Hold the line: Develop and maintain employee procedures and policies

Putting your employee policies and procedures in writing is essential.

Putting your employee policies and procedures in writing is a key step toward assuring your business runs smoothly.

By Michelle van Schouwen

Nearly every business owner has policies and procedures for employees to follow. Such rules and guidelines support business goals ranging from assuring safety and facility cleanliness to pleasing customers and optimizing profits. y

“Dress in business casual or better.”

“Do not put perishable food in wastebaskets other than the kitchen trash.”

“Workspace décor must be professional and not offensive to coworkers or customers.”

“Always thank the customer at the end of a phone call or email.”

“Do not come to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

It’s challenging enough to establish and communicate optimal employee procedures and policies, but an even greater challenge follows: assuring continued compliance. Whether through blatant disregard, forgetfulness or simple drip-by-drip atrophy, employees’ attention to the processes and rules you’ve set tends to slide over time unless you are vigilant.

Here are tactics to help assure employees adhere to company policies and procedures now and over the long term:

Put it in writing. An employee handbook is essential even for small companies. Once committed to writing, policies and procedures seem more real.

Know the law. Do your homework, and have your attorney review your handbook to make sure its contents are in line with local, state and federal employment laws.

Keep watch. When you see staffers taking shortcuts on processes or disregarding policies, call them on it right away. Maintaining good practices requires attention and consistency.

Appoint a champion. Ask your right-hand manager or another person to help monitor and support policy and procedure adherence.

Set a good example. If you spend hours on social media during work, or come in late regularly, employees will be tempted to model their behavior after yours.

Discuss problems and solutions. Cultures are hard to change. If you set new procedures, it may take time for people to understand, remember and practice them. Work as a team to improve.

Reward your team. You expect great performance, consistent attendance, creativity, hard work, and rule-following. Be sure to thank your team and its individual members when they fulfill and exceed your expectations. A verbal thank you, bagels or lunch brought in for the team, a leave-early day, or a spot bonus will convey your appreciation.

Review and update. Assess your policies or procedures at least once a year. Are they still current, relevant, necessary, and legal? For example, some companies have substituted flexible hours for the old “arrive by 8:30” policy. Others have relaxed rules restricting cell phone use during work hours.

Setting clear policies is an important step for every business, and is essential for managing growth. By establishing and maintaining employee policies, procedures and performance standards, you avoid potential problems and protect your bottom line.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. vSA is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. 

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