In 2020, it’s no surprise to anyone that many companies have had to scramble to modify their business operations to improve health and safety practices. We see the real-world outcomes everywhere we go. University campuses have implemented face covering policies; even Uber has a “no mask, no ride” policy. Schools across the country are investing money and resources into e-learning platforms. Businesses have transitioned to a remote workforce (and some don’t intend to ever go back). And we’ve all probably used hand sanitizer more in the last year than we have in our whole lives.
The coronavirus pandemic is just the latest example of how policies and procedures can lead the way in making us safer by unifying an organization’s culture and behavior. Your health and safety policy is the cornerstone in any response to a major incident that could affect the wellbeing of your employees and/or customers. Much like we’ve seen in 2020, we don’t always have ample time to strategize, draft and implement new guidelines for workplace safety.
Outside events can demand that you must move fast, and that becomes much easier when you have established procedures for drafting, approving, distributing and training new policies. When circumstances call for you to act, you’ll know exactly what you need to do. If a Boy Scout is always prepared, then you can call us the Policy Scouts. Let’s help you earn your Safety badge.
First, Everyone Needs to Know Their Roles
Every organization will structure the process of policy creation a bit differently. The important thing is that you have a structure in the first place. When safety policy needs to be changed or updated, time is usually of the essence. In order to have a working structure, you need to assign roles (and make sure everyone knows what they’re responsible for).
Here are a few examples of roles you should consider during policy creation:
- Policy owner: This person owns the policy and is responsible for seeing it through the policy creation process. There could be more than one policy owner.
- Policy writer/author: The policy owner could also be the one responsible for writing the policy, but it doesn’t have to be. This person will research and write the content, making sure it is clear and succinct.
- Subject matter experts: These are the people in your organization who will have the knowledge and expertise relevant to a policy’s content. In the case of safety policy, this could be managers of operations, HR, legal, sanitary or other departments.
- Policy reviewers: these people will review, revise and approve the policy. Reviewers are usually your subject matter experts plus other key stakeholders in an organization.
Once everyone is familiar with the role they’ll play in developing a policy, you can get to the business of actually outlining and writing content. You need to consult with all relevant stakeholders, including health and safety representatives, but without a streamlined means of communication, this part of the process can really stall a policy.
By centralizing communication, you ensure that everyone can come together quickly and productively share ideas. You’ll cut down on the amount of time it takes for everyone to get on the same page and share their points of view with the group. There will be no need to relay information from separate conversations or make extra revisions because a key point was overlooked when your policy is drafted.
You want to keep policies and procedures in perspective in terms of what is actually achievable for your organization. This means accounting for your resources, budget, timeframe for implementation, delivery of information to employees and more. What someone from your legal team may suggest may not actually be realistic to implement for employees on a daily basis. Having representatives from operations able to interface with your policy committee will help iron out unreasonable requests. The same could be said for suggestions made by HR, accounting or purchase departments. The goal is that everyone will be able to lend their expertise, allowing you to craft the most thorough, effective safety policy possible.
Organize Companywide Implementation
After your safety policy has been drafted, reviewed and approved, it’s time to share it with your workforce. It’s not enough to simply publish new content for everyone, though. You also need to make sure they know where to find it and ensure they actually understand it. A safety policy is essentially useless if it’s not effectively guiding workplace behavior, after all.
The first thing you need to do to make sure dissemination moves quickly and smoothly is always publish your policies and procedures in the same place. Whether this be a physical handbook or a digital policy library, the important thing is to be consistent. If employees have to search around for information, they’ll likely never get around to doing it.
Next, you should notify all current employees, new hires and contractors when changes or updates are introduced to company policies. Connect with them in whatever way makes the most sense; typically an email or SMS message with a link to your safety policy is best.
You also have an obligation to provide adequate instruction, supervision and training to your employees with the introduction of any new policy. One way to do this is simply to provide the policy and have them sign off once they’ve read it to demonstrate that they understand and comply with all guidelines. For more complex or high-priority policies, you could consider a policy quiz that will test their comprehension of material. In-person workshops may also be necessary in some cases.
After publication and instruction, it’s important that management follows up with check ins to make sure everyone is following new policy guidelines. For something as important as safety, you can’t just put the information out there and consider the job done – failure to align behavior with new rules should always be addressed. The same goes for the safety policy itself. Regular reviews of content should be scheduled for the future.
With TotalCompliance, You’re Always Prepared
By utilizing our extensive knowledge of policy management, ComplianceBridge has created the most comprehensive PMS software on the market today. TotalCompliance streamlines each stage of the policy life cycle. During policy creation, everyone collaborates on the same policy document, and automatic workflows ensure that policies and procedures don’t get stuck in review and approval.
When it’s time to publish, send new policies and procedures to exactly who needs them. Choose recipients individually, by groups and custom distribution lists. TotalCompliance will even notify users when new tasks have been assigned to them. These reminders will escalate until they’ve completed the required action.
When necessary, require employees to acknowledge new policies and procedures. You can even build custom quizzes to test their understanding of them. These quizzes can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. Results from policy quizzes can be viewed in real-time before recipients have even finished answering all of the questions. With so much visibility into results, you can see which questions are giving employees the most trouble and where policy content may be unclear.
TotalCompliance makes policy management simple for the entire organization. Whether you’re a member of a policy committee responsible for crafting new safety measures or you are an employee searching the policy library for guidance, our system relieves the pain points common with policies and procedures. To see the full extent and power of our system for ourselves, request a demo with ComplianceBridge today.