Building Strong Communication Policy and Procedures, Pt. 1

Building Strong Communication Policy and Procedures, Pt. 1

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on August 26, 2019

A company has many pathways for communication, running internally and externally. As a company grows, it becomes necessary to better regulate these channels for the sake of your business interests. Communication policy and procedures need to be written out in clear, straightforward language for all employees. During the process, you may find it necessary to separate internal and external communications into different policies.

Because internal communication policy is made for your employees and for the benefit of your business processes, it should be easily accessible. It’s also important that everyone is notified of the policy as well as subsequent updates. When outlining what you need your communication policy and procedures to include, make sure to consider any regulations and existing company policies that you need to be in compliance with. Along with supporting organizational values and culture, maintaining compliance is one of your top priorities with the creation of these communication guidelines. You don’t want a workplace where your employees don’t understand proper lines of communication and behavior with one another.

External communication policy and procedures are meant to give your employees guidance for handling information, either outgoing or incoming, that pertains to the organization. The focus should be on spreading important news and information to the public, your customers and stakeholders. By creating clear rules, your goal is to avoid liability issues and embarrassing or damaging situations for your brand. A lot of things fall under the umbrella of external communication – press releases, direct mailings, financial records, newsletters and more – and you need to consider all of the ways they play a role in shaping your image and reputation for the community, future customers and investors.

For both internal and external communication, there are a few key areas worth not forgetting in the creation of your policies and procedures. In this article, we will cover the aspects of internal communication that should be addressed to build a strong policy. Part 2 will cover the creation of external communication policy and procedures.

Policies and Procedures for Internal Communication

An inevitable truth of internal conversations and exchanges of information at your organization is that it could, at any time, become public. Incriminating emails, text messages and records are leaked all the time, and by the time you learn about it, the damage is done. If it can happen to Jeff Bezos, it can happen to anyone. All employees should understand this and act and communicate in ways that uphold your policies, procedures, values and culture. Your directives on communication should also reinforce this.

Internal Sharing of Information

Your internal communication policy and procedures should cover all the ways information is shared inside of your company. Information can be anything from surveys to complaints to open discussions. You should also explain where employees can find announcements, schedules or an events calendar. An easy way to avoid confusion is to centralize your content. You could use an internal messaging platform such as Slack or a consistent calendar system such as Google Calendar. In your communication policy and procedures you should also outline when the company will give updates or announcements such as having an all-staff meeting once a month or sending out letters to employees every quarter.

Email

Despite the significant potential for a breach, email is an unavoidable tool for doing business. The questions should not be if it will be used for internal communication, but how. Is there any information that shouldn’t be relayed in an email thread?

Another issue with email is its unreliability. Some employees will read every email they receive, but others never even bother to log in to their accounts. When email is used for official communications to employees, they should be required to open and read them. This is for the benefit of all, preventing misunderstandings, accidents and lapses in compliance.

Another aspect to consider in managing company email is who is authorized to send official communications on behalf of the organization. You wouldn’t want every employee to have the ability to send out messages en masse. Typically, it’s best to leave this responsibility to those in positions of directors or managers. This also means they should be the ones creating and maintaining distribution lists, lest they be misused to disseminate unauthorized or irrelevant information across official channels.

Devices

Many companies provide devices such as computers, laptops, tablets and phones for work use. To avoid flagrant misuse, your internal communication policy and procedures should clearly state what these devices can and cannot be used for.

Social media is a huge distraction for your employees during work hours. One way to address this phenomenon is to restrict or ban access to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook on work devices. As for their personal devices, you may consider implementing rules regarding when they can use social media at work, such as during break or lunch times.

A lot is communicated over text messages nowadays, and we can forget that texts are not as secure and private as we think. Text messages very easily find their way out into the world all the time. That is why it’s important for employees to remember that what they say to each other via their company phones – even if it was just comments sent in jest – can reflect poorly on them and the organization. Regardless of how they’re communicating internally, whether in person or through messaging, they should act in accordance with current policies regarding harassment, etiquette and workplace behaviors.

Private Social Media Groups

Using social media for the internal sharing of information can lead to better collaboration among employees and the free exchange of ideas. Private Facebook groups are one of the most popular choices for this, providing an easy way to announce events, share news and ask questions. However, without proper oversight, these groups can become a liability. In fact, US Customs and Border Protection recently came under fire for a private Facebook group where Border Patrol agents made disparaging comments. To avoid any HR violations or a PR crisis, these kinds of online groups should be addressed in your communication policies and procedures.

Policy Creation Doesn’t Need to be Hard

Whether you are creating internal communication policy and procedures for the first time or your existing content needs some updating, the process doesn’t need to be difficult. Policy management software streamlines policy creation and automates delivery and notification to your employees.

TotalCompliance from ComplianceBridge is a complete policy creation and management software. Work with policy stakeholders on one central document for easy collaboration and review of content before it’s published. A rich templating system will help give your policy library a consistent look. Collaborative tools for policy writers include version control, messaging, reminders and notifications to help approval move along smoothly.

Distribution of new or updated policies to the affected employees only takes a matter of minutes with TotalCompliance, as well. You can send to single individuals, groups of employees or distribution lists. When new policies and procedures are sent out, employees are notified to acknowledge and test their comprehension of new material. Quizzes can be made to be as simple or complex as you need them, using a variety of question types. A record of who has read, tested and signed off on policies is logged in the system.

Remaining compliant is a simple process with a robust management software such as TotalCompliance. Request a demo today to see for yourself how ComplianceBridge will solve your policy issues.

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