The Rules for the Rules

I shouldn’t need to write this blog post. I shouldn’t need to point out what I believe to be obvious.

But the things I read, the conversations that I hear, tell me that I do. And that they aren’t.

When you write HR policy, you are talking to your employees. It is part of the relationship. You are sending them signals about the Company, about HR, about the culture. Policies are important, more for these reasons than the usual ones that they exist. Policies are more than the sum of their words.

So here are the rules for the rules.

Write for the 95%. You know, the vast majority of your employees doing the right thing. Deal with the people who aren’t, but don’t let them dictate the approach. Start with trust.

Tone matters. Chill out with your ‘strictly enforceables’ and your ‘up to and includings’. Just write them like one human being talking to another human being. Because we are.

Be brief. It’s a policy, not a manifesto. You can’t account for every eventuality so don’t even try. Resist the temptation to update them every time something new occurs. Principles will do, thank you.

It’s not always your call. HR don’t know it all. Put the line manager and employee at the centre. Empower your managers to make the right decision in the circumstances, with the context. Build in discretion.

Don’t ban stuff for the sake of banning stuff. Before you state ‘this is not permitted’ make sure you have a bloody good reason for it, and you have balanced the risks with the benefits.

If it is utterly obvious, you don’t need to say it.

And most important of all, never loose sight of how your policies make people feel.

And that folks, is all.

5 thoughts on “The Rules for the Rules

  1. Good stuff, Gemma, to which I’d add one other – Don’t overload with information. As an example, I reduced last week a client’s maternity/paternity/adoption/parental leave policy from 6 pages to 3 paragraphs – essentially by saying “the rules on this depend on how long you’ve worked for us and change regularly, so if you are pregnant etc come and talk to us and we’ll explain your entitlements”

    • Agree. I’ve worked at lots of places where the policies just get longer and longer as the years go by, constantly being added to every time something new happens.
      A good half an hour with the delete key is very cathartic I find!

  2. I fear I say the same thing with every one of your posts Gem, but, again, excellent perspective intelligently presented. Nice work my friend.

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