Position descriptions, policies and procedures – do they still matter?

HR often gets bogged down with time-consuming paperwork and processes - but is this rigorous workload still necessary and productive?

by Alan McDonald, Managing Director of McDonald Murholme

With the ever changing environment of a modern workplace, there is an increased need for clear and concise HR policies and procedures.

Employers need to ensure all employees are aware of their role and accompanying responsibilities in the workplace to facilitate a smooth running and productive environment.

A key factor to these procedures is ensuring that each employee has a clear position description and their tasks are clearly communicated to them from the commencement of their employment.

Why are position descriptions so important?

A position description is vital to the productivity of an employee as it ensures the employee knows what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are. Position descriptions are also fundamental in that they provide key criteria that an employee can expect to be evaluated on.

Without a clear position description being agreed upon by an employer and an employee, confusion and disagreements can arise if performance management was to occur.

What happens if there is a change in position?

With the demands of a developing workplace, many positions are known to change to accommodate the growing needs of a business. It is integral to ensure that should an employee’s role or responsibilities change, their position description is amended as well.

Why are HR policies and procedures so important?

HR policies and procedures allow companies to be consistent with their values whilst following their legal obligations as an employer.

Often, many workplaces encounter issues where staff were unaware of a particular policy that they have breached, with lack of communication being a common excuse.

It is imperative that workplaces have accessible and well-communicated HR policies and procedures which allow employers to properly manage staff conduct. These policies do not need to be particularly complex or numerous – merely effectively communicated and adhered to. 

A comprehensive employee induction and regular training sessions on HR policies and procedures minimise potential misconduct within the workplace.

Where the policies reflect the legal requirements placed upon the employer by the Fair Work Act 2009 (cth), they ensure that both the employee and employer comply.

Otherwise, there is a risk that the employee can hold the employer to ransom – where the employer has failed to comply with the Act.

Which key policies are the most important?

HR policies and procedures encourage employers to operate efficiently and effectively.
They facilitate a cohesive workplace that supports consistent treatment of staff, fairness and transparency.

The following areas are most common for companies to focus their policies and procedures on:
  • Code of conduct;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Conflict of interest;
  • Working conditions and
  • Leave requirements.
Such policies and procedures also allow management to make decisions that are consistent, uniform and predictable.
If an employee of your company breaches a company policy, we recommend seeking legal advice to ensure you follow your legal obligation as an employer.

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