Whether it is introducing new staff to ‘the way we do things around here’ or providing the framework for performance management, policies have an important role and function in every business.  Well they do when they are done right!  Like all documents the value is not in the generation of the policies, the value is in the implementation of them.

Policies are required for regulatory compliance and for many contract and tender processes, but they can be valuable tools within the business for driving culture and facilitating good people management.  So how do you make your policies more than words?

Tell it like it is

It is important that policies within the business are not confused with aspirational goals or vision/mission statements.  A Policy is not something the business is aiming for, it is a clear articulation of what the business expects in a certain area, and what WILL ALWAYS happen if those expectations are not met, and what MAY happen if those expectations are not met.

Make it personal

This changes in each business, what is considered appropriate in one business may be inappropriate in another, even when the work tasks or environments are similar.  Business culture, demographics, location and a raft of factors will influence this.  What management needs to consider is in the area of ‘X’ what do we expect of our workers? And if we don’t get it what will we ALWAYS do, and what it is POSSIBLE that we would do depending on the circumstances of each case?

Expectations and Outcomes

Any policy should clearly outline to the workers what the expectations are and if possible the rationale for these expectations.  A classic example is mobile phone use.  Some businesses allow mobile phone use within work environments. Others have a zero tolerance approach.  If the expectation is that mobile phone will not be used during work hours due to customer service standards or safety that should be expressed.

Live it

The benefits of good policies, including cohesive culture, predictable behaviours and outcomes, consistent performance management, quality process control and even competitive advantage, can not be realised unless the policies are alive.

The existence of the policy initially tells workers, customers and regulators that the expectations the policy applies to, are important to the business.  It is imperative that the actions of the business confirm this initial communication.  If the actions of the business do not match the promise of the policy, then the benefits are immediately eroded.

KISS it and Back it up

Good policies are valuable.  Good policies reflect the reality of the business.  Good policies outline what the expectation is, and what will always happen and what may happen in the event of a breach.  Good policies are simple.  There is no need for complicated language, nor is there a need to have a policy for every element of work tasks or interaction.

A simple policy, such as: “It is the expectation of the business that workers will always follow the standard operating procedures.  Any departure from the standard operating procedures will always be treated seriously and investigated, and may result in retraining, performance management or termination, depending on the circumstances of the breach”
that is backed up by task and process lists and or training allows the business the flexibility to change work task methods without changing the policy.

Here To Help

Making policies more than words is worth the effort.  ACAPMA Members are reminded that ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals are available to assist members on 1300 160 270 or you can email elishar@acapma.com.au. ACAPMA members can access resources and can call on the advice and support of the ACAPMAlliance Workplace Relations Professionals on 1300 160 270.

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by  calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals its free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $770 per year for a single site, which represents great value with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts. Learn more about ACAPMA membership here.