When we first started our business, long before we had the prospect of having employees, we began developing a policy and procedures manual. Maybe it was my degree in Organizational Behavior, or Melissa’s having taught Industrial/Organizational Psychology, or both of us having worked for other employers, but we knew that while we had “free” time starting the company, we needed to prepare, proactively, for the day we would have employees. A policy and procedure manual is very important for businesses, large and small. However, often in small businesses, no one ever takes the time to create a manual. This creates many problems. First, employees are unaware of what is expected of them. They don’t know the “rules” the bosses/partners/company think are important. A manual ensures all employees are equally aware of critical issues including punctuality, days off, and various traditional work issues. Today it is increasingly important to have a manual that includes a policy on computer and data security, as well as one which addressees social media issues. The manual should be a “living” document which grows and is updated as issues change or evolve. Having written policies and procedures, to which employees agree to abide by, is important in addressing disciplinary actions, including termination. Employees must know what lines not to cross or risk termination. And, if they do cross the line, being able to show that employees violated written policies is crucial when dealing with any unemployment filings. Thus, while policies and procedures are helpful in terms of setting expectations and training employees, they are also helpful to the business in other ways. Failing to have a policy manual is short sighted and can be harmful to both employees and companies.
Magnus is a small corporation, however, we have extremely formal ways of doing business. We have a specific policy covering every major aspect of our work, including dress code, social media, and what constitutes a valid expense on an expense report. As with most employers, my partner and I have had numerous experiences with employees who have violated a policy, only to be reminded of their violation by referring to the policy manual. In a similar fashion, we have specific procedures pertaining to every aspect of every job that every employee performs during the work day. There are no questionable areas left open to an employee’s interpretation. In addition, when times change and changing times result in changes to our policies and procedures manual, we are quick to change with the times. (For example, when the unfortunate fashion development of showing one’s under garments outside one’s outer clothing began, we had to update our policy manual to disallow this fashion faux pas in our office.) Over the years, we have had employees attempt to “get away” with something that is expressly prohibited in our policy and procedure manual, only to find they are grossly incorrect in their belief we would not notice. In general, having written policies that are well known to employees, beginning with their first day on the job, provides a rule book to govern their work and protects the employer in the event an employee is disciplined or terminated following a policy violation.