Why It Is Important to Review Policies and Procedures
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- But in some cases, especially if there are many incidents in the same area, the issue may be that the policy is outdated, confusing, or requires increased training.
- If policies and procedures refer back to old structures or technology, employees are more likely to ignore them or think that they don't matter.
- For example, perhaps your company has adopted flexible work arrangements, but your attendance and tardiness policy still revolves around old standard hours.
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Company leaders shouldn't wait for an incident to occur before they review and update company policies. Regular policy and procedure review The best way to proactively tackle policy and procedure review is just to build it into the corporate calendar. As a general rule, every policy should be reviewed every one to three years. But most experts recommend reviewing policies annually. Policy review doesn't have to be as daunting a task as it sounds. A good policy management software will let you set up workflows to collaborate with your policy review committee, gather feedback, and track approvals. Organizational changes When your organization goes through large-scale changes, it's a good idea to review relevant policies. Policies should line up with the company's mission, vision, and values. So if you have a change in strategic direction or a reorganization, it's important to review policies to make sure they align with the changes. These kinds of changes won't affect every policy. For example, a new structure probably won't impact a vacation policy. But it may change other day-to-day policies and processes. Changes to laws or regulations Corporate laws and regulations change constantly. Compliance teams need to be aware of the changes and know which policies they impact. If there is a big regulatory change, you may need to gather your policy review committee for a special meeting instead of waiting until the regularly scheduled review time. Adopting the changes into your policies as soon as possible helps you start to adjust your workplace to the new regulations. If you build them into your policies early on, you'll have a smooth transition into compliance when the new laws go into effect. An incident or policy violation As mentioned before, you shouldn't wait until an incident occurs to review your company policies. However, an incident or policy violation can indicate the need for a change. After an incident, it's a good idea to do a debrief to make sure the policy had the intended effect. Examine the details of the incident to see if employees carried out the procedures properly. And look to see if there were any gaps in training or employee understanding of the policy. This will help you determine whether you need to revise the policy in question. Not every policy violation should result in sweeping policy changes. Sometimes it's an isolated incident, calling for additional training or remediation for the employees involved. But in some cases, especially if there are many incidents in the same area, the issue may be that the policy is outdated, confusing, or requires increased training. Identifying Policies and Procedures That Need to Be Updated Policy review doesn't always result in policy revision. Sometimes, you may need to make big changes to address new regulations or gaps in policy. Other times, you may just make a few small tweaks. And sometimes, the policy works as-is, with no revisions. You're not going to change or rewrite your policy manual every year. So how do you know which policies need to be updated? Is the policy being implemented as intended? It shouldn't take an incident or high-profile issue to do an analysis of whether employees are complying with a policy and procedure. If they are not, you need to determine Why. Is the policy outdated? Are the procedures difficult to follow? Have you introduced a new technology or process that the policy doesn't address? Is it a training issue? Gather feedback from line-level employees to help determine how you can improve the policy. Is the policy having the desired effect? Sometimes, employees are following the policy and procedure, but it's not having the desired impact. Every policy should have a clear goal or objective. Over time, this will help you measure whether the policy is effective. For example, perhaps a policy was put in place to improve employee safety. If employees are following the policy but accidents are still occurring at the same rate, it's time to examine how you can change the policy to be more effective. Are the policies and procedures current and relevant? Make sure your policies and procedures line up with how your current systems and structures actually work. If policies and procedures refer back to old structures or technology, employees are more likely to ignore them or think that they don't matter. For example, perhaps your company has adopted flexible work arrangements, but your attendance and tardiness policy still revolves around old standard hours. You will need to update that to reflect the current system and make the new expectations clear. How to Update PoliciesOnce you've established a regular policy review schedule and identified policies that need updating, it's time to get to work on policy revisions. Here are some best practices for updating policies and procedures: Determine who is involved with this policy Your policy writing team will differ depending on the policy. It could include supervisors who oversee the procedures, managers, HR directors, or executives. Try to gather a diverse group of people from different departments who have a say in that part of the business. Once you've decided on your team, explain Why a change is needed, and what needs to happen. If it's a small change, it may be as simple as recommending the specific changes in language or phrasing. In other cases - especially in the case of changes to laws or regulations - it may be a more involved change process. You may need to gather input from subject matter experts or general counsel. Document all comments and changes to the policy
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