Four New HR Policies You Need Now

6 min read
four new hr policies, typing on laptop

People who work at a company and just go to work to do a job and provide for their families do not like the HR profession. They don’t want to be subjected to draconian restrictions by HR policies divorced from life as it is in the 2020s.

For every goofy and archaic policy human resources has been copy + pasted into your company HR policies and employee handbook, there are probably two that should be there instead. In some cases, having these written HR policies are the difference between your company surviving a crisis. In others, they provide much needed clarity about how to do business as digital transformation occurs as an afterthought.

Implement these four policies and put them in the forefront. Communicate them to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

Crisis Communication HR Policy

Yes, we’re talking about COVID-19, and the absolute destruction the pandemic has wreaked on economies, health systems, families, and businesses. Globally. The companies that have a firm crisis communication policy with a standard frequency for drills are more likely to weather the storm. I use “storm” figuratively and literally, as Poprouser’s very own Crisis Communication policy was critical in getting us through 2017’s Hurricane Irma, and 2019’s Hurricane Dorian safely and with minimal impact.

What should be included in a Crisis Communication policy?

  • Who are “skeleton crew” team members
  • Who is all emergency communications centralized through
  • Communication distribution channels
  • What are rally points online or in-person in the event of a catastrophic separation
  • What relief benefits shall be provided by the company
  • Frequency of drills to keep people and systems ready, and the content of those drills
  • Define the team to oversee crisis readiness and execute drills
  • IT measures to reduce IT business risk due to catastrophic events
  • Pandemic Response Planning Policy
  • What are disciplinary actions for ignoring or disobeying the crisis communication policy

WFH – Remote Working HR Policy

Once again, we’re talking about COVID-19, and how Digital Transformation was thrust upon millions of businesses almost overnight, with social distancing orders urging and preventing people from interacting in-person. Therefore, they had to adjust awkwardly, and with very little preparation to the new virtual paradigm with is mandatory remote work. Other companies were already utilizing multiple technologies and processes to facilitate remote work, leading to a frictionless transition.

A great Work-from-home (WFH) policy is built into the culture of the company, with WFH as a ready option presented gracefully as a perk of the job. The ability to complete the same work remotely, but with the same expectations of productivity and professionalism, requires a company to communicate the terms and standards of remote work. A solid hr policy for WFH addresses:

  • Conditions under which the company converts to full WFH
  • Communications to send customers and stakeholders regarding limitations in service due to WFH
  • Require all job analyses to assess level of required
  • Explain the extent to which WFH is used as a perk for the job, and as a disability accommodation
  • Declare equipment procurement and reimbursement standards for remote working

Data Processor Policy

Many American businesses have ignored the imperative to comply with the EU data protection regulation (GDPR), mainly because they either don’t have any employees overseas or they don’t have EU customers. However, CCPA is already enacted in California, as of January 1, 2020. CCPA has the most comprehensive consumer data protection regulation in the country. Reasonable data protection and security requirements are also place in more than 20 other states.

At this point, if you have a business in the US, you should have a written guidance about the collection, use, retention, and disposal of data. If growth is an objective of your business, you will “touch” California soon enough, so start writing that policy.

What should belong in this HR policy? The top “must-haves” are indicated below.

  1. Establish both a customer-facing Privacy Notice, and the internal HR Policy.
  2. A competent employment law advisor should be involved in crafting the notices, with statements of the consumers’ rights: Right to Know, Right to Request Deletion, Right to Non-discrimination, and Right to Opt Out included.
  3. Establish the HR Policy, to be distributed to all Employees, Contractors, and employment-related stakeholders.
  4. Include a list of personal information collected by the company, and for what purpose that info is used.
  5. Include a list of any information that is disclosed per the prior list, and to which entities.
  6. Provide contact information in order to make any requests for data, or ask any questions related to the policy.
  7. The timeframes for which all data categories are retained before destruction.
  8. Data Archiving policies, as well as IT measures for preventing, detecting, and correcting disasters impacting data and technology systems.
  9. Data breach communication protocol (could include in the Crisis Communication policy as well).

Do not hide the important stuff at the bottom. Make present and clear how the company handles employee data.

Mental Health Policy

First, here are some facts:

The global economy loses about US$ 1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety.

World Health Organization (WHO), 2019

62% of missed work days can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Bad for Business: The Business Case for Overcoming Stigma in the Workplace

National Alliance for Mental Illness of Massachusetts

You can see the clear benefits of including a well-defined mental health HR policy. By focusing on communicating how your organization treats mental health as a priority, you signal to people who may be affected by mental illness that it’s okay to seek help. You signal that you are actively reducing the probability that mental disorders are formed on-the-job in your company. As a result, you are likely to see productivity gains and increased job satisfaction.

More than 80% of employees who receive treatment report improved job satisfaction.

Investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business‘ 

Partnership for Workforce Mental Health

A corporate mental health policy should begin with a declaration of compliance with Americans with Disabilities (ADA). People need to know that at any point, as a candidate, as an employee, or otherwise, that they won’t be discriminated against. In addition, people want to know that accommodations for mental illness are provided within reason. Weave into your mental health policy explanations of how the compensation & benefits program, workplace flexibility, training, and continuous feedback mechanisms are designed to remove the unnecessary stressors that are proven to lead to mental disorders.

Signal Your Values and Your Culture

You should use the HR policies to augment and define your culture. You do not have to wait for federal law to catch up to make your prevention and response embedded in your daily flow of business. How you deal with problems as they arise internally signals to customers how you would treat them.

Your employer brand and the version of your culture that you communicate to the masses is continuously on trial. Consider your audience – you are not just communicating to your employees through your policies, you are also signaling to their families and extended networks. The only logical response is to live your values, putting it in writing and communicate it continuously.

Make sure that people never forget how you treat them.