Policies and Procedures; your best practice manual

What’s one of the first things you do when you get a new car? You check out the owner’s manual, right? Why? Because it contains instructions so you get the best out of your car. Your set of workplace policies and procedures has the same purpose.

A relevant, current and comprehensive set of policies and procedures addressing key areas such as (mis)conduct, recruitment, health and safety, equal opportunity, communications, grievances and complaints, discipline and termination of employment, are a framework for the effective operation of your business. They clearly define and reinforce appropriate standards of behaviour and performance, outline management strategies, and specify consequences for non-compliance.

Initial set up

Your car manual allows you to optimise driving performance from the outset. Your workplace policies and procedures ensure that everyone clearly understands the workplace purpose, scope, mission and strategy, as well as their rights and responsibilities. Having employees read and understand these documents as part of their induction is critical. They should be clearly visible (think tea room poster) or easily accessible (think online folder) and referred to regularly.

Specifics

Your car manual also explains  certain features, and allows you to enjoy its benefits and avoid doing harm.

Similarly, policies and procedures provide clear, often step-by-step directions that explain the why, what, who, when and how related to the daily business of your workplace. They set expectations, help prevent problems, and ensure consistency in approach and response to behaviour and employee interaction.

Best practice

Your car manual outlines the ideal way to drive it; the do’s and don’ts to improve safety, optimise fuel efficiency and reduce wear and tear. Ignoring this advice will come at your own expense – literally!

While having clear employment and HR policies is the first step to ensuring best practice in your business, they’re as good as useless if they aren’t referred to or implemented at every level of your business. While the onus is on all employees to be familiar with the business policies and procedures, it’s equally important for management to enforce them. This will send the signal that expectations are real, that everyone is held to the same standards and will be treated consistently.

Troubleshooting

Like when a car warning light goes off, policies and procedures are often the documents you also need to reach for in a hurry when there’s a workplace problem to solve. They can remind you how it’s already been decided to manage a situation, grievance or complaint. It means nothing has to be sorted out in a time-limited, often highly charged context. While the resolution process will help you take the correct measures within a suitable timeframe, it’s also important to realise that policies are a guide that managers can follow with discretion, when flexibility is called for.

Insurance

Paid up car insurance is another ‘must have’ before you drive off in your new car.  It’s the risk management strategy we all use to cover ourselves in the event of an accident or damage to our car.

If something goes wrong in your business or a policy is breached, procedures that are up-to-date and in line with the law can be implemented and enforced. They provide that all important protective shield against misunderstanding or manipulation. It is therefore critical to regularly ‘health check’ your policies and procedures to ensure they reflect any legislative changes and remain relevant. It is also important to ensure definitions are explicit, clear and apply to everyone.

Optimise performance

Want to optimise your workplace culture and productivity? Write, circulate, refer to and enforce detailed policies and procedures that:

·      set employee expectations regarding behaviour and performance;

·      establish processes for decision-making;

·      provide a consistent response for behaviour and employee interaction;

·      demonstrate good faith that employees will be treated fairly and equitably;

·      set a procedure for dealing with grievances and complaints;

·      provide a means of communicating information that is applicable to all staff; and

·      offer protection from breaches of employment legislation.

If you would like to talk to us about implementing policies and procedures that have your organisation hum then contact me on madeleine@corvusga.com.au.