Are you missing out? Is good policy what you need?
Are you missing out on the benefits of having good up-to-date policies and procedures? In this post, we look at the value of good policy and procedures for organisations of all types.
If you want to get more out of your operating expenses and want more time to spend on other things, then read on.
Policies are multi-functional
Organisational policies and procedures are not just about compliance. They are multi-functional:
- They are like a will. They help avoid the chaos and distress of uncertainty about what to do about a situation.
- They double as a how-to guide for staff when faced with new responsibilities, roles and challenges.
- If you're expanding into new areas or building new collaborations, policies and procedures can be used to reflect agreement on the important stuff like communication, reporting, information-sharing, expenditure and income allocation.
- They help you manage risks, for example of litigation, penalties, health and safety issues and risks to reputation.
Great bang for your buck. Yet, so many organisations and businesses are not reaping these benefits.
Too often organisations' policies and procedures sit in old electronic and paper files, pulled out just for audits then put away again.
To state the obvious, this is dangerous! It's a bit like not maintaining the structure of your house or whare. Eventually, rot can set in and more damage occur.
Unfortunately, we hear of lots of such calamities. Some publicly-aired ones include:
- injuries in childcare centres where there was no policy and procedure to guide action and as a result, errors were made;
- injury to a person being transported by an agency without sufficient safeguards in place;
- abuse perpetrated against children and disabled people in residential settings where processes for reporting concerns were inadequate; and
- a failure to provide adequate medical treatment where there was no policy and procedure on informed consent and client-centred practice.
Without good organisational policies, you're also likely to be wasting a lot of needless time and energy, for example:
- repeatedly telling staff what to do and having them tell you that they don't know what to do
- dealing with complaints
- solving recurring problems with ad-hoc responses
- doing fix-its on solutions that were made up by staff because they couldn't access good guidance.
It's wasted time; time that could be better spent on yourself or whānau or on other organisational priorities.
What's good organisational policy and procedure?
To help figure out what state your policies and procedures are in, consider the criteria for policies and procedures in the NZS 8134.1: 2008 Health and Disability Services Standards. Standard 2.3 requires policies and procedures to:
- align with current good practice and service delivery
- meet legislative requirements
- be reviewed regularly
- be supported by a document control system to ensure that old versions of policies are not being used.
Guidance for NZS 8134.3.1:2008 recommends additional criteria; that policies and procedures should:
- be written and relevant to the organisation
- be sufficiently flexible to respond to consumer needs
- have a user-friendly format
- contain appropriate technical information
- be accessible to all staff
- be developed and regularly reviewed with relevant service providers
- identify helpful links (ie to other documents)
Where to start
The task of reviewing and updating policies and procedures can feel overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start.
If you're into the DIY approach, as a first step get updated on legislation changes. Take a look at our post outlining key legislation changes over the last year. At the very least you will need to review and update your policies using the legislation and the standards with which you much comply (ie SASS or HD stds.) Involve staff, research and reflect good practise literature.
Let us handle it
You can let go of the stress and give us the job to do. At the Policy Place we are reviewing and updating organisations' policies and procedures all the time. You get the benefits of policies and procedures that reflect cross-sector knowledge of good practice and policy and procedure expertise.
We give you policies and procedures fit for the 21st century with our online service. We keep them updated and regularly reviewed so you, your board and staff, have a lot less to worry about and a lot more time and energy for the things you want to do (eg recreation and leisure, other work priorities).
Email us about your policy and procedure needs.