Creating and implementing useful, resilient company policies is a vital task for anyone who wants to run a successful business with satisfied, compliant employees. However, it’s not always an easy task! If you’re struggling with the weight of policy creation on your shoulders, try breaking down the process of conceptualizing how to develop policies and procedures that will best fit your organization into these eight steps:
1. Begin With a Need
The first step in learning how to develop policies and procedures that work for your organization is to identify why you’re creating a policy in the first place. Employers shouldn’t create policies and processes for every unforeseen event or hypothetical situation. After all, that would just limit management’s ability to address unique situations and specific, individual employee needs when they appear in the wild.
Instead, the policies you create should address an identifiable need in your organization. Does the behavior of your employees indicate confusion about appropriate conduct in certain situations, like attendance or cell phone use? Does your organization need legal protection? Do you need to create consistent standards and rules to ensure appropriate discipline or equal treatment among the people you employ? Once you’ve identified the need within your business the policy is meant to address, it will be easier to pin down your goals as to what this policy will accomplish within your organization, and start collecting necessary data to achieve this.
2. Outline Your Policy Content
Every policy, like every organization, is different and will require different things from written policies and processes. But, as you learn how to develop policies and procedures, you’ll find most policies will have similar components. These include:
- A purpose statement. Why is your organization issuing this policy? What is the desired outcome?
- Specifications. A specifications section should have information about the specific requirements or regulations around the policy in question. If you’re introducing a dress code policy, outline what standards of dress your organization requires, and explain any exceptions (if any!) and when they apply.
- Implementation. This section specifies who is expected to carry out this policy, how they will do so, and how they are expected to enforce compliance.
- Effective date. When does this policy go into effect?
- Glossary. Include a list defining terms in the policy.
3. Get Input From Key Stakeholders and SMEs
Communication is key! Before you change or add policies and processes, you need to get input from at least a sample of the people within your organization these changes will actually affect. This includes members of management and employees who understand the policy area in question. Remember to also touch base with legal, administration, human resources, and finance experts as needed.
When getting input for new policies and processes, it might be wise to start a policy committee, with a membership structure that mirrors the structure of the company as closely as possible. This will further ensure that all relevant areas within the company are given a voice. Policy committees also help the creation process maintain communication, efficiency, and focus, while adding another outlet for oversight.
4. Write Your Policy
Once you’ve identified what needs to go in your policy, it’s time to actually write it. Policies and procedures should be written in clear, concise language. However, they should also have flexibility built into their wording and structure, to ensure ease of application when different situations arise. Terms like “generally,” “typically,” and “usually” give management more room to interpret and apply policies.
When crafting policies, it’s best to avoid:
- Rigid language, like stating that the business will “only” or “always” act in a certain way
- Describing employees as permanent, or promising job security
- All-inclusive lists
5. Seek Out Feedback
Once you have the policy draft written, seeking out feedback within your organization will make sure your new policy is comprehensible and viable. This is the time to implement a policy review process. A good and thorough policy review process should entail:
- The right people. Productive policy review includes all relevant company stakeholders. Similarly to the input step listed above, the review process could include everyone from members of your legal team, operations, or accounting departments, depending on what’s being reviewed.
- Focus. The feedback process is both an additive and reductive one. What works? What doesn’t? You might need to add more information, definitions or visual aids. Or you might need to filter out anything extraneous or unnecessary to the policy’s underlying message.
- Organization. Separate your policy review process into stages. At each stage, relevant parties should carefully read through the policy and provide well-thought out feedback. Policy review should be a thoughtful conversation, not just a box to check! The feedback process should take place at a level within the organization that corresponds with the applicability of the policy being reviewed. If the entire company will be affected, the policy should be examined and approved at a level of seniority by a group or individual with an organization-wide perspective and knowledge of the subject matter.
6. Distribute to Employees
The time has come to get the completed policy to the people. When rolling out implementation, give your employees necessary information to understand why the new policy is being put into place. You’ll also need to determine the best method for rollout. An email? A memo? A meeting? A cave painting?
Once distributed, give employees the opportunity to ask questions about the policy, should they need any clarification. Additionally, include with the new policy an acknowledgement statement employees can sign and date, denoting their understanding and compliance with the policy, and its effective date. Once in place, notify your employees where they can access this policy later, should they need to reference it.
7. Test Comprehension
Employees often acknowledge a new policy without completely comprehending what they’ve read, which might lead to the need for additional training later. Make it a standard practice to test understanding of the policies and procedures shared with employees.
In addition to testing comprehension upon publishing a new policy, you may also opt to test again six months later, and then annually, so that changes in behavior don’t go unnoticed until they become significant problems for business operations. Testing employees regularly on policy knowledge helps identify what they may have forgotten over time and increases compliance with policies throughout your organization.
8. Schedule Reviews and Updates
No organization is static, and its policies shouldn’t be, either! Well-written policies that are regularly reviewed and updated are an important source of communication within a company, and show that your organization is dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of the people it employs. Regular reviews and updates also help ensure that policies remain compliant with federal and state laws. Experts generally recommend a review of policies at least once a year.
ComplianceBridge Are The Experts in How to Develop Policies and Procedures
Does all of this sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be! When wondering how to develop policies and procedures, the shortest answer is this: With the right tools. ComplianceBridge is the final step in your journey to perfect policy creation.
Our platform is full of features that are vital to a productive and efficient policy development process, from the ability to allow multiple users to collaborate on a single document and track changes, to the ability to automate review and approval. ComplianceBridge not only streamlines the entire creation process, it also makes distribution and implementation a breeze, letting you track employee acknowledgement, create policy quizzes to test comprehension, and schedule auto-review dates so your policies and processes never fall out of step with the rest of your organization.
If you’re looking for a better way to develop policies and procedures for your business, look no further! Contact ComplianceBridge today for a free demo.