Spending some time creating written workplace policies and procedures is a crucial underpinning for success in any small business.
At their most basic, having written policies and procedures provide workers across your business clear guidelines as to what’s expected of them, what they can and can’t do, and what you as a manager can and will do if things go wrong. They keep everyone on the same playing field, and are an important reference point if things go astray.
Why are policies important?
Having up-to-date, tailored workplace policies provide peace of mind for everyone when unexpected situations arise, and clear boundaries for all employees. Clearly articulated boundaries and guidelines help ensure stability and maintain consistency across a workplace, which makes life easier for everyone. New employees know what to expect in routine situations, there are documents they can refer to as needed.
Clear guidelines also make corrections easier. It’s much easier to call out an employee on questionable behaviour when they’ve signed an agreed policy, and accepted practice is written in black and white.
Business, as life, sometimes throws you curve balls. It’s better to have a clear policy in place to cover unexpected situations than find yourself floundering.
The specific policies you need will be determined by the type of business you run (this is something you can discuss with one of our dedicated HR consultants). At the basic level, however, you’ll want policies covering the following:
- Workplace Health and Safety
- Performance Monitoring and Review
- Sexual Harassment and Bullying
- Grievances and Complaints
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Absence and sickness
- internet, email and social media (or IT) use
- Use of company property
More specific workplace policies might include working from home, internet, email and social media use, fatigue management, or occupational hygiene. Whatever areas are important to your workplace it’s important to have a written policy to cover it.
What about procedures?
Procedures regarding common (or uncommon) tasks should be clearly documented for everybody’s peace of mind, and to help bring new employees up to speed quickly. It’s also worth documenting other procedures, such as those covering:
- bullying and harassment
- discipline and grievances
- parental leave
Communicating policies and procedures effectively
Workplace policies and procedures are no good if ignored and left in a filing cabinet. One of the best things you can do is create an Employee Handbook for all new and existing employees, whether full time, part time or casual. These can be signed off on by employees if required (Assurance HR provide a service where we will walk your employees through your policies and procedures manual, and test them on it at the end). Employee handbooks are also a great way of onboarding new employees with minimum of fuss, and helping them retain the maximum amount of information.
A good employee handbook will include the following information:
- Welcome note and information for new employees
- Background and culture of the company
- Code of conduct
- Hours of work
- Leave provisions
- Pay and benefits
- Performance standards
- Company rules
- Training and development
- Employment termination
- Use of company vehicles (if appropriate)
Policies and procedures should be reviewed every 12 months to ensure they’re in line with national legislation, and still relevant to your business structure and culture.
It’s good to take time every 12 months to make sure that all your employees are familiar with what’s in the policies as well. An update is kinder than a reprimand; and helps reinforce a culture of respect and fairness in your workplace.
If you need help creating policies and procedures, collating an employee handbook, or helping existing employees get up to speed on new policies Assurance HR is here for you! Give us a call today on 1800 577 515 to discuss your needs.