When do You Need and How do You Get a Policy and Procedures Manual?

The “when” of a business policy and procedures manual is an easy answer. When you begin to hire employees, you should have or start to prepare a policy and procedures manual. The reasons why it is important are all about success in your business and reduced liability.

Why do you need a policy and procedures manual?

While you as the business owner may have clear ideas of how the business should function, how customers should be treated, products produced, services rendered, or business processes performed, you should not expect your employees to think like you do. Your manual should address:

  • Setting Expectations – This section of the manual informs employees of your expectations for their behavior in doing their jobs and working with customers. It should clearly set out how they should act and your expectations for their performance.
  • Streamline and Improve Communications – Instead of expecting employees to intuitively know what to do and when and how to do it, the policy and procedures manual provides specific guidelines. In today’s online world, businesses have found that an online manual is easier to use than a printed one. Employees can search the online manual for topics about which they need information.
  • Improve the Training Process – When new employees come on board, they not only receive in-person instruction in their job requirements, but they also have the online manual to refer to for expansion of topics and refreshing their memory of what they have learned.
  • Enhance Productivity – An employee only knows if they are doing a good job if they have benchmarks to tell them. The manual can lay out the best practices for all internal and customer processes. By understanding the best way to do things, employees become more productive.
  • Reduce legal liability – Keeping a policy and procedures manual updated with requirements related to regulations. The manual also lays out the safety practices of the business and rules for proper and safe work performance. Employees hurt on the job are costly examples, with poor instruction or rules understanding cited as a cause in many cases. There can also be legal consequences due to customer service, product, or services mistakes.

Some Concepts and Methods to Keep in Mind

You can access online resources with outlines for policy and procedures manuals. These would have some help in the processes and needs common to all businesses. You may also be able to find templates for your business type. These give you an outline and a start on the text of the manual. Some of the considerations for you to bring your manual to completion include:

  • Purpose and Importance – Employees will take the policy and procedures manual more seriously if they understand the reasons that you require that they read and comply with it. The importance of doing so should be clear, including the fact that doing their jobs in accordance with the manual is a large part of assessing their performance for compensation or promotion.
  • Expectations – For overall employee performance, as well as for each position, a clear explanation of the expectations for that job is critical. What is the expected output of a production job or the expected interaction with a customer for sales or service jobs? What level of customer satisfaction is expected?
  • Responsibilities – Accurately and completely describe the responsibilities of the employee, from work output to any interactions with other employees, customers, or vendors. What does exemplary performance of the job look like?
  • Detailed Procedures – Not all jobs will require detailed procedures, but for those with complex or lengthy procedures, you will want to set out detailed step-by-step procedures. Be as detailed as possible, as any lack of understanding or misunderstanding by the employee can result in poor performance.

In summary, your policy and procedures manual should be the “how-to” guide for employees as to doing their jobs and succeeding in the company.

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