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Drafting or Changing a Workplace Policy

Workplace policies are not whimsical rules, fleeting requirements, or preferred behaviors implicitly submitted by a team or workplace culture. Policies are official, enforceable guidelines that are written down and made available to every relevant employee. And when they’re ignored or disobeyed, the infraction is quantifiable and comes with clear consequences that are applied fairly.  Keep these considerations in mind before you draft a new a policy or change one that’s currently on the books.

First, is this action necessary?

Before you use new or revised policies to solve workplace problems, exhaust every reasonable alternative. Don’t draft a new policy in response to a one-time problem or unique situation. If an employee explodes his cup-o-soup in the break room microwave, don’t appease his irritated coworkers by drafting a new policy forbidding this behavior. Just talk to the employee and make sure he understands the error of his ways.

Include relevant employees in the drafting process.

New policies related to safety, for example, will require the buy-in and approval of employees who are directly affected by this safety hazard. The wording used, the practicality of the new requirement, and ability to fairly enforce the new rule should all be taken into account during the drafting process. And the most valuable contributions will come from the employees who are exposed to both the safety hazard and the proposed solution.

Get buy-in from upper management and legal teams.

Before the new policy goes into the books, HR and legal experts will need to make sure it doesn’t extend into aspects of employee behavior that can’t be legally regulated by their employers. Policies that discriminate against groups or individuals based on protected criteria (such as gender, race, or religion) aren’t acceptable, nor are policies that create unreasonable burdens for employees or violate labor laws. Since these problems aren’t always obvious on the surface, a closer look will be necessary. Executive level managers will also need to provide written approval before the process is finalized.

Publish the policy and provide necessary training.

Make the policy accessible and clear to all relevant employees, and give them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have or obtain the training they’ll need in order to comply. For more on how to draft and edit an effective workplace policy, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.