cause more harm than good. That’s because, whenever there is an issue people become extremely focussed on the detail of the policy and lose sight of the substance or crux of the problem.
This approach requires the confidence of the organisation in itself and its management team that they can deal with any situation without a detailed policy. Training your managers well will increase your, and their, confidence.
We always advise organisations that their policies and handbook should accurately reflect their businesses tone of voice. They should look, feel and play out just as day to day operations do on any normal day. If you need to make a big change in the tone used to communicate the information, notify your workforce of the changes you are planning to make. If you start to introduce new policies that look, feel and sound completely different to how your business does, you risk confusing your workforce. If you are planning a culture change, it’s wisest to start communicating the key messages around that before you start to change policies.
Consider statutory provisions
A question often arises around statutory provisions, and whether if an organisation only offers these, should they create a policy for it.
On the one hand it might not add any value, because if you are going to go to all the trouble of putting policies in place they need to actually do something for you.
On the other hand, it may be that line managers don’t understand what the statutory provisions are, and they need to have a reference point. This might not necessarily be about providing a policy, it may just be about giving your managers some training and perhaps having some brief details in an employee handbook.
Be extra careful with contractual rights
Most employers nowadays will put somewhere in their policy whether it is in fact a contractual right or not. If there is a contractual agreement in a policy, then employers need to be careful about making any changes to that without consulting with the workforce in the same way you would with a change in their contracts.
So, not a simple process and lots of different approaches to consider before HR teams delve into revitalising their dusty old HR policies to something current and in line with business aims and objectives.
Organisations who ‘get it right’ in terms of the tone, culture and understanding what they want to achieve get huge amounts of value from updating their policies. A strong suite of policies enables everyone in the organisation to understand where they are, what the organisation is about and can be used as a tool to reinforce a business’s key messages and objectives. Good luck!