Management needs to have the latitude to make decisions – and – most employees want to feel like there are processes in place that make a workplace fair and everyone knows to some degree what is expected and that there is accountability.
Basically, policies and procedures establish both the employer’s and the employees’ rights and provide guidance for resolving any disputes that may arise.
As a general guideline – the following items might help you identify where policies might be necessary.
- To set out clear, consistent standards for the organization and its employees
- To support good employee relations
- To reduce or avoid litigation
A couple areas that you might want to think about in terms of developing policies on are around Internet usage, social media and e-mail. It may not be a problem at your business right now but there seems to be more and more in the news about conflicts or comments employees make on face-book or other sources of social media about co-workers or worksites that have gotten them into problems.
Sometimes policies will need to be reviewed ad hoc (changes to legislation for example or a realization that something isn’t working in a current policy); and at other times, on a regular planned review basis.
Someone in the company should be on top of any legal developments and should be sure to bring it to the attention of those that are responsible for modifying or approving policy changes.
It may also be a good idea to form a policy committee; although if your company is fairly small, maybe just having a suggestion program might be of benefit so that employees feel they have a voice and realize they have a responsibility as well.
When you do the planned reviews (assuming you do decide to go that way) having this policy committee involved helps. You can also set up an ad hoc committee when the review time comes around…your choice but if you do – it’s always a good idea to keep one or two of the original team members with you for the support of communicating to the others and for the understanding of the process.
Make sure that a revisions chart is used so you can easily see what changes have been made and when. You can also see really quickly what the circumstances were at the time the policies were written and which ones have been sitting for a long time without review.
Whenever updates are made, it’s really important to communicate the changes as soon as possible to all employees. I highly recommend a sign off sheet that is dated.