If you don’t have policies in your organization, chances are your team are running your business anyway they want.
Policies are essential to set the rules and guidelines of expected behavior. People are not perfect, and rules and guidelines are there to help them get through their day and through their work so that your business operates successfully.
What Are Policies?
So what are policies? Management Study Guide define policies as guidelines developed by an organization to govern it’s actions. See the definition below.
If you currently own a small or medium business, do you have any policies for your team to follow? If not, how do you manage issues when they arise?
Maybe you have a hands on management style and deal with each issue as it arises. However, as your organization grows, this will become harder to manage. It makes sense to have individual policies that assist you to deal with issues across your business.
Why Policies are Important for Your Business
You might operate a small 2 or 3 person business. Maybe you believe that policies for a business of this size are not relevant or practical. However, think a bit further into the future.
If you employ another person, if you don’t have any policies, you will have to explain everything to them over again. Waste of your time? Most likely when you can prepare a list of policies and have them ready to go into your quality manual system.
Relevance for Your Organization
You might think that a Corporate Responsibility Policy is not relevant to your business. However, what if your business grows? What if you start picking up some government contracts or significant clients? What if you need to respond to a tender and they ask for this information? If you have it already to go it is going to be a lot easier to apply for that contract.
A lot of professional companies want to ensure they are doing business with reputable businesses and if you provide them with professional information from day one, it is highly likely they will be impressed. Your business will operate more professionally and therefore have a better chance of securing more work.
What if something actually does go wrong between your business and your team member? Have you previously communicated the standards and expectations of the business before the incident? If not, you might have some explaining to do if the incident is serious.
So you can see there are many positive benefits of implementing policies in any business regardless of the size. It makes perfect business sense to get hold of some policy templates and activate these important documents into your business as soon as you can.
Policies Bring Many Benefits to Your Business
In summary, there are many benefits of having policies for your business.
Policies can bring in more work by presenting your business as professional.
They can show your team you are serious about business and expect them to behave appropriately.
Policies can set the ground rules for your business and make it easier to operate.
They can show your customers and clients that you are serious about delivering your products or services to them.
Policies help to get your systems in place and inform new team members when they start in your business.
It is certainly worth the effort to implement policies in your business as soon as possible. If you haven’t got any policies in your business then consider Digital Documents Direct policy templates and create your policies in minutes instead of months.
What Policies are Useful?
There are tons of potential policies. You could have a policy for just about anything. Would anyone ever read them? If you swamp your team with information, chances are they will switch off pretty quickly.
However, if you have a searchable database for your business that holds all the relevant information, then your team will be able to search for any relevant topic or policy when the need arises.
So it makes sense to have policies for the important aspects of your business. Below we take a look at 20 essential policies that every business should have and a free description of each one. So let’s get started.
20 Essential Business Policy Templates
Let’s take a look in detail of 20 essential business policies that you might want to consider for your small or medium business. Below is a list of typical policies that may be important for your business depending on the type of business it is.
Some policies are crucial such as a Health and Safety Policy while others maybe not be as important for your business.
The key is to ensure you apply the relevant policies based around your team and how they work and behave.
Policy 1 – Anti Bullying Discrimination And Harassment
A crucial policy for any business, the aim of this policy is to provide a workplace that is safe and free from any forms of harassment for all employees, visitors and personnel.
Certainly any negative behavior can cause significant problems for any business so ensuring your team know what the rules are around their behavior is important.
Policy 2 – Cell Phone Usage
The aim of this policy is to provide employees with guidelines regarding personal cell phone usage within the workplace. This policy outlines the use of personal cell phones at work. Use of cell phones for personal use during paid working time does not uphold company aims and standards.
Policy 3 – Code of Conduct
Providing a positive work environment and an expectation that all employees will represent the company with integrity is an essential policy to have for any business.
Policy 4 – Corona-virus Covid-19
This policy ensures your organization is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, contractors, and visitors.
Policy 5 – Corporate Responsibility
Operating in a responsible and sustainable manner is important for any organization. Social, economic and environmental responsibilities are integral to operating a business. The objective of this policy is to provide a guide for all stakeholders on the values which underpin the conduct of your business and your relationships.
Policy 6 – Discipline and Termination
Providing a fair and equitable work environment where all employees will be treated fairly, equally, and consistently is essential for creating a harmonious work environment. Each employee needs to understand the effects of their behavior and essentially the consequences if they continue to not meet the organizations standards.
Policy 7 – Drugs and Alcohol
To provide a workplace that is safe and free from any form of drug or alcohol abuse is something ever business owner should be striving for. Not tolerating any form of drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace is smart business and ensuring your team know this is a part of operating a successful company.
Policy 8 – Environmental
Is your organization committed to conducting business in a responsible manner by considering any potential risk to human health and the environment? Business activities have significant impacts on the environment and minimizing the impacts of your business leaves a legacy for future generations.
Policy 9 – Equal Employment Opportunity
Does your organization provide a workplace that is free from any form of discrimination? It makes good business sense to ensure your team are aware of providing equal opportunities for all. A diverse workplace is a healthy work environment and underpins the communities in which we work.
Policy 10 – Grievance Handling
Aiming to ensure that employees, sub-contractors, contractors, visitors, and management have opportunity to express grievances and have them resolved in a fair, equitable and prompt manner makes good business sense. Negative relationships and issues can dramatically impact on business performance.
Policy 11 – Health and Safety
A crucial policy for any organization, committing to the reduction and prevention of on-the-job accidents and illness should be one of the first policies a business rolls out.
Policy 12 – Incident Management
Incidents impact business in many negative ways. If they do occur, do you have a policy to address them? A detailed incident management policy should be descriptive and informative for your team to assist in managing the impacts from any incident.
Policy 13 – Internet and Email
Internet and email can cause significant issues if abused. Committing to providing a positive work environment and ensuring employees are expected to maintain proper usage of company resources, facilities, and infrastructure makes good business sense.
Policy 14 – Non Smoking
Providing a positive, healthy, and smoke free work environment is essential for any organization. It typically is expected that all employees will represent your organization accordingly.
Policy 15 – Privacy
Policy 16 – Quality
Does your business consistently provide products and services that meet or exceed the requirements and expectations of customers? Quality is something that ensures your business will bee around for the future. Provide low quality work or services and see how hard it is to stay in business.
Policy 17 – Recruitment
Aiming to attract and recruit the best possible candidates who will contribute to your organizations reputation and build on your existing business will allow you to build a quality company. Is your organization an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical or mental disability, or age?
Policy 18 – Social Media
Social media is a dominating force. Used incorrectly it can create major issues for your organization. Are you is committed to providing a professional and lawful media via all media channels which includes social media?
Policy 19 – Travel
The aim of this policy is to provide Company employees with guidelines regarding travel for business purposes. Travel for business can be a major part of your employee’s position description so have you provided guidelines for assisting them?
Policy 20 – Work From Home
The aim of this policy is to provide employees with guidelines regarding the range of leave and flexible working arrangements available and to assist staff to manage their work and personal responsibilities while working from home.
So there we go. 20 essential business policies for any small business. If you are looking for more detailed versions of the policies above them consider Digital Documents Directs policy templates.
Click any of the links above to read more or consider our Policy and Procedure Manual Template.
When are Policies and Procedures Useless
So, when are policies absolutely useless and a waste of time? The answer is – when they are not used.
Obviously, if you are going to create a bunch of policies and then stick them in a database or print them and hide them in the cupboard then you are just wasting your time.
The last thing you need are team members that are not interested in learning about your organization policies or deliberately ignoring them.
The Best Way to Get Your Team to Use Policies
As business operator, how hard is it to create and roll-out policies? It shouldn’t be that difficult. However it can be difficult to get your team to use them and refer to them. You as manager or business operator need to find a creative way to ensure your team use your policies.
What we do in our business is we have a large searchable database that holds all policies and information regarding procedures and rules around our business. When team members ask a question, managers point them to a link in the policy and procedure manual. If they have any questions after reading the link, then they can ask their manager further.
This works extremely well. Eventually new team members understand that they should look in the policy and procedure manual first prior to asking questions. If they still can’t work it out then the business culture is to ask someone else and not be afraid of doing so.
The key to getting it to work correctly is the managers. They need to refer team members to the quality system every time. This also identifies any questions that may not be in the quality system and therefore can be added.
You cannot expect team members to read a massive amount of information daily surrounding policies. They may not necessarily need to. However if you as the manager or operator spot something that is being performed incorrectly or behavior that doesn’t meet the company standards, then it is time to pull out the policy or procedure and inform the team member of the expectations.
With the amount of information overload occurring everyday, a ‘live’ policy and procedure quality system is the only way to go.
So what is your strategy? Do you have policies in your business and how do you get your team to use them correctly?
If you have a contribution to make regarding policies, then feel free to make a comment below. We would love to hear how you have been successful or unsuccessful in rolling out policies in your business.
A Detailed Policy Example
Below is a detailed policy example of a Cell Phone Usage Policy. You can see there is enough content in the policy to explain the rules. You can start the policy with an aim. This would outline the policy and what it is about.
After this, you could then go into the detail of the policy and any specific rules you need to communicate to your team. You should be specific so there are no misunderstanding. Check it out below.
Cell Phone Usage Policy
The aim of this policy is to provide Company employees with guidelines regarding personal cell phone usage within the workplace.
This policy outlines the use of personal cell phones at work. Use of cell phones for personal use during paid working time does not uphold the aims and standards of this organization.
All employees need to be familiar with and follow the guidelines below.
After providing an aim, then go into more detail of your expectations. Review the example below.
General, non-urgent personal cell phone usage is distracting and is not permitted during paid working time.
Employees who use their cell phones excessively may:
– get distracted from their work.
– not be productive.
– disturb colleagues by speaking on their phones.
– cause security issues from inappropriate use of company-issued equipment or misuse of our company’s internet connection.
– cause accidents when they illegally use their phones inside company vehicles or near areas where using phones is prohibited.
You could also elaborate about who the policy is applicable to and follow up with any disciplinary action if relevant. Review the example below.
A person who is found to break the cell phone usage policy will be subject to disciplinary action which could include immediate suspension of their employment or immediate termination of their employment.
You can copy and paste this policy above and use it if you wish. Also check out our detailed policies you can purchase if you wish to save a ton of time.
How to Develop Policies
Developing your own policies is going to take significant effort. However, it will be worth the effort as it will improve your business dramatically. It will also force you to consider possible scenarios that may arise and think about consequences of certain events. This helps to prepare you for when an event actually occurs.
So there are plenty of benefits or creating policies for your organization. How do you develop your own policies?
The first thing to do is research. Take a look at the policies other organizations have. There is a ton of this information online. Also look into universities. They have a massive amount of policies and seem to go overboard with the number of policies they roll out.
Start collating a list of policies you think may be relevant to your team and small business. Remember, it is going to take significant effort to create each policy, so eliminate the policies you think are not going to be relevant.
Once you have your final list of policies, now think about the structure you would like to present them in. They need to be easy to read and easy to understand. Make them complicated and no-one will read or use them.
Your structure could be similar to the detailed example above. An introduction or aim to summarize the policy. A detailed body of the policy that explains all the rules and then a few sections explaining who the policy is relevant for, where the accountabilities are and what the disciplinary actions could be. Read more below.
Headings for Each Policy
So you have worked out what policies you need. Now set up the framework that will apply to every policy. If you make the sections of each policy the same, it will be a lot easier for people to understand and grasp quickly and easily.
The following headings may suit.
Aim (Introduce what the policy is about)
Policy (The detail of the policies – rules and guidelines)
Accountabilities (Who is accountable for what)
Relevance (Who the policy applies to)
Disciplinary Actions (What action will be taken)
Terms (Relevant terminology for the policy)
You can see it will be a ton of work to create your policies so get ready for some head down typing and research.
You could however just purchase Digital Document Direct’s policies and be done with it in minutes instead of months.
How Policies will Change your Business
If you don’t think policies will change your business then – think again.
After you implement policies throughout your business you will see some significant changes. If you currently don’t have any policies whatsoever in your business then chances are your team are running parts of your business however they see fit.
If you want to run your business that way – then of course – up to you. However if you want to build an enterprise that not only contributes to your community but also provides income for your team’s families and your own family, then consider how policies will change your organization.
A big word of caution though. You may have experienced or worked for an organization with a ton of policies. Policies for this and policies for that. Local Authority Councils and Governments come to mind. They have rules for this and that and are prepared to enforce them at the drop of a hat.
Is This the Best Way?
If you think this is the best way to dominate your team members then this possibly might need a rethink. Policies are supposed to be guidelines to set benchmarks. People fail and people have faults – so use your policies wisely.
No one is perfect and chances are, you the business owner isn’t perfect either. So when something happens in your business that is a failure – take a breath and deal with it like true leader. Don’t just whip out your policies and police them. Give people some grace.
Implementing policies throughout your business will see your team pull together in the one direction. This is going to improve many areas of your organization including improving efficiency and also importantly, improving profit.
You might be wondering how that this could be possible? So maybe think about it this way.
Scenario 1 – Team Member Performance Benchmarks
If you have a number of team members that are harder to manage than others for various reasons, then implementing policies across your business will set the benchmark for everyone.
Those team members that aren’t performing well enough can then be encouraged to meet the standards of the organization. This goes for how they treat others and their general performance as well.
If you have given them several chances to meet the standards of the policies and of the organization and they are still not achieving this, then you have grounds for moving them on. This is likely going to be better for your organization as well as for them.
This will then open up opportunities to employ others that may be more suited to your business culture and to the position that you require of them. So in summary, having a policy that defines the required behavior of your team sets a benchmark for everyone to meet.
Efficiencies come out of this when you apply the policies across your team members and make changes in accordance with your policies for the benefits of every one of your organization.
You can see from the example above that just implementing a few policies across your organization can change your business for the better. It can change team culture and efficiencies which are two significant things that affect profit.
Simple changes across your organization can make a huge difference to how your business performs. Systems and procedures, policies and rules, are things that you need to apply to your organization if you want to see it grow in the right direction.
As business owner, you possibly may see these things as annoying or a hassle to create and apply. However these things should be the foundational bedrock of your organization. They set the tone, create the benchmarks and provide structure and rules around your business.
Policies For People
Most policies focus on performance and behavior. As generally all businesses employ people, policies are made for people and therefore it’s important to have a collaborative approach between your team and your policies.
Policies aren’t built for machines. Therefore, you need to expect your team to make mistakes and not meet policies. When there are problems, how do you deal with them? What is the best way to respond?
With kindness and understanding. If people are deliberately being difficult then it becomes time to enforce the policies in a strict form. After-all, they are employed in the business for a reason.
Your Business Positive Impacts
If you have a small business, then obviously you are not a large corporate. We would suggest you don’t need to act like one. Large corporates don’t necessarily do a lot of good for the planet. Even though they say and think they do.
You can change and impact the world with your small business in a much more positive way than large corporates can.
Typically they consume massive amounts of resources with the primary goal of generating as much profit as possible. This may not be what your small business is about.
If you’re finding that your policies are too strict and no one can meet the benchmark the neither you are expecting too much of people or you are being unrealistic.
Obviously depending on what sort of business you a running depends on how high the standards are. Pretty much in every industry sector, standards are getting higher and higher so it makes sense to encourage your team to meet the benchmarks and to perform to a high-level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Determine what policies your business needs by the type of business you operate, the tasks your team perform and risks associated with performing your expertise. Standard business policies will apply to nearly all organizations such as Anti-Bullying, Health and Safety and Drugs and Alcohol.
Policies bring many benefits to your organization. They set the benchmark for your team. They document what your business stands for. They provide a tool for resolving disputes and poor behavior and they ensure your organization is operating professionally which can assist in generating higher profit.
Developing your own policies is going to take significant effort. However, it will be worth the effort as it will improve your business dramatically. You can research policies online and draft your own or purchase policies from numerous online sources.
Ensure your policies are easy to access, easy to read and understand and easy to apply. Your team will have different skill sets so ensuring your policies are suitable for the whole of your team is important.