All too often, companies assume organizational policies are only about ensuring compliance and making sure you’ve done your due diligence in the event of an incident occurring down the road. Not much consideration is given to all the ways policies and procedures can influence other aspects of your company including employee satisfaction, productivity, and work culture.
If you already need to create organizational policies, you might as well be as thorough as possible. By asking yourself the following questions when reviewing policies, you will be able to create a well-rounded, robust policy library.
Do Employees Need or Want This Policy?
The first question that the policy management team needs to ask regarding each policy is whether it’s necessary or will be well-received by employees. Even if employees are likely to grumble over a new policy, it could still be necessary to ensure their safety or the safety of others. Pandemic-related health policies such as wearing face masks in the workplace and promoting social distancing are excellent examples of this.
However, if there is no sound argument for implementing or enforcing a policy — and employees are likely to rebel against it, anyway — then don’t waste your time. On the other hand, there are many instances in which employees will appreciate organizational policies that provide them with clarity on issues such as remote work, paternity leave, or mental health. These policies, while not being strictly necessary, will improve employee satisfaction. To better understand exactly what they want, you can even survey them. Once you know what they consider important, you can act accordingly.
Does the Policy Raise Any Legal Concerns?
Understanding how organizational policies intersect with legal matters is important for a number of reasons. First, if a policy is meant to ensure your company complies with current laws and regulations, you must understand the requirements and how the policy needs to be drafted. A lack of knowledge regarding issues such as leaves of absence, employee classification, and wages will result in vague, confusing language, causing issues for HR down the road.
Second, policies unrelated to employment law or regulations can still present a legal risk if they’re too vague or too rigid. Even if a policy itself is perfectly legal, the very language used could cause issues, especially if you’ve unintentionally violated your employees’ legal rights. For instance, instituting a dress code to ensure employees maintain a professional image is perfectly fine, but attempting to regulate an employee’s religious or cultural dress will ultimately lead you into legal trouble. To put any legal concerns you may have to rest, it’s advised to have all organizational policies reviewed by a legal professional.
How Does the Policy Affect the Work Environment?
The smallest changes can affect your company’s work environment, sometimes for the better but sometimes not. Your job when creating or updating organizational policies is to consider how they fit into the bigger picture. Sometimes the relationship between a policy and its effect on the work environment will be obvious. Policies regarding remote or hybrid work are one example of this.
Other times, a policy with no obvious connection to a company’s work environment could come with unintended consequences, usually due to inadequate research and planning. Say for example that you create an on-call policy in which you offer to reimburse mileage costs for employees who have to commute in on the weekend — a perk not offered during regular hours. Without ensuring that on-call opportunities are rotated and instituting a cap on travel time, you’d only be incentivizing those employees who are farthest away to volunteer to be on-call. Not only will this negatively impact productivity, your mileage reimbursement costs will skyrocket.
By carefully evaluating all possible outcomes, identifying any knowledge gaps and researching accordingly, considering both positive and negative incentives the policy creates, and making corrections when necessary, you can engender a work environment that works for you and your employees alike.
Would the Policy Help or Hurt Recruitment?
Every company wants to attract the best talent possible, and organizational policies a bigger role than you might think in recruitment. For each policy in your library, you should ask yourself: who would want to work at a company with such a policy? Whether you encourage work-life balance for employees, whether you offer paid vacation and sick leave, whether you provide good health benefits — these all impact your ability to hire and retain top talent.
There are also policies that could inadvertently repel prospective employees, policies you may not have even considered. These could include your reimbursement policy (in which you don’t reimburse for business travel costs), your social media policy (in which you closely regulate what they say online), or even your no-transfer policy (in which you don’t let employees apply for jobs internally). If a qualified candidate turns down your employment offer, you don’t want it to be because they found your company unappealing to work for.
Will the Policy Make Employees More or Less Productive?
Organizational policies can help your company to run like a well-oiled machine, enabling everyone to know what, how, and when to do something. Of course, they can also bog down processes under red tape and mountains of paperwork. Immediately after implementing a new policy, it may be hard to tell how your operations are affected until new rules or practices have been fully established. For instance, implementing a new software application could negatively affect productivity in the interim as employees are onboarded, but ultimately, it will streamline processes. The question you face with each new change is whether or not you expect a policy to ultimately improve operational performance or not and whether or not the improvements will justify the immediate backslide in productivity.
It’s Time To Reconsider Your Policy Management System
Hopefully you understand by now the many different ways policies can aid your organization, whether it be in improving employee satisfaction and engagement, ensuring legal protection, creating a positive work environment, recruiting top talent, or increasing productivity. It’s time that you sit down and take a critical look at all of your organizational policies to discover just how well they’re serving your operational goals. To streamline this process, invest in a policy management system and reap the benefits for years to come.
ComplianceBridge is built for companies and organizations ready to commit to a more structured and responsible approach to policy management. We help you manage the entire process — from policy creation to reporting and analytics — and give you an enormous amount of flexibility to tailor the software for your needs. Automated workflows, notifications and reminders streamline policy activities, and policy quizzes ensure employee comprehension. Configuration of quizzes is simple, giving you the freedom to build your question sets to best address the material. Helpful tools such as automatic review dates, version management, approval staging and access control will make policy review and updates a seamless practice, and everyone will thank you for providing an organized, cloud-based policy library to centralize all materials.
ComplianceBridge is a complete solution to your policy management needs, but don’t just take our word for it. See it for yourself by requesting a demo today.
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