29 April 2024

HR policy hygiene: Keeping your processes squeaky clean

A man smiling, holding a laptop. happy after using MHR's HR software to ensure his policy hygiene.

What is policy hygiene, why does it matter and how can you start bringing it into your organisation? It’s all about cleaning up what you don’t need anymore, and tidying up what you do. Let’s take a look.

What is policy hygiene?

Policy hygiene is all about keeping your HR policies in accordance with three pillars 

  1. What the business as a whole needs 
  2. What the law requires 
  3. What your employees want 

You have to keep these things balanced, and you need to stay collaborative with other departments to ensure harmony in your workplace. 

When your policies are outdated, it can lead to a lot of issues. 

Why does policy hygiene matter?

There are two main strands to consider when it comes to HR policy hygiene. 


Legal requirements can shift and change. Big changes tend to be well publicised, but there’s always a risk things can slip through the cracks.  Good policy hygiene ensures this never happens. 

You should also make sure your policy documents are as inclusive as possible. If they use gendered language or don’t account for certain diversity requirements (such as breastfeeding or parental leave policies), this can lead to alienation at best, and major legal ramifications due to discrimination at worst. Updating old documents that were in breach of this is vital. 

Employee engagement

The best way to think of policy documents is as the foundations of your company culture. They’re what employees will refer back to if there’s ever any ambiguity as to what to do. 

If the policy documents don’t match what they expect of the business, there’s no quicker way to kill motivation. In the short term, that can really hamper productivity. In the long term? It can be absolute poison for your retention and recruitment prospects. You’ll start to build a negative employer brand, which puts the best talent off working with you in the future. 

When policies are clear, accessible and logical, employees respond to them a lot more. You’ll see employees much happier to engage with you and they’ll feel a lot more respected. That translates into big boosts to productivity! 

Three quick policy hygiene questions

You might think you have a robust approach to your policies. Challenge yourself and your team! Ask yourself these three key questions, and you’ll quickly understand if things need to change. 

When did you last check your policies?

If you want your policies to stay up-to-date, you need to be checking them regularly. This is especially true in regards to legal compliance and best practices, as standards here can shift constantly. However, you shouldn’t only check your policies when there’s huge sweeping changes. Plotting time into your year to go through them is a great habit for the long-term health of the business.   

Do your policies match your objectives?

You might have some policies that were drafted when the company was still young, and no one can remember why they were written that way. Others could be quickly thrown together to hit a target, but no longer apply to the shape of the business. 

Organisations pivot and shift direction all the time, but their policies rarely match this change. For example, you might have a policy that one department follows to the letter, while another ignores it, because it’s not practically aligned with how they work. Taking the time to reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t is vital. 

How are you rolling out things?

You can have the most robust plan in the world, with everything written down in black and white … but if you don’t have an implementation plan, it’s not worth the paper they’re printed on. Policies live and die by how they’re implemented. Can your employees easily access documentation? Can managers action them effectively? Are any of them in conflict with each other, and is it clear what takes precedence if so? 

Final thoughts

Policies are the bricks and mortar of your company, so you need to treat them with the care and diligence they deserve. With a little extra thought, you can ensure your policies are fit for purpose no matter what happens. That frees you up to build up  

Want to get more support and keep your HR team as a powerhouse of strategic thinking? Check out our HR page for more information. 

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Emma Reid

Content writer at MHR

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