In the last decade or so HR practices in Pakistan have undergone some major transformations mainly due to advent in technology, arrivals of foreign companies, induction of business graduates into businesses and competition among firms. But the spread of INTERNATIONAL standard HR practices & concepts still has not penetrated to all business sectors and a lot of work is required by HR professionals to strengthen this field.
In addition, it has been seen that STANDARDIZATION of HR practices within many companies is often neglected even though it is a known fact that well drafted standardized HR policies & procedures save the company hours of management time. The CONSISTENT use and interpretation of such policies, in an evenhanded manner, reduces management's concern on legal issues becoming legal problems.
A vast of majority of Pakistani HR professionals lack the fundamental knowledge of HR Policy making. Its not surprising , the company management teams DO NOT TRUST the ability of their HR department to deliver an HR policy manual and resort to hiring a consultant to do the job. A common MISCONCEPTION is that HR policies manual are developed only to streamline administrative tasks. Hence, it is considered a non-strategic activity which does not require much deliberation from the top management and copy-paste arrangements are considered sufficient.
As an HR practitioner I believe that the onus is on the Head of Human Resources department to ensure that HR team is well versed at developing HR Policy Manual, and educate the top management on how an HR policy manual will help the company achieve its strategic objectives.
There are other issues associated with the drafting of HR policy manual that can be observed across various companies within Pakistan. Most HR policies are constructed based on the Best Practices methodology WITHOUT considering the relevancy to the industry in which the company operates or the life cycle (inception, growth, maturity, decline) in which the company is going through. HR policies are seldom revised whenever there is a change in business strategy. Furthermore there is HARDLY ANY effort made by the HR department to monitor the impact of HR policies on business and on employee satisfaction.
In some companies HR Policy manual is not made available to employees and concept of employee handbooks is still considered a far-fetched idea.
Since most HR department heads are not treated as strategic business partners, they become so complacent with the status-quo that they RARELY proceed with a change in policy out of the fear that it might trigger lengthy discussions and difference of opinions within the board of directors NO MATTER how important the HR policy changes maybe.
The idea behind developing HR Policy manuals is to help staff and management teams run the organization in a consistent manner. In BEST use situations, policies play a strategic role in an organization. If they are developed in light of the mission and objectives of the company, they become the MEDIUM through which management plans, rules and business processes become documented and communicated to all staff. It's a win-win situation for both employees and the management.
About the Author: Muhammad Usman was working as Senior Consultant HCM for Abacus Consulting, with over seven years of diversified experience in the field of HR, Business Intelligence & Sales Operations at the time of first publication of this article in the 9th TimeTrax HR Professionals NewsBeat in November 2011 and is currently the Job Evaluation Analyst at ZADCO, United Arab Emirates.
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