The work environment has changed! Open-space offices have replaced the cubicle-filled floor space of yesterday. Relaxed dress attire has become the normal standard in office wear. Shouldn’t your company policies reflect the same “next generation” trends? Well, it depends!

Workplace rules must evolve with the ever-changing workforce and the dynamics of your office environment; however, the influx of changes to state and federal laws make it impossible to avoid the constant implementation of new and revised rules or policies that keep your employees informed of regulatory changes that demand compliance.

Policies must be updated, so take the opportunity to promote the “can do” not the “thou shalt not do” tone. To keep in line with regulatory changes while achieving prompt, clear, and accurate employee notification, here are a few recommended steps when creating or updating a workplace rule:

  1. Determine if a policy is necessary. Never make a policy “just because” or based on the actions of an isolated group. Make sure that your business size, service, or employee-group requires the policy. Of course, if the law requires it – you must comply!
  2. Avoid the red-tape. A policy to facilitate another policy may be the first sign that you are bogging down the workforce with red-tape and cumbersome procedures. Policies should be made to facilitate quick reference to a rule or procedure and offer ease in following a corporate standard.
  3. Focus on the positive. Certain policy subject matter is dry, boring, and unappealing, but for those that can be stated with a fresh perspective and tone, use phrases that trigger interest. Try to use words that have a positive inference.
  4. Be clear. Make sure that your policies are clear and consistent with all other policies. Each policy should be outlined in a similar style and format and be written for the reader’s best understanding.

As a general recommendation, all policies should be reviewed at least one time per year. If your business has a large policy database (i.e., more than 50 policies), it’s best to identify the critical polices (such as Data Security, Employee Management, and other significant business functions) and address the review cycle by order of significance or regulatory mandate.