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With increasing regulatory oversight and legal obligations, geographic expansion of business operations and the spike in employee lawsuits, it comes as no surprise that companies find it practically impossible to manage policies manually. Since policies are a dynamic body of shared knowledge which can strengthen, support, and protect a company’s success, the need of the hour is adopting a more streamlined and standardized approach to policy management and its implementation.
Most medium to large companies find it virtually impossible to manage polices manually. Using tools like Excel, Email, the Intranet and 3-ring binders severally limits an organization’s ability to effectively communicate policies to its employees, much less verify that they have read and understood the policies. Morevoer, difficulties arise in holding an employee accountable for a policy they have never seen or cannot understand. Therefore, creating policies that will resonate with its target audience is a key responsibility for the organization.
To achieve this, it is crucial to follow a well-defined step by step process at every stage of the policy management lifecycle. An organization can protect its people and reputation only by ensuring a formal policy management process is in place to create, distribute, and update necessary policies and procedures.
Modern policy management goes one step ahead in determining the primary purpose of policies and the critical role they play in protecting an organization. A definitive policy management solution helps in narrowing down the gaps in understanding of policies and offers practical insights about its implementation.
When an organization decides to modernize its approach to policy management and implement an automated solution, adopting these 6 ways ensures that policies are up-to-date in a simple and repeatable manner.
A standard format to create policies should be defined and a definitive process or a meta-policy should be followed across different siloes in an organization. This allows policies to be created uniformly and makes it easier for employees to understand them. This step is highly recommended for every organization, however big or small.
To the point and crisp policies are extremely efficient and easy to understand. Shorter policies are also shared more frequently, promoting communication across departments.
Every policy should have an owner who is responsible for creating, circulating and maintaining the policy. The owner should also be aware of when a policy needs to be updated, modified or discontinued based on changing organizational and regulatory policy changes. Additionally, the owner should be responsible for sending out timely updates on every policy, specifying how it affects the employees.
It is extremely important for an organization to have a centralized repository for all its policies so employees have direct access to all organizational policies. If policies are difficult to locate, employees will be less likely to read them. Today, mostly companies provide electronic copies of their policies via their Intranet site, portal, or policy management software. A centralized repository for policies also makes it easy to maintain them.
Changing a policy requires documentation. An organization should have a system in place which tracks and logs a trail of every policy change in the system. The system should be able to track who, when, why, what and where changes were made. This helps the organization to keep a track how many times a document is viewed, downloaded, shared etc. Sometimes, a simple process of tracking policies can help an organization in tracking unethical behaviour across the organization.
Since employees must follow policies, it is highly recommended that they be allowed to give their feedback. This can be made possible by providing options to post questions and suggestions for every policy. Furthermore, encouraging feedback shows that employees are reading and understanding policies. Good feedback can be incorporated when improving policies periodically. A culture that does not readily accept employee comments will most likely produce a substandard set of policies that probably would not be used.