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Updating and consulting on HR policies

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Hillingdon VCS shares how they update and consult on HR policies, with a total of 13 staff, 10 trustees and 6 volunteers.

Background

Gurdip Rai, HR advisor for Hillingdon Association of Voluntary Services (HAVS) speaks about the process she follows to update her organisation's HR policies. They have a total of 13 staff, 10 trustees and 6 volunteers.

The issues we faced

With many legal changes in October, Gurdip took the opportunity to update HAVS’s HR policies and make them consistent.

The actions we took

  • Identified policies to update - "All policies had an element of change. We needed to prioritise." HAVS had 31 existing policies to review and 6 new policies to draft.
  • Drafted policies - Gurdip and her HR assistant used XpertHR to cross-check each policy one at a time. The HR assistant produced first drafts which Gurdip then reviewed.
  • Created a quick reference guides - The HR team produce 'quick reference' guides for each policy. These state the updates that have been made. "It’s much simpler. Staff can see the changes at a glance as bullet points." Gurdip recommended this method over using ‘tracked changes’ or highlighting a Word document.
  • Decided on the most appropriate method of consultation - "Of course, all organisations have different approaches. It’s much easier to gain consensus on policy changes which are favourable to the employee." Gurdip recommended balancing the depth of consultation with the volume of policies to be reviewed. Sitting down individually with staff, explaining the changes and gaining written consent is preferable especially where changes may be less popular. However email was deemed the best option in this instance.
  • Began staff consultation - "It’s quite a long process. We have 13 employees to consult with." Gurdip began with the three most important policies and circulated these to staff via email for questions and comments.
  • Forwarded policies to management committee for approval - "The policies have now gone to the management committee. The management committee have taken away the policies individually as the staff did. They could have chosen to work with a select panel, but they opted to all be involved in the review. The Chair organised a separate meeting aside from the management committee meetings to review the policies. In two and a half hours, five policies were signed off. "This is effectively the fourth check: having gone past the HR assistant, the HR advisor, the staff, the management committee provide the final review."

Positive outcomes

  • Communicated the changes well - The HR team has drafted 'line manager briefings' to help managers put the policies into practice. "The line manager briefing is like an abbreviation of the general policy and procedure. Managers  want to know what they need to do. It's like a synopsis of the policy. The briefing explains how to approach a specific situation, providing the essential do’s and don’ts. It’s no longer than an A4 page for each policy.”
  • Achieved a happy medium - Consulting via email helped the HR team to review a large number of policies in one sitting. Gurdip said it was important to circulate the policies to staff in manageable bundles.

Negative outcomes

  • Time constraints - "We had 37 policies to review in two months. It needed further time. We started at the beginning of August aiming for 1 October. But we’ll be looking at December or mid January for all policies to have a signature on them. "By that time, I know that three policies will need updating again. For staff, I give 10-15 working days to review five policies. For the trustees, we post the five policies and give them three weeks to review the bundle. Come April, this will be much easier. The hard work has been done."
  • Ever-changing legislation - Consultation can be lengthy so it’s wise to keep an eye on legal changes that may be occurring while your policies are undergoing review. Is there anything that would have been done differently? 
  • Completing the first tranche of updates sooner - "It was a while before we were able to begin our first review of policies. I wouldn’t leave it that long. It’s much easier to do when you keep up on top of changes." 

Lessons learnt

  • Fair policies and procedures that are up-to-date - "I hope to see the benefits of process in the long run. It’s not something to rush by.”
  • Learning experience for HR team - "We’ve learned a lot through this process. As a team, we’ve really looked to see how a policy has developed and looked at where we would like to take it."

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Page last edited Feb 08, 2016

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