Policies and procedures are non-negotiable for a company, especially as it grows. Employees need consistent company policies to not only guide them on their roles and responsibilities, but inform them on the company’s overarching business principles, ethics, and beliefs.
Failing to formally document policies can cause serious issues. Much like a game of Telephone, learning about rules informally “through the grapevine” will lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations. And that’s not the only reason documentation is necessary; written policies and procedures also help protect your company from potential legal action.
While the need for formal policies and procedures is apparent, creating written policies may seem like an overwhelming task, especially when you have other HR responsibilities to manage. So, it can help to focus on the most important policies and procedures first. Here are the policies you need to have from the get-go:
What better place to start than with personnel policies, the rules that govern how to deal with human resources or personnel-related situations. These policies outline worker conduct within a broad framework that reflects the intentions and goals of upper management. If you haven’t already outlined these things, this is where you should clearly state:
- Business hours
- Code of conduct
- Terms of employment (hiring and termination)
- Wages or salary (and bonuses, if any)
- Insurance and health benefits
- Paid vs. unpaid vacation days
- Sick leave
Getting these incredibly important policies and procedures out of the way right off the bat is crucial. The policies will increase consistency in your administrative processes, clarify hiring procedures and pay functions, prevent real or perceived favoritism, and above all else, reduce the risk of noncompliance with equal employment rules.
Technology policies aim to protect and manage your intellectual property. The misuse of company technology — treating passwords and security protocols as an afterthought, not utilizing anti-virus and malware software, allowing work emails to wind up in an employee’s personal inbox, etc.— harms your company’s reputation and could damage client relationships. And that’s not the only reason these are important policies and procedures to implement; without firm guidelines, personal use of technology will bog down your employees, negatively impacting productivity.
To create effective technology policies, establish what’s acceptable and what’s not in regards to:
- The Internet: How the internet can be used at work, use of cloud-based apps, etc.
- Email: Use of company email for personal purposes and vice versa
- Social media: Usage for personal purposes at work, management of company accounts, etc.
- Company-issued equipment: How employees can use company laptops, cellphones, tablets, etc.
- Security: Using strong passwords, network access, permissions, etc.
- Continuity: Database backup, disaster recovery, system redundancy, etc.
These technology policies will help you keep corporate data secure from a breach, help you avoid potential legal or compliance issues (like storing company data on personal computers), make employees more aware of potential risks when using technology (like phishing scams or using public networks), and prevent public relations issues (such as posting damaging content on social media).
If you’re a company with customers or clients, you probably save their data to use in other ways, for instance, in your marketing. However, you can’t just use this information without taking privacy into account.
Privacy policies outline clear, standardized procedures for data collection and handling and set roles and responsibilities for personnel who interact with private information. Not only do these policies protect the company, your employees, and your customers from misuse of data or a data breach, but they also help you fulfill legal and regulatory requirements (and avoid fines or lawsuits).
These are especially important policies and procedures in organizations where customer/client data is extremely sensitive, such as insurance, financial services, and healthcare; workers must practice privacy protections so that information is not inadvertently shared. To protect employees, the company, and your customers, establish a policy that encourages transparency and trust by clarifying:
- Who’s responsible for keeping data secure?
- How is customer information collected and handled?
- How do you share customer data?
- How do employees treat customers and their private information?
Safety-related incidents can affect overall productivity, quality of work, and employee morale – but they’re also preventable in most cases. To ensure a safe working environment, use industry best practices and relevant laws as guidelines to create rules detailing what safe behavior at work looks like, how to use safety equipment, how to report safety hazards, etc.
The most important policies and procedures around safety will vary based on your specific workplace, but in general, consider the following guidelines in your safety policy rollout:
- Appropriate dress (ex: requiring closed-toed shoes, tying back long hair, wearing PPE)
- Cleanliness (ex: waste disposal, an end-of-day checklist to clean up work areas)
- Incident response (ex: emergency response procedures, administering first aid, reporting procedures)
- Proper training (ex: on equipment, when interacting with members of the public)
- Zero tolerance drug and alcohol stance
These policies establish accountability, lay out responsibilities, and define procedures for each employee, resulting in faster, more organized disaster responses. And that’s not all. Safety policies will also help protect you from financial or legal liability stemming from noncompliance with regulations, prevent accidents, and create a culture of safety compliance that will help your company down the road.
Making the policies is step one, but you also need to address what happens when your most important policies and procedures are violated. That’s where a disciplinary action policy comes in. These policies identify and standardize procedures for responding to incidents that violate company policy, and can be broken down into three main categories: progressive discipline, retraining/performance improvement plans (PIP), and reassignment or suspension.
Disciplinary action policies address issues of honesty, performance, safety, misconduct, what constitutes a violation of company policy, and how employees will be disciplined if they violate certain rules. Formalizing policies dictating disciplinary action:
- Informs your employees of which behaviors you consider unacceptable
- Prevent incidents of harassment or hazing (real or perceived)
- Explicitly states responsibilities and requirements that managers must follow (documenting the process, what evidence must exist to substantiate a claim, etc.)
- Shields the company from allegations of discrimination or wrongful termination
- Establishes a formal process for employees to report grievances or appeal disciplinary actions
- Improves overall employee performance by helping you identify rule-breakers and providing guidelines to prevent future rule-breaking
Create & Store All of Your Important Policies and Procedures in One Place
When you have other tasks on your plate, creating formal policies can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and strenuous. However, that isn’t the case with ComplianceBridge. Our software streamlines the policy creation process with automatic workflows, helps you manage the policy lifecycle with proactive alerts, and keeps you organized with version management features. The best part is, all of your policies are stored in one centralized library, accessible to anyone who needs them. Ready for a better policy creation and management solution? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today! We can’t wait to work with you.