Therole and responsibility of the HR policy manager can vary widely betweencompanies and industry sectors, according to organisational size and the kindof legislation governing that sector. Forthis reason, the creation and management of HR policy is not always theresponsibility of one individual. Sometimes it is generated through the work ofindividual managers – people with responsibility for health and safety matters,equality and so on. However,even within this structure there is usually one person whose job it is toensure policies set down for the management of employees are legally andpractically sound. Policies must not contradict or compromise each other,should not be restrictive for line managers and must be communicatedeffectively to the people who need to use them on a day-to-day basis.”HRpolicy managers do differ between organisations,” says Deborah Moon,corporate personnel policy manager at Medway Council in Kent. Moonreports directly to the assistant director of HR, keying into the strategicneeds of the organisation as well as the practical demands of managingemployees. “Therole I have is to lead on the corporate approach to employment matters. Thismeans creating an overall framework and giving a general direction which can beimplemented in each of our HR service areas,” she says.AtTesco, a number of policy managers are employed on a part-time basis in aconsultative role, providing recommendations project by project so seniormanagers can make informed decisions on policy within their department. “Thepolicy manager’s job is to keep abreast of the law and then to makerecommendations over and above that as to what our own policy should be,”says Catherine Glickman, involvement director at Tesco.HRpolicy managers need to be technically proficient in terms of understanding theimplications of employment law, have a good practical understanding of howpeople management works within their organisation and full knowledge of thecommunication techniques available to deliver this information to the linemanagers. Glickmanidentifies three core skills for success in the role: the ability to influencepeople, the ability to “take complex topics and make them simple andpractical for the people who need to work with those issues”, and theability to network. Thisfinal skill means being well connected – both within the organisation and tothe outside world – able to address employment issues before they arise. Inthis way, HR can be proactive in creating policy rather than simply reacting toproblems as they happen.”Alot of the things you do are unseen,” says Moon. “Very often yourwork keeps the organisation out of employment tribunals and that’s not alwaysrecognised. “There’san emphasis on developmental issues such as equality initiatives and so on, butinsufficient recognition for the things you do which stop tribunals fromoccurring.”Thereare no specific qualifications required, but it is clear that policy managersneed a good knowledge of employment law and must have operational experience toappreciate the relationship between policy and practice. Policymanagers may also require specific knowledge and skills according to thecurrent activities of the organisation. Theinitial creation of Medway Council resulted in Deborah Moon concentrating onharmonisation issues, including an extensive programme to restructure pay andconditions.AlisonBorley, HR policy manager at financial services company Marlborough Stirling,has been more involved with international employment policy as the organisationhas grown through a number of acquisitions. “There’sa lot of up-front work to be done which means working with the relevant peoplein the workplace to identify the best way to integrate policies,” shesays. “Ingeneral we try to use as many of our existing policies as possible and tailorthem where appropriate.”Withthe potential to work with managers and employees across all areas of anorganisation, together with the challenging task of bridging the gap betweentheory and best operational practice, HR policy managers can see their nextstep forward to be into HR directorship. “Thereare a number of routes you can take, but it does open the door to a departmenthead role. This role means you absorb a lot of information about employment lawand wider employment issues,” says Borley. AtMarlborough Stirling, for example, Borley has helped introduce new policiesaddressing stress in the workplace – a move inspired to promote a happierworkforce rather than responding to legislative demands.”Itis a good stepping stone if you want to go on to be a head of department,”agrees Moon. “It gives you an in-depth understanding of a large number ofHR areas. “Iknow some people miss the daily interface between managers and staff, which therole doesn’t have, but if you’re aspiring to be a director it helps to give youa good all-round experience.”Borleysays, “I like being able to see the wider picture. It’s interesting tolook at a piece of legislation and see how we can implement it within thecompany. It’s the creation of practical policies which makes the job soenjoyable.”Borleyoriginally worked in Marlborough Stirling’s life, pensions and investmentsectors, having worked for a dedicated employee relations team in anotherfinancial services company. She has a degree in French and Italian and is CIPDqualified. Shebegan her career in a generalist HR role. “You need to have operationalexperience and a broad understanding of the function,” she explains.”You have to appreciate the practicalities of people management and theeffective use of internal communications.”Borleyworks in an HR team of 20, delivering services to 900 staff. Recently theinternal communications function was brought into the HR remit, a move intendedto improve the dissemination of policy information. “Internalcommunications used to come under the marketing department,” she notes. “However,the only material they were dealing with came from us. Effective HR policy is asmuch a matter of good communications as it is creating the policy in the firstplace.” Comments are closed. HR specialisms: HR policy managerOn 30 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.