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How do policies communicate corporate culture?

To prevent organizations policies and procedures from becoming front page news or creating a firestorm on social media that will negatively impact your employer brand, it is important to know how to communicate policies and procedures to staff effectively.

Whenever a new policy manual, an employee handbook, or some other form of documentation of your company’s HR policies is done, it is crucial to communicate the contents of these documents to your staff. Your staff should be advised why it was created, what the purpose is and how the document will be used in the company. This also applies when updates to policies/documents are being made.

We also advise incorporating employee opinions, feedback and ideas about what to include in the document, preferably prior to its creation. Asking employees up-front for their input about what they would like to see included in the first step to communicating company policies and procedures. Communication with employees should start well before the document is started. While not every workplace is unionized, had Air Canada discussed the poppy policy with the union representing the flight attendants prior to its implementation, the airline could have saved itself significant heartache. The union would surely have provided the necessary feedback to prevent the implementation of this policy.

Keep the following recommendations in mind for how to communicate policies and procedures to staff:

  1. Inform employees up-front
  2. At the start of the project, let employees know that the company will work on developing (or updating) company policies and procedures. Explain why the information is important, and what impact it will have on them.

  3. Ask for feedback
  4. Incorporate as much of the employee feedback as possible. Involve employees in drafting particular sections of the policy document if it makes sense. To encourage employee involvement, ask employees for their ideas about what they think should be included in the employee handbook or policy manual.

  5. Introduce final product
  6. Conduct a meeting with all staff to introduce the completed manual and review its purpose. Reinforce its importance and how it should be used.

  7. Ask employees to review employee handbook or policy manual
  8. Provide employees a chance to ask questions. Distribute the completed manual to staff, or advise them how to access the document electronically. Ask employees to provide feedback on improving the document.

  9. Provide training where required
  10. Some policies and procedures may require more intensive and extensive training to ensure that employees understand how the policy applies to them, so provide employee training, as required.

  11. Request employee sign-off
  12. It is important for staff to read the document and become familiar with the company’s policies.

Request each employee sign-off after having read the document. A copy of the sign-off should be placed in the employee’s personnel file. It should be reviewed and updated regularly – about once a year – and should incorporate any employee suggestions for improving the document. Remember that the handbook/manual also acts as an employer branding document which communicates to employees what it’s like to work for your company. It should be written in a tone and format that suits your company’s culture and personality. Following these recommendations, you’ll be well on your way to communicate your policies and procedures to staff effectively.

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