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How to Write a HR Manual: In-house vs Outsourcing
Composing a HR manual ensures your entire business team is aware of their responsibilities and obligations — but what should HR documentation cover? Here’s how to write a compliant Australian HR manual
A clearly defined HR policy is critical to the smooth operation and success of businesses of all sizes. Establishing clear HR policies and procedures provides structure, consistency, and control, ensuring that a business remains compliant with Australian employment legislation.
HR policy should also be effectively communicated to employees in order to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities and company expectations. The most effective method of communicating HR policy to employees is via a HR manual, which will detail employee management and relationships.
A HR manual is issued by the management of a business, and typically takes the form of either an internal document or employee handbook. An effective HR manual should communicate workplace practices, hiring procedures, and termination guidelines.
The essential nature of employee manuals and the manner in which they present the workplace policy of a business means they are often referred to in legal proceedings, necessitating the composition of a highly thorough and accurate document.
Composing your own HR manual can be complicated. Many businesses choose to outsource the composition of HR documents and manuals to specialists, or take advantage of pre-formatted templates and forms in order to ensure their HR manual is accurate.
How to Write a HR Manual In-House
As an Australian employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that your employees are accurately and thoroughly informed of their rights and responsibilities. There is no federal or state law that dictates an Australian business must provide an HR manual, but creating one can save time and prevent problems before they arise.
Composing a HR manual from scratch in-house is a complex undertaking. A HR manual should incorporate a broad spectrum of guidelines and rules in an easy to understand manner, but still deliver sufficient detail in order to effectively communicate them to employees.
In addition to providing your employees with basic employment guidelines, a HR manual should also elaborate on how business tasks should be performed, present business values, and assist in creating an efficient corporate culture.
The information you choose to include in your HR manual will vary greatly depending on factors such as the size of your business, the tone and style through which you communicate with your employees, and the industry that you operate in.
The following steps will help you compose a concise, accurate, and thorough Australian HR manual:
1. Identify Your Audience
When setting out to compose a HR manual, it’s important to first identify your audience. If you are composing an employee-focused HR manual, for example, your document should present day-to-day workplace operations guidance and generalised employee policies. A HR manual targeted toward management, however, should function as a general policy statement and aim for accuracy over implementation.
2. Review Your Organizational Policies
Before getting started, you’ll need to review the organizational policies of your business. These policies can include hiring, compensation, termination, promotions, and entitlements such as sick days or leave. It’s also essential to include policies such as dress code.
3. Structure Your Document
- An effective HR manual should be clearly divided into several different policy categories. Begin by structuring your document into a variety of categories. These categories can include:
- Workplace behavior
- Sexual harassment
- Dress code
- Inclusivity and diversity in the workplace
4. Write Your Policy & Highlight Important Procedures
Once you’ve structured your document, it’s time to compose organizational policy for each individual category. Your HR manual should state the official position of your business for each category, and should include process breakdowns for both management and employees accompanied by detailed reasoning.
Any category or section requiring detailed or important procedures, such as procedures for dealing with complaints, should be highlighted with specific workflows that can be used by both employees and management to express and solve conflict within the workplace. It’s also important to include a category for exceptional circumstances such as workplace emergencies or family deaths
Once you’ve composed your workplace policy for each individual section, an introduction should be added to the beginning of the manual. This introduction should present the approach your business takes to human resources and summarize how the procedures your HR manual presents aligns with this approach.
5. Collaborate & Publish
Once you’ve finished composing your HR manual, a draft should be presented to the key stakeholders and legal advisors of your organization. A drafting process provides the opportunity to solicit advice, make corrections, and include any overlooked additions.
Once you’re ready to publish your HR manual, you’ll need to publishe a finished, dated version, and distribute it within your business. HR manuals should be reviewed, revised, updated, and recirculated annually.
How to Outsource Your HR Manual Composition
Composing a HR manual in-house ensures that your manual takes into account the specific requirements of your business, but can be time consuming. While smaller businesses may find HR manual composition relatively straightforward, the complex procedural requirements of medium to large businesses can make HR manual composition extremely complicated and costly.
Third-party employee manual advisors and template providers are a powerful tool that can be used by Australian businesses to quickly compose complex, error-free HR manuals with minimum difficulty.
Creating a HR Manual With Australian Employee Manuals
Australian Employee Manuals is an Australian human resources agency that specializes in simplifying the composition of HR manuals and documents. Australian Employee Manuals provides Australian businesses with easy-to-implement templates and forms that include everything necessary to compose a fully-compliant Australian HR manual or employee handbook.
- The templates offered by Australian Employee Manuals create instant, ready-to-customize policies for a broad range of HR issues that include:
- Recruitment & Selection
- Behaviour & Code of Conduct
- Performance Learning & Development
- Safety & Security
- Information Technology
- Administration & Support
- Conditions of Employment
What Does Australian Employee Manuals Provide?
Australian Employee Manuals delivers a template and form set that can be used to create 286 essential policies, and is provided in Word format. Businesses need only insert their company name and details in order to instantly create comprehensive HR manuals compliant with Australian legislation.
The templates provided by Australian Employee Manuals includes 12 months worth of updates, and don’t need complex software or documentation to implement. A sample of employee policies along with a full index can be found via the Australian Employee Manuals website.
Composing a HR manual is an essential task for all Australian businesses, but it doesn’t have to be a headache. Taking the time to create a structured, detailed HR manual will ensure that all employees and managers are aware of their responsibilities and obligations.
Leveraging pre-prepared policy templates from providers such as Australian Employee Manuals can save your business a significant amount of time, assisting in the rapid creation of HR documents and policies.
Ensuring your business is compliant with Australian legislation regarding employee management and HR can be a time-consuming task. If you’re currently unsure of your responsibilities and obligations as an Australian employer, reach to Fullstack for initial guidance today.
(Fullstack might receive commission in relation to purchases from the AEM website.)
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Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech companies, agencies and entrepreneurs.