General company policies & procedures

Written by jason reeher
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Company policies and procedures present guidelines to employees and management. Whenever questions arise concerning conduct or operations, policy is in place to direct behaviours and solve ethical questions. Well-written company procedures will aid a human resources department in its daily tasks; understanding policies and knowing where to go for help or additional information is key to employee compliance.

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Basics

Company policies outline acceptable behaviours and employee expectations, while procedures describe and define process flows and company objectives. Both policies and procedures, however, should be crafted within the scope of the organisation's goals; policy and procedure manuals are therefore written with the ultimate goal of helping employees to aid the company's overall mission. Human resources executives can work with managers of other departments to craft policies and procedures that will ultimately strengthen the company.

Significance

By detailing what is expected of employees, company policies provide a framework through which employees can excel. By contrast, the policy handbook also outlines steps that will be taken if an employee breaks company rules. This affords the company a legal protection; when employees sign off on company policy manuals, they are acknowledging accepted behaviour standards and that their continued employment is contingent on following rules of conduct.

Likewise, company procedures entail job descriptions, plus employee activities and goals. If you are writing a procedures manual, it is helpful to think about what the company wants employees to do, as well as how and when to do it.

Function

Company policies and procedures are not something to be kept on a dusty shelf. In fact, policy and procedure handbooks work best when they are active and updated regularly. After all, companies are constantly evolving to meet changing business needs. Therefore, human resources managers need to review policy and procedures as a team effort, and on a regular basis, perhaps monthly. Any procedural changes, once authorised, would then be distributed to managers for review with their respective departments. In addition, it is advisable to keep signed copies of employees' review and acceptance of company policies on an annual basis.

Types

Company procedures outline how employees will complete tasks, including job descriptions, divisional responsibility and organizational reporting structure. Procedures can also include expected outcomes and individual goals, setting annual standards for employee and department performance. Examples are sales goals per person or customer service ratings for a call centre team. Likewise, general policies may include standards of employee behaviour, such as dress codes, attendance expectations, vacation and holiday allowances, and sexual harassment policy.

Strategies

General company policies and procedures should be written with two goals in mind: to be clear and concise and to involve a cross-section of departmental input. No one benefits from confusing operations manuals and employee handbooks. Therefore, if you are writing company policies and procedures, brief, to-the-point sentence structure, plus illustrations, are preferred. As an example, writing "Each Friday during the months of June, July, and August will be casual-dress days" followed by a list of acceptable clothing clearly details for both employees and management what is permitted. Writing "during summer" or not including a list of acceptable clothing would leave the rule open for personal interpretation that might lead to problems if an employee showed up for work in early September in cut-offs and T-shirt.

Likewise, only by involving various departmental representatives can you get a true picture of what policies and procedures need to be outlined. Manuals should be written only after input from all affected departments, allowing a comprehensive approach to organizational guidelines. This inclusive measure will allow greater buy-in, or acceptance by departmental managers, and lead to better company-wide communication and execution of the business plan.

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