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Writing a Policy? Here’s the Cheat Sheet you Need

Writing a policy can be a daunting task. Where do you start? What do you need to include for it to be effective for your company? Below are 10 tips that you can use to help you write an effective policy for your workplace.

  • Do your research. Can you R&D (rob and duplicate)? Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. Look at policy samples as a framework. If you have to start from scratch, make a list of the points that you want your policy to cover. However, with both options, be sure to consult your provincial legislation. You need to make sure that you are including all important aspects of the topic and ensuring your legal compliance.

  • Make it meaningful. Don’t have a policy just for the sake of having one. Polices should be created to address specific things in your workplace. Start your policy off by addressing what the purpose of the policy is.

  • Make it company-specific. If you are using a template or even starting from scratch, make sure you are using language that is specific to your company. Use your lingo. For example, if you’re in long-term care and the people living in your facilities are called residents, don’t call them clients or patients.

  • Make it clear. Use language that your employees will understand. If they don’t understand it, then it is not meaningful. Don’t put in a bunch of legal jargon that only a lawyer would comprehend. Lay out the points/sections in a logical order that make sense for the reader.

  • Answer the important questions. Have you ever read a policy that says the company will do something but no one in the company knows who will do it or how it’s done? What is the point of a policy that no one knows how to follow? The policy should outline all the important details and instructions on that topic including how it will be done, who is responsible, and what it entails. It should also reference additional materials (forms, resources, and other documentation) which will assist in carrying out the functions of the policy. Test is out! – Give it to someone in the workplace to review and have them explain to you how they would follow the policy, if there were gaps in the process or questions that they had to ask, then you did not include enough detail.

  • Keep it simple. Don’t over complicate it. If needed, have the policy refer to procedures that will have more details on the steps of how things will be done.

  • Make it achievable. Don’t set unrealistic expectations in your policies that set yourself up for failure. For example, don’t put in your policy that you are going to do daily inspections of the workplace unless you have an achievable way of accomplishing this (and documenting it). If you want to set your company to a higher standard that is great, but make sure you take steps to actually achieve what you have set out to do in your policies, otherwise, they are not as useful as you will want them to be.

  • Consult the experts. Is the person writing the policy familiar with the topic? Consult with supervisor/manager or even employees to ensure that the policy addresses all the questions. Depending on the topic, you may want to consult a lawyer to ensure you are covered legally.

  • When creating or updating a policy, think of the ripple effect. What else is affected by this new policy or update? Does training need to be created for this policy? Do we need a new form to go with this policy? Does this policy reference procedures that need to be created or updated?

  • Create a tracking system. Make sure policies have a process for conducting reviews and tracking revisions and that review/revision dates are recorded. Who reviewed them, and how often? Who gives final approval before the policy is communicated?

If you still need help, give Dunk & Associates a call! We have professionals on-hand to help you write your policies, and we may even already have a template available for you to customize. If you are already subscribed to our professional Safety and HR services, this support may be included in your annual fee. You can also ask us for some tips while we do your monthly/quarterly support call. We’re happy to give you some ideas!


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