Change is inevitable in business. Whether there is a new strategic direction for the company, new systems are implemented or new legislation affects your industry, company policies and procedures will inevitably be updated and change.
When your business policies and procedures change, communicating these with employees is essential to avoid costly mistakes and errors. Depending on the nature of the policy or procedure that’s being changed, there could be legal and financial consequences if your organization does not comply,
Determine who is going to be affected by the new work policies. It might not only be your employees, but also stakeholders such as clients, partners and the wider community. This will help you determine how and when to communicate your company policy and procedures changes.
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How to communicate policy changes to employees
Once you’ve established that change is necessary, you need to turn your mind to how you will inform staff about changes to your policies and procedures. These are the essential steps you must take to ensure that people are informed and understand the changes, and the implications of not following new protocols.
1. Be very clear about these changes
When communicating policies and procedures in the workplace, it should be clear, concise and easy to understand.
Be straightforward about why the change is necessary, exactly what is changing, what is staying the same, and what steps need to be taken by all employees to make sure they comply with the new requirements.
Also spell out clearly what the consequences are for the company if corporate policies are not followed.
2. Consider face-to-face communication
If possible, and if the business policy and procedure change warrants it, hold a meeting or a webinar with senior management in attendance to explain the need for the policy change and any consequences.
Face-to-face communications on important issues often feel more authentic and help to build trust with employees.
Even if changes are announced via email or in writing in other official channels, it’s still a good idea for managers to speak directly to their employees about them in team meetings or even individually to ensure compliance.
3. Ensure new work policies are easy to find
The easier you make it for employees to find your changed work policies, the easier it is for them to implement and adhere to them.
The worst thing you can do is put any new employee rules in a place they can’t easily locate them. This means if it lives on your intranet, for example, they have to search through many pages to find the information… and that’s if they even know to look for it in the first place.
You should have a clearly labeled and easy to find and navigate employee rules section on your intranet site that sets out all company policies and procedures. In effect, this is a soft copy “company manual”.
Whenever you make changes or updates to this company manual, you should send communications to employees outlining the changes and telling them where they can find the information.
4. Use employees as champions
Some policy and procedural changes have major implications for the entire company… or just specific sections of it. A good way to communicate a new policy to employees is by tapping into the leadership resources within your team and appointing passionate employees with a solid understanding of the changes to be a “champions” among their peers who can advocate the importance of the changes and also assist others to implement them.
Employees are more likely to successfully “buy in” to change when it is being championed by a colleague they respect and trust.
5. Provide adequate training
Sometimes policies and procedural changes will be complex and require a complete new approach to work practices. When concepts are difficult to grasp, just writing them down and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. You need to ensure that employees are given appropriate training in new procedures so that they can carry out tasks in the way that is expected of them.
Depending on the changes, you may need to roll out company-wide training at the beginning of the new initiative, or just as required. Refresher and follow-up training should also be factored in if necessary.
6. Ask for employee input when writing company policies
When you’re updating your employee policy handbook, it can be useful to get feedback and assistance from employees to ensure you hit the right mark. You can do this by communicating the proposed new policies and procedures and providing them with a sample of what it will look like.
Involving employees in the process provides them with the opportunity to ask questions and to give honest feedback about how easy your employee policy handbook is to understand and follow from their perspective.
You can also draw on their experiences working at the coal face when writing company policies to ensure that any changes you are proposing are practical and realistic.
7. Be open to two-way communication
People are often resistant to change, particularly when they’ve done something a particular way for a long period of time. They may have an emotional reaction to change, and they may also feel that the changes aren’t practical.
Just as you need to clearly communicate the need for change, offering opportunities for employees to provide meaningful feedback can help to keep them engaged throughout the process.
The means of communication to use to effectively establish a new policy
When you have corporate policy and procedure changes to communicate, there are a number of ways you can do so.
This can include:
- Sending emails to employees
- Putting information on your company intranet site
- Sharing the policies on your internal social media platforms
- Write directly to employees
- Having managers discuss the changes at team meetings
- Including information about the policy in internal newsletters
- Posting updated policies on company noticeboards
- Including policies in any staff handbooks
There are however, some limitations with these communication methods. They rely on employees paying attention to emails, actively looking at intranet and other internal channels or being present at a meeting if it was discussed.
Another option to consider to work around these issues is DeskAlerts.
DeskAlerts is an internal communications software system that sends pop-up notifications to desktops and push notifications to mobile devices. The messages display in a way that cannot be skipped or ignored – making it the perfect way to communicate critical policy and procedure changes.
Other useful features include the ability to send video content to explain changes, HTML links to policy documents and a quiz module that will let you test employees’ knowledge of the changes to determine if you need to enhance your education activities.
You can send hints and tips and reminders via a less intrusive scrolling ticker tape. Or use it to deploy a specially designed corporate screensaver or corporate wallpaper explaining the key points of the changes.
DeskAlerts also allows you to send compliance alerts - your employees must confirm that they have read the policy before they close the alert window. This can help you in the future if employees claim they didn’t know about a policy and act in contravention of it.
As with any good internal communications approach, the best ways to communicate policy changes include:
- Use of a combination of delivery channels to ensure the message gets across
- Send reminders or hints and tips about the policy update as part of an internal communications campaign to really make sure that the message gets through.
- Quiz your employees on their understanding of the new policy
- Monitor compliance with the policy changes and tailor any further communications to addressing any problems.
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