By Key Business Advisors Business Improvement News

Written by Stephanie Boudehen, HR Team Leader, Key Business Advisors

If you do not have written policies being consistently implemented and clearly communicated to your employees then your business is at risk. These policies and procedures are essential for developing, communicating and enforcing a standard of acceptable behaviour and decision making in your business.

What is the difference between policies and procedures?

A Policy is a statement describing how the company is expecting employees to conduct themselves and provides a set of guiding principles to assist with decision making.

A Procedure is a statement describing step by step instructions on how and when to use company tools, systems and equipment. A procedure provides work instructions on how to carry out specific tasks in the business.

Which policies does your business need to be protected? And why do you need them?

Every business, no matter the size, should have policies in place to meet legislative requirements. Policies which are required by law, either directly or indirectly, state the minimum legal rights and responsibilities of both the employers and the employees. Some employment-related laws include a requirement that a policy be in place and that the policy fulfil certain specifications. To this end, we recommend having the following policies:

⇒ Workplace Health Safety (WHS) Policy
⇒ EEO, Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying
⇒ Grievance Policy
⇒ Leave Policy
⇒ Parental Leave Policy

A written policy can limit your liability by making clear to your employees which actions and behaviours are not tolerated in the workplace. Clearly defined policies can deter inappropriate behaviour which could expose you to a lawsuit or damage your business. A written policy can also serve as evidence of your efforts to stop illegal behaviour from occurring and this may limit your liability. Therefore, we recommend having the following policies:

⇒ Social Media Policy
⇒ Internet and Email Policy
⇒ Drug and Alcohol Policy

Well written and designed policies help your employees perform to your expected standards. Policies on employees’ behaviour at work, including the way employees relate to each other, as well as their responsibilities towards the employer and to company property, inform employees on the standard of behaviour that is expected of them at work and what the consequences of a breach will be. This is why these policies are strongly recommended:

⇒ Code of Conduct
⇒ Uniform and Personal Presentation Policy
⇒ Performance Counselling and Management Policy

Which procedures are needed? And why?

Standard operating procedures are the documented processes a company needs to have in place to ensure products and/or services are delivered to your standards. Having clear procedures in your business is valuable for a number of reasons. Procedures add to the professionalism of your business, increase efficiency, productivity and consistency and are a great resource to guarantee employees will perform to a high standard and deliver superior customer service and quality of work. Not having procedures in place can impact on the bottom line as quality of service may drop, mistakes made and employees can decide on a different or quicker way of doing things.

Procedures are very helpful if an employee suddenly leaves, or is away for a long period of time. When the new recruit commences, good procedures should reduce training time so the employee can contribute to your business quicker than they otherwise would have. Having a well-documented set of procedures to perform the main tasks in your business will assist the new employee in learning the role and teaching them the expected standards.

Finally, procedures are also used to assess and evaluate employee performance. If an employee is underperforming and this is due to not following the correct procedures, the conversation with that employee will be more powerful and constructive when addressing poor performance.

Procedures are business specific and should be tailored to your specific needs. We recommend having procedures detailing important work instructions, reporting requirements, and instructions on how to use a specific tool, equipment or system. Writing procedures for your business can be a lengthy process. Start with the most important tasks and add to them as you go along.

If you require any guidance or help with updating or developing your businesses policy and procedure manual, please contact Key Business Advisors expert HR team on 1300 4 ADVICE.

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