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Is it time to review your HR policies?

Is it time to review your HR policies?

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Of course, your HR Policies need to be dynamic, not static.  You need to revise them, add to them, even bin them to ensure they address your organisation’s evolving mission and goals, as well as changing workforce trends, economic conditions and legislation.

It’s wise to keep a systematic check on the following policies at regular intervals:

  • Employment contracts
  • Pay procedures
  • Holiday leave, sick leave, compassionate leave, maternal/paternal leave
  • Personal conduct
  • Attendance and time keeping
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Discipline
  • Termination

In this way, you ensure the major policies are already in place so you only need to refresh them, identifying your organisation’s priorities, and splitting them down in accordance with the amount of time since they were last reviewed. Once reviewed and rewritten, it’s down to HR to help managers put them into practice, and communicate them to staff.

However, every now and again, workforce trends change so dramatically, it requires a much more focused and dynamic HR response.

Take right now, for instance, as another generation begins to take their place at the corporate table; Generation Y, born between 1982 and 2005, who will be the majority of the workforce in 5 to 10 years.

Along with the arrival of Generation Y, what other aspects of employment in 2011 might make you dramatically reconsider your HR policies?
Here’s our run-down:

The recession.
Although we’re slowly emerging from its effects, we have noted that the recession has massively increased the numbers of disciplinary and grievances procedures from both management and employees. At present, the maximum compensatory award in unfair dismissal cases is £65,300, so this can have quite an impact on an organisation.

HR actions to consider:

      • ensuring your compliance and termination processes are up to date
      • ensuring your internal investigation policies are up to date
      • reinforcing knowledge of both through management training
      • retraining managers in effective, non-confrontational leadership

Scrapping of DRA
The demise of the default retirement age by October 2011 means a major challenge is now managing a multiple generation workforce, with vastly differing experience, needs, expectations and strengths. The older breed believed in putting work before life, in loyalty and jobs for life. The new breed will move jobs more often, place more emphasis on work-life balance and be more motivated by ongoing learning opportunities.

HR actions to consider:

  • Training line managers to manage generational differences
  • Rethinking succession planning.
  • Changing health care policies and health and safety policies and practices to reflect aging workforce. Implementing preventive health programmes
  • Implementing life-long learning and eliminating maximum ages to participate. Keep aging skills up to date with courses such as primary and secondary degrees and vocational and technological training
  • Introducing more flexible working practices

Student debt
Employee loyalty is on the wane. One of the other major reasons that Gen Y employees will leave your employment is that they arrived with enormous student loans to pay off. Until this is achieved, their loyalty will lie with reducing their debt rather than with the company that’s helping them pay it off.  Some trend forecasters are saying we may see Gen Y employees jumping ship as often as every 18 months.

HR actions to consider:

      • reviewing starting salaries or creating more attractive and retentive salary packages
      • creating strong, clear career paths for new recruits to follow with short-, medium and long-term goals
      • increasing ongoing learning and development opportunities
      • improving how inspirationally your line managers manage their new recruits

Data Security
As the first generation to never know life without them, Gen Y brings natural skills and abilities in technology that can help us improve organisational efficiencies. But an increase in technology such as smartphones, tablets and netbooks in the workplace brings new challenges of its own in terms of protecting organisational data from loss or cyber attack. Just how do you deal with threats of data breaches and mismanagement of information through devices not under your direct control?

HR actions to consider:

  • Reviewing your data protection policy frequently. Your data protection policy may not have changed much in the last few years, but best practice has.  
  • Thoroughly background checking every new employee and monitoring disciplinary and performance records throughout employment, with any suspicious behaviour highlighted immediately
  • Monitoring every employee’s access to hardware and sensitive information
  • Continually updating employees’ contact details and the areas of the organisation they now work in
  • Review your exit strategy to ensure devices must be promptly handed back
  • Implementing  training for all employees on the importance of data security, with practical how to guides
  • Implementing and training a Fast Response team to deal with any breach and notify customers affected, as well as any regulatory bodies and legal departments that need to be informed. Adding to this an investigative team.
  • Implementing a helpline to allow anonymous notification of breaches or suspicious behaviour