Introducing New or Updated Policies & Procedures

With so many changes happening as of late, now is probably a good time to look at freshening up the policies and procedures that guide your organization. It’s a good time to go through and tweak all of your policies to make sure they’re still relevant as well as introducing new policies, especially ones that have emerged due to the pandemic.  There is a lot of grey area when it comes to what policies are required when it comes to COVID-19 and vaccinations. 

If your organization has less than 20 employees, formal policies are not usually necessary. With a team of this size you’re able to have more 1:1 conversations and it’s easy to keep people informed. Once your organization grows to 20+ employees is when it’s crucial to ensure that policies and procedures are in place and communicated effectively to all staff to ensure consistency. 

Something that a lot of businesses have been considering lately is whether or not to be checking or asking for proof of vaccination. If you’re unsure of how to go about this, our recommendation is to do your research, do what you feel is best for your organization and consult with your leadership team. Ask them for an update on how employees are feeling. We do encourage organizations to ensure they’re up to date with the current provincial health authority regulations and recommendations. 

Some things to consider if your organization is looking to implement proof of vaccination:

  • Can you find ways for some people to work from home if they’re against getting vaccinated?
  • Keep in mind that some people can be exempt from this if there are religious or medical reasons preventing them from being vaccinated.

What should the process be when introducing new/updated policies?

Get the leadership team together and determine where you want to go from a strategic perspective when it comes to the guidelines you want to have in your organization. This can be done by figuring out the root cause. If you’re noticing there are certain questions that keep coming up from staff, does it make sense to have a guideline, as in a policy and procedure, around that topic. 

Oftentimes the leadership team are the one’s fielding those questions. That’s why we encourage you to figure out first what the root cause is and where those commonalities and trends are. Why are these questions coming up? Truth is, you don’t need a policy for everything and policies are not black and white. There is a lot of grey as they are guidelines. They don’t take away from the fact that if someone is not showing up to work appropriately, sometimes you just need to have a conversation with that person instead of having a dress code policy. Some organizations prefer having a policy for everything in an attempt to avoid some of those more difficult conversations, which is not always the right approach. 

Once you’ve determined what some of those root causes are, it’s time to partner with an HR company. They can work with you to determine the best strategic approach for creating policies and procedures. One of the most important steps is getting the entire leadership team on the same page, which is often something that gets overlooked.  From there, HR can draft a policy and procedure and then this document can be shared with the leadership team for their feedback. 

One of the most important parts of a policy is that it also has a procedure – one for employees and one for managers. For example, if I’m an employee that has read the policy, now what do I need to do? Where do I need to access the form? Who do I talk to? What happens next? It’s important to have answers to all of these questions and know which direction to point your staff in. On the flip side, as the manager, it’s important to have a procedure to know what you need to sign off on, what other things need to be considered, etc. For example with a maternity leave policy – yes, you want to approve it but at the same time what does staffing look like for that department? Do we need to cross-train someone or hire someone new? This also ties into overtime – if employees are constantly racking up overtime, you might need to look at hiring more people. Is it sustainable to have all of this overtime? It certainly isn’t from a financial perspective. Again, focus on what the root cause is and start creating a plan from there. 

How do you ensure that this transition is done smoothly?

Anytime you implement something new in an organization it’s change management and most people don’t like change. The most important thing to do when implementing change is to clearly communicate these changes to your staff and be prepared to answer questions. Preparing your leadership team with an FAQ guide to help answer any questions is a good best practice. The roll out of a new policy is going to be different for every industry and organization, especially if you haven’t reintroduced or reviewed the existing policies in a while. Some recommended approaches are to do it through a lunch & learn, an all staff meeting or by having each department head quickly review the new policy with each staff member. Depending on the level of updates to the policies and other projects taking place within the organization, the leadership team might choose to roll out the new policies all at once or use a more phased approach. This would be determined at the discretion of the leadership team. 

Daeco’s recommendation would be to do it all at once, unless you’ve completely redone your entire manual or are creating one for the first time after not having had one before. Loosely introducing a completely new manual would be a lot for employees to absorb and a phased approach might be best suited in this instance. 

How to best deal with employee push-back?

There will always be employee push-back when new policies and procedures are being introduced, as we mentioned above, most people don’t like change. We recommend trying to get curious – where is the pushback coming from? Dig deeper and find that root cause. Usually push back isn’t always about what they’re saying, you need to figure out where it’s stemming from. We encourage you to embrace the conversation and try to learn from those employees. Typically it’s the nay-sayers that have some great ideas and can offer insights, solutions or a fresh perspective that you maybe didn’t think of. 

At Daeco HR Consulting, we like to say: “Your policy and procedure manual/employee handbook needs to be a marketing tool. It needs to attract people to your organization and keep people in your organization so that it’s not just some boring thing that sits on a shelf that no one reads.” We recommend not jumping to create a policy and think that’s your magical answer. If you have too many policies, they end up just sitting in a book on a shelf that no one ever looks at again. 

If you have questions about this process or are looking for HR support on drafting up your new policies, contact us today!