How to enforce company policy

Written by chirantan basu
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How to enforce company policy
Employees and management should be equally responsible for enforcing company policies. (Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images)

A company policy consists of rules and guidelines for employees to follow. There might be several policies, such as acceptable use policies (AUPs) for computer use and information security, corporate governance policies and customer support policies. Without effective enforcement, a company could be vulnerable to security breaches, loss of customers and possibly legal action. The human resources department is usually in charge of coordinating the development and enforcement of company policies.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Specify the consequences of violating company policies in the policy document itself. Make sure that the policies are written down -- for example, in an employee handbook, or posted on company notice boards and on the corporate intranet. All employees should sign forms stating that they have read and understood the policies. This can be done during new employee orientation. Prepare a separate set of guidelines for human resources and senior management on how to interpret and enforce the policies.

  2. 2

    Set policies that you intend to enforce. If you create general-purpose, feel-good policies that are never enforced but look good in corporate brochures, then employees might start ignoring all policies because you have sent conflicting signals.

  3. 3

    Apply policies equally. Do not exempt employees from certain policies except for specific reasons. For example, certain senior managers might be permitted to take copies of internal data files for meetings with clients. For public companies, senior management officers (such as the chief financial officer and the investor relations manager) are normally allowed to talk about financial data in public forums to meet regulatory disclosure requirements.

  4. 4

    Use an escalated system of enforcement because policy violations vary in severity. For example, an AUP typically limits the ways that company computers and e-mail systems can be used. If an employee posts a comment on the internal corporate blog that uses intemperate language, you might issue a warning. However, if the company's computers are used to download offensive material, then the consequences would be more severe, including possibly dismissal.

  5. 5

    Meet with the employee who has violated a policy in the presence of a third party, such as a human resources professional. Depending upon the severity, you might need to review the details of the policy or explain why certain disciplinary actions are necessary.

  6. 6

    Enforce company policies using information technology. This includes software that can scan networks for unauthorised data access and provide password protection to prevent unauthorised duplication of proprietary data.

  7. 7

    Review the policy document periodically and make changes in content and enforcement guidelines. Business conditions, regulations and technologies change, and so should your policies. If the change is substantial in nature, arrange additional training to acquaint your employees with the new policies.

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