While a lot gets written on the strategic role of HR — and good practices HR professionals must implement — we rarely focus on some of the not-so-good practices, still persistent in many organisations across the Gulf. These go against HR’s ultimate objective of attracting, motivating and retaining talent.

I call these “bad practices” because they annoy employees in most cases and lead to reduced employee engagement and motivation. So here is the not-to-do list for HR professionals:

• Making pay decisions based on salary payslips from previous employers

A lot of recruitment policies require a prospective employee to submit a salary payslip from the previous employer as proof of last salary. The new offer is negotiated on the basis of last pay received. Many organisations pay erroneously high or ridiculously low salaries by looking at what the employee was paid in his previous job. In reality the pay decision should be based on some research on the organisation’s capability to pay and what the market offers for similar jobs.

• Lack of clearly defined job roles/descriptions

Employees in many organisations operate on day-to-day instructions from their manager without clearly understanding their job roles. There are organisations that still operate without clearly defined job descriptions. These organisations experience lost productivity, unequal distribution of workload and duplication of responsibilities. In most cases employees feel discontented and exploited as they do not know what are “reasonable and fair instructions” from their managers.

• Asking a death certificate to avail of compassionate leave

This one would top the list of bad practices. An employee is normally eligible for a compassionate/bereavement leave on the death of a family member. But if an employee’s mom expires, must he must prove this with a death certificate to avail of the compassionate leave?

• No internet or social media at work

Many organisations say irresponsible use of internet and social media at work can deter employee productivity. So, does your organisation hire employees who are irresponsible? We must understand that the demographics have changed rapidly in the workplace. The younger generation employed who constitute a majority in many organisations are super tech savvy. Organisations should balance their needs more effectively.

• Nationality based pay

Various factors have shaped stark differences in pay based on nationality. This include supply and demand of workers from a particular region, the quality and quantity of supply, gaps in existing legislations to promote equality etc. It is a widespread reality which HR must address through good practice.

• Performance appraisals with a dead-end

Performance management aims to reward good performances and improve the poor ones. Many organisations do not have a link between performance and reward. Paying fat bonuses and increments may not be viable under difficult market conditions, but some form of reward and recognition is required to motivate employees to go the extra mile. A clearly defined reward policy can address this.

• Performance evaluation without objectives

A lot of organisations turn the appraisal process into a mere paper filling exercise. For a performance management system to be successful, the manager and employee must sit and agree relevant objectives for the employee at the beginning of the year and the employee should be appraised on the agreed objectives. Without clearly written objectives, employees shoot in the dark and waste energy on unproductive goals and the appraisal process becomes meaningless.

• Employee dilemma

Will I be fired this month or the next? Markets may be difficult globally and organisations need to restructure at times. HR and managers must collaborate and build effective communication to ensure there is no unnecessary attrition of vital talent. Especially the high-potential talent an organisation wishes to retain. A lack of proper communication leads to high-potential employees diverting their energy to look outside for stability.

• Employees not allowed to fall sick during probation

Should an employee be granted paid sick leave during probation? While the labour laws in the region rightly allow minimum benchmark guidelines for the wider base of employers, they don’t restrict employers from offering better employee entitlements. So if an authorised medical practitioner can certify illness, why not?

• Lack of defined HR policies

Many organisations do not have written policies, or in many cases use outdated HR policies. Clearly defined policies not only boost employee morale but save time and effort for HR, which otherwise gets wasted on resolving queries and issues.

• Retaining employee passports

This is surely illegal and a reducing practice now, but a clear no-to-do for an HR practitioner.

• Job applications going into a black hole

Most candidates in the region normally do not know what happens after they apply for a job or after they attend an interview and helplessly keep following up with HR. An automated acknowledgement to job applicants explaining them the next steps or a generic feedback to unsuccessful candidates helps in building a positive employer reputation besides being naturally expected by someone who needs a job.

This may not be a comprehensive list, but avoiding them will help HR professionals pave the way for good HR practices.

The writer is Managing Consultant at Dubai based Tuscan Consulting.