Policies and procedures in companies and organisations

Last updated: 2022-02-20

What are policies and procedures

Policies and work procedures are internal company documents containing rules on how employees should perform their work, processes, or how they should behave in different situations in the workplace. Policies typically apply to employees and also to external workers (contractors). The purpose of policies is to support the effective management of people and processes. Policies are one of the management tools because they contain information about who should do what. Describe the responsibilities of both employees and employers, contain the rights of employees, and the employer's interests. 

Why are policies and procedures important for companies?

Policies and workplace procedures communicate the values of the organization and expectations of desired employee behavior and performance. Well-written guidelines clearly define acceptable and unacceptable workplace behaviors, as well as the consequences when employees do not follow them. Without documented procedures, it is difficult to defend evidence of good practice.

  • ensure efficiency, consistency of processes, and quality of work output
  • set expectations and guide how to deal consistently with situations in the workplace 
  • ensure that processes comply with the requirements of legislation, laws, or standards 
  • clarify the expected behavior and outputs of employees 
  • serve as a training tool for employees, especially new employees, during onboarding

Mandatory and optional policies

Every company has to have a set of basic policies required by legislation, laws, and regulations together with other documents that each company creates voluntarily, based on the needs of its processes and the company management. 

  • General company rules on the most appropriate way to behave (dress codes, email, internet policies, or smartphone use)
  • Absence Policy
  • Performance Management Policy
  • Employee Code of Conduct Policy
  • Internet and Social Media Policy
  • Compensation and Benefits Policy
  • Travel Expenditures Policy
  • Purchase Policy 
  • Legal Issues for the company (head off charges of harassment or discriminatory hiring and promotion)
  • Workplace standards, rules, and regulations (safety rules, breaks, or smoking rules)
  • Fair treatment for employees (benefits eligibility, paid time off, tuition assistance, bereavement, or jury duty)

Examples of mandatory policies (vary in different countries):

  • Accounting policies and procedures
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Equal Opportunity Policy
  • Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
  • Bribery Policy

How to manage policies 

Some companies have an extensive and very detailed library of all the different policies and procedures, while other companies have only the most basic documents possible. It is important to maintain a balance and set the scope so that the firm is manageable. Typically, directives are in paper form in binders somewhere. Still, ideally, they should be in a digital form easily and conveniently accessible to all employees on the intranet, company DMS, team tools, wikis, or other means. Also, a lot depends on how often they are changed.  Policies are "live" documents that require change and good communication with employees. 

procedures and policies library

The difference between policies and procedures

Policies

  • Policies are usually summary instructions, rules that shape processes and provide a framework for day-to-day activities. They help people explain the framework of the process

Procedures

  • Procedures are detailed instructions, typically for a specific process or activity. They are detailed steps that workers must perform in a given process
  • Procedures are a documented set of steps necessary to perform a specific task in conformance with an applicable policy