Staff are seldom aware of their companies’ HR policies, according to research released today by serviced office provider Business Environment.

The study, based on an independent poll of 1,000 UK office workers, found that less than a quarter (23 per cent) were aware of their firm’s corporate social responsibility policy, less than a third (27 per cent) knew their employer’s service guidelines, and only half (53 per cent) had knowledge of their HR policy. Only 43 per cent claimed to know their company’s structure, while a quarter (24 per cent) reported they were not aware of any of these policies and guidelines whatsoever.

David Saul, MD of Business Environment, said: “Given the importance of clear published codes, we were surprised by how low the awareness of HR guidelines was amongst UK office workers. Information such as company structure and HR policy is often imparted as part of the induction process, so it is especially disheartening that the information is only retained by a minority of people.

“We consider low knowledge of service guidelines as a particular worry – in our view these are absolutely essential to business. Without a clear code of how suppliers and clients are treated, it is more difficult to ensure consistent standards, and customer retention could suffer as a result.”

The survey did show support for management programmes such as Investors in People (IiP), with more than half (52 per cent) reporting that they believed it was important to have an accredition from IiP or similar. Of these, 14 per cent considered it “extremely important.”

John Telfer, Managing Director of Inspiring Business Performance (IBP), the organisation that delivers Investors in People South, said: “One of the best ways to transform business performance is through people. Guidelines, standards and frameworks, when used appropriately, can be highly effective. We believe that the requirements for IiP accreditation are hugely valuable in ensuring an organisation is fit to continuously develop, improve and be far more likely to achieve sustainable business success; for similar reasons, good HR, CSR and service policies are important, but only if employees have been effectively engaged.”

The poll was taken as Business Environment launches its first Service Excellence Guarantee. It contains guidelines on all areas of the business, from front-of-house service to cooling and heating systems in offices, presentation of employees and emergency procedures for power failures. The intention is to ensure that, no matter what the location, staff or situation, standards of service are completely consistent.

David Saul said: “We’re so confident in our ability to provide a top level service that we’re putting our promises in black and white for everyone to see. In the serviced office sector, where it is essential that our clients get the most out of their working day, the service levels provided by us can be crucial in providing a successful working environment.”