Five Hallmarks of Fair HR Departments

Fair HR Departments Hallmarks

  • Create Policies Based on Evident Need
  • New Policy Should Apply to the Many
  • Be Clear on Policy and Procedure
  • Keep Common Issues of Legislative Concern in Mind
  • Unilateral Enforcement of Policy and Standard

Fairness and equitability are not concepts which are often associated with the modern employment scene. Most employees, when queried, express the fundamental belief that a corporate HR office will always advocate the best interests of the company first and foremost. There is a certain amount of justification to this, but a fair HR department understands that, in order for a company to run efficiently and productively, employees must be happy at their jobs. Without that fundamental quality, productivity suffers, and the company loses out in the long run.

Here are five hallmarks of a fair HR department:

Create Policies Based on Evident Need

Nobody is perfect. There is no such thing as an all-knowing authority, not in any industry or profession. Inevitably, an organization will periodically stumble upon issues that require the creation of new policy, in order to resolve those issues fairly and to the greatest benefit of all involved. New policy should be crafted under such circumstances, but should not be created frivolously: if there is no wide-ranging need for clarification in how business is to be done, no new policy should be created. Bear in mind that a "policy revision" is often the same thing as a "new policy," from the perspective of an employee.

New Policy Should Apply to the Many

This ties into the previous point, but is worth mentioning on its own: when you implement a new HR policy, you need to make sure that this is done with the needs of your entire staff in mind. Part of the perception of fairness and equitability is that of a policy applying to everyone; otherwise, you create divisions of apparent favoritism within your workforce, even where no favoritism actually exists. There are two points to be made here: first, the policy must apply to everyone equally. Secondly, and no less importantly, the introduction of the policy must be tied to an apparent need for new policy — and the more people that need appears to involve, the better-received the policy will be.

Be Clear on Policy and Procedure

People may scoff at distinctions in semantics, but one of the cardinal points of maintaining fair human resource policies is to be clear about what's what. A policy, in terms of HR, is a formal statement. It's a rule or a principle that members of an organization are beholden to follow. In the "who, what, when, where and why" of the business world, HR policies are the "what." The "how," meanwhile, is procedural. A procedure is a practical methodology for maintaining a principle or carrying out a policy. It's more of a general guideline, and may not apply perfectly to all situations, but it's a starting point. Procedure can often flex to accommodate a particular set of circumstances; policy, by contrast, is normally much more rigid.

Keep Common Issues of Legislative Concern in Mind

There are, essentially speaking, five key areas of employment-related legislation which need to be kept in mind when drafting new HR policies. These include employment and labor standards, legislation relating to employee privacy, occupational health and safety legislation, human rights legislation, and anything related to state and federal workers compensation. It's impossible to review the entire body of employment-related law with regard to the establishment of every new policy, but focusing on these five areas of major import will usually help to address employees' immediate concerns.

Unilateral Enforcement of Policy and Standards

In addition to explaining the need that required a new policy, and how your new policy serves to meet that need, you must make certain that all HR policies are enforced fairly. This involves applying them as they were meant to be applied, in accordance with procedures defined by your human resources department. It also includes the equitable application of policies to all employees and management personnel.

By acknowledging the concerns of employees and implementing practices designed to encourage a fair HR department, you will increase long-term productivity. This is a direct consequence of following a few simple pieces of advice, which also has the indirect benefit of boosting efficiency and reducing sick days. The result is a staff comprised of employees who will stick around longer, demonstrating greater loyalty, and maximizing the value of any employee-related training. This will have a dramatic effect on your overall bottom line.

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