Personnel management policies establish an expected standard of professionalism and conduct for employees. These guidelines help management and those working in human resources (HR) maintain hiring practices that are fair and consistent. They also provide criteria for how a company addresses controversial issues like drug abuse. Implementing personnel management policies ensures that employees are aware of what qualifies as proper behavior and reduces a company's liability in sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits. Finally, personnel management policies protect the privacy of employees and the trade secrets of employers by introducing confidentiality agreements.
Most countries have laws prohibiting discrimination of applicants or employees based on their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or religion. Violation of these laws can result in a company being sued or fined by the government. Personnel management policies that expressly prohibit prejudice and establish merit-based qualifications for hiring or promoting employees can guide the decisions of a personnel manager and yield a diverse workforce.
Narcotics laws vary by region or country, however drug use or sales may not be conducive to workplace safety or efficiency. It is important that a business has personnel management policies that define what constitutes drug use or abuse. Some companies may seek to drug test employees randomly or based on probable cause. Such tests may be deemed illegal if personnel management policies do not explicitly notify employees of this possibility.
Harassment or bullying in the workplace can create a hostile work environment that lowers employee morale and productivity. Employers who do not have personnel management policies banning such behavior may be held liable in a court of law in a workplace harassment lawsuit. This is because business management has a responsibility to maintain a safe work environment that is conducive to productivity and the well-being of employees. Personnel management policies related to the harassment or disrespect of other employees should contain clear examples of what constitutes unacceptable behavior and provide employees who feel they are being bullied with proper directives for filing a complaint with HR.
Employers and employees must be able to trust each other with confidential or sensitive information. Employees may have medical conditions or personal issues that they must divulge to the company they work for to ensure their own safety or the safety of others. A business lacking personnel management policies that guarantee confidentiality of such information may deter employees from sharing. This can create a liability or negatively impact an employee's performance. Conversely, a business may need to share secrets with employees that are integral to the company's success or competitive advantage over competitors. Personnel management policies that establish confidentiality agreements for all employees present such secrets from being revealed to competitors.