The right foundation: best practice documented procedures
The key to an effective HR system is the implementation of succinct, practical and documented procedures that cover all components of the employment lifecycle:
2. Commencement of employment and induction;
3. During employment; and
4. Conclusion of employment.
Your HR system should be framed around the employment lifecycle – that way you know you have all bases covered.
In this series of articles, we’ve outlined best practice procedures for each stage of the employment lifecycle into a set of simple, practical steps that any firm can follow. We’ve also indicated which templates or tools you will need, and recommended how to allocate responsibility within your firm to build a thriving HR system.
The procedures we’ve detailed form the right foundation – the hard part in building a strong HR system. It’s your job to follow the procedures by implementing the tools that you create or purchase and allocating the responsibilities that you develop.
The importance of having documented procedures in place
Why is having best practice documented procedures in your firm (and not just for HR!) so important?
1. All of your staff will know what they need to do and when they need to do it – and they won’t need to waste valuable time making inquiries of other colleagues;
2. The steps comprising any procedure are less likely to be overlooked if they are written down;
3. Clear allocation of responsibilities means tasks can be more effectively delegated – this goes a long way towards reducing key person dependence risk (particularly prominent in smaller practices); and
4. Undocumented procedures means this information is stored only in the minds of individual staff members – it effectively ‘walks out the door’ at the end of each day and at the end of a staff member’s employment.
It is critical that all of your documented procedures are saved in a central location that all your staff can access (for example, your centralised document management system) – after all, if your staff can’t find the procedure, then writing it down was pointless!
The use of documented procedures by Australian accounting firms
The 2014 Good Bad Ugly results revealed that of those firms surveyed, 31% of their processes weren’t formally documented in procedures. What about your firm?
A note on the need for legally compliant and transparent HR policies
The potential for employment related issues to escalate into costly, time-consuming and reputation-damaging matters for your practice should not be underestimated. Having legally compliant and transparent HR policies in place that serve as a guide for how all staff should conduct themselves – and that operate in parallel with your HR procedures – is therefore critical.
We recommend that you invest an appropriate amount of time in determining (or updating) your HR policies. Though outside the scope of this report, we would recommend that, at a minimum, you implement policies relating to:
- General employment rules;
- Equal employment and anti-discrimination;
- Employee leave;
- Employment payments and benefits;
- Employee discipline;
- The handling of internal complaints;
- Quality control systems;
- Security and integrity of firm premises, systems and data; and
- Termination of employment.
A note on the meaning of ‘HR Manager’
In the articles that follow, our references to ‘HR Manager’ should not be interpreted to mean that you should have a single person solely dedicated to performing the role of an HR Manager.
The resourcing needs of a small, one partner practice are vastly different to the needs of a multi-office, multi-partner practice: while one (or several) dedicated HR Managers may be justified for the later, for the one partner practice such a resource is simply not required.
However, no matter the size or nature of the firm, what is required is an assignment of HR duties to a particular person (or people). This is what we mean by ‘HR Manager’: the person (or people) to whom responsibility for HR duties is assigned.