No one likes being micromanaged, and no one wants their boss breathing down their neck every second of the day. Though it’s a tad counterintuitive, the best way to prevent this is to implement policies and procedures; when everyone is clear on what they are to do, there’s more room for trust and independence. However, it’s difficult to know exactly how to ensure employees comply with policies and procedures.
The problem isn’t disobedience; on the contrary, most employees want to follow company policies. The problem is the way we go about creating and distributing them. Luckily, this problem is more than solvable; with a few simple tricks, you can guarantee that the policies you create will actually be followed.
Implement Realistic Policies and Procedures
If you assign a 5th grader ten pages of reading for the night, most kids will do the work – but if you tell them to read and annotate an entire novel by the next morning, the chances of that happening are close to zero. The same principle holds true in the workplace; people can only comply with policies and procedures they are realistically capable of following.
Of course, most companies aren’t setting out to create infeasible policies, they do so unintentionally. The people creating policies and procedures aren’t usually the same people who will be carrying them out, leading to a mismatch between expectations and reality. For a policy to stick, the department it applies to needs sufficient time, resources, and human power. The policies and procedures also need to be customized for the particular business, not just pulled word for word from another source; every company runs a little differently, and the policies need to account for those variations.
Even if a company has the required resources and specificity, that doesn’t guarantee the policy will be followed. The only way to know how to ensure employees comply with policies and procedures is to consult with the experts, in other words, the employees. Employees understand the ins and outs of the company culture, how the processes work, and what barriers exist that could get in the way of compliance; their insights will be invaluable. Plus, as the people who will be executing the policies and procedures, employees should have some input; including employees in the creation process gives them a sense of personal ownership over the policies.
Make Your Policy Library Accessible to Everyone
It’s hard to follow a rule if you don’t know what it is, and it’s difficult to measure compliance when employees aren’t certain what they are complying with. This makes accessibility a critical aspect of determining how to ensure employees comply with policies and procedures.
Generally speaking, digital documents are the way to go, and a cloud-based policy library is an excellent place to store them. Papers can get lost, destroyed, or shoved into a desk drawer never to be seen again, but keeping track of digital files is far more manageable. Plus, the cloud allows documents to be viewed from anywhere with internet access, making them available to employees regardless of location.
Of course, just because it’s possible to access a document doesn’t mean it’s accessible; employees also need to be able to find the document. With software by ComplianceBridge, companies can categorize files by purpose, department, individual, or group, and even filter the results to speed up the search process. To remove any unnecessary clutter, ComplianceBridge offers automatic updates and version tracking. With these features, users can view the most recent version of a file as a default, update files immediately, and keep past iterations for reference.
If people have to search for hours to find a policy or procedure, it’s safe to say they won’t be following it. By storing each and every relevant file in one central, organized library, employees can find what they need without a hitch.
Communicate New Policies and Updates Accordingly
People have a much easier time following policies and procedures when they know they exist, and to ensure that they do, companies need to be transparent. Employers could notify employees of a new policy by email, in meetings, or even with signs around the workplace – what matters is that everyone is aware of the change. With ComplianceBridge, employers can make use of the targeted distribution feature, which allows the company to send policies and procedures to select individuals, groups, or the entire company – guaranteeing that the right people get the right information.
It’s also important to allow employees to voice any questions or concerns they may have. Once again, it’s the employees who are most affected by policies and procedures, and their input will be extremely useful. Take, for instance, a coffee shop procedure for espresso machine maintenance with a 10 step section on cleaning. An employee could point out that the machine has an effective self-cleaning button, rendering that section of the procedure pointless. Had the company ignored their employee’s concerns, they would be enforcing an unnecessary procedure, costing them valuable time and resources.
It could be helpful to gather anonymous feedback, as some employees may not feel comfortable voicing their opinions. If a company wants to know how to ensure employees comply with policies and procedures, they need honest feedback, and honest feedback is only possible when people feel comfortable enough to provide it.
Acknowledgment is important for a number of reasons, the primary one being that it ensures everyone has seen the policy. This reduces the legal risk a company faces if they ever find themselves in a sticky situation such as a wrongful termination suit; if an employee breaks a policy, acknowledgment proves that they were aware of what they were doing.
While a company certainly could go around collecting signatures by hand, acknowledgment is typically best handled with a digital platform. Digital documentation removes any gray areas around signature collection, preventing employees from slipping through the cracks. ComplianceBridge, for example, shows in real-time who has and hasn’t read and signed off on documents. If an employee doesn’t sign, users can even send out automatic messages to remind them.
Test Employee Understanding
People can’t comply with something they don’t fully comprehend; it’s like trying to follow a recipe in another language, except in business, the stakes are much higher. A misunderstanding around a policy or procedure could lead to a loss of money, injury, lawsuits, inefficiencies – you name it. One way to ensure that employees are clear around every aspect of a policy or procedure is to assess their understanding – and with ComplianceBridge, employers can create custom question sets to do just that.
In many cases, it’s also a good idea to host trainings around a new policy or procedure, particularly if the policy or procedure in question is novel, not well understood, a high priority, or risky; you don’t want any ambiguity when it comes to important matters such as workplace harassment or diversity equity and inclusion. By measuring employee comprehension of a policy and offering trainings when needed, employers can move forward knowing that confusion won’t get in the way of compliance.
How to Ensure Employees Comply With Policies and Procedures With ComplianceBridge
If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to ensure employees comply with policies and procedures. Our application has everything a company needs to create these documents, manage their lifecycle, and set both employers and their employees up for success. Ready to get started? Request a demo today!