July 23, 2020

6 Steps to Introducing and Enforcing New Workforce Policies

by Mike O'Neill

COVID took the world by surprise and left many business owners struggling to keep up with all the federal and state changes. 

People were quarantined and told to stay at home, so companies that could enable their workforce to work remotely, did. The ones that couldn’t temporarily laid people off or continued coming to work because they were flagged as essential.

Now, some states are reopening and ordering people back to work. Other states who were the first to reopen have found their COVID numbers spiking, so they’re ordering businesses closed again.

With all the uncertainty, it’s hard to know what guidelines and regulations you’re supposed to follow. It seems you have to change your workplace policies to reflect all the federal and state changes weekly, or even daily. 

Keep reading to learn how to introduce and enforce new workplace policies, and give us a call when you’re ready to seek assistance from an expert.

Step #1: Evaluate Need and Build Your Policy

Before you create a new policy, you need to thoroughly assess the situation and familiarize yourself with current guidelines. Determine what changes need making and brainstorm possible solutions.

Check the following sources for the most accurate and updated information regarding federal and state recommendations and guidelines:

You’ll also need to consider creating new remote work policies if you haven’t done so already. Many companies quickly pivoted and kept going. They didn’t slow down long enough to establish and implement new policies — which could land them in legal trouble for things like workers comp claims.

Consider each solution you come up with and think about if it’s in line with your company's goals, culture, and mission. What resources do you need — training, tools, manpower? 

Write it all down and get it on paper so you can rank all the changes in order of easiest to implement to hardest. You should start with implementing and enforcing the most manageable tasks first and work your way down to the bottom of your list.

Once you have your list completed and the items ranked, create the first draft of your new workplace policy. Consult with experts, such as your legal team and HR Consultants, to make sure your policy is sound and reasonable.

Step #2: Introduce and Train Company Leaders

After consulting with an expert to have your new policy reviewed, you’re ready to get the ball rolling and implement it. A word of caution, though. Don’t apply the policy company-wide to start.

Introduce the new policy to leaders within the organization and train them on it first. Why? Because they’re the ones responsible for enforcing the new policies. They need to know it like the back of their hands to answer questions from their teams and train them effectively.

Be sure to create any training materials your managers need before introducing them to the new policy. Hold a staff meeting, explain the new policy's details, and why you felt it was necessary. Don’t forget the raw data & facts you need to back up your claim.

Present the new training materials and address any questions or concerns your managers have. Practice role-playing scenarios that they’re likely to experience during training and when they roll out the new policy to their teams.

Step #3: Distribute the Policy Company-wide

After your new policy has been battle-tested by your managers and all the kinks are worked out, you're ready to implement it company-wide, but don't do this quietly. You don't want to add new policies into annual company handbook updates sneakily.

Everyone is on edge right now with COVID, so you must operate transparently. Anything that could be misinterpreted as "shady" should be avoided at all costs. 

I would even recommend going so far as to have employees sign and acknowledge they've received and understood the new policy to cover all your bases.

Hold a company-wide staff meeting and introduce the new policy to your workforce at the same time. Make an announcement about the meeting and what it’s about ahead of time.

Rhonda beard

-Bench builders-

“One of our clients had to quickly transition from no employees working remotely, to 100% remote. They found several things that were key to a smooth & effective transition — daily 1:1’s, frequent check-ins by managers, regular Zoom Meetings, adding time on the front end to simply catch-up with each other, and recognizing the stress & anxiety employees may be feeling but continuing to provide confidence in their teams that "we've got this."

Be sure to explain any additional training they can expect to receive, and offer further guidance if they have any questions not answered.

Step #4: Evaluate Policy Success

Now that your new workplace policy has been implemented company-wide, it’s time to monitor its implementation to evaluate its success. Make sure all managers received the training they needed and have distributed training materials to their teams.

Determine what metrics you need to track to ensure the new policy is understood, implemented, and appropriately enforced. You’ll also need to track metrics that show the effectiveness of the solutions outlined in the new policy. 

Make sure you have data from before the policy changes are implemented so you can compare it to the results from after. You’ll need to collect data on any changes made to:

  • Standards
  • Baselines
  • Guidances
  • Procedures
  • Build Documentation

Your policies should be reviewed annually to reflect changes in federal and local laws under normal circumstances. With COVID causing so much chaos, policies are changing too rapidly to wait a full year for review.

Review your policies bi-monthly or monthly for now, and seek out an HR Consultant for guidance on policy changes to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Step #5: Update and Revise the New Policy

While we all hope to get things perfect the first time around, that’s rarely ever the case. You went into this with a problem to solve, and you took the time to craft a policy to solve it. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Put in that same effort to ensure it worked.

Check the data you’ve gathered and speak to your managers and HR team. Ask them how the policies have impacted their teams and compare what they’re saying to the data you have. 

How is staff morale? Has employee turnover increased? Are people following the new policy correctly? Has there been any push back?

Create a schedule for how often you’ll check the data and ask for feedback. Stick to this schedule and be ready to make any revisions deemed necessary as a result of your review. Get advice from an HR Consultant should you have any issues arise you can’t solve or have questions you can’t find answers to.

When you’re ready to introduce revisions, make sure you’re just as transparent as you were with the initial rollout. Do another company-wide meeting. Explain what is changing and why. Answer all questions and concerns your workers may have. 

Step #6: Continue to Get Expert Input

Don’t fumble around in the dark, trying to keep up with the latest COVID guidelines. You shouldn’t have to “do the best you can” and guess when it comes to creating new workplace policies. 

Seek out an expert to help keep you in the loop and give you guidance on what policy changes are necessary and how to implement and enforce. Their expertise is invaluable at times such as these.

When you contact Bench Builders, our experts help you update and review your workplace policies. We can help you with:

  • Management Training 
  • Coaching
  • HR Consulting
  • Strategic Planning
  • And DISC Team Training Too

Contact us to get the help you need from an expert you can trust.

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