Company policies: what they are, types and characteristics

Company policies: what they are

Organizations are places where people do more than just work. Human contact is inevitable and, from it, an organizational culture is created which is very different from company to company.

That is why sometimes, among staff, rules can be accepted implicitly that all workers try to follow, but this can be somewhat confusing and lead to misunderstandings.

To avoid this type of situation, companies write company policies, with which they specify what workers can and cannot do, what the philosophy of the organization is and what the interaction with buyers should be like. Let’s see what they are about, besides describing some of the types that exist and what they are intended to achieve.

What are company policies?

Company policies are statements of the general principles that an organisation undertakes to respect and enforce . This type of document specifies the rules and guidelines that govern the operation of the company, establishing the best way for workers to behave, how they will relate appropriately to potential clients and setting out how the rest of the documents will be drawn up.

In order to facilitate the dissemination and understanding of the company’s workers, it is recommended that this type of document should not exceed two pages and that the points addressed should be written as clearly as possible.

Once the policy has been elaborated, it must be documented and included in the manuals where the management of the organization is specified . What is written in it must be respected, implemented and serve as a reference for good behaviour and work environment within the organisation.

Types of policies according to their scope

Depending on the intended scope of the company policy, these can be divided into three types:

General policies

They reach out to the entire organization and mark out its general lines. It should be checked that all departments are aware of these policies , as they serve as a guide for the behaviour of all the company’s staff.

2. Departmental policies

These are the rules governing each specific department . Within this type of policy, the most common are those that specify the quality objectives to be achieved by a branch of the organization, environmental policies, prevention of occupational risks…

3. Specific policies

These are those policies that are set to meet momentary needs or temporary activities that the company may carry out at a given time.

Types of policies according to what they address in organizations

There are several rules that must be stipulated in the form of company policies that include a number of aspects. Depending on the organization’s own characteristics and needs, it will be necessary to develop different points in the form of company policies. Here are some of the most common:

1. Quality management

The company must indicate policies that are aimed at meeting the requirements and commitments set by the company .

It should also indicate how the organization intends to improve quality in the short and long term, and what system it has in place to focus on this. This policy should be reviewed regularly.

2. Environmental management

Companies are required to comply with current environmental regulations, and to promote behaviours such as recycling, pollution reduction , and the use of public transport.

It is recommended that the company has some kind of protocol to be able to deal with any incident in which the environment has been damaged, although the ideal is to have procedures that guarantee respect for nature.

3. Health and safety at work

It is essential that rules are in place to ensure responsible use of machinery and other tools in the company, with the aim of preventing accidents and ensuring the physical and mental integrity of staff.

There must also be protocols for action in the event of accidents at work , which are the rights and obligations of the worker for his own safety and that of his colleagues, and to what extent the company is responsible for any improper use.

4. Corporate Governance

You must specify how the organization is led. It is fundamental to understand who is behind the movements of the company, since this will allow to clarify which are the objectives of this organization as a whole and which is its philosophy.

5. Staff behaviour

The policies focused on this point indicate which tasks employees perform and their responsibilities when they are in the workplace .

This point can be fundamental to guarantee a good working climate, however it can include aspects that can generate some controversy, that is why it must be left very clear what workers can and cannot do.

Some of the issues discussed at this point are the dress code or when electronic devices can be used to communicate with the family.

6. Compensation and anti-bullying policies

It is essential to specify how the company acts in situations of injustice between employees or if there has been any kind of incident related to harassment or abuse of power.

In every organisation there should be a clear policy on this, and indicate what rights and compensation employees who have been victims of inappropriate behaviour can claim .

Disciplinary measures should be indicated for those who have committed the abuse. It is particularly important to ensure that when the contract is signed it is clearly stated what is meant by discriminatory conduct and/or harassment.

7. Substance use

This type of company policy is not so well known because it is often implied that alcohol, hallucinogenic drugs and other drugs may not be consumed within a company or during working hours. However, given the characteristics of some organizations (e.g. brewery) it is sometimes necessary to specify that it cannot be consumed in the workplace .

It may also be necessary to indicate that the use of drugs such as tobacco or even substitutes such as electronic cigarettes are not permitted on the premises.

In addition, action plans can be included in the event of a suspicion that the person who has consumed alcohol at work may actually be suffering from a substance abuse problem and, knowing this, the company can act to contribute to his or her rehabilitation.

8. Privacy and confidentiality

If a service is offered, it is very important that the organisation specifies to what extent it will use the data of both workers and clients .

Such policies are usually aimed at protecting the company, but they also provide a degree of transparency for the market and for the workers themselves.

Confidentiality policies protect sensitive information held by the organization, in order to ensure a good legal relationship between staff, the company and buyers.

9. Reimbursement

Depending on what product or service the organization offers, it must be prepared for situations where the customer has expressed dissatisfaction with what he has received .

It must be made clear, either on the organization’s website or in the instruction manual that the purchased product may carry, in which situations the customer will be entitled to a refund.

10. Ethics

It should be made clear that ethical behaviour of staff is understood both when interacting with other workers and when dealing with buyers or people interested in the company’s service.

Bibliographic references:

  • Nakamura, R., T. (1987), The textbook policy process and implementation research: Review of Policy Research 7, (1), pages 142-154, September
  • Bührs, T.; Bartlett, R. V. (1993). Environmental Policy in New Zealand. The Politics of Clean and Green. Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press.

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