Why HR Policies Should Drive Modern HR Systems

Decorative image - a woman uses smartphone to complete HR tasks

Using natural and plain language in your organization's written policies doesn't just make it easy for your employees to understand; it also makes it possible to build products that reduce complexity and streamline operations.

Well-defined, easy-to-read, and understood HR policies are the hallmark of good HR departments and practices. Good policies provide reliable information in a digestible form that reduces confusion and establishes clear guidelines for employees. For example, a vacation policy that clearly defines eligibility requirements, vacation accrual rate, and usage provides clarity and transparency.

HR technology is evolving rapidly, and modern software products are taking center stage. Employees prefer digital interactions on demand at any time. HR systems are becoming the source of truth for HR policies and the medium for completing HR transactions. Systems that embrace HR policies as the foundational elements offer numerous business and technical advantages.

Designing for people

Intuitive systems are easier to use, inspire confidence and improve productivity. An intuitive system is simple to use — when the users see it, they know what to do. Many factors enhance the intuitiveness of a modern system, including the organization and presentation of information, efficiency of completing the task, and predictability of results.

Building HR products using policy constructs can enhance intuitiveness. First, using policies written in the natural language of the domain helps eliminate confusion and reduces the cognitive burden on the users. Second, policies organize eligibility rules, calculations, and applications in one place; and third, policies provide transparency of results.

For example, the leave and absence policy written in plain language captures types of leaves, eligibility criteria, statutory and compliance requirements, pay criteria, calculations, and limits. Policy-based HR software solutions deliver an intuitive experience for end-users, including HR administrators, practitioners, and employees. They offer a unified approach to information, organization, and business logic.

Bridging the gap

Policies help build the right software solutions. Translating business requirements into technical specifications is tricky and often results in misinterpretation and product quality issues. Using policies as the business requirements and directly supporting them in the software avoids misunderstanding and inaccurate implementations. With policies, subject matter experts and software engineers use the same language to describe the data, constraints, rules, and calculation methods.

Beyond product development, policies enable effective and efficient customer support. Using the common language allows support staff to understand customer requirements and precisely configure the product to meet them. Isolating and troubleshooting issues is more straightforward as the product is a collection of capabilities around policies.

For example, subject matter experts capture federal and state statutory and client-specific requirements for an overtime policy. The policy encapsulates variations, constraints, rules, calculation methods, and configuration parameters. Engineers implement it in the software adhering to the specifications. Implementation teams collect the client's requirements and set policy parameters to meet the needs precisely.

Building modern HR products

Out-of-the-box compliance, self-serviceability, and a higher degree of automation are the fundamental value proposition of modern HR products, and the policy-based approach enables them. Encapsulating statuary requirements and setting constraints upfront allows end-users to self-service without fear of misconfiguration resulting in business liabilities. For example, the rest break policy allows managers to confidently build team schedules and meet statutory requirements applicable to the work location.

With safety built into the system, self-serviceability and more automation are possible. The HR solution can be configured to take action automatically when parameters are within an acceptable range. For example, managers can configure the tool to auto-approve timecards when all statutory requirements are satisfied and work hours are per plan and within tolerance levels.

Ultimately, policy-based systems with common taxonomy facilitate machine learning and artificial intelligence applications to understand the domains and patterns of use with a higher degree of accuracy. Over time, the system learns and elevates best practices, thus lifting HR practices and experiences for all users.

Choosing the right partner

Today's HR teams need intuitive products that reduce administrative burdens and offer unparalleled safety. For over 75 years, ADP has helped its clients run their businesses better by providing HR, payroll, time, benefits, and other solutions. Our policy-based approach drives innovation and delights our clients.

Learn more about how ADP's workforce management solutions are designed for how people really work today — and its scalable model is built to keep you successful tomorrow.