How to Get Started with HR Documentation

Andy Cook
May 19, 2020
How to Get Started with HR Documentation

Every HR department needs to implement their company’s policies and procedures. But what’s the most effective way for you to do so? The answer is HR documentation.

Appointing a representative from human resources to monitor each team isn’t scalable and a tad Orwellian. But completely trusting each team to follow the rules would require a pair of rose-colored glasses. So, where’s the middle ground?

To effectively implement and oversee their company’s policies and procedures, most successful HR departments document them in an internal knowledge base, like an employee handbook, and make them visible to all employees at any given moment.

This gives employees instant clarity into the expectations for their behavior and treatment at work. It also allows HR professionals to quickly determine if anybody has committed a policy violation.

To keep learning about what exactly HR documentation is and which HR policies and procedures you should document, read on.

What Exactly Is HR documentation?

HR documentation is the act of writing down and storing your company’s policies and procedures in an internal knowledge base. It clearly sets expectations for employee treatment and behavior, giving your employees a go-to resource that they can rely on to understand exactly how they should be treated at work and how they should behave.

HR Documentation Best Practices: Which Policies and Procedures Should You Share?

Great question. Here are nine company policies and procedures we recommend every HR department should document in their internal knowledge base.

1. Attendance Policy

It’s crucial for your company’s productivity that you specify what time your employees need to clock in and out and what days of the week they need to work. If you don’t, they won’t know when to show up or go home. This can result in them working less than expected, which could hamper your company’s productivity. In fact, unscheduled absenteeism costs U.S. companies $3,600 for each hourly worker they hire and $2,650 for each salaried worker they hire.

We’ve all shown up late to work before, but documenting a clear, public attendance policy will enable your employees to consistently show up on time and put in the work they’re getting paid to do.

2. Time-off Policy

A time-off policy clarifies how many vacation, sick, and personal days your employees can take each year, how they can request this time off, and how they can get coverage for their work while they’re out of the office.

Specifying the amount of time off your employees have at their disposal allows them to plan vacations ahead of time and take impromptu days off when emergencies crop up. It also boosts the odds that your employees will use all of their vacation days. Studies show that taking vacation improves people’s health, happiness, and productivity, so your most well-rested employees can actually be your best employees.

Additionally, documenting how your employees can request time off and get coverage for their work enables managers to plan for their team members’ vacations and get the same amount of work done, even if they’re down a team member for a certain period of time.

3. Family Leave Policy

Maternity and paternity leave is crucial for your employees’ bond with their new child and, in turn, their happiness at your company. Documenting this policy allows your employees to maximize this time with their new child.

Your employees can prepare and set themselves up for a successful parental leave if you clarify:

  • How many weeks each parent can take off
  • If family leave is paid or not
  • Who is eligible for family leave
  • How to get their work covered during family leave
  • The parental leave laws your company must follow

If you do this, your employees won’t have to worry about work during their family leave and can stay laser-focused on what truly matters during this time — the newest member of their family.

4. Sexual Harassment Policy

Work should be a safe space. If one of your employees feels uncomfortable around someone, give them access to a resource that describes what sexual harassment is, how they can report sexual harassment to their managers, and what managers should do after it’s reported.

5. Benefits

According to The Wall Street Journal, a competitive benefits package is one of the best ways to retain employees. But your employees can only use your company’s benefits to their full advantage if they know exactly what they are and how to best leverage them.

Document everything your employees need to know about your benefits so they can do so. If your employees ever have any questions about your company’s benefits, you can also send them the documentation, or they can look it up in your internal knowledge base.

6. Promotion Cycles and Reviews

Another huge reason why employees choose to stay at companies is the possibility of promotion. Everybody wants to climb the career ladder, so documenting when your promotion cycles and reviews occur will let them know when to expect a promotion and when to start building their case for one.

7. Payroll Information

Your payroll information specifies how often your employees will get paid, when they’ll get paid, and when new hires should expect to receive their first paycheck, depending on their start date. If your employees can instantly access this information, they can budget more effectively and better maintain their financial hygiene.

8. Non-compete Clause (If you have one)

If your company has a non-compete clause, make sure you document everything your employees need to know about it. You don’t want any employee to lose their job because they didn’t know they couldn’t run a side hustle.

9. Onboarding

The onboarding process is the first impression your company will make with your new hires, so it’s crucial that you document a pleasant, engaging method for getting them up to speed. You want your new employees to feel excited to start their new job, not second-guessing their decision to work at your company.

To hone your onboarding process, document the results of each onboarding session and use new hire feedback to refine it. Then, document your new iteration in your internal knowledge base. If you’re new to documenting information in an internal knowledge base, check out our lesson on proper documentation.

Getting Started with HR Documentation

HR documentation helps your employees understand the boundaries of what their behavior and treatment at work should look like. Start documenting it in your internal knowledge base today so they know exactly where those lines are and so you won’t have to take as much disciplinary action dealing with employees at work.