Policy manuals guide business creators, managers, and other employees in best practices for the company. These documents are also often called Policies and Procedures, or Employee Handbooks. However, there are some differences between a policy manual and other types of business documents. As a business owner or manager, you can choose which manual is right for you, or use all of the different types of manuals to cover all of your bases.
Why Write a Policy Manual?
Policy manuals house collections of information that are pertinent to how a business runs, whether at the overall corporate level, the department-specific level, or job-specific level. Policy documents provide an overview of the business’s policy, which employees and/or departments are impacted by the policy, how these people will be impacted by the policy, and consequences for not following policy. In contract, procedure documents give specific instructions on how to follow policy, which is why many companies put Policy and Procedure documents together.
Policy manuals should be developed by both staff and managers, so that everyone understands the policies and how they will be impacted. Everyone involved in a company has specific knowledge of their job and the best practices they have created, and this knowledge can inform the policy manual for future employees. A well-drafted policy manual saves the company hours of employee and manager time by standardizing everyone’s understanding of company best practices. These documents allow employees to understand company objectives and consequences, and help managers maintain consistent, fair practices with their staff.
Properly-written policy manuals mean that everyone communicates more clearly with each other across the organization, because everyone has the same expectations. They explain employee benefits, workplace issues, where to go with specific questions, and help organize the long-term plans for company growth. The policy manual is designed to become the framework for the organization.
Tips for Writing a Great Policy Manual
If you just started a business and do not have a policy manual yet, or find that you need to update your policy manual, here are a few tips to keep in mind while you write the latest version:
- Talk to managers and executives or input. If you try to write this document alone, you may find that you do not understand each department’s, manager’s, or employee’s best practices. Ask for feedback when creating the document – get managers to talk to their employees and translate their input back to you. Have managers and executives read the policy manual when you have completed a first draft and offer edits.
- Create a feedback team for future drafts. Make sure you always have your employees’ best interests at heart by ensuring that they are represented in some way throughout the writing process. Policy manuals are not written overnight, and you will probably work on multiple drafts. Get a team of managers, department representatives, and/or executives to read new drafts after the first draft.
- Ask questions when the policy is unclear or not in place. The most important part of writing a policy manual is to ensure that aspects of the business that are unclear or unwritten get properly fleshed-out and documented. If you find that a department or employee has been working in a way that you did not know about, or circumvented the original policy manual in order to save time and improve the business, make sure to discuss this with employees and come up with documentation that helps everyone in the future.
- Ensure that the finished policy manual is well-organized and easy to use. Clearly-labeled table of contents, chapter headings, indexes, and more are all vital to policy manuals’ readability.
Why Should I Use a Policy Manual Template?
If you have never written a policy manual before, a template can help you get started by organizing your thoughts. If you find yourself in the position of rewriting an existing manual, you may consider using a different format in order to keep everything neatly organized and easy to read. Either way, download our free policy manual template and get started today!