In my previous column, I mentioned that my business is going through an expansion with the building of a new office/warehouse. Expanding is hugely exciting for me but comes with a number of challenges. One of those challenges is implementing policies that serve to protect the employees and, by extension, the business.
After you’ve been operating a certain way for a long time, you get used to the status quo. Part of that status quo is feeling comfortable with policies that have been on the book for ages, and which may now be doing more harm than good.
Every business needs good policies to ensure everyone is protected. Policies serve to “put all the cards on the table” so that employees know what’s expected of them. These policies also help them to avoid costly mistakes, which benefits everyone.
But for a policy to be effective, employees have to understand why it’s needed. Here’s now to ensure you get yourself in the right frame of mind to help your staff understand why you’re crafting the policies you are and that, ultimately, they are the beneficiaries.
Know that you can’t please everyone. Just because a policy gets a thumbs-up from 90 per cent of your staff, you can bet there will be a few people who don’t like it. As long as the policy is legal, ethical, and designed to keep everyone’s best interests at heart, you can rest easy knowing you’ve done your best.
Have an open discussion. Employees need to know it’s a business decision and that a policy has to apply to everyone. Policies generally lay out an employer’s expectations, the reason for those expectations, and what action will be taken if an employee doesn’t live up to them. That shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment or threat. As the employer, you should have an open discussion with them and explain why the policy need to be in place. Emphasize that the policy benefits them because it helps ensure errors are reduced and the work environment stays positive.
Make sure you craft thoughtful policies. As I mentioned above, the policies you craft should be good ones that are ethical and compassionate, but which make clear that you hold your employees to a certain standard, and why. Seek advice from your legal team and provincial government, but also other business owners who’ve been through what you’re going through.