Every company has rules, processes, and standards—ways in which things are supposed to be done. Sometimes, these are “unspoken” guidelines, but ideally, you have them written down, codified into policies and procedures. (Before going forward, it’s worth noting that policies and procedures are not the same thing. A policy is basically a rule. A procedure is a process, or an action plan.)
Why Documented Policies and Procedures are Important
It’s important to have policies and procedures written down and documented for a few different reasons. For one, it makes sure everyone is on the same page. When you write down the expectations, and make them accessible to all employees, nobody can ever claim ignorance.
But policies and procedures aren’t just for holding your employees accountable. They can also keep the company itself out of trouble. For example, say an employee becomes injured, doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing. If you can show that the employee was in clear violation of a documented company policy, that can shield you from any liability. But if it was merely an “unspoken” guideline, you may still be on the hook.
Finally, policies and procedures can be invaluable to new employees as they join the team. You want them to immediately adopt the same standards as everyone else in the company, and the easy way to make that happen is to make sure that everyone—new and veteran employees alike—are working from the same playbook.
What if Your Policies and Procedures Aren’t Good Enough?
With that said, not all policies and procedures are created equal—and if yours aren’t doing the job, you may need to revise or clarify them in some way.
There are a few common signs of company policies and procedures that need revision:
- You’re seeing more workplace accidents.
- You have more and more employees making costly mistakes.
- You have significant cost overruns (indicating employees aren’t being as efficient as they could be).
- Your team members regularly ask questions about things you assumed were clear.
- You notice your team members taking a lot of “short cuts” in their work.
- You receive a lot of recurring customer complaints.
Heed these warning signs: They suggest that your policies and procedures are inadequate, and that you need to clarify them, reiterate them, and double-check that all the important things are put into writing.
This isn’t necessarily something you’ll want to do by yourself. As the business owner, you’re ultimately in charge of shaping policies and procedures—yet you’ll always want to run them by at least one employee who is affected by them, who can confirm for you that the written policies and procedures make sense and are reasonable.
Make sure your home service business has the right documentation, and that you review and revise as needed. To learn more about the steps you can take to run a more efficient plumbing, HVAC, or electrical company, reach out to Contractor in Charge today.