It is a known psychological observation that when people are involved in creating something, they get emotionally attached to it. Think of the passion that an artist has for her work. The artist puts in hours, sweat and lots of hard work in the creation of her artwork and therefore values it a lot more than anyone else. How would you feel if your employees valued your company just like an artist values her work?
The Importance of Employee-Driven Policy Management
I would like to present some food for thought. While it is extremely difficult to get your employees to be as passionate about your company as an artist is about her artwork, giving employees a corporate culture that makes them excited about coming in to work every day is a great start. Company policies, in most cases, are viewed as a series of stifling rules that you can’t bend or break. This negativity might be addressed if the employees actively participate in the creation of these rules.
Another important benefit of incorporating employees in policy creation is the help compliance leaders get in delivering the outbound message back to their employees. These discussions with employees will give an inside view into scenarios and problems that are pertinent to the employees. Remember, the employees are the ones that need to adhere to these policies in the first place.
Effective messaging is one of the core components of an effective compliance program as it leads to better adherence. To sum it up, if employees have the ability to create a culture and participate in the creation of policies, then not only will they be excited about coming to work every day but will also feel important, an integral part of the company, while compliance leaders will know exactly what their employees struggle with and how to message their training for increased adherence.
Implementing Employee-Driven Policy Management
Now the hard part, the implementation. The CEO, compliance manager or human resources manager (depending on company dynamics) should ask department heads to hold sessions where they gather suggestions on company policies from their employees. They should hold sessions where employees describe how certain policies affect their professional lives and to what extent they help or suppress their productivity. The employees in each department should then “weed out” the best ideas. The department heads need to approve ideas presented by the employees and write the policies and submit it to the CEO, compliance manager or human resources team for review. Once reviewed, the policies can be made official and everyone can attest to them.
For example, if employees want to wear t-shirts to work every day and the company operates in an industry where wearing business casual or business professional attire is not a necessity, the employees should bring it up with their department heads, who in turn should advocate this to the compliance leaders and other executives involved in the policy approval process.
It is necessary to recognize that as simple as this process sounds, it is actually very hard to implement in the real world. There are risks associated with this. First of all, what happens to new employees that join after the policies have been created? Secondly, how will employees feel when their suggested policies are not chosen? And finally, how will the final decision makers (CEO, Compliance, Human Resources) collaborate with the department heads to get all their policies worded in a clear, consistent and concise manner, formatted correctly, etc.
These issues might cause concerns but are definitely not showstoppers. First, the company policy creation can be done once every so often to allow new employees to also contribute to the company guidelines. Holding these sessions would also provide feedback on how the policies that were created before are affecting the employees right now, as well as how they affect seasoned employees versus new ones. The policies can be changed or refined to do what they intended to do in the first place.
A robust policy management software solution, like the one offered by The Network, should allow department heads and leaders in the company to collaborate seamlessly. A policy management software solution should allow policies to be created by, owned by, passed to and sent to multiple people following company standard templates.
By using a bottom-up approach to policy creation, companies can foster a culture of innovation and ownership. The employees will not only retain policy related information but will also advocate for policies that will improve their professional lives. Furthermore, a speak-up culture will be instilled in the organization which will not only cause better reporting of incidents but will also allow employees to challenge norms and present ideas that will make the company better in other departments as well.
Yes, there are certain challenges associated with the implementation of this recommendation, but the benefits might be worth giving it a shot.
How could you see employee-driven policy management improving policies in your organization? Let us know in the comments!