By Gustav Anderson
Sep. 8, 2022
Below the surface of any organization is a process that, perhaps while not the most glamorous, serves to create order, fairness, and standardization. Few people like to talk about it, and even fewer enjoy directly working with it.
This, of course, is policy management. While sometimes an afterthought, its importance cannot be overstated and it ought to be carried out efficiently and effectively throughout a workforce.
But let’s back up a second. How about we first pinpoint a clear definition for policy management? Beyond that, where is policy management even going, particularly for HR teams? And how do you automate it? Well, let’s take a look.
Policy management involves the creation, distribution, and maintenance of different administrative procedures and guidelines within an organization. Modern approaches to policy management seek to not only manage but also automate how policies are applied across different business functions.
The purpose of policy management is to essentially ensure compliance, reduce risk, and protect stakeholders at every turn of a business’s operations. It achieves this by introducing the standardization and centralization of different policies in the workplace. Implementing and properly following these policies creates an audit trail that can protect an organization from all kinds of liability.
Since policy management spans a wide variety of industries, what it looks like can change drastically – this naturally obfuscates how one should manage it properly within their own business.
You’ll typically find that the organizations most concerned with compliance and risk management tend to lean heavily on policy management – think local government, public safety, IT, and legal services. However, there is a certain kind of policy management that often gets overlooked: hourly employee HR.
While HR policy management for hourly workers may not be as technical as IT policy management or as critical as public safety policy management, it nonetheless affects the lives of countless hardworking people and frontline businesses. To understand it is one thing; to get it right is another matter entirely. Let’s take a closer look at what policy and procedure management mean for your human resources department.
Streamlining the creation and application of HR policies is becoming increasingly important for hourly workforces, particularly in hospitality, retail, and QSR. While quite extensive, HR policy management in these areas is extremely important to get right in order to protect both employers and employees alike.
Unfortunately, frontline employees can often experience a disconnect with HR when it comes to understanding and following policy; this can lead to breaches in labor compliance, codes of conduct, and much more. To avoid these issues, it’s best to understand where your company needs to implement policy as well as how to easily communicate and follow that policy.
Here are some of the most common areas where HR policies are put into place for hourly workers:
While the purpose of HR policy is to introduce order to how people are managed in the workplace, it would be a mistake to assume that all policy is static and unchanging in nature. In fact, according to a Forbes quote from veteran CHRO Rohit Manchua, “Policies ought to be living documents that are reflective of collective human consciousness … [they] ought to be updated on an ongoing basis.” These updates should be relevant to employee sentiments and should align with the overall strategic initiatives of the company.
Indeed, examples of policy management updates can be seen everywhere. In 2019 a study of C-suite executives in the healthcare industry found that more than 50% of those surveyed would be revising their privacy policies and conducting new training regiments to comply with new data privacy regulations in the industry.
So this begs the question, when is the right time to introduce new policy? Well, here are a few circumstances according to Forbes’ Human Resource Council:
HR managers should use any of these situations as an opportunity to review, rework, and roll out new policies and procedures to guide their hourly workforce.
But the work should not stop there. Beyond simply updating policy, managers should utilize the four circumstances listed above to introduce automation in any way they can to improve policy adherence and streamline procedural workflows.
Particularly in larger organizations, policy management can often swell into an unwieldy behemoth filled with red tape and bottleneck. Ensuring all employees and managers follow carefully planned policy procedures is no easy task, often resulting in countless errors when done completely manually. It’s not enough anymore to simply write down policies and hand out booklets.
Luckily there seems to be an emerging answer for these HR issues.
In recent years there has been a growing push to automate many policy management functions. Things like attendance strikes, overtime approvals, meal breaks, qualification-based scheduling, and more are now being handed over to policy management software.
These tools often come with a high degree of configuration, allowing HR professionals to create and manage nearly any kind of policy workflow. Automation like this reduces human error, increases employee accountability, and speeds up administrative tasks at every point of the policy lifecycle.
Perhaps most importantly, policy management automation understands the living and breathing nature of policies – they cannot sit idle in a notebook collecting dust. Instead, policies and procedures are automatically applied to your employee scheduling and time tracking processes to ensure compliance and improve employee engagement.
For more information about how to perfectly sync policy management with things like scheduling, check out the free webinar below about employee call-out policies:
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