HR Policies Meaning, Definition, Objectives, Types, Importance, Factors Affecting

Table of Contents:-

  • Meaning of HR Policies
  • Definition of HR Policies
  • Objectives of HR Policies
  • Factors Affecting HR Policies
  • Types of HR Policies
  • Formulation of HR Policies
  • Importance of Human Resource Policies

Meaning of HR Policies

Policies are the universal statements that direct the flow of thoughts and actions while making decisions. They are also called plans of action. HR policies are the group of organizational processes that establish and maintain employment relations. The approaches adopted by the organization to handle critical features of HRM and provide ongoing instruction on applying these approaches are set out by HR policies. The values and philosophies of the organization, which advocate for the appropriate method of treating individuals, are identified through HR policies. These policies are the foundation for the principles guiding managers in addressing HR issues.

Definition of HR Policies

Brewster and Ricbell state, “HR policies are a set of proposals and actions that act as a reference point for managers in their dealings with employees”.

According to James B. Bambrick, “Policies are statements of the organisation’s overall purposes and its objectives in the various areas with which its operations are concerned personnel, finance, production, marketing and so on”.

Dale Yoder states, “A policy is a predetermined and accepted course of thought and action that is defined and established as a guide towards accepted goals and objectives”.

According to Armstrong, “Personnel policies provide guidelines for a variety of employment relationships and identify the organisation’s intentions in recruitment, selection, development, promotion, compensation, motivation, and integration of human resources”.

Objectives of HR Policies

HR policies are strategically developed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To Help in Supervision
  2. To Assist in Policy Administration
  3. Providing Uniformity
  4. Provide Information to Employees

1) To Help in Supervision

In large organizations, HR generalists or directors may only always be present to take care of every incident related to employee discipline or to respond to every query related to leaving policy or other such HR issues. A supervisor with a good understanding and easy access to the written organizational policies can effectively respond to the queries and grievances of the employees and handle minor disciplinary issues without the involvement of the human resource department. If an employee questions a supervisor regarding addressing a problem, the supervisor needs to inform the employee about the organizational policies. By doing so, a supervisor can control and project an unbiased reputation of the management and, therefore, can improve the quality of work life.

2) To Assist in Policy Administration

If a policy of work standards, delinquency, discrimination or any other employee issue is challenged, the HR policy manual will act as a guideline for uniform and fair handling of issues. HRD professionals use the policies to answer questions and guide supervisors on how to document the disciplinary problems of employees effectively.

3) Providing Uniformity

Communicated HR policies aim to provide uniformity in messages and administer organisational policies. In case two employees working in different departments arrive late regularly or fail to meet performance standards, it becomes easier to handle them uniformly due to set employee discipline policies. This ensures that every employee is treated equally and safeguards the organisation during lawsuits or complaints.

4) Provide Information to Employees

Employees can easily access information independently by utilizing online and offline manuals and handbooks on policy and disciplinary procedures. Every employee must be provided a hard copy of the handbook, and the employee must sign a declaration acknowledging the receipt of policies and procedures. If employees have questions about working hours, sexual harassment, vacation time, dress code, etc., they can find answers in the handbook by themselves. Additionally, having complete information on policies helps the employees get information regarding the person to be contacted for various issues related to their employment.

Factors Affecting HR Policies

Several factors which affect the human resource policies are described below:

  1. Social Customs and Values
  2. Kind of Workforce
  3. Development Phases
  4. Goals and Practices of Trade Union
  5. National Laws
  6. Management Philosophy and Values
  7. Organisation’s Financial Position

1) Social Customs and Values

During the formation of the HRM policies, social customs and values should be considered, as they are the rules of conduct of any society.

2) Kind of Workforce

The assessment feature of the labour force and everything they accept is the responsibility of a good HR staff. It is of no value to execute an unsuitable policy.

3) Development Phases

The adoption of HRM policies is affected by several factors, such as innovation. Change in financial structure and variations in the composition of the labour force, operation size, and authority decentralisation.

4) Goals and Practices of Trade Union

Various factors related to the employee union help shape HRM strategies and practices within an organisation and, therefore, affect HRM policies; these practices include the union’s techniques to pressure management to meet their demands, their bargaining ability, and the level of the employee organisation.

5) National Laws

The HRM policies should be based on national laws, as several aspects of personnel affairs are determined by federal laws.

6) Management Philosophy and Values

The HRM policies should be according to the values and philosophy of the organisation’s management because of the absence of explicit, comprehensive values and philosophy. Management only works for a short time on the affairs related to employees of the organisation. 

7) Organisation’s Financial Position

The development of HRM policies requires financial resources, which will ultimately affect product pricing. Thus, HRM policies are restricted by the prices of the organisation’s products.

Types of HR Policies

Different types of human resource policies are described below:

  1. Appealed Policies
  2. Written Policies
  3. Specific Policies
  4. General Policies
  5. Implied Policies
  6. Originated Policies
  7. Imposed Policies

1) Appealed Policies

These policies are framed to meet the necessities of specific unusual circumstances that the previously formed policies have yet to consider. The demands to communicate this type of policy typically come from the employees, who could not deal with the situations based on the supervision provided by existing policies

2) Written Policies

These policies express formal statements of intentions of the management clearly. The thoughts of management are written on paper in the form of written policies, so there are very few—chances of understanding them in the wrong way.

3) Specific Policies

These policies should be consistent with the fundamental outline provided by the general guidelines. Issues which are covered by these policies are bargaining, hiring, and rewarding.

4) General Policies

These policies show the fundamental philosophies and primacies of the upper-level management in drawing up the comprehensive plan for determining the growth chart of the organisation.

5) Implied Policies

The policies not framed by a competent authority and without official sanction are implied policies. These are concluded from the conduct of the members, such as their polite interactions with customers and adherence to the dress code.

6) Originated Policies

These policies are instituted by the organisation’s top management intentionally to supervise executive thinking at different levels.

7) Imposed Policies

These policies are established due to the pressure from outside agencies like unions, government, and trade associations.

Formulation of HR Policies

The everyday issues emerging in an organisation and their resolutions form the basis for formulating HR policy. The several steps involved in the process of formulation of HR policy, as depicted in the image, are described below:

  1. Recognising the Need
  2. Collecting Information
  3. Analysing Policy Alternatives
  4. Putting the Policy in Writing
  5. Getting Approval
  6. Policy Communication
  7. Policy Evaluation

1) Recognising the Need

The requirement of HRM policy should be felt by the HR manager if the organisation does not have a suitable HRM policy. The HR manager should persuade the organisation’s Chief Executive about the requirements of the same. Different fields of human resource management, like compensation, training, IR, recruitment, etc., need HRM policies—the requirement for revision. A first-line supervisor, a staff professional, a rank-and-file worker or a union leader may express current HRM policy.

2) Collecting Information

The second stage is to gather essential facts for formulating HRM policies as soon as the management has accepted the policy requirement. The job to gather the facts internally and externally from the organisation may be allotted to a professional or committee

Information can be collected from the sources given below:

i) Organisation’s past practice.

ii) The attitude and belief of the top-level management.

iii) The existing practice amongst the organisations in the society and all over the country in identical industries.

iv) The understanding and experience gained from dealing with numerous daily issues.

v) The beliefs and the attitudes of the middle and lower level management.

The personnel department should study industry surveys, current documents, and community practices to gather suitable facts and interview individuals inside the organisation. The factors like the ambitions of the workers, beliefs and attitudes of the upper-level management, labour legislations, social values and customs should be carefully considered. Extensive discussions and consultations at this phase are beneficial during the policy implementation.

3) Analysing Policy Alternatives

The gathered information forms the basis for the analysis of the alternatives concerning their contributions towards the organisation’s goals. The active involvement of employees who use and accept these policies is necessary.

4) Putting the Policy in Writing

The real job of expressing the HR policy in writing can be started by the personnel department after collecting essential facts and analysing objectives.

5) Getting Approval

To get the policies approved, the policy draft is sent to the upper-level management by the HR department. The ultimate authority of whether or not the policy adequately denotes the organisation’s goals rests with the upper-level management.

6) Policy Communication

Every organisation’s employees should be informed about the policy after upper-level management approves it. The ways and methods to deal with numerous personnel issues should be considered. To ensure the effective implementation of the newly formulated policies, it is compulsory to establish an authentic educational program aimed at instructing employees. 

7) Policy Evaluation

A timely policy assessment should be conducted about the experience of the employees who are influenced by and utilise it. An organisation may face the condition when it is not receiving anticipated outcomes. This necessitates amendments to the policies. Top-level management should be promptly informed of any critical issues, accompanied by appropriate recommendations. Such information will facilitate the management in deciding whether there is any requirement for reformulation or reinstatement of the policy.

Importance of HR Policies

The importance of human resource policies is as follows: 

  1. Responsibility
  2. Coming on Board
  3. Chain of Command
  4. Workplace Rules
  5. Terminations
  6. Orientation
  7. Code of Conduct

1) Responsibility

Every new employee must sign a receipt of an acknowledgement, ensuring they agree to abide by all these rules. As a result, a sense of responsibility is instilled in each employee. At the same time, the employer is also authorised to implement punitive measures, including termination, in cases where an employee intentionally and willingly violates company policies.

2) Coming on Board

The new employees of the organisation are assisted to have an explicit knowledge of the office uniform, registering themselves in the benefit programmes, appropriately filling in tax forms and information, other work rules, and attendance with the help of HR policies.

3) Chain of Command

When a small organisation has few departments and superiors, employees approach the superior they like if they confront a problem or seek help. Thus, human resource policies prescribe a chain-of-command protocol to prevent employees from directly coming to their preferred superior to avoid tasks they dislike. 

4) Workplace Rules

Workplace rules are framed by several organisations, which include attendance, uniforms, harassment, smoking and other actions. Evasion of workplace disagreement and disharmony. A decrease in court cases between employees is possible with the help of HR policies. The prospects of applying work rules amongst employees differently are reduced, the charges of preferential treatment are decreased and ill-feeling amongst colleagues is lessened when the organisation has written HR policies.

5) Terminations

 Unlawful termination of employees forms the basis of various court cases, and the HR policies determining employee dismissal help organisations reduce this risk.

6) Orientation

On the first day of joining, new employees are provided with comprehensive employee handbooks containing company policies. To confirm that every new employee knows the acceptable and unacceptable code of conduct in the working area, the manager, the owner, or the HR representative reviews these policies during the orientation session.

It is an essential phase in the transition procedure from the culture of one employer to the other, and it provides an excellent opportunity for the worker to be familiar with all the traditional practices in his new role.

7) Code of Conduct

Normally, HR policies consist of the guidelines of behaviour which record the activities or conducts banned in the organisations, like carrying armaments in the working area or using improper or frightening language, in addition to the outcomes for the involvement in any of these activities. To establish organisational standards, the policies are frequently associated with the employment laws of the State Government or the mission, vision, and culture of the company.


1. What are HR policies in HRM?

HR policies in HRM play an important role in ensuring consistency, fairness, and compliance within an organization. These policies provide guidance, standardisation and legal compliance, promote employee relations, manage risks, support employee development and shape organizational culture.

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