Once a business idea strikes and takes shape in an entrepreneur’s mind, he or she is in a tearing hurry to give it life and form. Thus is born a start-up which needs a small team to get it afloat. It has been seen that in most cases, start-ups generally function without any formal ‘human-resource’ policies in place. After all, for a new business owner, it is more critical to focus on the concerns of the business at hand. Almost always the entrepreneur will put off the task of writing up a human resource policy. This article brings to every new entrepreneur the importance of having a clearly written human-resource policy, even when the business is still in its infancy.
A well-constructed human resource policy accomplishes several tasks:
• A clear-cut policy binds every employee in the business and helps in applying the same consistently and fairly across the organization.
• It serves to preempt many misunderstandings between employees and the employer about their rights and obligations in the business place.
• It enables entrepreneurs save valuable time and resources on policy disputes or potentially legal cases.
• The absence of a clear policy may result in the decline in worker morale, deterioration in employee loyalty, and increased vulnerability to legal penalties.
Here are a few HR policies that every start-up must have:
1. Work Timings: Mention working days, timings for the employees to reach and leave the office, as well as their lunch and tea break duration. Many start-ups offer flexible work timings and ‘working from home’ options too, but that’s based entirely on your comfort and trust. For overtime and night shifts, check out the applicable labor laws especially when dealing with women employees.
2. Leave Application: There are several categories of leaves that employees are entitled to like sick leave, casual leave, maternity leave, annual leave, half day leave etc. Make clear-cut policies for each of them in order to avoid ambiguity and confusion.
3. Joining and Exit Policies: Establish clear and detailed policies that an employee should follow while joining and quitting your business-concern and also what he could expect from the company. Similarly, you should state that either party can end employment at any time and that no policy constitutes a contractual obligation to employees on the part of the company.
4. Salary and Employee Benefits: An employee should have a thorough understanding of the salary break up, bonus structure if any, policy regarding obtaining company loan or advance and its re-payment/adjustment, overtime pays, promotions and pay increase. If you are offering life insurance, health cover etc. mention them in your policy as well.
5. Use of Company Resources: For resources like internet (accessing emails and social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) and telephone; define a policy that works best for you. You may respect personal space of your employees and leave the use to their discretion as long as they manage their time effectively and deliver, or make strict rules demanding adherence.
6. Work Culture: You should make it clear to all employees that ethical behavior, equal opportunity, and respect for other employees are keys to the employment relationship. Lay down strict rules for dress code, sexual harassment, customer misbehavior, and disrespect to colleagues and breaking confidentiality (data leakage). Lastly, it should be clear that the company reserves the right to change any policy at any time. It is important that apart from the above-mentioned policies, you draft your own detailed policies as every start-up is unique and one policy does not fit all. A good way is to get people involved when drafting your HR policy. Ask your employees what they think should be included. You might be surprised with the input and insight they provide.