A common misconception among managers is that employee policy, once devised, is everlasting. You see it when companies hire new recruits and hand them an employee manual written decades ago, with antiquated photos, which refer to technology of a bygone era.
Policies and procedures are flexible and should grow and adapt as your company expands. Aspects of the policy may remain the same, but details will inevitably change as technology is updated and internal structure is reformed.
Stagnant policy can leave your organisation vulnerable to legal prosecution if policies are not kept abreast of legal changes. Outdated policies will also lead to inefficiency in the workplace or put your users or clients at risk of security breaches. These four policy monitoring principles will help you keep your policies up-to-date and your workforce working at maximum efficiency, in line with industry best practices.
Set a time frame for regular reviews
Decide on a timeframe for the review cycle. Most policies will require an annual review. However, there may be factors which would prompt an immediate policy review. This could be regulatory changes, organisational changes within the company, or an incident. Put in place clear procedures regarding what incidents would trigger a policy review to avoid falling foul of regulatory bodies or allowing policy review to slip through the cracks.
Make a procedure for the review process
Document the process by which you monitor your policies and procedures. Your review process should clearly state who is responsible for the review, the process the review will follow, how you will document the proposed policy changes, and who will approve the policy changes.
Identify policies that need changing early
Effective policy monitoring means identifying when a policy is not working as it should or has become outdated at the earliest possible opportunity. The first indicator of outdated policy could be that employees are not complying with the policy.
If this is the case, you need to ask why they are not working in compliance. Is it a training issue? Is there a new technology which has left the policy defunct? Does the policy still meet best-practice guidelines? Does your business still have the resources to carry out the procedure? Is the procedure too difficult to follow?
If employees are complying with the policy, the next question to ask is if the policy is still having the intended effect. If the policy was put in place to improve employee safety, are accident rates down? If not, the policy may require amendments.
Involve everyone involved in the policy in any update
When your business identifies a policy that requires updating, the update process should include everyone involved in that policy. This includes supervisors, managers, the HR department responsible for writing it, and the workers who have to implement the policy.
Convey why the policy needs changing and get their feedback on how the policy could be improved. As part of the policy review process, there should be someone responsible for collating this feedback and recommending policy updates for approval. This person should send a recommendation for changes along with the reasons why such changes need to be made, referring to their investigations and employee feedback.
Once approved, the new policy must be distributed to all the employees that will be affected by the policy. If it is a small change, this could be done via email, however, in cases of most extensive reform, a training session or testing with all the employees from that department may be required.
Have the employees sign off on the change to ensure they acknowledge and understand the change.
Not only do policies and procedures minimise risk, they are a sign of your company’s organisational maturity. They provide an insight into how a company’s operations can be streamlined and offer unique opportunities to improve performance. As a result, policy review is an integral part of maintaining growth and provides clear guidance to employees on how to carry out their jobs.