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Minimizing Risk: Updating Your Policies and Procedures

Harbor America - Jul 17, 2019, 9:00:00 AM

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Companies deal with their policies and procedures in one of two ways: Proactive or Reactive.

A Business that operates under the proactive approach will make necessary or anticipated changes as they happen. As the direction of the company changes, or as the generational gap in the employee base closes, companies may adjust their policies and procedures to evolve with more modern wants and needs of the industry and to keep employees happy.

Conversely, businesses who are satisfied with the status quo and have the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mindset operate under the reactive approach. These businesses are under the impression that everything is running smoothly and there is no need to either document something that hasn’t happened yet, or edit/update a policy simply because of a single, isolated issue.

There is associated risk, though, when it comes to not proactively updating your organization’s operating policies and procedures. For example, more than 19 lawsuits were filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for alleged violations concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) resulting in “more than $6 million in settlements.”[1]

Employers are encouraged to fully understand their responsibilities to their employees, their consumers or clients, and the industry in which they serve. In a situation where the business does not have the best practices in place, there is no time like the present to start working toward getting on track.

Begin by taking a look at all policies and procedures individually, apart from the employee or company handbook as a whole. The handbook may have a recent revision date, but that date will reflect the last revision, not the most recent update for each policy. Each individual policy and documented procedure should feed into the overarching handbook. However, each policy and procedure should also have it’s own revision or last update date. It is recommended that all policies and procedures are reviewed annually to ensure that nothing gets overlooked every twelve-months.

With each audit or subsequent update, instruct those responsible for managing the process to schedule a training on the updated documentation. Then, once annually, a larger training should be held, in more of a town hall set-up, to review the parent handbook with the entire group. Spending time to review the changes with the entire organization will help business leaders to understand if there are any knowledge gaps requiring additional training on any of the policies or procedures.

Finally, comprise a working list of controls to help mitigate any outstanding or potential risk. This step will help those with the responsibility of managing the regular policies and procedures audit the documentation properly, while actively planning for future improvements.

Going forward, it is important to note that policy and procedure documents should be easily accessible in a digital format, rather than delivered only as printed materials. This will also save the organization when it comes to the need to republish any of the documentation. It can simply be updated digitally rather than reprinted for all employees.

It may be difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing legislation that feeds HR policies and procedures directly. Here are some websites to help keep you current:

If you’re ready to provide your business leaders and employees better policy and procedure documentation, Harbor America can help. Contact us to learn more about improving operational effectiveness and efficiency.


[1] HR Daily Advisor: EEOC, Employee Continue to See Success in Disability Cases

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