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May 2, 2018
    Article highlights
  • The importance of following policies and procedures.
  • Making sure your staff knows how to follow procedures.

Policies and procedures are an essential part of any organization. Together, policies and procedures provide a roadmap for day-to-day operations. They ensure compliance with laws and regulations, give guidance for decision-making, and streamline internal processes.

However, policies and procedures won’t do your organization any good if your employees don’t follow them.

Employees don’t always like the idea of having to follow the rules. But policy implementation is not just a matter of arbitrarily forcing employees to do things they don’t want to do.

Following policies and procedures is good for employees and your organization as a whole.

The Importance of Following Policies and Procedures

As your organization’s leaders create and enforce policies, it’s important to make sure your staff understands why following policies and procedures is critical.

Here are just a few of the positive outcomes of following policies and procedures:

Consistent processes and structures

Policies and procedures keep operations from devolving into complete chaos.

When everyone is following policies and procedures, your organization can run smoothly. Management structures and teams operate as they’re meant to. And mistakes and hiccups in processes can be quickly identified and addressed.

When your staff is following policies and procedures, your organization will use time and resources more efficiently. You’ll be able to grow and achieve your goals as an organization.

Consistency in practices is also right for employees individually. They know what they’re responsible for, what’s expected of them, and what they can expect from their supervisors and co-workers. This frees them up to do their jobs with confidence and excellence.

Women working at a desk.

Better quality service

When employees follow procedures, they perform tasks correctly and provide consistent customer service. This enhances the quality of your organization’s products and services. And, in turn, improves your company’s reputation. Employees can know they are fulfilling their roles and take pride in their work.

A safer workplace

When your staff is following policies and procedures, workplace accidents and incidents are less likely to occur.

This reduces liability risks for your organization and limits interruptions in operations. Your employees can feel safe and comfortable in the workplace, knowing that their managers and co-workers are looking out for their best interest. They can rest assured that they’ll be taken care of if something does happen.

Ways to Implement Policies and Procedures

Maybe your employees already grasp the importance of following policies and procedures. How can you ensure your staff follows through on your steps toward compliance? Here are a few ideas for making sure your team knows how to follow procedures:

Make policy manuals more accessible

Employees can’t follow policies they don’t know. Many organizations still use paper-based policy manuals, passing out binders containing the employee handbook.

Unfortunately, these policy manual binders often end up stuffed in a drawer or on a shelf gathering dust. A survey by GuideSpark found that 43% of millennial employees and 30% of non-millennial employees hadn’t read most of their employee handbooks. More than one-third of employees didn’t even know where their handbooks were anymore.

This is problematic because employees need to be able to refer to policies at any time. If they don’t have easy access to an up-to-date policy and procedure manual, they won’t know the correct procedures to follow.

Employee reading the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy on their computer screen.

Using a policy management software such as PowerDMS makes policies and procedures available to every staff member. You can quickly send out policy updates, and require employee signatures to make sure everyone has read the policy.

With online policy management, your staff can access procedures from anywhere, using any computer or mobile device.

Instead of having to thumb through pages of a binder, they can do a simple keyword search to pull up the procedure they need.

This ensures they are actually following policies and procedures rather than just trying to remember the correct steps off the top of their head.

Implement training courses

Making sure your employees read policies and procedures is the first step toward ensuring compliance, but it’s not enough on its own. Employees may not entirely understand a policy or know how to put it into practice.

Your organization needs to train employees on the substance of policies as well as on how to perform procedures in real-life situations.

Thorough training on policies and procedures should happen for every new hire during the onboarding process. Statistics show that employees who receive formal onboarding training are more productive, gain full proficiency faster, and are more likely to hit their performance milestones.

However, policy and procedure training should be ongoing for all employees. Training will look different depending on your industry and the size of your organization.

For example, in industries such as law enforcement and health care, hands-on, scenario-based training is of particular importance.

But every organization will have information that employees can effectively learn through online training courses. An online training management program can save your organization time and money by allowing employees to complete training independently on their own time.

With software such as PowerDMS, you can upload training materials such as PowerPoints, videos, audio files, and more. You’ll have a full record of each employee’s engagement with the training, and be able to gather feedback to improve policies and training.

When you streamline your training, your employees will be better equipped to follow policies and procedures.

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Test employee comprehension

Policy distribution and training don’t guarantee that every employee truly understands policies. An employee may sign off on a document without actually comprehending it.

This may not seem to matter in the short-term, but in the long run, it will result in employees not following policies and procedures.

A good policy and procedure management software will allow you to create tests to make sure employees understand policies. With a tool like PowerDMS, you can create customizable quizzes for employees to complete after reading a policy or finishing a training course. You can address any gaps in understanding and rest assured that employees know how to follow procedure.

Encourage accountability

Policy implementation happens from the top down. Employees are more likely to abide by policy if they see their managers and leaders consistently following policies and procedures, as well.

Employees also must know the consequences of not following policies and procedures. This means your organization must have a structure for discipline and corrective action.

Again, this starts with the leaders. Managers and supervisors must be trained in when and how to conduct disciplinary reviews.

Supervisors shouldn’t have to micromanage employees to make sure they are following policies and procedures. Procedure checklists and reporting mechanisms can help keep employees on track.

Doctor reviewing information on a tablet.

This documentation will help leaders see which employees are following procedures and which are not. They can reward employees or offer correction as needed. Employees who are deviating from procedures may just need some guidance or further training.

Regularly review policies and procedures

When practices deviate from policy, it usually means one of two things:

  1. Your organization needs to better communicate policy and procedure with your staff and enforce compliance.

  2. Your policy and procedures are outdated or incomplete.

Employees can’t follow procedures that don’t exist, contradict other policies, or fail to address a significant shift in technology or practice.

Organizational leadership must regularly review and revise policies and procedures, take new regulations, standards, technology, and structural changes into account.

Every time you update policies, make sure to follow the steps listed earlier. Send out policy changes to your staff, incorporate them into training, test on policies, and hold employees accountable.

Making sure your employees are following policies and procedures takes work, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Use a policy management system to ensure that employees understand the importance of following policies and procedures and know how to do so.

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