One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How will I know when we need to revise our policies?”. The answer is complicated and can depend on multiple factors, including your company culture, state and federal law changes, recent court cases, upcoming court cases, recent events in the news, and recent changes to your business. Although there are many factors that can come into play that should cause you to pause over your policy manual, here are 4 events that should cause you to come to a full stop and review your policies.

  1. Something happened and you don’t like what the policy is telling you to do. This is most often the case during a disciplinary decision or similar difficult discussion. The policy is telling you to do one thing, but your gut is telling you to do something else. I have seen this occur most frequently with “Dress Code Policies” and “Zero Tolerance Policies”. The Zero Tolerance Policy lists all of the items that are immediately terminable offenses. When it was written you felt that you had seen it all and you were confident that you knew everything that would cause you to fire someone, then you experienced something new and your gut is telling you that should also be on the policy. Your Dress code policy is rather clear on what should be worn to work each day. Then your employee “surprised” you by coming to work wearing a shirt that had every expletive in the book (and some that were not in the book). When you wrote your policy you didn’t include something that seemed to be common sense, but now it is time for a revision, to include even common sense items.
  2. Something happened and there is no policy telling you what to do. Unfortunately, this occurs most often during crisis situations. There is a weather emergency and you need someone to work, but you never really outlined who that should be. There is a significant illness going around the office and people are asking to work from home, but you have nothing in place that puts any parameters around remote working. I recently wrote two articles on just these instances and why you can never be too over prepared. Read them here Pandemic Flu and Weather Emergencies .
  3. You have made a conscious change in your company’s vision, mission, or values. As your company changes, your policies will need to change with it. You will want to ensure that all of your policies reflect your culture and are not just “cookie cutter” policies. Having policies that truly reflect your vision for your company will help ensure you feel confident about staff and management following them everyday that they are at work.
  4. The calendar says January. This one is simple. It is ALWAYS a good idea to look over your policies once a year, and switching calendars is a great reminder to revise and re-publish your policy book.

Revising your policy manual is an important part of any HR Leaders job, however, you want to be sure that you are revising your policies at the right time and for the right reason. Your employee’s should always know where they stand. For every planned changed you make, it is very important to communicate them to everyone BEFORE you implement the policy.

We love helping companies develop policies that match their culture. It ensures not only are you mitigating risk for your company, but you are creating something that will be a true reflection of what you want your company and your employees strive to become.

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