5 Modern HR Policies that Increase Employee Retention

5 Modern HR Policies that Increase Employee Retention

Modern human resources strategies take a more empathic, employee-centric approach to the traditional office environment than before. According to Gallup, 74% of workers experience some degree of burnout on the job. Emerging millennial and Gen-Z talent also report that their overall well-being is their highest priority when searching for and keeping a position at the right company. 

A truly modern HR department understands these factors and tailors its policies accordingly. Failing to adapt to the times leads directly to employee burnout, declining physical and mental health, reduced productivity, and decreased employee retention. The future of the workplace requires a holistic mindset, concerning itself with people first and knowing that profits will follow. Investing in growing a business these days requires investing in everyone who makes it happen, from the interns all the way up to the C-suite. 

Take the time to research some of the most common complaints workers have about their jobs, then cross-check them against current HR policies. Make changes to anything that seems out-of-date or otherwise not leaving room for empathy. Consider some of the following factors when crafting modern HR policies.

Updated Harassment Policies

Despite increased awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace thanks to the #MeToo movement, HR departments and companies on the whole have been slow to adapt preventative measures and reporting protocols. Many of the old ways of handling these incidents de-centered the victim, sometimes even taking punitive measures against the harassed rather than the harasser. Modern HR strategies take reports seriously, conduct thorough investigations, and prioritize victim safety.

Harassment in the workplace isn’t always sexual, either. Discriminatory behavior against underrepresented and/or marginalized demographics and general bullying all take a toll on the overall health of an office environment. Again, such situations often go unreported due to outdated policies where the victims end up as the ones facing punishment. 

In addition, updated harassment policies should include comprehensive employee training. Educate workers about what constitutes harassment and bullying, how to report, what steps are involved in an investigation, and what the penalties are for harming coworkers. Leave little room for doubt that the company considers harassment, discrimination, and bullying a deeply serious matter with severe consequences.

Routine Employee Feedback Gathering and Implementation

Modern human resources professionals know the value of taking a proactive approach to improvement. They don’t wait for employees to come to them with suggestions or complaints. Instead, they collect feedback through anonymous surveys and occasional face-to-face meetings. Workers are more likely to share their honest grievances anonymously, and may even fear in-person sessions due to a fear of repercussions against speaking up. In these instances, it’s wise to show them in writing that the HR department is engaging in good faith, with no consequences for sharing their thoughts.

Employee feedback is a company’s most valuable data. A modern HR department asks thoughtful, engaging questions designed to deep dive into how workers are feeling without asking them to spend more than 10 to 15 minutes of their time on surveys. Collecting feedback is only step one, however. The information workers provide requires implementation to be effective. Listening loses efficacy in these situations when not backed by action. 

Even after fixing the reported problems, follow up with employees on a regular basis to make sure feedback was implemented to their satisfaction and see if any new issues may have cropped up since the last survey. Healthy companies commit themselves to constant assessment and improvement.

Streamlined Procedures

Many workers may be hesitant to approach HR less out of intimidation and more out of time management. Outdated procedures regarding reporting, filing claims and paperwork, or simply asking a few clarifying questions may prove too daunting for employees to navigate, leading them to just give up on trying. 

When organizing a modern HR department, audit the different procedures involved for ease of use and make the changes necessary to streamline everything. It is also helpful to see if any new third party tools have been developed specifically to make the lives of both human resources professionals and employees much easier. Streamlining the different processes that make up HR procedures save money and time in the long run; they also encourage employees to communicate with the human resources department without worrying about stressful processes. 

Robust Sick Day Policies

Even prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, a common employee complaint involved limitations on sick days and restrictive definitions of what constituted “sick” in the first place. For example, chronically ill and disabled employees may require more than the maximum amount of sick days allotted per year; failing to reasonably accommodate them is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many companies do not allow sick days to be used for mental health reasons, despite otherwise touting “wellness” as a core value. They may also deny time off for conditions they may not consider “sick enough,” such as a bad headache or cold. Employees with children or who serve as caretakers for elderly relatives are often denied the benefit of using their sick days to tend to others’ ailments. 

Forcing workers to show up while ill, or while stressing over the ills of loved ones in their care, actively damages company productivity. Sick employees are more likely to make mistakes, and even “just a cold” is contagious and can harm an entire office if the worker isn’t allowed to stay at home. 

Modern HR policies view employee health as paramount. Compassionate sick policies don’t place limits on the time necessary for workers to heal, don’t determine what constitutes “sick,” and open up for family care. They also allow for empathic leaves of absences for severely injured or sick employees, doing away with unpaid time off and making sure workers can collect a salary to pay bills while they recuperate. Nobody should have to worry about losing their livelihoods due to medical circumstances outside their control. 

More Employee Autonomy

Micromanagement doesn’t belong in a modern human resources department, or even a modern workplace on the whole. It’s a demoralizing practice that makes employees feel like they aren’t trusted. Along with harassment and sickness policies built on a foundation of empathy, companies need to center their management styles and corporate culture around letting employees enjoy more autonomy. This trust building can also extend to making flex hours the norm, allowing for a greater degree of work-life balance. 

Many employees also appreciate the ability to work from home, finding office environments too distracting or too risky when it comes to transmitting germs. Allowing them to take care of their responsibilities in the spaces where they feel most comfortable and productive also inspires goodwill. When workers know that their employers have their backs, they’re more likely to stay and grow in their roles rather than pursuing other opportunities elsewhere.


HR trends have been pushing toward centering workers’ well-being with compassion and care for a while. If you haven’t updated your human resources policies in some time, now’s the right time to start assessing every process and make the necessary changes to lead with empathy. For more information about ensuring your modern HR department continues to provide employee-focused support, download our free guide to Building a Sustainable HR Strategy.

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