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If you are like most of us, your business became virtual literally overnight.
This pandemic has upset even the most diligent organizations and still has many unanswered questions about how soon life as we knew it will return.
Managing remote workers is simply another challenge small business owners face in these very uncertain times.
Every entrepreneur or small business owner can tell you what sparked an idea that turned into a business.
Whether the business is manufacturing wood cabinets or delivering a carpet cleaning service, the product is only as good as the process by which it is manufactured or the service is delivered to the customer.
Writing business policies and procedures can help ensure product quality.
And amid the current pandemic crisis, it helps to keep employees on the same page.
Why write policies and procedures?
As employees are hired, it is important that they understand the correct work process to ensure that the service or product maintains high quality.
Policies and procedures provide a guide for meeting organizational objectives and describe the steps that employees are to take when creating a product or delivering a service.
This ensures consistency in practice and helps to maintain product quality.
A policy will set the expectation for employee behaviors, and the procedure outlines the steps for it.
For instance, if you find yourself suddenly managing a virtual workforce, a policy may dictate the frequency of virtual meetings, and the procedure will outline how those meetings will be accessed, facilitated, and attended.
8 Reasons To Write Business Policies And Procedures
1. Policies Clarify Expectations
Employees come to work with the intention of doing a good job.
It is management’s responsibility to set expectations for behavior and productivity.
Policies communicate what the organization expects for behavior and its approach to dealing with work processes.
For instance, a cash handling policy dictates the expectations for how employees are to behave when handling cash.
This includes how that cash is safeguarded, stored, and protected from employee fraud.
Or, a policy may clarify the organization’s approach to employee moonlighting.
2. Articulation Of Required Steps
A procedure lays out the required steps to perform job tasks or provide a service to a customer.
For example, for a waiter who serves in a restaurant, the procedure for delivering the service might be:
- Waiter introduces themselves;
- Smiles and makes eye contact with the customer;
- Explains the most popular menu items;
- Ensures all drinks are topped off when half filled;
- Ensures food quality meets the customer’s expectations.
Detailing the procedure for delivering great service to customers contributes to a great service environment.
3. Performance Measures
Procedures can also be used as a tool to measure an employee’s performance by determining if the process was followed appropriately.
For example, a procedure for a receptionist answering the telephone should include tracking how often the receptionist answers the phone using a telephone script.
4. Process Consistency
When procedures are followed, there is consistency in practice for work processes.
This consistency helps to ensure that things are done the same way, every time, and that all of the procedural steps are followed.
When steps get skipped, it creates an inconsistent process that then creates variations in product or service quality.
5. Serves As A Training Tool
Employee training is one of the most valuable investments any organization can make.
Employees who receive thorough training and detailed job descriptions are prepared to complete job tasks.
Using policies and procedures as part of employee training helps ensure consistency in practice and reinforces global expectations.
For example, a new employee orientation process should include reviewing policies and procedures.
6. Incorporates Worker Experience
Policies and procedures are created from the experience of those who perform job tasks and records the work methods of experienced employees.
These procedures should be reviewed regularly and be updated to incorporate lessons learned and best practices to ensure product and service quality.
7. Training Refresher
A written policy and procedure manual can be used to help train employees and serve as a reminder of procedure steps and expectations.
Create a process to review/refresh policies with employees.
This can be done by hosting a lunch and learn session or picking a policy to review at a regular staff meeting.
8. Foundation For Process Improvement
Schedule regular reviews of policies and procedures.
Ask what is working and what could be improved.
Take what you learned and improve your internal processes for how work gets done.
Focused improvements in the ways products and services are delivered are an integral part of a customer service strategy.
Other Things to Remember:
- Policies and procedures need to be reviewed and updated at least annually to make improvements and keep them current.
- Employees need initial training on procedures but should have continuous refreshers to inform them of changes in practice and to remind them of expectations for following procedures.
- Records should be kept in employee files to document training.
- Policies and procedures should be consistently reviewed for their effectiveness and to ensure that what is being done in practice is adding value.
- Most procedures should have checklists that simplify the process and serve as a reminder for employees.
As organizations grow, it is important to put those things in writing that the organization values and deems important.
Doing so in a detailed policy and procedure manual that is shared with employees can help to ensure that products and services maintain the high quality that customers expect.