Progressive (and Compliant!) HR Policies to Add to Your Handbook

Ask a Recruiter - Employer Q&A

Ask a Recruiter

Q: We’re getting ready to revise our HR policies and it’s becoming pretty clear that they are outdated and not in alignment with our values in many areas — it’s going to be quite an overhaul! Do you have any examples of progressive HR policies that are (of course) also legally compliant in Oregon?

  1. A: This is such a good mindset to have going into policy revisions! Knowing your organizational values makes policy decision-making a smooth process.  

    Here are three inclusive policies you might consider in your revision: 

    1. Office Hours 

    Many companies have hard start and stop times for roles. While it’s important to keep track of hours — especially for nonexempt roles — flexibility in start and stop times can be crucial for folks in caregiving roles, who are disabled, or who have economic disadvantages like unreliable transportation. Creating windows of time or grace periods before an employee is considered “late” can really benefit many different types of employees.  

    Obviously, the ability to allow for flexible start and stop times will depend on the role, but allowing individuals to work with their managers to determine a schedule, or providing a grace period can benefit the whole organization. You can still expect employees to work a full shift, regardless of start time.  

    One additional tweak we have at Boly:Welch is to allow employees to change their schedules seasonally, which can be a particular boon for parents and people experiencing temporary disruptions.  

    2. PTO 

    Paid time off is a necessary benefit, but implementation can suffer from a few issues. At Boly:Welch, we don’t encourage companies to offer unlimited time off, unless they have an existing culture that encourages employees to use this benefit, supportive managers, and even rules like requiring a mandatory number of days off (without a max).  

    For companies that have traditional PTO banks, one idea to consider is offering a combined bank of PTO that includes all paid time off. A common complaint is that having separate banks of time off for vacation, sick leave, personal days, holidays, etc. can lead to a weird balance of people magically using their exact number of sick days right around the time they go on vacation. On the flipside, no one enjoys using their PTO bank for their week of strep throat. A solution to this is to provide a bank of PTO and unlimited sick time. 

    Under Oregon’s sick time law, employers are required to track accrual rates, carryover entitlements, and usage. However, there is an exception to these requirements if the sick leave is “front-loaded.” It’s still a best practice to differentiate between time taken for sick leave and other reasons, but offering an unlimited bank of sick time could mean fewer employees come into the office hacking and sniffling (or miraculously falling ill right before their scheduled PTO). And, if you have employees who abuse this offering, you can still discipline them.  

    3. Performance Reviews 

    A traditional performance review is usually a once-a-year conversation that includes some strengths, weaknesses, and information about raises (if any). This type of review is typically not helpful, because it’s backwards-facing, unconnected to future growth, often laden with bias — and most employees focus more on the compensation increase than the feedback. 

    A better approach would be to decouple compensation and performance feedback, provide feedback on a more regular cycle, coach managers on how to give feedback free from bias, and include more opportunities for peer feedback. Having a defined, clear process can really benefit everyone, as it moves the process away from compliance to growth.  

    Once again, these suggestions might not work for every business, but could solve a lot of pain points. Good luck on your revisions, and if you’re looking for any help, please feel free to connect with our HR Consulting team as a resource!  

PS: Did you know that our HR Consulting team helps organizations draft and update employee handbooks all the time? Reach out if you’d like help with yours! 

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