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How to Maintain & Update Policies & Procedures

by Amanda Banach

Most organizations use policies and procedures to set the standards for acceptable behavior and business practices. Policies and procedures often go hand-in-hand because of the close relationship between the two. A policy is essentially a written objective or guidebook that designates how to handle various workplace scenarios, and a procedure outlines what steps to take to achieve the policy. As work environments, laws and technology change, policies and procedures require maintenance and updating to remain effective.

Review Regularly

Regularly review even the most well written policies and procedures. There is no specific time to which businesses adhere, but best practice is to look over each policy at least every two to three years for relevancy and accuracy. Changes to policies and procedures are inevitable in order to adjust to an organization’s needs or a revised law. Routine maintenance ensures that a company’s policies and procedures continue to align with its mission and goals.

Propose Changes

Draft and propose revisions once the need for a change is identified. The process varies by organization; however, each policy and procedure is typically assigned an owner. For example, the technology department may be tasked with routine maintenance for all IT-related policies and procedures, whereas the human resources department may be responsible for the maintenance of standards of conduct, recruiting practices and general employment laws. Collaborate with the appropriate individual to identify the outdated information, and replace it with the correct content.

Confirm Legal Compliance

Once the appropriate revisions are complete, perform your due diligence to confirm that the information is accurate and compliant with any applicable laws. If needed, ask for a second opinion from an internal subject matter expert or attorney. The updated policy or procedure is now ready to be submitted for final approval through your company’s chain of command. This may consist of either the department’s director, vice president of human resources or as high as up the CEO.

Communicate Changes

Communicate the revised policy or procedure to all of your company’s employees. Minor policy changes may be communicated via an e-mail or verbal announcement. Each employee should submit a signed acknowledgement of the revision. More complex changes, particularly those to procedures, may require a group training class or presentation to ensure the changes are clearly understood by all affected colleagues. Additionally, update the policy or procedure in the employee handbook, intranet and any other locations that contain the previous version.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Amanda Banach has been a writer since 2009. Her professional work experience includes roles in media advertising, financial services and human resources. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in human resources management and is PHR-certified.

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