Working with a number of business owners in a variety of industries, it’s common for me to see small businesses using policies and procedures they wrote in 2015!
Many small business owners believe that once policies have been written, they are set in stone and inflexible. However, this is simply not the case. With laws constantly changing and compliance now a hot topic, ideally, policies and procedures should be reviewed annually, especially if your business is growing and employing new staff.When it comes to employee obligations, ignorance is no excuse. Businesses must be compliant and understand current legislation and if your policies & procedures are out of date, you could be putting your business at unnecessary risk.
Firstly, do you know the difference between a policy and a procedure?
Policies are the guiding principles for employees to follow – the ‘rules’ if you like. They detail what’s expected of employees, including behaviour, dress code, and even how to speak to customers. Procedures are more the ‘steps taken’ to achieve those policies. As an example, the policy for termination of employment by an employee might be that 14-day notice is required. The procedure would then outline who to contact in the event of termination, how to inform the company (by email), when the resignation can be made public to other employees, and perhaps, the scheduling of an exit interview.
Policies and Procedures should be clearly documented and easy to read. Years ago, they would often be written in a formal fashion, drawn up by the legal department. But today’s policies and procedures, much like general terms and conditions, must be easily understood by all employees, and are written in a much less formal way.
So, what are the benefits to updating your policies and procedures every year?
1. Easy to complete with minimal changes
Policies and Procedures are not just important when it comes to employee relations and compliance, they are relevant to every aspect of your business. If you are reviewing and updating them regularly, changes will be minimal and easily implemented. If you’re updating them from five years ago, there’ll likely be so many changes, it will become overwhelming, not just for the staff updating the procedures, but for all staff to implement.
2. Compliant and current
A successful business can’t just rely on their employees ‘knowing’ and being compliant with new rules and reporting requirements. They must be written down, and in the case of an unexpected or unforeseen event, any employee can see the procedures and know they are current. When updated regularly, you have the security that your policies and procedures are compliant. Reviewing on an annual basis, will ensure you check your policies comply with current laws, changes to awards and much more.
3. Improve internal processes
Every employee knows that processes can change quickly in the workplace. An employee who has been in a particular role for a few years is likely to have found a smarter or more efficient way of doing things. If these more efficient processes are documented and updated regularly, it stands to reason, that the employee’s knowledge is shared and the process won’t get ‘lost’ should the employee resign or take extended leave. Taking the time to update policies and procedures regularly, could save the company money over the long term.
4. Help you navigate and prevent workplace incidents
OHS policies and procedures are put into place to keep staff, management, and visitors safe. A regular update of these policies will see a spotlight shone on any incidents, which can be learned from and improved upon, with procedures updated in a timely fashion. If you leave these procedures without an update for several years, incidents are forgotten, and lessons learned are lost. And remember, OHS in the workplace includes staff working from home. As a business owner, it’s important to ensure a safe environment for all employees. You may need to do an audit of their home workspace to see where the company could provide extra support or equipment. Updating your policies regularly will add an extra level of safety and awareness to your workplace.
5. Help you to improve workplace culture
When employees understand policies and procedures are updated regularly, they feel secure in the knowledge that their employer is looking out for them, and ensuring they are up to date with the latest changes in awards etc. Employees understand that they are being efficiently managed and know where to turn when they have queries or require support. When employees have this level of security in their workplace, the culture within the organisation grows stronger and more evident, with employee morale also improving.
We hope you can see how keeping policies and procedures regularly updated, is an important task for all businesses. As a client of WestBAS, you can rest assured we have processes well-documented and procedures in place for all your book-keeping and payroll compliance needs.
And, if by reading this you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, give us a call and we can take a look at where you’re at. We can make recommendations to current bookkeeping and payroll policies and support you through any compliance issues.
If you need to go further with a complete overhaul of your policies and procedures, we can recommend HR and compliance companies who can take away the overwhelm and put you on the right track.
Don’t put your head in the sand when it comes to policies, procedures and employee management – contact us today for support.