Why do you need policies and procedures for your company?  

An employee went to use the restroom, and in the seat cover holder attached to the stall wall, found a pistol. Naturally, this caused an enormous amount of concern for the employee, who found the weapon. He took the correct course of action by reporting it to security; however, he told all of his coworkers what he saw. Then all of his coworkers told other coworkers. Soon mobs of employees were rightfully demanding some answers from the company management on the investigation and how the company will protect the staff in the future.

The investigation concluded that an employee legally owned the weapon, and he had forgotten the gun in the stall after he finished his business. The company was unable to take any course of action against the individual because there was no policy against bringing legally-owned firearms on company-owned property.

The company spent about $25,000 on the investigation, but more importantly than the lost money was the loss of trust this scenario created amongst the staff. That trust is significantly more challenging to recoup than lost funds. Management spent months answering employee questions, holding town halls to quell fears, and demonstrating the changes they make to create a safe workplace. The lost staff-hours and productivity are breathtaking. The decreased revenue during this time hurt a heck of a lot more than $25,000.

Solution

A simple No Weapons Policy acknowledged by all employees during the onboarding process could have solved this whole issue. They would have then been able to legally terminate the offending employee had he still brought the pistol to work. Their employees would feel safe because the company eliminated the threat and took immediate action.

It is crucial to document safety and security policies for the well-being of your employees and your business. These documents provide a roadmap for everyone should a crisis hit and give an outline of appropriate employee behavior. Having a comprehensive plan is also a way for you to show that you took all reasonable precautions to protect your staff and customers as a company. In some cases, this documentation can lower your insurance premiums as well because you reduce your liability by having a comprehensive safety and security plan in place, and provide your staff with clear guidance on how to handle emergencies.

How do I get my employees to know my policies and procedures? 

Every time I started a new job, I felt like there were a gazillion policies and procedures that I had to acknowledge. Once acknowledged, I never thought of them again. So how do you get your employees to know your methods? Because they need to know them to execute the protocol when issues arise.

  • First, you want the procedures to all have a similar look, feel, and format. When possible, you want the flow of information to be in the same order and verbiage, reducing the overall memorization needed for the documents.
  • Second, new hires need to acknowledge in writing all policies and procedures.
  • You need to train staff regularly, and it’s easier than you think. In your newsletter or a regular email updates, include summaries of procedures with links to the document for them to review.
  • Believe it or not, you can make this fun too. At staff meetings, make a game out of reviewing a policy or procedure. Whoever can most completely highlight or summarize the document from memory get a small prize or bragging rights.
  • Also, at staff meetings, you can do tabletop exercises, share a scenario with your team, and discuss how to handle the situation best.
  • Lastly, you can make small 3 or 4 question quizzes to accompany each document to assess your employee’s comprehension of the procedure. If someone didn’t score well, it might be your document’s need for further clarification or simplification.

When I was in the military, we were taught to “train as we fight.” The reasoning behind this is because when a real-world scenario presents itself, that training is so ingrained in the soldier or sailor’s heads that there is no question that they know exactly what to do in that event. We need to offer ourselves and our staff the same reassurance.

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