By the Book: A Company Policy is More Than Bureaucracy

If you think having a company policy is just a formality, think again. Far from just being a bunch of convoluted statements on paper that no one will read, policies actually set out which practices are acceptable, and which best practices should be followed. In the most basic sense, they tell employees how to act and lend to the overall culture of the workplace.

Company policy

Policies set the tone

Some policies include those on smoking and using drugs and alcohol on company property, handling workplace injuries, using social media and personal cellphones. They can also include guidelines about leave, training, bonuses and the responsibilities of the company to the worker.

Many companies only have policies in place which are required by law. However, policies have much more to offer than just ensuring legal compliance and preventing lawsuits. Having policies relevant to your particular industry and business can redound to the success of the operation.

Policies set out what is appropriate

Policies let everyone know what is expected of them. What is appropriate attire for the office? How is lateness treated? What happens if a worker doesn’t show up for work and doesn’t call? You can imagine how chaotic it would be if there were no guidelines in place to deal with these matters.

Some employees may turn up in jeans and a T-shirt while others may wear a suit. This may be fine for some workplaces but others may want more structure. Each instance would be treated differently, and some may not be addressed at all. Having a clear policy means both line employees and those higher up the chain know exactly how to proceed.

Policies address safety

Policies also set out safety practices. Occupational safety and health are paramount in the workplace.

Company policies can set out the rules you want to be followed in varying settings. Safety matters in any workplace but construction, mining and food preparation are industries in which it is particularly important. Warehouses and assembly lines also require specific guidelines. Workplace injuries can lead to lawsuits and stained reputations, so you want to do all within your power to avoid them.

You may be wondering if policies can also help improve the bottom line. After all, you’re in business to make a profit. The answer is yes. You can have policies which govern spending, procurement, record keeping and misuse of company funds. You should have guidelines for preventing fraud and you may even want a policy to guide a whistle-blower hotline.

Policies and regulations

Things to know

If this seems like a lot, you should know that you no longer have to manage all your processes manually. You can review, communicate and test them with the help of technology. You can now get software to manage your policies.

One of the things you should bear in mind is that too many rules can result in low employee morale and a lack of creativity and use of initiative. You don’t want your employees to think you don’t trust them, so you need to find the right balance of regulation and freedom.

You also need to update your policies as time passes and the environment in which you operate changes. Some old guidelines may no longer be necessary, but some new ones may need to be created.