How to create internal corporate policies that really work:
Seven recommendations by Deloitte Forensic
The New Year’s holiday is a time of renewal and fresh starts. In that spirit, we’d like to suggest that now is an optimal time to pay fresh attention to your company’s internal policies and procedures. Start by asking yourself such questions as: Do your employees understand and adhere to company policies? Do your policies adequately reflect existing business processes? Deloitte Forensic is pleased to present seven recommendations that will help you to successfully adapt “off-the-shelf” corporate policies and procedures so they actually do what they are meant to do.
1. Determine how the relevant business process actually functions
It’s axiomatic that a policy must be relevant and useful. So, to create such policies, first identify the owners of the relevant business process, as well as what specific control points and documentation it features. The provisions of a policy should be drafted so as to explain, clearly and thoroughly, all potentially complex and ambiguous situations that a user may encounter when engaging in an existing process. Employees need guidance in dealing with various situations and should never be left to their own devices in any situation.
2. Policies should be written in a user-friendly way, i.e. in simple, understandable language with a clear structure
Whether you are drafting a new policy document or amending an existing one, you should closely analyze all policy provisions to ensure that everything is written in plain language and a clear, accessible style, and that none of the provisions could be interpreted in contradictory ways. In writing your document, use language that is comprehensible even to employees who normally have nothing to do with the relevant business process.
3. Avoid writing overly long documents and don’t forget to cite existing company policies
When drafting an internal document, remember that the shorter and more concise it is, the easier an external user can navigate it and follow its guidelines. Excessive wordiness and verbose statements may end up burying or concealing the core meaning of the document. To achieve a good style and accessible tone, provide brief summaries of the document’s key provisions on page 1 with links to the full versions and details in the appendices.
4. Name the responsible persons to whom employees can turn for help and clarification of their questions, and give their contact details
Employees involved in specific procedures often still have questions after reading the relevant policy. So, the document should contain information about who they can contact for answers and guidance. Such contacts can be provided either as links directly in the text of the policy or in a separate section, or as a standalone list of designated contact persons with responsibility for specific issues.
5. Once a new policy is adopted, send out an informational email briefly describing the new policy and how it should be implemented. Then, follow up with periodic refresher courses for employees
Conducting training on key policies and procedures is the most effective way of helping employees to understand what these rules require and to develop the relevant skills to put their new knowledge into practice. Best practice is to conduct training that is focused on the most common practical examples accompanied by in-depth analysis and Q&A opportunities for participants.
6. Send out periodic email reminders about the key provisions of the policy
Keep your colleagues well informed about corporate policy compliance requirements by periodically sending out reminder emails concerning existing policies and procedures via a mailing list. Such emails should feature a summary of the relevant procedures and links to the actual documents if necessary.
7. Create a quick sheet or checklist outlining the key provisions of core policies
Employees can keep such quick sheets or checklists at their desks or by their computers as a handy reference guide when they need to apply the provisions of a given policy in their day-to-day work. They can help employees better understand the content of the policy and how to apply it in various work-related situations.
By following all seven recommendations, you can create an effective communications channel for keeping your colleagues informed about the company’s policies and procedures – both existing and new – that govern how they do their jobs. In turn, this will give you assurance that all employees are applying the rules properly and consistently in their work.