Workplace policies to foster fair, safe, and healthy workplaces

April 26, 2023

The HRdownloads® research team prepared this insightful article for you. HRdownloads is a Manulife partner and one of Canada’s most experienced providers of human resources tools and expertise. They can help organizations like yours accomplish everyday HR tasks seamlessly.

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What’s the Deal with Workplace Policies? Here’s Why They’re Important

Workplace policies are vital to all organizations. Polices are more than just a set of rules; they help foster a fair, safe, and healthy workplace. They do this by clearly articulating expectations, responsibilities, and consequences. They may be directed at a specific audience or all parties in the workplace.

Workplace policies can cover a variety of areas, such as hours of work, overtime, vacation, performance evaluation, standards of behaviour, and progressive discipline. While some policies are required by law, there are many other optional policies that can help add structure and consistency to the workplace.

Most importantly, policies need to be communicated and applied consistently to ensure everyone is held to the same standards. When policies apply consistently, the organization can operate more efficiently and positively shape the work environment.

Now that you understand the importance of policies, let’s discuss some best practices tips for implementing them.

Best Practices

Put It in Writing

Workplace policies can be verbal, but it’s best practice to have them in writing, and sometimes even required by legislation. Written policies ensure consistent expectations are communicated to everyone, especially new employees. When policies are written, each employee gets the same information as their colleagues, regardless of who conducts the onboarding. In contrast, when policies are communicated verbally, employees only have their memory to help them, which can create inconsistencies. Having policies in writing and easily available lets employees make habits of referring to and relying on them.

Get Signed Acknowledgement

Once an employee has read a workplace policy, they should sign it as proof they have read it and agree to its provisions. This signature is evidence that the employee has received the policy and reviewed it.

While paper copies can be provided to employees to review and sign, using an HR Information System platform makes it easy and convenient to assign policies online. Electronic signatures can be provided directly on the platform, and the policies are stored on the employees’ accounts for easy reference.

Update Policies and Communicate Changes

Legislation and best practices evolve constantly. Keep up with legislative changes and update your policies as necessary to remain compliant. Consider auditing your policies annually to ensure everything is up to date.

When you change your policies, you must promptly communicate the new versions to employees. Consider sending a companywide e-mail announcing the change and explaining the reasoning behind it. Employees also need a copy of the revised policy to review and sign. This ensures everyone in the organization is aware of the new standards.

Popular Workplace Policies

Workplace policies can cover a broad range of topics. Let’s look at six popular workplace policies and how they can support your workplace.

DEIB in the Workplace Policy

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are key pillars of an inclusive workplace. However, it can be difficult to know where to start with such initiatives. Implementing a DEIB in the Workplace Policy demonstrates your commitment to fostering a supportive work environment that provides equal opportunities for all employees.

Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy

Many workers experience violence and harassment at work. Having a Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy is one way to proactively address workplace violence and harassment and make it clear that this conduct is unacceptable. It’s also a legislative requirement.

Attendance Management and Absenteeism Policy

Employees will be absent from work. However, there is a difference between approved and unapproved absences. Employers can manage these absences and make their attendance expectations clear with an Attendance Management and Absenteeism Policy.

Company Technology, E-mail, and Internet Use Policy

Many employees use technology every day for work. It is an important tool, but it can also lead to concerns about security. Having a Company Technology, E-mail, and Internet Use Policy sets out guidelines for how employee should use this technology at work to ensure it remains secure.

Remote Work Policy

Remote work arrangements are a form of flexible work that allow employees to work from anywhere. These arrangements require different considerations than traditional onsite work arrangements, which you can outline in a Remote Work Policy.

WHMIS 2015 Policy

The Workplace Hazardous Information System (WHMIS) is a system for providing health and safety information regarding the use, handling, and storage of hazardous products. Working with hazardous materials poses unique health and safety hazards to employees, but having a WHMIS policy helps keep workers safe.


 Workplace policies are important regardless of the jurisdiction, industry, or size of your workplace. These policies serve many purposes, from setting out expectations for conduct to ensuring compliance with legislation. Remember to communicate and apply your policies consistently and follow the best practices outlined above to ensure your workplace policies help your organization operate effectively.

HRdownloads has provided the six policy templates discussed above to support your organization. These are just a few of the thousands of templates available through HR Fundamentals. Manulife group benefits sponsors get preferred pricing on these HRdownloads services and more. Find out how HRdownloads can help your organization.


HRdownloads assumes no responsibility for the enforcement or effectiveness of its templates and online products. Their human resource information and recommendations are based on seasoned, best practice field experience and should not be construed as legal advice. Copyright 2023, all rights reserved.

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