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 done 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 management 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 a) b) c) d) e) f) g) Human Resource Planning Quality of employees Promotion Employability 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 underprivileged. 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: a) b) c) d) e) 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 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.