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What’s so Important About Company Policies and Procedures Anyway?

April 09, 2013 at 2:43 PM

The company policies and procedures that are established by your organization is the communication tool used to let employees know the expectations for day-to-day operations of your organization. The employee handbook, which houses the company policies and procedures, also communicates the company’s vision and mission. They help employees to know and understand their roles and responsibilities within defined guidelines, which help to alleviate the necessity for constant intervention of the managers.

Company Policies

Policies and procedures are not one in the same—they have different purposes defining the business practices of an organization. For instance, a policy is a guide that is established to help employees and the organization as a whole make decisions and implement its business strategies and objectives. An example of this includes an employment selection policy that describes how managers are to hire new employees. The policy may say they need to post the job internally to existing employees before advertising outside of the company. Company policies are also used to define a particular business practice, such as giving employees time off. For example, a vacation policy may describe how many days off an employee receives per year depending on the number of years they have worked for the company.

Company Procedures

Procedures on the other hand are set plans of action that are necessary in order to carry out a policy. Examples of procedures include instructions for what to do in the case of an emergency, such as a bomb threat, tornado, or on-the-job accident of an employee; or what to do if an employee files a sexual harassment complaint. If a procedure is well-written and documented with step-by-step directions, it helps to eliminate errors and misunderstandings. Identifying job responsibilities and boundaries is helpful when a manager is actually put into a situation where they need to follow those steps. In essence, procedures are a road map of how to get from point A to point B without problems of taking the wrong turn or creating additional problems. 

In order to effectively and efficiently run a business, establishing policies and procedures is very helpful in ensuring day-to-day operations are consistent, properly dealing with issues when they arise, and complying with regulatory requirements. If your organization already has established policies and procedures, be sure to review them regularly for pertinence and to make sure they are still fulfilling your legal obligations to certain government regulations, such as FMLA and compensation laws. Reviewing the policies and procedures to ensure that they are still valid and effective in the organization is vital to guaranteeing your organization is providing your employees with accurate information and guidelines. 

Whether you are implementing company policies and procedures for the first time, or are revising already established human resource documents, you must train and communicate ALL guidelines to your employees. Ask them to sign an acknowledgement of receipt that explicitly says that they both received and read the employee handbook and all the company policies and procedures within it. This will reduce any potential headaches of non-compliance or legal issues that may arise.

Tags: employee handbooks
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