How to Implement New Company Policies
By Mike Raia Posted September 6, 2018
Introducing new policies to employees, whether those policies are designed to address HR requirements, regulatory compliance mandates, or formalize IT processes, can be difficult at best. After all, as the familiar saying goes, “change is hard.”
However, finding effective ways to implement new policies and procedures can increase adoption and policy compliance. Following these best practices for policy management can help ensure a smooth roll-out the next time your organization introduces a new policy or implements changes to an existing policy.
Tailor Policies to Your Organization’s Size and Structure
First, implementing a policy that isn’t going to actually be followed is worse than not implementing a policy at all. Plan, plan, plan.
Don’t simply buy an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all policy and put your company’s logo on the first page; if it’s not tailored to meet your company’s (or a specific department’s) needs, you’ve likely wasted money on the purchase.
Policies need to make sense for your company’s size and the way you’re structured. For your new policy to be effective, you should also make sure the people tasked with carrying out the policy will actually be able to do so. Implementing a new policy that is difficult or even impossible for rank-and-file employees to carry out will just mean the policy will be abandoned in short order.
Involve key stakeholders in the planning process, before implementation. Get feedback from managers and from employees who would be subject to the new policy. Does what you want to do make sense? Do they have the capacity and resources today to follow the policy to the letter? Does the proposed policy conflict with other existing policies or procedures? Pay attention to what these groups have to say, and make modifications as appropriate (or as necessary). When you do finally roll out the new policy, it will be better received.
Make Sure Policies Comply with HR and Regulatory Requirements
While it should go without saying, you should also make sure your proposed policy does not conflict with employment laws or with regulatory requirements. As a good rule of thumb, run all new policies and substantive policy changes past legal counsel and internal compliance department (if applicable) before implementing them. It’s better to find out about potential issues before you go live with the policy, so you don’t have to backtrack later after the policy is already in force.
Determine How to Best Deploy the Policy
Before implementing a new policy, it can also be worthwhile to evaluate your options for doing so. Sometimes, it makes sense to deploy a new policy in stages. In other cases, a full roll-out works best.
If it makes sense and if it is feasible to do so for a particular policy, you may also consider implementing a new policy first with one department or with just a subset of your employee base. That can give you an opportunity to spot and iron out wrinkles you didn’t anticipate during the planning stages before going company-wide with the new mandate.
Provide Appropriate Communication, Training, and Support
There are many possible “right” ways to actually introduce a new policy to employees. The best way for your organization will depend in large part on what the new policy is actually doing and what problem it is designed to address. In some cases, rolling out a policy via email alone can be effective. In other situations, it’s better to introduce the policy through in-person information sessions or formal training events. It can also sometimes be helpful to foreshadow a coming policy, giving employees advanced notice that you will be introducing changes. Try to anticipate potential questions ahead of time so you can be prepared to address them.
Regardless of what method you choose, it can be helpful to provide relevant background to affected employees. Explain what the reasons behind the policy are; this can go a long way in helping employees want to do what they’re expected to do.
However, don’t simply email a policy document, post it on a company intranet site, or introduce the policy in a meeting without also providing an opportunity and a mechanism for employees to raise questions or issues. Employees who understand the what, why and how of a new policy are much more likely to comply with it.
Obtain Policy Acknowledgements
Another best practice for policy management is to require affected employees to formally acknowledge their receipt and understanding of the new policy. Policy acknowledgments should come with a deadline for completion, which can help ensure employees are following the new policy in a timely manner. Of course, deadlines also often mean that someone will need to follow up with stragglers to obtain their acknowledgments.
Using technology solutions including automated workflows can make the entire acknowledgment process simple and streamlined. Your company can create a customized statement of understanding form and push it out to the entire employee base or just to a specific group of employees with just a few mouse clicks.
Employees will be notified that they need to complete the acknowledgment and can do so from their computers or from any connected device. Their completed forms will then be captured and retained, easily accessible by HR, compliance, or others with a need to review them. Any answers that deviate from expected responses can be flagged for follow-up. The system can also be set to send automatic reminders to employees who haven’t submitted their completed forms yet. Finally, real-time completion reports are available to management at any time, providing a picture that can shed light on policy adoption.
Schedule Periodic Policy Reviews
Finally, it’s important to review policies periodically to ensure they still make sense in their current forms. Sometimes, review timeframes are driven by regulatory guidelines. In other cases, your company’s board of directors may drive policy reviews. Whatever time frame you adopt, be sure to document your review and the outcome.
For more tips on effective policy implementation and to learn how workflow software solutions can help your organization with policy management, contact Integrify online or call us at (888) 536-9629 today.