Small businesses, especially start-ups, often operate without an HR policy in place for the first months or even years of their lifespan – but is this a wise strategy?
Having an HR policy that is well-researched and written with the needs of the business and its staff in mind will allow even the smallest company to streamline its day-to-day running and avoid disputes with employees that are caused by a vague understanding of what is expected from each person.
HR policy – how to be practical, legal, and effective
When a company hires an employee, the relationship between the two is a type of contract – even if nothing is written down or signed. As an employer, your goal is to work efficiently with your staff and enjoy a professional relationship that benefits both of you – for this reason it’s very important to draft an HR policy that puts an emphasis on the practical and legal issues that affect you and your staff.
From a legal point of view, every worker in South Africa is entitled to certain rights – and so are employers. Your HR policy should recognise the rights of your staff members, including their right to take leave and come to you with any problems or grievances they may have.
At the same time, your staff should be aware that they have responsibilities toward your business and that you will hold each team member accountable for their performance. If you have any doubts about the rights and responsibilities that you and your staff have, you should consult a labour lawyer before you finalise your HR policy.
While employers have to abide by the law, there is a lot of leeway in the approach you can take to dealing with your staff. Issues like pay increases, office facilities, and incentive packages are all open to negotiation, and many entrepreneurs don’t like to set too many rules in stone – having too many rigid rules can make your staff feel stifled. The best approach is to make your staff aware of the HR policy you have written, and to be open to their feedback.
Who is the HR policy written for?
The idea behind any good HR policy is that it allows both you and your staff to work together productively. Writing an HR policy that sits around gathering dust and is never written or discussed is not a good use of your time, but an HR policy that is flexible and allows your staff to work happily and reach their full potential while meeting your expectations will result in your business succeeding in the long run.