How to Develop a Company Policy

While going through your rounds within the organization, you noticed that some employees are not wearing proper office attire. You ask them why they do so, and they reply that the company does not have a policy on office wear. You thought wearing corporate attire in the organization was just a matter of common sense, but you realized why there is such a need for a policy.

Company policies are rules that all employees and management should follow. Violation of such rules is subject to appropriate disciplinary actions according to your policy on dealing with such disobedience. Here are the steps that you need to take in order to develop a clear-cut policy.

Identify the need for a policy – You want to create necessary policies that would ensure a safe, organized, convivial, empowering, and nondiscriminatory work place. However, you do not want to write a policy for every exception to accepted and expected behavior. At the same time, you do not want to create policies for every contingency, and allowing very little management latitudes in addressing individual employee needs.

Articulate the goal of the policy – Once you have determined that a policy is necessary, determine the goal you want in your organization and write it. Tell employees why the policy is being implemented, if possible. Put enough details in the policy to make your organization’s position clear, but do not expect that you can cover every potential situation addressed in the policy.

Gather information – Do your research, either online or on your local community, and find sample policies from other companies to provide a base for revising rather than writing your policy from scratch. In some cases, you may even want to talk with your employment law attorney in case there is a need to develop an accompanying policy in case new laws or rules from the Department of Labor are passed.

Write the policy – Use simple words and concepts when writing a new policy. Speak directly to your workers who will be reading, enforcing, and living by the policy. Make sure to cover the basics and the normal exceptions and questions. However, do not obsess over this because no policy can cover every possible contingency.

Review the policy – Select several employees to read the policy and ask any questions they might have about the policy. Gather feedback from these workers on whether they can understand and be able to follow the new policy. Rewrite the policy based on the feedback.

Obtain management support – Review the policy with the managers who will have to lead and put the policy into effect. You want to have their support and ownership of the policy.

Obtain legal review of the policy – Check with your company lawyers if the policy has legal implications, is litigious by its nature, or has personal implications for employees before having it distributed to employees. Make sure you communicate to your attorney that you do not want the policy written in "lawyer speak."

Implement the policy – Distribute and review the new policy, depending on the ease with which it will be understood. Give employees a chance to ask questions about the new policy as well. A company policy should always consist of the policy on a piece of paper with the employee sign off on a second sheet. Your workers can sign off that they have received and understood the policy, yet retain a copy for their own files.

Decide how you will communicate policies further – You may want to include the policy in your employee handbook, or make it part of your New Employee Orientation. Some companies even place new policies in their Intranet or in a policy folder on the computer network’s common drive. You may also want to archive and date former policies that this policy replaces for legal or other future reference.

Interpret and integrate the policy – How you apply the new policy will determine the real meaning of that policy. Be consistent and fair in interpreting the policy over time. If you find your practices differ from the written policy, perhaps you should review and rewrite the policy and the process starts again.

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