Having a set of workplace policies is essential for any business. It helps ensure that employees are aware of the standards and expectations of their job duties, as well as providing legal protection in the event that something goes wrong. Establishing a clear policy manual can also help to improve employee morale by creating an atmosphere where everyone feels safe and respected while ensuring a consistent and accountable path for conflict resolution.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why having a robust set of workplace policies is so important, what types of policies you should consider implementing, how to develop effective workplace policies, tips for writing and implementing them, ensuring compliance with company policies, and common examples of commonly used workplace policies. Let’s get started!
What is Workplace Policy?
Workplace policy is a set of rules, processes and guidelines put in place by employers to ensure that management and employees adhere to professional standards of behaviour. They outline the acceptable way for a company or business to operate, and contain standards of workplace ethics and etiquette designed to ensure everyone is comfortable in their environment.
Workplace policies cover whatever organisational issues are deemed necessary by the employer, from day-to-day procedures such as dress codes to wider protocols like working hours or supporting a healthy work-life balance. These policies can also cover accreditation, licensing and legal standards applicable to your specific industry.
Ultimately, these policies help employers create an environment in which both staff and employers can thrive professionally with respect and trust for each other.
Unlike workplace legislation, like the Fair Work Act and WorkSafe laws and regulations, which are generated at a state or federal government level, workplace policies are internally developed and tailored to a specific business and workplace.
Common workplace policies include:
- Code of conduct
- Recruitment and training policy
- Customer/client service
- Internet, email and social media
- Press and media
- Drug and alcohol policy
- Health and safety
- Anti-discrimination and harassment
- Conflict resolution
- Discipline and termination
- Use of company property
- Reimbursement and financial policy
- Intellectual property
- Non-disclosure or non-complete
- Licensing and accreditation
Of course, not all the policies mentioned above will be relevant for every business, so it’s up to management, usually together with legal advisors, to determine which policies are appropriate for the company.
Why Workplace Policy is Important
Workplace policy is a valuable tool for organisations to remain compliant and achieve accreditation. Adopting clear policies and practices that are in line with legislative framework, national standards and industry best practice allows an organisation to demonstrate its commitment to quality, safety and responsibility.
Having formal workplace policies helps to articulate workplace culture. It can also improve employee morale by providing procedural clarity and consistency while guaranteeing fairness when it comes to addressing important issues such as health and safety, working conditions and workplace conflict.
The presence of a strong workplace policy means that the organisation will be prepared for internal conflict resolution and external reporting requirements should the need arise. It can also be useful for establishing accountability at all levels, as well as assessing performance.
Policy can be important for a wide range of reasons including:
- Compliance and accreditation
- Legal coverage
- Clarify expectations
- Procedural clarity
- Establishes consistency / uniformity
- Assessing performance
- Establishing accountability
- Ease of training
- Employee support
Ultimately, having well-structured policies in place can help ensure compliance, providing peace of mind for both employees and management alike.
How to Develop Workplace Policy
Developing workplace policies can be a daunting task, especially as new employee rights and regulations are constantly changing. However, a comprehensive policy ensures that both the employer and employee are all on the same page when it comes to company expectations and goals.
Getting policy right can be challenging, especially for complex, technical or particularly sensitive industries. Some policies are too long and difficult to understand. Other policies are wafer thin and serve no useful purpose. Finding the sweet spot can be tricky.
When it comes to developing your company policies, you can do it in-house or outsource it to professional policy writers. If you’re looking to develop it in-house, it’s important to make sure that you have staff that are trained in how to write policies.
Before writing the policy, employers should research local laws and industry rules to ensure compliance. This will help ensure that your policies are in compliance with any relevant regulations but also up-to-date with industry changes. Additionally, clear objectives for policy development should be set out to ensure the document contains everything needed. Companies should consider creating committees of stakeholders such as employees, management, and HR and legal professionals in order to bring together different perspectives into the conversation.
After getting input from all stakeholders, it is important for employers to review the draft policy and make sure it is realistic and also achieves company goals in terms of fairness between employees.
You also need to ensure that the policy is clearly written in plain english with little room for misinterpretation or ambiguity. Policies need to be easily understandable by laypeople and not loaded with jargon or legal complexities.
When complete, regular updates should take place to keep up with any changes in laws or at the company itself.
Following these tips will help employers create a well-rounded workplace policy tailored to their specific needs.
Communicating Workplace Policy
No matter how well developed and comprehensive your workplace policies are, they will be no good if they aren’t effectively communicated to all new and existing team members.
Communicating workplace policies effectively is crucial for ensuring a productive and respectful work environment. It is important to ensure that all workers are aware of the various policies within their workspace and understand how they should apply them.
Making sure to communicate these policies in an appropriate tone will help to ensure that workers understand both their own rights and the expectations of their employer. Do this by providing clear, comprehensive information about each policy, as well as examples or case studies from similar workplaces so staff can learn more about how the policy applies to them.
To make sure everyone has received the same message, consider using team meetings or memos, as well as sending out individual notices for all staff members. If possible, create a policy manual that lists out the policies in an organised fashion so it can be referenced anytime there are questions or concerns. It’s also important to give regular updates so that your employees remain informed about the latest practices and protocols.
Remember, context is important. It’s not enough to just lay out the policies. It should also be made clear why these policies are in place, who they benefit, and what will be the consequences of ignoring them.
Maintaining compliance with laws, regulations and industry changes is an ongoing process that should be continually monitored by employers. Keeping your workplace policy manual up-to-date is essential for businesses to protect themselves from liability and to provide clear guidance to employees on how to behave or perform their job duties in the workplace. By doing so, employers can help create a safe and supportive work environment that also helps to minimise potential legal disputes or lawsuits.