Introduction to Human Resource Management Policies and Practices

Introduction to Human Resource Management Policies and Practices
Organizations consist of a wide range of practices and activities that help them to achieve
their overall objectives. This obviously means that there must be a clear link between
organizational practices and activities and the ultimate objective of the business.
However, given that organizations consist of these activities that at face value may seem
unrelated, there is need to find a link between them and ultimately the overall objectives
of the business.
The contradictory nature of these various activities often raises the following questions.
1. How can these activities be reconciled
2. How can one make sure that the activities are done in the way that they should be
3. How should these activities be done
4. How can one make sure that the way these activities are being done is shared and
understood by all members of the Organization?
The solution to this kind of a dilemma can largely be found in the development and
implementation of organization – policies. These will give continuous guidance to the
activities undertaken by the various components of the organization.
Definition of a Policy
Linda Maund (2001) defined a policy as a, “ plan of action adopted or pursued by a
business”. The definition clearly shows that a policy is a road map, which compels
organizational members to act in a certain agreed and desirable manner. It is therefore
important in this regard to note that policies in Human Resource Management are
instrumental in guiding the various Human Resource (HR) activities and practices
e.g. recruitment and selection, training and development, reward management etc.
Michael Armstrong (2001) specifically defines Human Resource (HR) policies as,
“continuing guidelines on the approach the organization intends to adopt in managing
its people”. Policies in Human Resource Management therefore define the value
system that determines how the human resource ought to be treated and how matters
affecting it should be governed.
Policies therefore provide a framework within which management is expected to act
NB It is therefore important to note that Human Resource Management policies form
the fundamental basis of Human Resource Management practice.
The essence of Policies
1. To establish an organization’s approach or intention when it comes to
managing its human resource.
2. To develop philosophies and values that underpin acceptable Human
Resource practices
3. To ensure that there is congruence between Human Resource Management
practices and the overall corporate values
Significance of Human Resource Management Policies
1. They promote consistency in decisions relating or affecting people
2. They promote equity (e.g. fair treatment)
3. They sanction desirable managerial behaviour
4. They facilitate decentralization and delegation
5. They help to shape corporate culture
Generic Human Resource Management Policies
It must be noted that all practices in Human Resource Management must be premised by
sound and concise Human Resource Management policies. Some of the most important
policy areas to take note of are
1. Employment Policy
These are policies that give the organization impetus of how it should conduct its
overall employment in areas like
Human Resource Planning
Quality of employees
Work-life balance
Equal opportunities
Redundancy etc
2. Equal Opportunity Policy
It spells out the organization’s desire to accord equal opportunities to all within the
community that it serves irrespective of sex, race, creed or marital status. It can also
show how the organization intends to redress inherent imbalances and how it can
bring, “ affirmative action” to bring leverage between the privileged and the
3. Management of Diversity Policy
This is meant to develop a system that recognizes the inevitable diverse nature of the
contemporary workforce.
4. Reward Policy
Tries to make sure that reward is commensurate to individual worth and performance.
This includes:
Paying market rates
Performance Related Pay (PRP)
Profit sharing
Equal pay for equal work
Bonus etc
5. Employment Development
It embraces the organization’s commitment to the need to continuously develop its
skill base and the key competencies of its workforce.
6. Participation and Involvement
It aims at unleashing the creative potential that lies within employees. It also
determines the degree to which employees can participate
7. Healthy and Safety Policy
It covers how the organization intends to provide a conducive environment in so far
as providing a healthy and safe work place is concerned.
8. Harassment Policy
It shows how the organization intends to eradicate harassment and bullying of any
nature. A harassment policy also states in no uncertain terms that sexual harassment
and bullying at work are grossly intolerable.
It defines the various roles of the various organs (management, workers committee,
and supervisors within the organization in preventing harassment. A harassment
policy can also build in mechanisms to deal with those affected by harassment and
also some punitive measures to those who perpetrate harassment of any nature.
Formulation of Human Resource Management Policies
Analyze the current position in terms of culture, values, beliefs, convictions and assumptions
Analyze current policies whether written or unwritten
Analyze external influences, legislation, and inflation, exchange rates and government policy
Make any analysis of new policy areas
Consult Management, employees, Trade Unions and all stakeholders extensively
Analyze and synthesize the information gathered
Agree new policies with all stakeholders
Communicate the new policies to all concerned
Rationale Behind Policy Formulation
Policies either exist as written or unwritten. Policies that exist explicitly have got an
obvious advantage of consistency and easy understanding. Nevertheless, written policies
are always prone to rigidities and inflexibilities.
Organizations must therefore move to policies that are abstract and flexible. This will
help the organization to promptly respond to changes in both the external and the internal
environment. More importantly formalized HR policies must be used in induction, team
leader and management training to help participants understand the philosophies and
values of the organization.