Maintaining a database of accurate and accessible policies and procedures can seem like a daunting task. They are the foundation of every business; unfortunately, these foundational documents are often ignored, forgotten or not current.
How many reading this post are familiar with hard-copy print outs of their company’s policies and procedures? Does your company have stacks of three-ring binders full of documentation? How many policies, codes of conduct, mission statements and procedures have been emailed to you with the expectation that they will be read and filed safely away?
Companies with weak policy management systems limit the productivity of employees as well as the overall level of service quality.
As any CEO, supervisor or manager knows, the organization he or she manages is only as effective as the employees charged with getting jobs done. When employee and organizational goals are united, the result is higher productivity, improved quality and greater efficiency.
Compliance managers, often those tasked with managing policies and procedures, often recognize the difficulty of managing them in a way that is useful to employees, management and auditing bodies. Many government regulations require compliance managers and HR directors to maintain policies that are current, organized and available to all of the essential readers.
These regulations make updated policies a necessity and must be tightly managed to pass with flying colors. Luckily, it is a definable process that can be broken down into six simple steps:
- Create. Policy creation is driven by regulatory mandate, compliance need or internal necessity. During the creation process, the purpose of the policy is defined, the appropriate template is chosen and reviewers and approvers selected.
- Review. Once a policy is drafted, it is passed on to reviewers who revise wording, technical explanations and points of emphasis. A list of reviewers can include lower level managers, department heads, the legal department, human resources and select end-users who can comment on its usefulness.
- Approve. After a policy has been reviewed, it passes further up the managerial line of authority where upper-level management and executives approve the document – making it official company policy.
- Distribute. For policy to be effective it needs to be distributed to every applicable employee. The faster this distribution takes place, the sooner the benefits can be realized.
- Track. Most compliance standards require documentation that readers actually read and understood the required documents for their job title and responsibilities.
- Update. A variety of forces require changes to policy including shifts in company management, changes in regulatory requirements and changes in the business environment. The update period is also an appropriate time to decide when new policies might be needed to further support existing policies, or to manage emerging trends like social media.
By following each of these steps a company can ensure that each policy is written and maintained for optimal compliance and the maximum usefulness for each employee.
These steps can seem like an overwhelming process, as we’ve mentioned. But, if enacted with the assistance of a software-based policy manager, the process is sure to improve overall employee awareness of company policies and procedures, reduce management’s administrative workload and help to protect your organization from becoming the latest example of policy mismanagement in the headlines.