Policies & Procedures

Easy-to-understand guidelines that help employees understand what's expected of them.

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One of the biggest challenges employers face is ensuring that the business functions as smoothly, efficiently and consistently as possible. Whether your business is small or large, a successful business needs company policies and procedures. Policies and procedures should be clearly communicated, as well as be consistent with your organization’s goals and culture.

What are policies?

Policies are guidelines to help employers manage the health, safety and accountability of employees, as well as their interactions with clients. They provide direction for employees to handle behaviors, conflicts, complaints, requests and other day-to-day situations that arise at work. Well-written policies provide clear definition on why they exist, inform employees when they should be used and who they are intended for. They also set out how each policy is enforced and the consequences of policy violations.

Need help getting started? Here are some of the most important policies every company should have.

  1. Workplace health and safety policy.
  2. Equal opportunity policy.
  3. Employee code of conduct policy.
  4. Leave of absence policy.
  5. Employee disciplinary policy.

For a more comprehensive list, check out Indeed’s list of company policies to consider.

What are procedures?

Procedures are the instructions for completing a task properly. Generally, simpler tasks don’t require a formal written procedure. Complex tasks, especially ones that require multiple layers of approval, are better suited to formal procedures. Set procedures for common or repetitive tasks — for example, disciplinary actions or performance reviews — promotes efficiency and reduces the likelihood of errors.

Why are company policies and procedures important?

A broad set of company policies and procedures ensures all your employees work as a team within the same set of operational guidelines. According to Partners HR, some of the benefits of having company policies and procedures are to:

  • Help employees understand the limitations of their jobs, reducing trial and error.
  • Reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings or errors.
  • Protect your employees’ safety and wellbeing, resulting in a positive company culture.
  • Provide legal protection by giving employees a clear set of rules to operate under.

How do you know which policies and procedures are right for your company?

Your first stop for company policies and procedures is going to be human resources. Most companies have the same basic HR needs — refer to this ADP HR Tip of the Week for 15 must-have HR policies and forms. Many compliance sites, like Labor Law Center, HRdirect Smart Apps and The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), have informative articles with examples and instructions.

Check the law. Local, state and federal governments all have laws and regulations on employment matters, such as parental leave, sick leave and work hours. Do some research, such as your state’s labor board or the U.S. Department of Labor website. Also, check online resources like Thomson Reuters for sample company policies and plans. Additionally, you can consult an employment law firm to get expert advice, such as Aaron Law Firm or Littler.

Look at what other organizations are doing. Study well-known companies like Anthem and Amazon to see what their key business policies look like and if there is something you can leverage for your own organizational policies and procedures.

Finally, reflect on what is special and unique about your company. Study specific policies and procedures for your lines of business, such as information technology or health care. Think about social media or data protection policies if you have a strong online presence. Consider strong anti-harassment and code of conduct policies to protect any special employee populations.

What’s the best way to communicate your company policies and procedures?

Here are some things to consider when devising a policies and procedures communication strategy:

  • What information are you trying to communicate?
  • Are you rolling out a single policy/procedure or multiples?
  • What is your objective — providing information, ensuring compliance or something more?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What communication strategies have been successful in the past?
  • What new communication strategies would you like to implement?
  • Are there any special considerations to address — timeliness, sensitivity or other specific challenges?
  • Will you need to do any follow-up or debriefing?

Once you’ve thought about all the circumstances, it’s time to work out a communication rollout strategy. Your strategy will depend on your employee population, organizational layout and priority of the policies and procedures being communicated. Simple, low-priority information could be posted on a single platform (such as an update to the employee handbook), but more urgent messaging is best communicated at multiple points (via email, text messaging and at town hall meetings).

For tips, review SHRM’s article on Managing Organizational Communication. It breaks down communication strategies, various vehicles for delivering messaging to employees and matching types of communication with the appropriate communication channel.

Finally, assess the results of your communication rollout. Feedback is a valuable tool when learning how to effectively communicate with employees. Use a survey to assess how the communication goals were met or what could be improved.

It is a PartnerComm best practice to conduct focus groups and surveys to gauge employee response to all employee communication campaigns. We look at what has been well-received in prior projects, as well as what new methods or technologies can be used for success in the future.

Reach out to an expert today.