A beginner’s guide to Policies & Processes

24 Jul 2020

A beginner’s guide to Policies & Processes

Policies and Processes provide the foundation of an organisation’s values, structure and compliance. Legislation, codes of practice, working environment and work patterns are ever changing, so it’s important that you remain compliant and all your staff know where they stand and are on the same page. 

The problem is, people often find it a challenge to understand what policies and processes need to be put in place for their business and how to effectively write and implement them. To help you work out where to begin we’ve created this handy beginners guide to get you on the right track.


What’s the difference between Policies and Processes? 

So let’s start from the beginning, what does all this actually mean? 


Policies are established to provide a guide towards standardised business strategies and objectives. They’re effectively the link between a company’s vision and their day to day operations. Policies also help ensure that these day to day tasks meet legislation requirements. 


Processes provide staff with a clear step by step guide on how to carry out or implement a policy. The goal of the process is to help eliminate misunderstandings by identifying responsibilities. Processes are the methods needed to be followed out to achieve company policies. 


Why do I need written policies and processes?

Whether your organisation is big or small, developing formal processes and policies will help it run more efficiently and smoothly. Having the appropriate documentation in place, helps communicate your values and vision, while ensuring your employees know exactly what is expected from them – all while you remain compliant with the relevant legislation. 


Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Nobody wants to think of the worst, but it’s important to plan properly. Disputes can and will arise, and when they do, having clear documented policies and processes in place helps limit the damage. Ensuring things like, health and safety, workplace equality, annual leave and privacy policies are in place will not only help ensure your business remains compliant, but can also help prevent any damage if claims or court cases arise.


Following processes ensures that everything runs smoothly and consistently. Staff can follow clear, documented steps to ensure things are completed to the same standard, in the same way, every time. This not only helps with operational safety but also assists in maintaining overall business efficiency. 

Performance gains and process Improvement

Having standardised, documented policies and processes in place means it’s easy to review the efficiency and effectiveness of the work that is being carried out. The foundation that is set by your internal policies means regular reviews can be conducted and ways to improve and adapt internal processes can be identified. Regularly reviewing processes helps drive business efficiency and better ways of working, while helping keep things aligned and consistent across your business. 

Clarity of expectations 

As a business owner or manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure you effectively set expectations for behaviour and performance to your staff. Everyone likes to know if they’re performing as expected. By effectively communicating your expectations through your policies and procedures ensures staff know where they stand. It’s also a great way to monitor staff performance and can help establish KPI’s for appraisals. 


The problem with unwritten processes 

It’s easy for business owners to think that spoken instructions suffice and their team are all on the same page. Aside from this approach probably not being compliant to many business legislations, unwritten policies and processes also provide no platform for organisational review. Different approaches will begin to develop and inconsistencies will begin to show. Not only is this an inefficient way of working, making it hard to develop and improve processes, it could leave you and your business in a sticky (and costly) situation if any formal disputes arise.


Still not sure where to get started? 

If you’re still not sure where to start, we can work with you to help you understand your needs and put the right policies and processes in place to give your business the foundation it needs. For more information please take a look at our approach to policy writing, or contact us to speak to our experience in-house policy writer. If you already have outlined processes in place but are looking for ways to drive efficiency and build on your strengths as a business then take a look at how our Business Process Review services can support you.

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