Have you ever wondered how much poor performance and productivity is costing your business? It can be an uncomfortable thought, can’t it? While your team can be your greatest asset, in some instances, they can also be your greatest liability.
So how do you turn it around to create a team of consistent high performers? It starts in your workplace policies.
What is a policy?
But first, you might be wondering, what is a workplace policy? Workplace policies are statements of principles and practices that guide how your staff manages your organisation, handles operational problems and complies with legislation and codes of practice.
Policies ensure consistency in management, efficiency in decision-making and most importantly allow you to deal with underperformance and misconduct quickly and easily to maintain your business’ reputation.
Workplace policies are organic documents that set out:
- Expected standards, behaviour and conduct
- Conditions of employment
- Statements of purpose
- “Common Sense”
- Unique and “unspoken rules” of the company
Workplace policies are the only employment documents that you can unilaterally change. You as an employer have the power to choose whether you implement a policy or not, change a policy or not or even bury a policy or not.
But with many employers unaware of the power they hold, workplace policies are often the most underutilised documents in the workplace.
Establishing fair and effective workplace policies
For a workplace policy to be fair and effective, it should outline the consequences of breaching the policy.
This may include an informal warning, a formal warning or termination of employment. Policies must also be applied consistently throughout your organisation. When there is a breach of the policy, the matter should be dealt with promptly and by the procedures outlined in the policy. They should also be referenced (carefully) in employment contracts.
If you do choose to change a policy, it should be distributed to staff with changes thoroughly explained. It is also important to provide regular training and reminders to staff about what is expected of them.
The 7 Policies
While workplace policies may not be the most interesting topic around the water cooler, the right policies can help you boost productivity, performance and accountability within your team. Don’t believe us? Put these policies into practice and see for yourself.
1. Code of Conduct
A Code of Conduct outlines the high standard of behaviour that is expected in the workplace. A Code of Conduct can cover an employee’s behaviour and their responsibilities towards their employer and company property. It can also cover language, standards of dress, dealing with grievances and maintaining other employment.
2. Workplace Health and Safety
Regardless of the work environment your business operates in, your staff face health and safety risks. A workplace health and safety policy addresses these risks and ensures best practices are employed in the workplace for everyone’s safety and wellbeing. Having a Workplace Health and Safety policy that outlines safety procedures and the responsibilities and obligations of staff can avoid tragedy, minimise damage, and allow you to take necessary disciplinary action and prevent liability.
3. Disciplinary Procedures
A disciplinary policy outlines the process you will take as an employer in issuing a warning or terminating employment. It should also outline the behaviours that may lead to warnings or an employee being dismissed without warning. Having a clear disciplinary procedure that includes regular evaluations and write-ups of misconduct or under performance can help you to keep staff accountable and guard against an unfair dismissal claim if a situation results in termination.
4. Use of Company Property
Over the course of employment, an employee can have access to a significant amount of company property from computers, phones and laptops through to customer records and intellectual property. For this reason, it is important to document the expectations you have of employees and their requirements when handling and using company property. This should also outline the consequences of damaging, losing or stealing company property.
5. Interactions with Customers
In many cases, your employees will be the first touchpoint a customer has with your business, and the impression they make can be the difference between gaining and losing a sale. A policy covering the way you expect employees to treat customers, handle complaints and follow procedures not only safeguards your reputation but also helps you maintain a consistently high level of service and address any behavioural breaches swiftly.
6. Discrimination, Bullying and Sexual Harassment
All workers have a right to feel safe in the workplace. Discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment policies should clearly define what is classified as discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment and outline preventative measures, as well as clear processes for making and following through on a complaint.
7. Social Media
With significant time spent on social media and a growing trend to share everything openly even encouraged by organisations as a marketing tool, a social media policy that requires employees conduct themselves professionally when using the company social media accounts and their own social media accounts is essential.
Your social media policy should outline the restrictions on staff using social media at work, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour online and their requirements when managing the company’s social media accounts.
Could your company be at risk by not having the right policies in place? NB Lawyers, the lawyers for employers offer a complimentary consultation to discuss how we can assist you with any concerns you may have regarding your policies.
Jonathan Mamaril is the principal and director of NB Lawyers, the lawyers for employers, and a specialist in employment law. Over the last ten years, Jonathan has helped hundreds of employers understand their legal requirements, mitigate risk and liability, protect their reputation and achieve their goals for business growth and expansion.