Running a company involves creating policies and procedures that outline how employees should behave and conduct business. A policy is a principle or regulation that is a vital part of your company culture. Effective policies can help businesses to reduce risk, increase efficiency and optimize productivity. Ensure you develop, write and distribute policies so that all employees are aware of the guidelines they need to adhere to.
Different Kinds of Policies for Business
There are many different kinds of policies you can institute for your business. They range from regulating personal behavior, such as a dress code, to global initiatives, such as taking care of the environment through green operations.
Before you begin writing a policy statement, establish what kind of policy you need to write. Review the kinds of issues you may be having with employee behavior or business conduct. This will help you to determine what kind of policy is required. Some examples of policies include:
- Dress code.
- Discrimination against other employees.
- Travel expenses.
- Reimbursement for office supplies and technology.
- Corporate social responsibility initiatives.
- Environmentally friendly practices.
The kinds of policies your company institutes speak to the culture of your organization, so plan the policy documents carefully. For example, if your business develops environmentally friendly clothing and serves an audience segment that values taking care of the environment, it would be wise to institute policies that ensure your business practices are also environmentally friendly.
Use a Policy Writing Template
When writing a policy statement for your business, follow the policy writing template to ensure you provide your employees with all the information they need.
- Title: Begin your policy with the title. Make sure the title is clear and accurately descriptive of the content. For example, “Dress Code Policy” instead of “New Policy for Employees.”
Policy number: If your business has several policies, it’s beneficial to number them. This can make it easier to track policies, especially ones that may have similar titles or are about similar aspects of the business.
Introduction: Tell the employee what this policy is for. It’s important to give context to the reader so they understand how the policy applies in the real world. For example, “This policy is to ensure the business can properly track and reimburse employees for appropriate travel expenses for business trips.”
- Policy statement: Next, provide the rules, regulations and guidelines employees should follow. Include who this policy applies to and when it takes effect. If the policy has multiple parts, write them in a numerical list so it’s easy for employees to understand and follow.
- Definitions: It’s important to make sure to define any important terms so there is no question about what they mean. In a policy about travel expenses, for example, define what you mean by a travel expense that an employee can get reimbursed for by the company.
- References: If the policy refers to other documents or policies, specify what those are and where they can be found. For example, a policy about corporate social responsibility may refer to the policy for using compostable paper cups and plates in the lunchroom.
Ensuring Clear and Actionable Content
In order for a business policy to be effective, it needs to be written in plain language that specifies how employees can meet the requirements. Always provide a step-by-step procedure if employees need to do a number of things to meet the goals of the policy.
Policy statement content should also be actionable. For example, if you’re writing a policy about discriminatory behavior in the workplace, don’t just say that discriminatory behavior of any kind is unwelcome in the workplace. Make the policy actionable by stating, “All employees should refrain from discriminating against others based on gender, age, race, religion, disability, health or sexual orientation.” This tells employees specifically what they should not do, versus just telling them that a certain kind of behavior is not allowed.
- The consequences of violating a company policy should be consistent with the degree of severity. For minor infractions, this could be something as simple as a letter of reprimand placed in the worker's personnel file, a dock in pay or the withdrawal of a privilege. For acts more serious such as substance abuse, theft or compromising the integrity of the company, the result would be termination and, in some cases, the filing of criminal charges.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.