The case for HR: Why & how you should implement formal policies & procedures
What's in it for me?
In today’s highly complex business climate, printers need to work hard to distinguish their competitive advantage. Technology, of course, provides you with a tremendous advantage because it delivers the robust tools of your business. But, as we have pointed out before, technology cannot deliver the dynamic business solutions your customers value unless it is expertly driven by people. So in effect the most important differentiator of your business from the competition is the people who work for you.
Thus PrintLink advocates that you adopt a formalized strategy to look after your all-important human resources. The evidence we see in the marketplace is that companies who do so are more responsive, resilient, respected … and rewarded. Among the direct practical benefits it yields are:
- Demonstrating your company is a desirable employer, committed to nondiscriminatory hiring & employment practices & a positive, ethical work environment
- Strengthening your company’s legal position & protecting it from liability and unfair judgments when employee relationships turn sour
- Setting & managing staff’s expectations & reducing misunderstandings over performance, promotion, & compensation
- Simplifying hiring
- Assisting with orientation of new employees
- Promoting fair & consistent management practices
- Creating efficient procedures & records & minimizing repetitive administrative chores
- Improving staff’s productivity & morale
Below is PrintLink’s checklist of minimum specific elements that HR policies & procedures should address:
- Strategic human-capital needs assessment
- Job descriptions including skills identification
- Seniority level & salary range for each position
- Protocol for internal job postings & candidate selection criteria
- Candidate recruitment strategy
- Candidate selection process
- Candidate interview plan
- Plan for each job offer, including a suitable letter or contract
- Employee manual
- Employee files
- Training & professional-development policy & a training matrix. (A training matrix specifies the required content and frequency of training for various staff positions, usually in table form.)
- New employee orientation
- Formal performance review infrastructure & schedule
- Employee communications about company standing
- Health, safety, & environmental practices
- Disciplinary & termination procedure
While methods to achieve many items on the above list are self-evident, implementing others will prove more onerous. But you needn’t tackle such complexities alone. Further information on many best HR practices can be found in PrintLink’s previous articles for WhatTheyThink.com (conveniently archived at both http://members.whattheythink.com/home/expertrow.cfm and our company’s own web site at http://www.printlink.com/resources_main.html.) PIA/GATF also provides various types of human-resources assistance to its members here, and a Web search will uncover many more resources. Your company’s insurance company, accounting firm, or lawyer may also be able to give you assistance or referrals.
Staff record-keeping essentials
Below we offer detailed overviews of two critical record-keeping aspects of best HR practices: the employee manual and employee files.
An employee manual or handbook is usually given to an employee on or before his or her start date. As a frequent third party to companies’ job offers, we’ve seen some beautiful examples of employee manuals that, besides serving basic informational purposes, help the company make a superb first impression on new staff members. Minimally, employee manuals contain information on company policies. The following is PrintLink’s basic checklist of things a typical employee manual should include:
- A welcome statement that may include a brief overview of the company, its history, mission statement, goals & objectives
- Code of conduct & dress, including dress requirements related to safety
- Policies regarding vacations, statutory holidays, sick days, leaves, & pay schedule
- Information on benefit plans & options & their start dates. (If these plans are detailed in separate manuals, the employee manual merely provides a brief reference & overview.)
- Policies for workplace conduct & disciplinary actions. (This section can deal explicitly with such matters as sexual harassment, alcohol & drug use, attendance, & grounds for dismissal.)
- Rules concerning mail & usage of telephone, company equipment, Internet & e-mail.
- Guidelines for staff performance reviews, including their frequency
- The recipient’s specific job description. (Alternatively it could be part of the recipient’s job offer letter or contract.)
- Confidentiality & non-disclosure requirements may be included in an employee manual. However, they are more often stated in separate documents that accompany an offer letter & constitute part of the employment contract. On the other hand, the employee manual is intended to be purely informational.
The frequency, nature, and distribution of revisions to an employee handbook vary from company to company. For instance, while most companies still present full printed copies to new hires, some companies distribute further updates via their internal Intranet system. The system advises staff to print their own revised portions of the manual, then subsequently notifies management after they have complied.
Files for each employee contain essential records from the employee’s initial job application and date of hire through the entire duration of employment--and in rare cases even beyond. The entire contents of such files are strictly confidential, and this confidentiality should be protected at all times. The contents should only be released very selectively to those with formal authorization to review all or specific portions of it. The confidentiality requirement is often extended to employees who no longer work for the company, so that many companies follow a policy of not releasing information in an employee’s file to people who contact them for professional references.
The following is PrintLink’s basic checklist of things that typical employee files should include:
- Home address, personal phone number(s), & personal e-mail address(es)
- Date of birth
- Names of family members
- Whom to contact in emergencies (personal or medical)
- Details of any existing medical conditions
- Resume. (Some companies also have a standard application form they ask all employees to complete.)
- Signed job offer
- Signed confidentiality agreement
- Signed acceptance of the terms of the company’s employee manual
- Copies of any additional documentation required as a condition of employment (e.g., criminal record or credit checks)
- Payroll details
- Information & forms concerning the employee’s benefits subscription
- Record of any company property supplied to the employee to be returned on termination
- Any other new-hire paperwork
- Holiday schedule & attendance records
- Job descriptions(s) & employment history with the company
- Records of performance reviews
- Track record of salary increases or bonuses
- Training & education completed
- Documentation of disciplinary action (either verbal or written)
- Commendations & awards
- Workers Compensation or accident records
- Union documentation, if required
- Information concerning the employee’s departure from the company (e.g., reasons why the worker left or was fired, record of exit interview, unemployment documents, insurance continuation forms, details of severance package.)
We trust the above checklists will help you implement or streamline an effective HR practice in your own organization. Ultimately, its many rewards will benefit not just your employees - but also your customers and your company.