Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just knew how to behave at work? Imagine workplaces running smoothly and issues being solved quickly and easily— with little to no confrontation!
Of course this isn’t how business operates.
Organizational systems are complex and ever-changing. Key players are constantly rotating in and out, and there are often competing interests at play.
The benefits of good policy
Having sound policies in place can be a world of help. This allows you to:
- Set and communicate employee/management expectations
- Create a culture of trust, respect, and mutual accountability
- Provide a sense of fairness and consistency company-wide
- Reflect your values back to staff and the community
- Reduce organizational risk and liability
The risks of bad policy
Unfortunately, just having a policy in place isn’t enough. If your employee policies are incomplete, outdated or just plain bad, you’re putting yourself at risk for:
- Constant confusion, miscommunication, and mistakes
- Decreased staff engagement, productivity and morale
- Increased employee conflict and turnover
- Poor culture and limited recruiting ability
- Discrimination or harassment lawsuits
The dangers of no policy
From communication to vacation to termination, if there isn’t a predetermined process in place, you’ll be making it up as you go along. Every. Single. Time. Results will be inconsistent, frustrating and morale crushing.
If your company leadership prefers “being flexible” over creating and documenting corporate policies, this is a red flag. What they could really be doing is avoiding strategic decision making and the hard work of implementing changes. These organizations aren’t more flexible. They’re more unprepared. And more vulnerable.
Getting policy right
You have the power to set policies that not only create consistent rules and boundaries, but also result in positive outcomes for your business, brand, and culture. When you align your HR processes and activities with your core company values, great things start to happen.
Here’s how to do it well:
Align your policy with your values. Create a test for each policy you write. Is it in line with what you want to see in your business and the world? Resist the urge to copy policies directly from other organizations. After all, they aren’t you. Borrow and refine instead.
Don’t create policy in a vacuum. All of your rules and guidelines need to work together in a smooth, coherent way. No one policy should stand out from the rest. You can’t pick and choose where to emphasize your core values. You must establish consistency.
Recognize shades of gray. Life doesn’t happen in black and white. Surely we’ve all come across situations that require a little finesse. If applying your policy as written gets you a result that doesn’t feel right or make sense, don’t just enforce it blindly. You may need to consider extenuating circumstances, offer a contingency plan, or make some revisions.
Collaboration is critical. Effective policy creation involves input from multiple sources. Contributions from HR, leadership and even staff will help you craft a well-thought-out policy. Policies that come about through a collaborative effort are much more likely to be accepted and followed.
Educate your team. Even the most brilliant policies won’t be adhered to if no one knows what they are. Train leaders and managers on how to effectively communicate the policies you’ve put in place. Create an employee handbook and update it as changes occur.
Hold people accountable. Including those at the top. Policies are pretty useless if they aren’t actually being practiced, enforced or demonstrated. Create a culture of accountability on all levels. Review policies regularly and put processes in place for what happens if they aren’t followed. Remember to allow a little leeway for life’s unpredictable moments.
Policy is more than a list of Dos and Don’ts
Designing effective employee policy isn’t about just making a bunch of random rules. It’s about defining and living your organizational values and laying the groundwork for a company culture based on professionalism, fairness, respect, and trust.
Doing so will help enhance employee recruitment, retention, morale, engagement and productivity. You’ll also help create the kind of organization you want to work in.
We help clients identify organizational challenges, create big picture strategies and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to custom retirement plans to risk management services, we’ve got you covered.
Photo by Purple Anvil