In an ideal world, employees would start a new job knowing the expectations for their role and how
they should conduct themselves. They would know how to respond perfectly in any given situation
and their actions would always align with company standards and values. Conflicts would never arise
and it wouldn’t be necessary to have someone looking over their shoulder to ensure compliance
with regulations and standards.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world; we live in one where small infractions can incur big
costs for businesses. While we often associate policy and procedure documents with the
bureaucracy of big corporates, they’re vitally important for small and medium businesses too.
Clearly set out policies define expectations within your business and ensure consistency and clarity
amongst staff. They help new employees orient themselves and existing employees to feel confident
in the decisions they make. Importantly, they allow you to manage legal risks and maximise
productivity. Workplace safety policies, for example, can help you to comply with regulations and
avoid unexpected staff absences. Learn more about the benefits For Startups Of Implementing Contract Management.
At a more practical level, procedures are also key to successful business operations. They drive
efficiency and professionalism and provide official guidance on how employees can optimise policies
using company resources, systems and equipment.
And, while writing out procedures may seem time-consuming and mundane, they’re worth the
effort in the long run as they help to speed up and standardise training. In fact, research suggests
that for every $1 of work done, subsequent revisions and compensations for error can cost
anywhere between $5 to $30. Avoiding costly mistakes by having clear and accessible policies and
procedures will guarantee significant long-term savings for your business.
What policies and procedures does a small business need?
The policies and procedures required for a small business vary according to the business type.
However, here are some of the most useful and common ones and why you need them:
Code of conduct
Code of conduct policies govern how employees are expected to behave in the workplace. This can
include how they are expected to interact with customers and how they should treat other staff
members. It may also include policies on things like conflicts of interest, drug and alcohol use,
punctuality, bullying and harassment.
As the bedrock of relationships within your business, a clear code of conduct is essential to help pre-
empt conflict, encourage professionalism and communicate core values and ethics.
Social media, internet and email
With so much of our work today being conducted online, many businesses will find it useful to have
policies for social media, email and general internet use included in their code of conduct. This may
include guidelines for both personal and work-related email and social media use.
For example, while you may choose not to have an outright ban on personal social media or internet
use, a useful alternative could be to note that personal use should be minimal and should not
interfere with employment obligations.
It may not be immediately obvious to employees what they should and shouldn’t talk about outside
the office. Information on how your business is doing financially, for example, isn’t something you’d
want to broadcast publicly, so make sure your employees know when to exercise discretion and
which topics are commercially sensitive.
Company cars, credit cards and business expenses
If you’re providing a company car or credit card, it’s well worth setting out policies around
appropriate usage. In a similar vein, if your employees need to travel, what expenses will be
covered? Having clear policies around these points will help to reduce needless spending and
misunderstandings that could lead to conflict.
This is where both procedures and policies have an important role to play. Ensure you have policies
that provide clear objectives for workplace safety, as well as specific procedures for managing
hazards and responding to incidents and emergencies. Legislation requires that employers provide a
safe and healthy working environment, so make sure you’re up to speed on what your obligations
are and get professional help if you’re not sure.
Security and privacy
Breaches of security and privacy can be costly, especially for a small business or start-up. Security
and privacy procedures help mitigate this risk by educating staff on aspects such as customer data,
visitor access, virus protection, surveillance and access while working outside standard office hours.
Procedures on how to navigate workplace technology and where to go for support can be hugely
useful, saving both time and resources. This is particularly valuable for new employees.
Optimising policies and procedures for business performance
Once you’ve formulated comprehensive policies and procedures, it’s essential to follow this up with
a comprehensive staff engagement programme. If your staff aren’t aware of or don’t understand
company policy and procedures they provide little use beyond giving you limited legal cover.
To optimise your policies and procedures for business performance, it’s worth considering the
different ways you can communicate them to employees. Remind staff of where they can find them
and consider outlining them in a staff meeting with a slideshow, questions and discussion.
It’s also important to keep reviewing your policies and procedures regularly. As technology changes
and your business grows additional policies and procedures may become necessary. Rather than
seeing this as a cumbersome task, view this as an opportunity to refine and improve how your
Policies and procedures may not be as exciting to formulate as a strategic plan, but business doesn’t
always need to be exciting. Sometimes it’s simply important to have everything working smoothly,
without any distractions or issues that need resolving.