Managing Employees – Policies and Procedures: Do You Need Them and If So Which Ones

Having company policies and procedures in place, not only for new employees to signoff on but for all staff to adhere to, building compliance, leadership, and culture; It’s just good business practice.

Having company policies and procedures in place, not only for new employees to signoff on but for all staff to adhere to, building compliance, leadership, and culture; It’s just good business practice. Implementing defined systems in the workplace, not just around the HR function but also around business operations, codes of conduct, personal mobile devices, and health and safety keeps the business running right. This definition of systems provides clarity to everyone involved. Policies and procedures do not discriminate between one employee to another. Everyone receives the same treatment.

Policies and procedures for new employees set up an operational order. I’m sure you’d like all your employees to do what you want them to do all of the time. In order to achieve this, you need to make your expectations apparent.

Someone walks into work on their first day, “Let’s go. Well, there’s your job.” And if:

  • They don’t do it right;
  • They don’t have their break when they’re meant to;
  • They don’t go home when they’re meant to; or
  • They take leave, and they don’t tell you

It’s your fault if you haven’t sat down and discussed what the employee is supposed to do.

With precise policies and procedures in place, it’s basically like having a work Bible of the way things are done. Remember to include a code of conduct, which is one of the important ones to have in place:

  • This is the way we treat each other.
  • This is what we don’t do.
  • This is what we do and set it out clear as well.
  • They know exactly what to do when to do it, and how to do it. Yes.

Like, when you pick up a new car – I’ll admit that I don’t do it all the time myself – but when you pick up a new car, you will pull out the manual, wouldn’t you?

The employee handbook (policy manual) isn’t any different. If something’s going wrong or not quite working, it’s something for you to go back to get things sorted. The employee handbook adds the same value as a car manual does.

The benefits to having and following an employee handbook are numerous; if something does go wrong, you’ve got a reference and guidance to fall back on. And, say, for example, an employee wants to take leave. Now, in a lot of the central policies I put in place is do not assign consent until it’s been authorized. Don’t book your travel or you might have to cancel it. Set it out clearly, so staff knows that, “Okay this is the process I need to follow; the same process all employees follow:

  • I need to fill in the leave form.
  • I need to put it in.
  • I can’t book my travel first until I’ve got the authorization back.”

Illustrated policies make that expectation very clear. Another important strategy is the absence of policy. If someone’s going to be sick, the administration clearly outlines:

  • Who do, they call and what number(s) to dial?
  • How far in advance from their shift do they need to call?
  • What happens if they are sick on a Monday or a Friday, or before or after a period of leave?

Give it to everyone and make sure they sign and a record of their signing off is filed in their file. When this is done as part of your policies and procedures, they have signed and acknowledged that they understand and agree to abide by the policies and procedures, you have a mechanism then to take managerial action up to and including disciplinaries.

You can call someone to a meeting and say, Hey look, you haven’t followed our procedure. You are aware of it. You signed it on this date. We are looking at taking formal action against you.”

I’m not going to discuss disciplinaries currently because there’s a whole process around that, and I don’t want to confuse matters, but by having the policies in place, you have a professional mechanism in place to be able to enforce a fair disciplinary process.

Everyone understands the expectations. Ensure individuals are all treated fairly, and disciplinaries are consistent. That’s important, so there’s no discrimination, no harassment, no accusations of bullying, or treating people differently because of a particular characteristic.

Employee handbooks should include all the expectations of the company. I would recommend but not limited to these sections in a Handbook, complete with a fact sheet and sign of sheet:

  • Our General Business Principles
  • How We Conduct Ourselves
  • Employee Duties and Responsibilities
  • Understanding attitudes of success
  • Diversity
  • Open Door Policy
  • Code of Conduct
  • Disclosure of Personal Information
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Attendance and Absenteeism 
  • Leave Policy
  • Leave without Pay
  • Internet, Email and Computer Use Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Personal Phone Calls at Work
  • Mobile Phones

Make sure to update the handbook when new laws come into effect, or there are significant changes. The handbook sets out some of the signs of policy breach and then what the employer will do if that happens. A directive may be to go home. If they’re intoxication, they won’t be driving. The directions that you’ll need to make and what the consequences are. It’s essential to make sure that everyone knows the results. If you need one Fresh HR Insights have you covered. 




Internet, Email, and Social Media Use

Employers need to consider these policies seriously. I’ve had a past client who dismissed someone when they turned up at work because they had written something on social media that wasn’t particularly polite. However, they had no policy in place. That’s considered unfair dismissal. They didn’t follow a process, and they ended up having to pay about four and a half grands because the employee made a claim, and they didn’t have a written policy in place. The expectations weren’t clear, and they didn’t follow a procedure. They got fined for that.

  • Privacy policy: that’s to do with giving out the records of your staff, which is crucial because we have the privacy act. So, you need to make that clear as well.
  • Workplace bullying. That’s another big one — the legislation changes with workplace bullying. An employee does not have to go through the company processes. They can go straight to Fair Work Commission now, – and lodge a claim.
  • Health and safety as well. Very important.

If you’ve got staff, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got your Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

Make sure that you aren’t cheap protecting them in their environment. Provide a safe work environment. I was talking to a Worker’s Health and Safety expert the other day, and there are fines from 50 to 100 thousand. They can be, for breach in not providing a safe workplace for someone. Can you afford that?

Not having the right policies and procedures in place is a considerable risk to your business. You need to have a lot of things, and the system’s not going to cover every eventuality. A lot depends on your business model and your operations. If you’re operating in the construction business, then I would recommend you have a full workplace health and safety policies, process, and procedures handbook regarding just that.

It’s vital to have systems and procedures for HR as well as for all areas of your business. I find that being a business owner, having the systems in place makes my life a lot easier; I can work all my business, not in my business all the time.

For small business owners, don’t go in there to work 23 hours a day and sleep for one hour.


Policies and procedures for the trades