How to Create Clear Employee Guidelines
Posted on: August 24, 2017 by Signature Insurance Group
Reducing Employee Error > Creating Effective Standards
If you want someone to behave the way you would like them to, the best way to do that is do give them a detailed set of guidelines. In the workplace, there are countless reasons why you may want to direct someone’s behavior, ranging from creating a comfortable and positive work environment to ensuring everyone’s safety. Ideally, your company already has some form of guidelines in your employee handbook, but you may not have them to the extent that you should to truly prevent all employee error. Random mishaps may not be able to completely be prevented, but you can thoroughly reduce the risk of errors caused by ignorance, apathy, and negligence by creating and circulating a set of employee guidelines that cover behavior as well as proper procedures and consequences. In addition to protecting your operation with a Management Liability Insurance policy, consider the following when creating your employee guidelines.
Include everything you can think of.
There’s a lot that goes into a company’s operations, and you’re going to want to cover all of it in your employee guidelines. Employee error can be caused by a wide variety of things: your employees may not know how to do something, your existing policy could be unclear, or your employee might just not care to put in the effort. When it comes to delicate procedures in your company, outline them thoroughly and try to get rid of any ambiguities, and encourage employees to come to you with any questions. Do the same for job descriptions as well – the last thing you want is someone making a costly mistake because it “wasn’t in their job description.” Everything should be kept in writing, both so your employees will be able to access it easily and so you can have a defense if a lawsuit were to arise from a mistake.
Utilize both positive and negative consequences.
In the previous paragraph, we brought up the possibility of apathetic employees, which likely can’t be fixed by detailed guidelines alone. However, if you provide incentives for your employees to work hard, their performance will improve. Much like policies and procedures, consequences should be clearly outlined in your employee handbook and saved in writing, as you don’t want to surprise your employees with unexpected consequences for mistakes.
Be sure to create a variety of consequences appropriate to the type of error committed. A small error that occurs completely by chance should not receive the same level of reprimand as an employee who doesn’t put in any effort to check their work or do high-quality work, and employees who consistently make mistakes should be treated differently from those who only occasionally mess up. Ascertain whether employees are genuinely confused or if they just don’t care enough to check for mistakes, and assign punishments accordingly. In addition, don’t solely use negative consequences – studies have shown that they increase workplace stress and make employees less likely to want to report mistakes or incidents to their employers. Instead, balance negative consequences with positive reinforcement, and encourage your employees to come to you if they are unclear about something or if they feel they’ve made a mistake.
Communicate it thoroughly to your team.
No employee should be able to excuse a mishap – deliberate or not – with, “But I didn’t know.” Once you’ve made your employee guidelines, make them available to your employees from every possible channel. In marketing, there’s an old principle called “the rule of 7” which dictates that prospective customers don’t commit your offer to memory and start to seriously consider it until they’ve seen it at least seven times. Now, you aren’t selling your employee guidelines to your team, but the principle still holds. There’s always a chance that your employees could be tired, stressed, or otherwise distracted when you first give them your guidelines, and they might not immediately commit it to memory.
In addition to keeping written copies on file (for your use and employee use), provide each employee with a hard copy and an electronic copy, and consider holding a meeting to go over policies with each team so they can address any questions or concerns. If you like, you can hold additional meetings on a regular basis in order to ensure that your employees are responding well to the policies. Take their opinions into account; as they are the ones carrying out your policies, they might have suggestions to make things easier for everyone.
About Signature Insurance Group
Signature Insurance Group has been working since 1969 to provide comprehensive insurance solutions to individuals and businesses across the United States. We offer a range of insurance products and services in risk management, employee benefits, business insurance, and personal insurance, and we pride ourselves on our commitment to creating “Signature Relationships” with our clients where we commit to providing the best, most comprehensive service possible. To learn more about our goods and services, contact us today at (800) 464-3606.