Expert comment: Half of staff ‘not aware of HR policies’, figures show

Dr Samantha Evans (née Lynch) is Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resource Management and Director of Studies – MSc Human Resource Management.  Dr Evans comments on the following item from People Management – Half of staff ‘not aware of HR policies’, figures show

A recent survey by office provider Business Environment has found that nearly half of all employees are not aware of their company’s HR policy.  In a poll of 1,000 workers, only 53 per cent claimed to have knowledge of their employer’s HR guidelines.  At a time when employers and academics are seeking the Holy Grail that proves an undisputed link between HRM and organisational performance, the results of this survey are somewhat disheartening.

Academic research has proved that there is a link between an organisation’s HRM policy and the performance levels of its employees.  However, it is not entirely clear how or why there is this link or even proof of the direction of its causality.  Hence, much research continues in this area which is attempting to decipher the contents of what is termed the ‘black box’ between HRM and organisational performance.  In response, many organisations are developing increasingly sophisticated HR policies in an effort to engage their workforce; improve commitment levels and enhance both individual and organisational performance.  Yet this recent survey suggests that organisations would do best to work on their basic communications with employees in order to maximise the chances of their HR policies having any real impact.  If organisations are not effectively communicating important information about their HR policies both to existing staff, and/ or to new recruits during the induction process, the policies themselves are in danger of becoming rather irrelevant.

So maybe a ‘back to basics’ call to employers is required?  We know that HRM can make a positive contribution to an organisation’s performance.  But to be effective, employers need to be confident of not just their HR policies, but also their methods of communicating these policies to their employees.  Without this, even the best-designed and most sophisticated HR policies risk being meaningless if over half of the organisation’s workforce is destined to be unaware of them.

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