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Policies and Procedures: Examples for the Workplace

 
Policies and procedures in the workplace guide all of the business activities for your company, keeping things organized and consistent. If you’re starting from scratch, it can feel overwhelming to develop all of your policies and procedures. Looking at examples of the types of things to include can help you get started.

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What are policies and procedures?

What are policies and procedures? Business policies offer general guidelines for a variety of issues. They often relate to your values and philosophies, explaining how they fit into the day-to-day operations. Policies often cover the things the company offers employees, such as benefits and time off, and the expectations the company has for employees, such as conduct.

Procedures offer step-by-step instructions on how to carry out certain tasks. They’re often related to policies. For example, your PTO policy describes the time off benefits your employees get. A related procedure explains how to use PTO, including forms, timelines and approval steps.

Importance of policies and procedures

Having concise policies and procedures helps your company run smoothly. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Consistency: Written policies and procedures give everyone the same framework so they can handle tasks consistently.
  • Legal protection: Describing how to do things precisely can help you remain compliant with various regulations, which can prevent legal issues that are often costly.
  • Improved safety: Incorporating safety into policies and procedures can reduce the risk of workplace accidents, which keeps your employees healthier and cuts down on headaches for you.
  • Increased productivity: Outlining efficient processes streamlines the workload and helps increase employee productivity.
  • Employee accountability: It’s easier to hold employees accountable when you outline step-by-step processes.
  • Stronger company culture: Policies and procedures help employees put your company’s values and philosophies into action and unify them to achieve a common goal. The increased organization and structure make your company easier to work for, which can also help create a positive corporate culture.

Examples of policies and procedures

Not sure what policies and procedures to include? Here are some examples that most businesses use.

Attendance

Having employees show up on time keeps productivity high and prevents delays in the work process. Your attendance policy defines your expectations for showing up on time and how many hours employees are expected to work.

Employee leave

Your employee leave policy can be separate or a part of the larger attendance policy. Explain what types of leave your employees can take and what the requirements are. Some companies offer paid time off that employees use for everything, including vacation, sick time, disability and holidays. Others give employees separate leave for each purpose. If you choose the latter option, your policy needs to outline what employees can use each type of leave for.

Include how much notice employees need to give when taking leave. Describe how employees have to request time off and when they can expect approval. If you only allow a certain number of people off on any given day, include how you decide who gets the time off.

Harassment and discrimination

Harassment and discrimination can land your company in expensive legal trouble. These issues can also create a toxic environment where employees don’t feel safe. Defining harassment and discrimination in a policy helps prevent these things from happening. Include disciplinary action if someone breaks the policy.

Health and safety

A health and safety policy protects your employees’ well-being and reduces the risk of liability for the company. Include procedures for handling illnesses, including when employees should stay home or need a doctor’s note to return to work. Discuss injury prevention in the workplace. Customize the policies and procedures to cover specific situations in your workplace where the risk of injury is high.

Workplace accidents and emergencies

Provide a guide for how employees should handle workplace accidents and emergencies. Include instructions on what to do immediately following an accident to secure the scene. Add information on the necessary forms and procedures employees need to follow once the accident or emergency is under control. Having these procedures in place can prevent chaos if such a situation happens.

Code of conduct

The employee code of conduct covers all behavioral expectations you have for your staff. It aligns with your company’s beliefs and values and helps create a positive work environment. Your code of conduct might cover the following topics:

  • Smoking, drinking and drug use
  • Illegal activity
  • Inappropriate language
  • Gift policies
  • Personal relationships in the workplace
  • Conflict of interest
  • Professionalism
  • Plagiarism

Some topics can fall under the code of conduct or have a separate policy. Examples include bullying, harassment, use of company property, tardiness and a dress code.

Discipline and termination

Define your discipline and termination practices to ensure all employees have fair warning. Creating policies and procedures on discipline ensures all employees receive equal treatment when they do something wrong. It can help you avoid accusations of unfair treatment.

Complaint process

No matter how hard you work to define policies and procedures, you can’t control everything that happens in the office. Giving employees a formal grievance process ensures these situations are handled properly. Describe how employees can file a complaint, and define the process for investigating and resolving the issue. Clarify the chain of command to help employees know whom they should contact with complaints.

Workplace security

Physical and cybersecurity are essential for your business. Breaches put your business at risk of the potential for lost property, damage and stolen information. Explain specific procedures for securing the workplace and individual workstations. Include cybersecurity regulations, which might cover passwords, where staff can use company devices, the use of encryption as well as prohibited activities using company equipment or internet connections.

Payroll procedures

Getting paid is one of the most important things to your employees. Define how payroll works, so your employees don’t have to guess. Include the pay period breakdown and cutoffs for paydays. List the payment options, such as direct deposit or paper check, and time reporting guidelines.

Dress code

Personal appearance impacts the professionalism of your company and can affect the company culture. Even if you have a relaxed dress code, it’s a good idea to define inappropriate clothing that’s prohibited. This might include clothes with drugs, profanity and other inappropriate designs on them. Some businesses have a casual Friday policy with other days requiring business-casual attire. You might have special dress code requirements when employees go on sales calls or meet with clients. Include all of the details in the policy to ensure your employees represent your company well.

Company property use

Include a policy that describes how employees can use company property. This includes the building, computers, company vehicles, tools and supplies. Let employees know if any company property is available for personal use.

Remote work

If you plan to let your employees work from home, create a remote work policy to set guidelines and define expectations. Your policy should include:

  • Who can work from home
  • Tracking time
  • Security and confidentiality
  • Communication requirements
  • Availability and responsiveness
  • Support options

Remote work gives your employees flexibility, but you also need to regulate the process. Your policy ensures your remote employees get their work done and maintain compliance.

How to develop policies and procedures

Creating policies and procedures that work requires you to customize them to your business. Here are some tips to help you develop your policies and procedures:

  • Start with a template: It’s okay to start with a template or sample as a guide. It can save you time and help you think through what you need to include.
  • Customize for your business: Change the samples to fit your company specifically. They should relate to your values and priorities, which are different from other companies. Your processes are unique to your business, so the documents covering them should be, too.
  • Be concise: Your policies and procedures should be specific and concise. Avoid overly complex or wordy documents, which employees likely won’t read.
  • Get employee feedback: Talk to the employees who do various procedures to get their input on what to include in a policy. Have some employees review your policies before you finalize them to see if they’re accurate and practical.
  • Have a legal review: Many policy and procedure topics touch on legal issues or need to meet regulations. For example, states often set requirements for how you handle employee leave. Have a lawyer review your document before putting it into practice to avoid violations.
  • Implement them consistently: Always implement policies and procedures consistently to get your employees to follow them and prevent accusations of unfair treatment.
  • Do regular reviews: As your company grows, you’ll likely need to update your policies and procedures to match. You may need to cover new topics in the document. Review your policies and procedures at least once per year or when you have a major change in your company.
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