As a SME, many companies forgo and do not see the importance of the most basic of procedures when it comes to running their business. It is only when the pooh hits the fan then the rush to scramble a few googled policies from the world wide web.
Whether you are already running a small business in Namibia or looking at starting up, very often small business owners run the risk of not making provision for policies and procedures relevant to their business. No matter what type of business you run, whether small or big, policies and procedures are important as they help clarify and reinforce the standards expected of your employees as well as help owners to manage staff effectively by defining what is acceptable and unacceptable.
Benefits of Policies and Procedures:
- Reduce the risk of liability especially if there are instances where your business has to comply with a law.
- It promotes consistency and builds a healthy reputation for your business.
- Without defined rules, people create their own rules.
- It sets guidelines and parameters of how your business should operate.
- Help you deal with any crisis in your business.
Is there a difference between a policy and a procedure?
Yes, there is. A policy is a predetermined course of action, establishing the guidelines towards business strategies and objectives. It is the line between your business’ vision, values and day-to-day operations.
A procedure explains a specific action plan for carrying out a policy. In plain terms a procedure is a road map. For example, what is your dishwasher Dave’s job responsibilities and what are the boundaries? Can Dave plan your business’ menu for example?
Guidelines to consider
- Before you start: Develop a policy and procedures that clearly define the problem the document should address. Find a document platform or at a minimum, find an appropriate template.
- Research your documents. Get input from all role players. Read current documentation if there are. Read laws and regulations relevant to the topic (e.g. Labour act).
- Write your draft. Use plain, precise, jargon-free language . Break text into scannable chunks.
- Get documents reviewed and approved and finally.
- Publish and implement the policy. Keep evidence that the new policy was seen by all. Keep it central where everyone can get it.
Some of the most basic yet important policies to consider are:
- Time, attendance and leave.
- Disciplinary procedure.
- Financial policy if dealing with cash.
- Health and safety (when dealing with food especially).
- Bring your own device (where employees are required to work with their own equipment).
Now that you have time to process and identify which policies you don’t have within your organization. Here are some ideas to consider when drafting your policy or procedure.
- Give your procedure a clear title and description. Describe your scope and purpose. This is an example of a leave scope and purpose: “It is a requirement that employees report to work punctually. Due to occasional absence attributed to incapacity or ill health, employees must further be aware of the intent and proper use of the leave procedure. This procedure establishes methods for maximising attendance at work and the application of leave.
- Responsibilities of respective parties
- Definition – if there are short definitions required.
- Short descriptive paragraphs about each item.
- Write to the reading level of the document users. Use photographs if necessary.
Finally, use terms consistently through your documents.
– use headings that clearly identify the content in each section
– use active voice rather than passive voice e.g.: you must wash the dishes (active). The dishes must be washed (passive).
– use as far as possible positive and inclusive language. E.g. Their, no he or she (gender neutral), worker non workman (gender inclusive).
In our next feature, we will highlight the content required in a leave and in a disciplinary policy.