Here’s the thing — you might be able to get away with poor communication around policies and procedures… but only for so long. Organizations don’t create policies and procedures just for the sake of it; when you implement a new policy, you do so for a reason. Eventually, noncompliance, even if accidental, will cause issues.
There will come a time when you absolutely need people to follow through on your policies, and that’s not a good time to find out that no one knows about them. Clearly communicating new policies and procedures is essential if an organization wants to protect its reputation, its legal standing, and its employees’ health and safety.
Best Practices for Communicating New Policies and Procedures
While the importance of communicating new policies and procedures is apparent — people can only follow policies and procedures if they know about them — doing so isn’t always easy. However, following these best practices will make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.
1) Make Sure Everyone Knows What’s Coming Before It Happens
Blindsiding employees is almost never the best way to communicate change, especially when that change could impact their day-to-day lives. On a practical level, communicating new policies and procedures before you implement them will help guarantee that everyone who needs to be aware of a policy knows about it, preventing any accidental noncompliance. On a more personal level, by discussing updates and changes prior to making them, you not only show your employees that you respect them enough to keep them informed (which is reason enough on its own), but you also help ensure they understand the value of what’s being proposed (and getting employee buy-in early on will be of huge benefit down the road).
2) Ask for Feedback
As the people who carry out the policy or procedure every day, your employees’ input will be extremely valuable. They’ll be able to see if any important steps have been overlooked, if any redundancies exist, or even if there’s a better way to go about the process altogether. So, make the most of employee feedback!
This should go beyond simply making yourself available if an employee wishes to provide feedback, it means actively seeking it out. This could look like implementing a suggestion box, opening the floor up for discussion at the end of a meeting, holding open office hours, or sending out surveys…what matters is that you have a clear process, provide ample opportunity for employees to share their thoughts, and create a space where they feel they can do so without fear of repercussions.
3) Give Comprehensive Updates
When the time comes to release the policy or procedure, it’s important to update everyone it touches (even if you already informed them it was coming). Be sure to clearly define the policy or procedure and explain why you implemented it, what problem it solves, why employees should follow it, and any other information you think they should know. (Although employees may have already heard this when you first introduced the change, it bears repeating.)
One way to start communicating new policies and procedures is through email, an internal newsletter, or the like, but when possible, it’s best to follow up face-to-face. Regardless of how you initially share the change, there’s no guarantee that people will read it.
4) Get Employee Acknowledgement
If you’ve been successfully communicating new policies and procedures up until this point, it shouldn’t be too hard to get employee acknowledgment because they’ll already be familiar with the process. There are several ways to track acknowledgment; you could check names off a list when they verbally affirm, track who has opened the policy document, have employees provide initials or signatures, etc. The problem is that none of these ensure they actually read the content, and for compliance reasons, it’s important to be able to prove your due diligence. Sending out policy quizzes can solve this issue, as a quiz can prove both acknowledgment and comprehension.
5) When Necessary, Give Trainings
Training on the new policy or procedure could be necessary depending on the situation. If that’s the case, it’s generally best to offer several smaller training sessions rather than one longer session. While it may seem simpler to just do one big training, splitting it into several mini-trainings can go a long way in both making the content digestible and ensuring no one forgets that the update has happened. We’d advise creating small daily lessons with accompanying questions (about 5-10 minutes a day), then building off those questions as the lessons go on.
6) Make New Policies and Procedures Accessible
This last takeaway may seem obvious, but some companies still haven’t figured it out yet – employees have to see a policy to read it; storing policies in cluttered filing cabinets or binders just doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, make your policies accessible via the web where people can read them from their computer, tablet, or smartphone, regardless of where they are. By storing policies in an easy-to-find, centralized location, you can rest easy knowing your employees will always have access to the information they need.
When Communication is Key, Use ComplianceBridge
Effective policy management can’t exist without strong communication practices — as stated above, people have to know about policies and procedures in order to follow them. ComplianceBridge is here to help you better manage the entire policy lifecycle, including the communication it entails. You can target the distribution of new policies to ensure they reach the exact people who need them, send follow-up assessments to gauge people’s understanding, track acknowledgments in real-time, and even set automatic notifications and reminders to review.
ComplianceBridge is your one-stop shop for policy and procedure management. Interested in learning more? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!