Thursday 18 November 2010

HR Policies - Necessary or Unnecessary

I. TOPIC: Part A

Formal, written HR policies are unnecessary. They date easily, encourage bureaucracy, and restrict the flexibility and discretion of both HR specialists and line managers. Discuss and debate


Today, every organisation has realized that people are an organisation’s greatest asset. Human resources are now viewed as a source of competitive advantage. Therefore, business leaders across the globe are coming to rely more and more upon an effective management policy that applies specifically to the area of human resources. All such policies are known as HR policies of an organisation. All organisations have HR policies. HR polices can be expressed as overall statements of the values of the organisation. It defines how the organisations fulfils its social responsibilities for its employees and sets out its attitudes towards them. “HRM essentially involves the policies and practices one needs to carry out the human resource aspects of a management position, including recruiting, screening, training, rewarding, and appraising” (Dessler, 1997; p. 2). In some organisations the HR policies exist implicitly, whereas in others they exist explicitly. Implicit policies exist as a philosophy of management and an attitude towards employees expressed by the ways in which HR issues are handled. Explicit policies are written and more formal.

In this coursework, we are going to discuss whether or not formal, written HR policies are unnecessary.


Formal written HR policies are necessary. There are numerous factors that support this argument. Firstly it has to be buried in mind that formal written HR policies bring in consistency within the working environment of the organisation. Sound, written HR policies provide the framework within which an organization governs its employee relations. It promotes understanding and transparency, especially in the working relationship between the management and the employees. That is, the employees have a clear picture in mind in terms of what the management expect from them and therefore this brings in efficiency and improves the performance of the organisation. HR policies and procedures guide both managers and employees as to what is expected and can prevent misunderstandings about employer policy. In addition, carefully written policies can be used to illustrate your commitment to a positive work environment and non-discriminatory employment practices. In addition, supervisors and managers are more likely to consistently apply policies that are clearly communicated in writing.

Written, explicit, HR policies help the people of the organisation understand their role in the organisation. In fact, not only their own role and position but also the positions and roles of others in the organisation. This is very important because every successful team has well defined positions for its members. Each of the members knows what he or she is supposed to do, how to do and the effect of their performance on those around them. Further it also establishes a clear chain of hierarchy such that each member knows whom he or she shall report to.

Formal, written HR policies help in establishing the understanding of the acceptable behaviour within the organisation. This is extremely important because in today’s world the employer can be held liable for the bad behaviour of an employee. Moreover it may affect the relationship of the organisation with the clients and the individuals. Therefore it is important to have a clear set of written HR policies to clearly establish that the organisation is not contributing to the bad behaviour of the employees. If an organisation depends on informal, unwritten HR policies then violations of such standards of behaviour becomes subjective and open to interpretations. Such ambiguousness often results in litigation. Poorly drafted policies often become the main evidence presented when employees allege that the policies were subjective. This may cost the organisation huge sums of money. However, policies that are carefully written so as not to be ambiguous should protect against these claims and not be a problem. (

Not only HR policies help in setting the standards of the acceptable behaviour but also establishes the consequences of violating the standards. Therefore it helps the organisation in defining the seriousness of the issues by assigning actions like immediate dismissal, disciplinary actions etc.

The most important functions of HR department is planning, recruitment and selection, training and development and performance management. All this functions require huge investments and therefore all these functions must be carried out systematically, on the written policies of the HR department. It's an investment that can pay large dividends in increased productivity if well carried out. Therefore the written HR policies form an essential component of the organization’s comprehensive people strategy.