Half your staff don’t know HR policies

by HCA09 Aug 2012

Half your staff don’t know HR policiesDoes it sometimes seem like employees don’t know what the HR policies are until after they’ve broken them? It might be true – a new study found just 53% of respondents claim to “have knowledge of their employer’s HR guidelines”.

Fewer still are aware of their company’s structure (43%) and as for that corporate social responsibility policy you laboured over? Less than a quarter (23%) has a clue. “Given the importance of clear published codes, we were surprised by how low the awareness of HR guidelines was amongst office workers,” David Saul, from Business Environment said. “Information such as company structure and HR policy is often imparted as part of the induction process, so it is especially disheartening that the information is only retained by a minority of people,” Saul said.

A good starting point may be to require all staff to sign a policy receipt acknowledgement, according to HR consultant Susan Heathfield. While it doesn’t ensure staff will retain the information, it ensures that if there are issues with an employee breaking rules, HR can show that they confirmed they had read and understood the policy.

As for day-to-day understanding, consider sending a weekly or monthly newsletter as a way to boost engagement with company news and include a reminder of relevant policies. These reminders may include dress codes at the start of summer, vacation reminders as you get closer to Christmas, and internet policy reminders whenever there’s a news story based on breaches at other companies.


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  • by Bernie Althofer 13/08/2012 8:56:25 AM

    There are probably many reasons why the survey showed these results. In some cases, there might be 'little' need for the worker to have knowledge of the policy or procedure particularly if they are not in a line management/supervisory role. However, induction programs being what they can be in some organisations, there may be little chance to go through all the key HR policies etc. Instead, there is a quick overview of a few key policies e.g. WHS, Sexual harassment, bullying, security etc and everyone is done within the day.

    It might be more effective in the long run for a mentor to be appointed to a new employee and have the mentor guide the employee through all the relevant HR (and other policies) that relate to the job that the employee was hired to do. Questions such as "What policies and procedures must the new employee know in the first month?"; What policies and procedures should the employee know in the first six months" might help focus the process. In addition, the new employee needs to be shown where and how to access the policies and procedures e.g. electronic or hard copy, in what office, security etc.

    Invariably, I will find an employee seeking advice about a workplace relations issue who has not been made aware of a policy or procedure, has never heard it being mentioned in the workplace, does not know where to look it up, and does not know who to ask.

    Developing proactive strategies to ensure that there is currency of knowledge across all levels of an organisation can help reduce risk exposure and claims that "Noboby told me."

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