The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Policy & Procedure Manual

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Policy & Procedure Manual

Let’s admit it. Company policies and procedures can give a hard time to your employees. Sometimes they just go over the head, and sometimes they seem like a bunch of dos and don’ts that are sheer common sense. 

But if you think deeply, they are much more than this circle of dos and don’ts that we try to fit in. 

Policies and procedures are designed to guide employees at every step and show them the right way to work and behave. They reflect the values you believe in, define your expectations from employees, and set a strong foundation for your company’s success. 

The question is how to ensure that your employees abide by these policies and procedures? 

A policy and procedure manual created with user manual software holds the right answer. This manual acts as a one-stop location where employees across teams can access all your policies, learn about them, and put them to action. 

This comprehensive guide tells you all about a policy and procedure manual, from what it is to how it can be created.

What is a Policy and Procedure Manual? 

A policy and procedure manual is a central hub where all company policies and work procedures are explained in detail, in a structured way, for the convenience of employees. It offers a systematic view of how employees are supposed to work, what is expected of them and how they should conduct themselves. 

Think of it as a single source of truth where employees can find reliable information about a company’s best practices, work standards, key policies, and step-by-step procedures to achieve success in day-to-day work. 

What is Included in a Policy and Procedure Manual? 

A policy and procedure manual is a detailed document covering important information about your company policies and procedures. Some of the key topics that should form a part of this policy & procedure manual are: 

✔️ Employee benefits
✔️ Remote work policies
✔️
Workplace code of conduct
✔️ HR policies
✔️ Leave policies
✔️ Procedures to carry out tasks, such as apply for a leave, apply for reimbursements, etc.
✔️ Emergency procedures
✔️ Health and safety guidelines
✔️ Organization chart
✔️ Employee hierarchy
✔️ Job descriptions, and much more. 

Why is a Policy & Procedure Manual Important for Your Business? 

If you envision a strong company culture where teams support one another and are able to contribute meaningfully towards your long-term goals, then creating a policy and procedure manual is a smart step to take. 

Documenting your company policies, work methodologies, code of conduct, and other important elements that form the core of your foundation, in a manual, can bring you an array of benefits, such as:

1. Trains New Employees

New employees are clueless about your company on day one. Sure, there are multiple training sessions, but we all know how time-consuming they are and how lame they can sometimes be. 

With a well-crafted, instantly accessible training manual, new hires can learn about your company’s work standards, processes, code of conduct, and much more at their own convenient pace. It is like a window to your company’s culture, values, and philosophy that guides employees at every step of their journey.

2. Higher Efficiency & Productivity

A properly documented manual comprising all necessary information about your organization’s workplace policies and culture empowers employees to make decisions faster and work with full focus. No more shoulder taps, unnecessary back and forth, or a trail of emails about how to do something. One manual has all the answers to every question employees have about.

This means less time spending time doing back and forth seeking help from colleagues or seniors and more time working on the tasks that really matter. Higher productivity and efficiency are, therefore, guaranteed.

3. Brings Clarity in the Workplace

Confusion creeps in when employees are not sure about which business policy does what and which process to follow to do a particular task. That’s where a policy and procedure manual steps in. It reduces knowledge gaps and provides employees with more clarity, allowing them to work with minimum hassles.

Many times, the policies appear complicated when someone verbally explains them. But when the same policy is explained in an interactive way with lots of visuals in the manual, employees have more clarity around what your policies do and what benefits they provide.

Read more: Effective Tips to Develop Team Collaboration in the workplace

4. Sets the Right Expectations

Employees, especially those who are new to your organization, have little idea of how they should work, what code of conduct they should follow, and what actions are considered inappropriate by your organization.

A well-built policy and procedure manual sets the right expectations and keeps employees informed about the same to ensure that there is little confusion and maximum clarity. It introduces employees to your company standards in terms of behavior, performance, work, and the expectations you have from them. This keeps them on the right track from the very beginning. 

How to Create a Policy & Procedure Manual Your Employees Would Love to Use

Let’s be honest. No one is keen to learn about a company’s policies unless absolutely necessary. It seems to be a hard task requiring lots of time and effort. Offline training sessions don’t help much at the moment, employees are out of the door, all learning goes down the drain. 

Building a policy and procedure manual can turn around this situation by making the learning process convenient and fun. Remember, it is not your regular text-heavy manual but a useful information resource with company policies explained in an engaging way. 

Here are five steps to get your policy and procedure manual ready. 

Step 1: Conduct Research

Before writing your policy and procedure manual, do rigorous research around which policies deserve to be included and which work procedures should be explained in the manual. 

It is natural for you to want to have every policy documented, but that won’t make sense, as some of the policies might be obsolete, and some might not be that important. Adding information that employees won’t even use will simply add unnecessary weight to the manual. 

  • Conduct in-depth research to find out about: 
  • The current procedures that employees are following
  • Issues employees face in their day to day work
  • Policies employees know about and the ones they have no clue of

You can consult your HR department or subject matter experts working with your company for a long time to find out the policies, procedures, and other important information worthy of being included in the manual. 

Step 2: Build a Team

Writing about policies is not a one-off activity. It might require continuous iterations and involvement of employees across teams. 

Creating a team for this work makes sense, as that would mean multiple employees work in sync to churn out the best quality content for your policy and procedure manual. They can divide the responsibilities among themselves by taking different roles such as – contributor, editor, and administrator. 

Those who are well-versed with your company policies and know your work procedures in and out can take up the role of contributors. They will be responsible for managing the entire content creation process. Those who are at the senior level with more responsibilities can take up editing and review work. 

Some of the members can be in charge of the overall administration that includes activities like keeping a check on what editors and contributors are up to, adding more members to the team, and overseeing if everything is going as planned. 

This video will tell you more about how this process of assigning roles and responsibilities works. 

Step 3: Start Creating the Initial Draft

Once you have the team ready, start writing the policy manual. Create the first draft based on the information you have and while you do so, remember the following: 

  • Stay away from using jargon, as it might be confusing for employees 
  • Use simple, jargon-free language that can be easily read and understood 
  • Explain policies in short paragraphs and in a step by step way 
  • Add bullet points wherever you can. Grasping the information is easier when it is written in short points. 

Do not assume that employees know about some of your company policies, code of conduct, or work processes. You don’t know how much or how little they know, so it’s safer to explain everything from the get-go. 

If you have a user manual tool, creating content gets even easier. Modern tools like ProProfs Knowledge Base offer coding-free authoring features that help you not just write the policy manual but even customize it to your heart’s content. 

Step 4: Review the Written Content

A rigorous review process involving multiple editors and even those outside the team is crucial to producing content with zero errors. 

Once your team is done writing the first draft of the articles, they can keep assigning them for review. For instance, as soon as an article is finished, its status can be set as – under review, so whenever any of the editors are free, he or she would review it. 

Or, if writers feel they need feedback from a specific person or team, they can seek help and get inputs to improve the quality of the articles. The insights that an actual expert can give you are unmatched. They will pinpoint areas of improvement and offer suggestions that would take the quality of your manual several notches higher. 

Once someone has reviewed the manual, you can even check who made the changes and what changes were made. This way, you will know who to reach out to in case you want to discuss any changes made to the content. 

workflow management in policy and procedure manual

Step 5: Get the Final Draft Approved

When the final draft is ready to be rolled, get it approved by a key person of your executive team before you finally publish the manual. Getting a green thumb from those who are the creators and experts of the policies is essential. They will know what you have missed out on and can instantly give you insights that might prove helpful. 

Look at what each policy is about and figure out the go-to person responsible for the final execution. Getting a go-ahead from the right executives is important as that would mean the final draft of policies and procedures is carefully checked before it reaches your employees. 

How to Successfully Implement Your Policy & Procedure Manual

The hard work you put into creating the manual will be successful only if employees really use the manual during work. If they don’t use it, understand that you still need to work on it a lot. 

Here are three ways to ensure that employees use your manual and even comply with the policies and procedures mentioned.

1. Publish the Policy Manual Across Web & Mobile

For employees to really use the manual, it should be conveniently accessible across the devices they use. 

For example, if the access is limited to just computer systems, not many would be reading the manual. That’s because employees find it better to read and learn things from their smartphones. It’s easy and quick. Also, with mobile phones, they have the leverage to access the manual anytime and from anywhere they are. 

It’s safer to ensure that you create a policy and procedure manual that fits different screen sizes and offers employees a smooth learning experience on any device they use.

2. Ask for Employee Feedback on Your Articles

Since employees form the core of everything an organization does, it’s important to make them feel a part of this entire process of creating a policy manual. Don’t just throw information in the manual and ask employees to use it. Show them that you really care by asking for their valuable feedback after every article. 

You can do that by adding a feedback form at the end of every page, asking employees whether or not they found the article helpful. Give a thumbs-up, and a thumbs down as the answer options and also let employees submit detailed feedback in a suggestion box. 

Get ready to receive a flood of feedback from employees. Not everyone is going to like what you write, so be ready for that. Take the feedback that can actually make a difference to the manual, enhancing its content quality and effectiveness. 

This will make your employees want to really use the manual and even abide by the policies.

3. Get the Right User Manual Software

To get things moving just how you planned, it is important to take the support of technology. Power-packed with robust features, modern user manual tools are designed to assist you at every stage of the process, right from content authoring to content publishing and everything in between. 

Take the example of ProProfs Knowledge Base. With its state-of-the-art features and the amazing performance it promises, this user manual software can get your policy manual ready in minutes. It provides free policy and procedure manual templates you can choose from, an online editor that functions as smoothly as MS Word, lots of customization options, powerful user management, and every other feature you might possibly need.

Best Practices to Get Your Policy & Procedure Manual Up & Running

Every company wants to have a great policy and procedure manual that employees love to use. But not many are successful. That’s because you might have a plan, a roadmap, and a few steps to get you where you want to be, but it still takes a lot more effort to ensure that things happen just the way you want. 

Here are a few best practices to create a stunning policy manual and ensure that it scores high in terms of convenience, accessibility, and content quality.

1. Build a List of Policies & Procedures to Document

The truth is you cannot document each and everything. You have to be selective and add only those policies and procedures that employees really need to know and without which their work-life can be disturbed. 

Create a list of the most crucial work policies and processes that deserve to be documented. You would want to consider writing the general ones first based on state or federal laws and then narrow them down to the ones specific to your organization.

2. Organize the Information You Add to the Manual

The more structured your manual is, the easier it gets for employees to find what they need. With a logically structured manual, navigating from page to page or article to article is a piece of cake regardless of how lengthy the content is. 

Structure and design your policy and procedure manual by: 

  • Creating a home page that introduces employees to the manual 
  • Building a table of contents with topics divided into sections and subsections 
  • Sticking to short paragraphs and bullet points while writing articles 
  • Interlinking related articles so that employees can switch from one article to the other in just a few clicks

3. Keep Improving & Updating the Articles  

A policy and procedure manual is a critical document containing business-critical information. The policies and procedures you add might change with time. Employees may find some articles helpful, while others might not be of much use. Keeping the manual updated is the best way to ensure that employees get the latest and most relevant information. 

There are various performance metrics, such as top and worst-performing articles, failed keywords, most liked articles, etc., which are monitored, can be a huge help in improving the manual’s performance. 

Read more: Best Practices for Creating Knowledge Base Articles

The easiest way to tap these metrics is to use a user manual tool that offers intelligent analytics and AI-powered reports. The video below will explain everything about how to measure these metrics and use them to your advantage.

It’s Time to Get Started

Now that you know all about a policy and procedure manual, it’s time to get off the ground. 

Do your research right, find out the most important policies and procedures, and create a strong team that works on your manual. Once you have created the initial draft, get it reviewed by subject matter experts. After the final draft is ready, share it with policy experts for final approval before publishing it online for employees. 

Follow the best practices and implementation tips given above to ensure your policy and procedure manual is a roaring success.

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.