Why does your human resource department need policies?

The answer is simple: humans.

While you can simply press “start” on a computer program and sit back, employees require formal policies to operate effectively and develop appropriately in their complex roles and workplaces.

Additionally, clearly defining your company’s rules and regulations for employees—and, of course, consistently following them—can protect you from costly litigation.

Here are 5 HR Company Policies and Procedures to be Implemented Immediately

1. Hiring and Recruiting Policies

Employees are the foundation of your company, and ensuring a stable foundation requires the development of smart HR hiring and recruiting policies.

Every HR department should have clear practices in place for how to advertise positions, create applications, pre-qualify candidates and move candidates along in the hiring process.

Designing smooth, engaging, professional hiring policies can help your company seal the deal with top talent. According to a report by Glassdoor, companies that invested in a strong candidate experience improved their quality of hires by 70 percent. With the “war for talent” raging on, you can’t afford to lose top recruits.

2. Employee Data Security Policies

From onboarding documents and I-9 forms to benefits paperwork and performance evaluations, HR departments are responsible for an incredible amount of sensitive employee data.

For this reason, it’s crucial to implement data protection policies and procedures. As we’ve seen, failure to do so could result in costly lawsuits. Sony Pictures paid more than $5.5 million to settle a 2015 class-action suit after a large hack left employee information vulnerable.

One way to ensure that your employees’ data is secure is to use a centralized employee document management system. By eliminating paper and storing employee documents on the cloud, employee management software can securely share files, control who has access to files and when, and produce an audited trail of all actions on each document.

3. Employee Training and Development Policies

In a recent survey by Mercer, 78% of employees said that they would remain with their employer longer if they saw a career path within their organization. Many of these frustrated employees seemingly do, in fact, move on—a 2017 report by Work Institute found that lack of development was the number one reason that employees left their jobs.

Turnover is expensive—some studies predict that it can cost as much as 20 percent of the annual salary to replace a midrange position—so creating training and development policies is critical. By providing employees and managers with clear paths for advancement, you’ll prevent top-level talent from moving on while improving your company’s bottom line.

4. Discrimination Policies

It’s the responsibility of HR to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. And as the headlines prove, not all companies take this responsibility seriously.

Many were shocked to learn of the working conditions at Uber, which agreed to pay 56 current and former employees $1.9 million to settle claims of gender discrimination and harassment. The rideshare company’s head of human resources ultimately resigned over the scandal following an investigation into how she handled racial discrimination claims.

Don’t take it for granted that your company already has adequate measures in place. It’s critical that every HR department creates, communicates, and consistently enforces policies that prevent employees from suffering unfair treatment because of factors including their race, age, religion, health status, sexual orientation, and gender.

5. Disciplinary and Termination Policies

When an employee is underperforming, tensions can run high. Managers are often unsure of how to handle these situations and morale suffers when it appears that an employee was arbitrarily punished or terminated.

Instituting clear disciplinary and termination policies can help ensure fair treatment of your employees, instill confidence in managers and keep your company out of court. In addition to developing HR guidelines for disciplinary action and termination proceedings, it’s important to create performance improvement plans with measurable goals.

In order to focus on HR strategy and HR policies, it’s important to minimize the time your team spends on employee document management. Learn how improved document management practices can save your business money and help you stay compliant in this interactive piece.

Nicole Hart is a seasoned global HR leader with over twenty years of experience. She focuses on organizational design, change management and workforce planning at Access which has 1800 employees in over 50 locations.