Why HR Policy Matters

12 May 2014

With the release of the updated ACA HR Policy Templates, we outline the benefits of having policy in place for practices of all sizes.

Many architectural practices operate on very informal lines, with few policies or procedures in place. This may work fine day-to-day, but there are some big advantages to having more formal processes and policies to refer to.

Policies are particularly helpful for guiding employers and employees when they come to navigate new or unexpected situations, more complex environments, or workplace tensions or disputes. Policies also help ensure that your practice is a fair and equitable workplace, and is well-positioned to reap the benefits of this.

HR Policy is important for practices of all scales, including small ones. Benefits include:

Being prepared

Adapting HR policies to your practice is an excellent opportunity to consider issues in advance. This means that when you come to deal with a particular situation you already have a framework in place, and have thought about what matters from the perspective of the practice. This leads to better outcomes than making things up on the run.

Developing your workplace culture

Policies  provide a framework for developing the best possible workplace environment and culture. Adapting the policy templates to suite your practice gives you an excellent opportunity to actively consider what your practice is like and what you want it to be. Once completed, the policies ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in helping to build an effective and productive and engaging workplace


HR policies ensure that everyone has the same understanding and expectations. Policies also provide an important basis for employers and employees to negotiate. This is particularly important for professional development, flexible working arrangements and various types of leave.

Establishing boundaries

HR polices provide a clear articulation of acceptable behaviour and performance. Policies are vital for managing problems with underperformance ,poor or inappropriate behaviour and workplace bullying, and for helping establish systems to reward good performance.

Fairness and equity

Informal systems can lead to unintended or unconscious bias, which works to detriment of the practice and it’s employees. A policy is an excellent reminder equity and fairness matter and helps set out the processes that will ensure that all your employees have the same access to opportunities for career development and fair working conditions. This is an excellent way to attract and retain the best staff.

Attracting the best staff

Employees are increasingly looking for good workplace cultures. Having high-quality clear policies is an important signal that this matters to your practice, and are one of the things employees look for when doing their research on practices.  

Business planning

HR policies should be clearly related to strategic business planning.  

Helping meet your legal obligations

Good policy helps alert you to your legal obligations around employment, and ensures that you have the processes in place to meet your obligations.

Members can access the ACA HR Policy Templates here.

Photograph of Bird de la Cour’s office by James Parker.