What is a company policy?
Company policy and procedures are basically set in place to establish the rules of conduct within an organization, outlining the responsibilities of both employees and employers.
Company policy and procedures aim to protect the rights of workers as well as the business interests of employers. Depending on the needs of the organization, various policies and procedures establish rules regarding employee conduct, attendance, dress code, privacy and other areas related to the terms and conditions of employment.
How to determine the right policies for your company?
Company should create and implement policies in following situations-
- General company rules on the most appropriate way to behave (dress codes, email, internet policies, or smartphone use)
- Guidance for handling common circumstances (standards of conduct, travel expenditures, or purchase of company merchandise)
- Legal Issues for the company (head off charges of harassment or discriminatory hiring and promotion)
- Compliance with governmental laws and agencies (Family and Medical Leave Act, Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or minimum wage)
- Establish consistent work standards, rules, and regulations (progressive discipline, safety rules, breaks, or smoking rules)
- Provide fair treatment for employees (benefits eligibility, paid time off, tuition assistance, bereavement, or jury duty)
- There may be other reasons to develop a policy, but don't let one employee's poor behavior force implementation of a policy that will affect others.
What are the types of company policies?
Employee Conduct Policies
An employee conduct policy establishes the duties and responsibilities each employee must adhere to as a condition of employment. Conduct policies are in place as a guideline for appropriate employee behavior, and they outline things such as proper dress code, workplace safety procedures, harassment policies and policies regarding computer and Internet usage. Such policies also outline the procedures employers may utilize to discipline inappropriate behavior, including warnings or employee termination.
Companies are increasingly paying attention to bullying behavior as a serious issue and beginning to adopt policies in this area as well. Anti-bullying policies focus on repeated hostile behaviors, identify reporting mechanisms and describe the consequences for employees who engage in persistent bullying behavior.
Equal Opportunity Policies
Equal opportunity laws are rules that promote fair treatment in the workplace. Most organizations implement equal opportunity policies – anti-discrimination and affirmative action policies, for example – to encourage unprejudiced behavior within the workplace. These policies discourage inappropriate behavior from employees, supervisors and independent contractors in regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or religious and cultural beliefs of another person within the organization.
Attendance and Time Off Policies
Attendance policies set rules and guidelines surrounding employee adherence to work schedules. Attendance policies define how employees may schedule time off or notify superiors of an absence or late arrival. This policy also sets forth the consequences for failing to adhere to a schedule. For example, employers may allow only a certain number of absences within a specified time frame. The attendance policy discusses the disciplinary action employees face if they miss more days than the company allows.
Substance Abuse Policies
Many companies have substance abuse policies that prohibit the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products during work hours, on company property or during company functions. These policies often outline smoking procedures employees must follow if allowed to smoke on business premises. Substance abuse policies also discuss the testing procedures for suspected drug and alcohol abuse.
Workplace Security Policies
Policies on security are in place to protect not only the people in an organization, but the physical and intellectual property as well. Policies may cover entrance to a facility, such as the use of ID cards and the procedures for signing in a guest. Equipment such as a company laptop or smartphone may need to be signed out.
Computer security is a high priority for firms these days. Policies cover a variety of topics, such as the frequency for changing passwords, reporting phishing attempts and log-on procedures. Use of personal devices, such as a USB drive you bring from home, may also be restricted to prevent unintended spread of computer viruses and other malware.
How to create Company Policies?
Articulate the Policy Goals
Once you've determined a policy is necessary, document in writing your goals for creating the policy. When possible, tell employees why you are implementing the policy. Include enough details to make the company's position clear, but don't try to cover every potential situation.
Keep the policy short and simple if possible. Some policies about legal areas—such as the company's approach to the Family and Medical Leave Act, discrimination or complaint investigation, or the progressive discipline system—may need to be lengthy and comprehensive.
Check out sample policies. You may not find an exact fit for your company's circumstances, language, and culture, but you can use these as a starting point. You don't have to start from scratch.
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) provides policy samples for its members. Other sources are your employment law attorneys. Law firms typically write generic policies their clients can customize whenever a relevant law passes or the U.S. Department of Labor issues new rules.
Develop, Write, and Review the Policy
Write the policy using simple words and concepts. Speak directly to the employees who will be reading, enforcing, and living by the policy.
After each paragraph, ask yourself "what-if" questions to make sure the policy covers the basics and normal exceptions and questions. Do not obsess over this, however; no policy will cover every possible contingency.
Select a pilot group of employees to read the policy and ask questions to determine if employees will be able to understand and follow it. Adjust based on the feedback.
Obtain Management Support and Legal Review
Review the policy with the managers who will have to follow it to get their support and ownership of the policy. It's likely this process started when you identified a need, but management support is crucial for implementation. It's also a good idea to show it to your attorney to avoid any legal challenges down the road.
Implement the Policy
Distribute and review the new policy to employees in small groups, individually, or in a company-wide meeting, depending on if the policy is controversial and how easy it is to understand. Give employees a chance to ask questions.
Provide employees with a copy of the policy and ask them to sign off that they have received and understand it. They should retain a copy for their own files.
Decide How to Communicate the Policy in the Future
Include the policy in your employee handbook. You may also want the policy to become part of new employee orientation. Some companies place policies on their intranet or in a policy folder on the computer network's common drive. Determine if you want to distribute the policy by additional methods as well.
Date and archive any former policies this one replaces. You may need them for legal purposes or reference.
Interpret and Integrate the Policy
Your policy application and work practices will determine the real meaning of the policy. Remember to be consistent and fair as you interpret the policy over time. If you find your practices differ from the written policy, review and rewrite the policy as needed.